Air Force Featured Stories

Nellis Airman powered by innovation

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mikaley Towle
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Last December, certain variants of the F-16 Fighting Falcon had their ejection seat's oxygen system modified, which created a new requirement for oxygen bottle testing.

This new change improved overall pilot safety, but also brought with it a hefty price tag -- which inspired one Airman at Nellis Air Force Base to submit an idea to the Airmen Powered by Innovation program.

While on the job, Master Sgt. Shane Sneary, the 57th Maintenance Group Air Force Repair Enhancement Program manager, noticed the ejection seat's oxygen bottles were being replaced when they were due for testing because the base did not have the capability to conduct the test.

The oxygen bottle’s test occurs approximately every five years at a price tag of $1,400 to $1,800 a piece. To help remedy this, Sneary sought out a Las Vegas-based company to help keep the bottles serviceable much longer.

"Most Air Force bases don't have the capability to afford this test, but this is considerably cheaper than the alternative of buying a new bottle," Sneary said. "My idea has the potential to save a few hundred thousand dollars every five years. This affects us locally because we were waiting on the manufacturer to supply us with the bottles, but it took a while due to the long wait time.

"I've implemented a second process at Nellis AFB," he continued, "that allows us to stockpile freshly tested bottles so that when they're due, the unit can just come and get a freshly tested bottle and not have to wait that extra time."

As Nellis AFB's AFREP manager, Sneary's job is to help maintenance units on the flightline fulfill their mission needs by repairing inoperable aircraft parts, so he's no stranger to saving the Air Force money.

"Sneary's Regulated Emergency Oxygen System, or REOS, bottle idea submission will provide substantial savings in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, Block 50 model maintenance costs," said Sean McCully, the 99th Force Support Squadron Airmen Powered by Innovation program manager.

"His proactive approach, thorough research and coordination with the Air Combat Command and F-16 Fighting Falcon engineers led to the approval of testing the REOS bottles," McCully said. "Individuals like Sneary conceiving money-saving ideas continue to support the Air Force's Airmen Powered by Innovation program."

Sneary is one of many Airmen who have submitted ideas they think will help save the Air Force money.

"I think the API is a great program that provides the opportunity for Airmen at every level to submit their ideas," Sneary said. "I think it's important because my idea was very small, though now it has an effect on the entire Air Force. That just goes to show that any Airman can submit a small idea and it can turn into something very big. Every little change matters and it has a great effect on the mission."

The API program came online in April this year and has received and reviewed more than 2,400 ideas. The program's aim is to turn Airmen's ideas into real cost savings for the Air Force.

Airmen Powered by Innovation, or API, will replace three existing Air Force 'good idea' programs - the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, and Best Practices programs - and expand the role of Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century.