RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
According to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces in Africa safety office, bird and wildlife aircraft strike hazards are some of the most prominent aviation hazards in the command’s area of operations that spans 104 nations.
Any time a bird or wildlife strike occurs, a safety investigation is required. However, the true cost of such strikes is unknown due to the lack of accurate data.
Currently, most strikes do not incur direct monetary damages such as aircraft repairs, so they are reported as non-damaging, but this classification fails to capture the indirect costs of the strikes to include mission delays and labor hours for strike clean ups.
“A better understanding of the costs incurred by all bird and wildlife strikes will hopefully yield improved risk management strategies for commanders and better shape their resource decisions,” said Darron Haughn, USAFE –AFAFRICA deputy director of safety. “This data will also improve our chances to prevent the worst case scenario of a catastrophic mishap caused by a strike.”
With this data gap identified, the USAFE – AFAFRICA Safety Office took the problem to the USAFE – AFAFRICA A8IO Innovation Office.
Once the USAFE – AFAFRICA/A8IO office received the problem, they determined a commercial solution opening event would best assist the safety office. It would be the second time ever a CSO event occurred in USAFE – AFAFRICA.
“A CSO event is about creating a faster, easier way for companies to do business with the Air Force and a faster, easier way for the Air Force to find innovative solutions in the commercial market,” said Nathaniel Searing, 764th Enterprise Sourcing Squadron contracting officer. “The Air Force gives the industry a rough outline of a problem we’re encountering or a capability gap we have and simply asks companies to find solutions.”
The solutions are submitted as a white paper, which is an information report that presents the problem and offers a solution. After it is reviewed by the customers and contracting officers, the company is given 30 minutes to present the solution to all relevant parties.
Following this presentation, the parties have 30 minutes to discuss the presentation and decide if they want to pursue a contract with the company. If the answer is yes, the contract can be awarded on the spot.
“The CSO provides the Air Force speed and innovation,” said Searing. “We can get contracts faster than ever before. And, we can find innovative solutions to tough problems or capability gaps in ways that were previously not possible.”
Only 19 days passed between USAFE –AFAFRICA/SE presenting their problem to the USAFE – AFAFRICA/A8I and the CSO pitch.
“This speedy execution is realistic and we could go even faster in the future,” said Searing.
Across USAFE – AFAFRICA bases and geographically separated units, wing flight safety teams work hard to mitigate BASH hazards unique to them.
“The challenges of an AOR with 104 nations becomes prominent when we look at the needs of each site, which are all different from one another,” said Haughn. “Having the means to innovate through a CSO like this industry solution improves our positon to best support our wings.”
With the USAFE – AFAFRICA/SE contract awarded for the data collection and analysis of BASH incidents, the 764th ESS continues to look for solutions to assist other units and organizations in the command.
“I encourage every organization in USAFE to take a look for ‘tough nuts to crack,’ where we might be able to improve mission effectiveness,” said Searing. “If you find some, reach out to A8IO and let’s see what innovative solutions the private sector may have readily available to help.”