Robins badly trails other depots in on-time delivery

wcrenshaw@macon.comMarch 5, 2014 

RAFBC5

While at Robins for programmed depot maintenance in May 2013, a C-5M received a refurbished interior, which included LED lighting, painting and application of new anti-skid surface.

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

WARNER ROBINS -- Robins Air Force Base is badly trailing the Air Force’s two other maintenance depots in one of the most important indicators of performance.

At the request of The Telegraph, the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City released on-time delivery rates for all three maintenance depots.

Each base overhauls aircraft and is supposed to finish at least 95 percent of the planes on time. For the first three months of the fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex completed only 48 percent on time.

The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker has a 100 percent on-time delivery rate for the same period, while the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, had a 91 percent rate.

For the previous fiscal year, Robins had 77 percent rate compared with 100 percent at Oklahoma City and 97 percent at Ogden.

The figures were discussed in a meeting some local leaders held last week in Washington with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and 8th Congressional District Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ashburn.

Scott said Wednesday he is concerned about the numbers, but he also noted that Welsh confirmed a commitment to keeping three maintenance depots.

“We’ve got to get those numbers back to where they should be in order to get the additional workload that we want at Robins,” he said.

The meeting with Welsh was organized by the 21st Century Partnership, a local group that advocates for Robins. Its president is retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, who once led the maintenance section, then called the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center. When McMahon took over in 2010, the base had a 47 percent on-time delivery rate, but when he left in 2012, it had gone up to 98 percent.

Brig. Gen. Cedric George took McMahon’s place when the center became the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex under the Air Force reorganization that put the headquarters of the three depots at Tinker.

Doug Keene, vice director in the WR-ALC, said last year was a tough year and he is confident the on-time delivery rate will turn around in the coming months. He said the six days of furloughs were a factor, and the uncertainty of the number of days to be taken impacted the workforce significantly.

However, he acknowledged the other two depots also faced the same problem, and had the same number of furlough days.

The biggest difference, Keene said, is that Robins cut its maintenance workforce by over 700 through early retirement incentives. The other two depots did not have cuts anywhere near that extensive, he said.

That meant the loss not only of a significant percentage of the workforce, but some its most experienced workers. Approximately 7,600 people now work in the complex.

“It left us with imbalances in the workforce,” said Keene. “This is going to turn around. The workforce is ready to step up to it and be process-focused again.”

Keene said he does not blame the reorganization for the drop-off in due date performance. He said it has actually helped by standardizing the processes through the three depots.

Robins provides programmed depot maintenance for the F-15, C-130, C-17 and C-5.

McMahon also said the workforce cuts were a major factor. When he was commander, McMahon said, he had an excess of personnel.

“We kept those so that we could get out of the hole that we were in,” he said.

Stephen Stant Jr., vice president of maintenance for the union at Robins, said in a written statement that on-time delivery rate issue is “of vital importance.”

“At this point, the Air Force may have no other alternative than to move the weapons systems assigned to the ALC to a provider who can meet the on-time delivery requirements,” he said.

A Base Realignment and Closure Commission has been proposed for 2017, but Stant said the Air Force can move missions or eliminate aircraft without a BRAC.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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