Wi­chita State could help Air Force fly its planes longer

The Wichita Eagle - - Business - BY JERRY SIEBENMARK jsieben­mark@wi­chi­taea­gle.com Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsieben­mark

Wi­chita State Univer­sity’s Na­tional In­sti­tute for Avi­a­tion Re­search could help the Air Force keep its planes fly­ing longer and at less cost.

That’s what Air Force Un­der Sec­re­tary Matthew Dono­van told reporters Fri­day fol­low­ing tours of NIAR’s fa­cil­i­ties at the Kansas Coli­seum and Ex­pe­ri­en­tial En­gi­neer­ing Build­ing on the In­no­va­tion Cam­pus.

“What we saw here . . . was a lot of en­thu­si­asm, and we saw a lot of tech­nol­ogy that I think would be able to fit into the Air Force’s path as we go for­ward,” Dono­van said.

Dono­van was in Wi­chita at the in­vi­ta­tion of Sen. Jerry Mo­ran. Join­ing Dono­van was Will Roper, Air Force as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for ac­qui­si­tions, tech­nol­ogy and lo­gis­tics.

“Th­ese are im­por­tant peo­ple in de­ci­sions that will be made about what might tran­spire with the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Air Force and Wi­chita State,” Mo­ran said af­ter the tour. “My view is that those goals of hav­ing a mil­i­tary that is more ef­fi­cient, more ready and there­fore bet­ter ca­pa­ble of pro­tect­ing us can be achieved by a re­la­tion­ship be­tween Wi­chita State, NIAR and the Air Force.

“And it also will cre­ate sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties for Kansans in their ca­reers and ed­u­ca­tion.”

Dono­van and Roper said a key ef­fort for them is to im­prove the re­li­a­bil­ity and longevity of air­craft and other equip­ment in the Air Force in­ven­tory, such as the B-52 bomber, by di­rect­ing more of its fund­ing to that ef­fort.

“One of the chal­lenges the Air Force faces is that for any weapons pro­gram or air­craft, 70 per­cent of the to­tal life­cy­cle costs oc­cur in the sustainment of that weapon sys­tems or plat­form,” Dono­van said. “So we are very in­cen­tivized to find new ways of re­duc­ing costs in sustainment, and in­creas­ing readi­ness lev­els of our fleets.”

Dono­van’s take­away from the NIAR tours was the ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing, or 3-D print­ing, lab. Ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing would al­low the Air Force to pro­duce an air­plane part that’s no longer made and would be costly for it to con­tract to a third-party com­pany to be man­u­fac­tured.

“Quar­ter by quar­ter we have tens of thou­sands of parts that no one bids on be­cause there’s very lit­tle profit in them,” added Roper. “The abil­ity to make them our­selves would be huge for us, sav­ing money but also in­creas­ing readi­ness.”

Other labs at the Ex­pe­ri­en­tial En­gi­neer­ing Build­ing also demon­strated ways the work at NIAR could ben­e­fit the Air Force. Roper said the aug­mented re­al­ity lab could “help us train peo­ple faster, get them through the pipe­line to where they can fix planes at higher lev­els of pro­fi­ciency.”

“All this has a chance to have a huge im­pact, and it was great to see a place like Wi­chita State where peo­ple are liv­ing, eat­ing, breath­ing this ev­ery day,” Roper added. “And we’ll look for­ward to try­ing to fig­ure out how we part­ner with them.”

Dono­van and Roper also are re­spon­si­ble for over­sight of Boe­ing’s new air re­fu­el­ing tanker, the KC-46A Pe­ga­sus, the first one of which is to be de­liv­ered to McCon­nell Air Force Base.

ONE OF THE CHAL­LENGES THE AIR FORCE FACES IS THAT FOR ANY WEAPONS PRO­GRAM OR AIR­CRAFT, 70 PER­CENT OF THE TO­TAL LIFE-CY­CLE COSTS OC­CUR IN THE SUSTAINMENT OF THAT WEAPON SYS­TEMS OR PLAT­FORM. Air Force Un­der Sec­re­tary Matthew Dono­van

JERRY SIEBENMARK The Wi­chita Ea­gle

Air Force Un­der Sec­re­tary Matthew Dono­van, left, lis­tens to Chris Rempe, man­ager of the re­verse en­gi­neer­ing and ad­di­tive man­u­fac­tur­ing lab at Wi­chita State Univer­sity, dur­ing a tour Fri­day. To Rempe’s right is John Tomblin, WSU’s vice pres­i­dent for re­search and tech­nol­ogy trans­fer, and Will Roper, as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of the Air Force for ac­qui­si­tion, tech­nol­ogy and lo­gis­tics.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.