NSS, other initiatives getting results in Sustainment

News Release, NAVAIR News

NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.–

TheNaval Sustainment System (NSS) model, a Navy approach to generating readiness introduced by the Secretary of the Navy in the fall of 2018, is getting results in naval aviation. That’s according to Deputy Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers (COMFRC) Roy Harris and Logistics Management Integration Department Director Candy Chesser. Both spoke May 7 at Sea-Air-Space, a three-day exposition sponsored by the Navy League that serves as the key annual venue for military, government and industry leaders to gather information about the current defense industry environment.

NSS implements industry best practices and addresses all elements of aviation maintenance—people, parts and processes—to make permanent changes that increase aircraft readiness and lethality. It covers six foundational pillars: Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC) reform; organizational-level reform; Aircraft on the Ground cell (a cross-functional team established to address constraints of short-term down aircraft); engineering and maintenance reform; supply chain reform; and governance, accountability and organization.

“All NSS pillars impact sustainment of our systems,” Chesser said. “It is being implemented on the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet first and then will be applied to other type/model/series aircraft. It focuses on short-term and long-term strategies application to get Super Hornets to their prescribed readiness levels.  We’ve already seen improvements such as the 50 percent decrease in turnaround time for hydraulic systems.”

FRC Southwest (FRCSW) and FRC West (FRCW) were the first maintenance, repair and overhaul sites to operate within the NSS construct. “Since March, the FRCs have seen a 30 percent improvement in their ability to burn down IPG [Issue Priority Group] 1,” Harris said. (When an aircraft is unable to perform its mission because of an urgent need for materiel, that materiel is designated as an IPG 1.)

He also credited NSS with reducing turnaround times for aircraft at FRCW by more than half. “We’re getting parts to the flight line quicker,” he said.

“How did we do this? By focusing on three key areas: data analysis, determining which parts to focus on and making sure the right artisan with the right skills is in the right place,” he explained. This led to reconfiguring flow on production lines, increasing sites’ testing capabilities and correctly outfitting artisans at the depot and maintainers at intermediate-level repair facilities. Representatives from other FRCs also visited FRCSW and FRCW to learn more about NSS and replicate the improved processes at their facilities. FRC Mid-Atlantic is the latest site to fully implement NSS on their PMI line.  

Harris explained how support from other providers also contributed to improved support to the flight line. “We have a strong relationship with [Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support] and [the Defense Logistics Agency],” he said. “These lines of communication help to make sure that the right production kits for repair and parts to complete the repair are available ahead of time.”

“The parts, tools, equipment and engineering needed to repair aircraft are alongside of the aircraft, right within reach of the experts performing the work,” he added. “It’s a concept of the artisan as a surgeon.”

Internal communication is another component of FRCSW and FRCW’s success: stakeholders meet at least once, sometimes twice a day to discuss progress and barriers.  “Solutions are created and executed the same day.  It’s an all-hands on deck, coordinated effort,” Harris said. 

The FRCs’ support to the fleet has changed as well. “Before NSS, the FRCs would release aircraft to the squadrons with work still to be done on them,” he explained. “Now, the FRCs are doing the work as part of the aircraft’s heavy maintenance depot events. This means aircraft are flying within days of delivery to the squadrons instead of the months it used to take.”

Other sustainment efforts are providing lessons learned as well, according to Chesser. For instance, a review of programmatic allocations and product support element decision making that will provide stakeholders with a better understanding of their impacts to a program’s total life cycle is underway. 

She cited two resourcing strategies as recent examples of how the Sustainment Group is taking cues from other successful NAVAIR business processes. The first, Contracted Maintenance, Modification, Aircrew, and Related Service (CMMARS), is a 10-year, $12.6 billion multiple award contract (MAC) that serves as the primary vehicle for maintenance and modification of military and commercial aviation platforms—fixed-wing, rotary-wing, unmanned aerial vehicles and lighter than air vehicles as well as their related systems and weapon systems. CMMARS was awarded to 20 companies two months ahead of its original projected date by simplifying offerors’ proposals and government evaluations. In total, more than 10 Naval Aviation and Air Force organizations will use CMMARS.

The second MAC—Kits, Recovery, Augmentation, Component and Engines—is still in development and will use the same approach to awards contracts. It will provide contractor support to augment government maintenance teams and repairs services for aircraft subsystems, components, support equipment, and related systems.

“Our contracting strategies make sure that industry partners are provided with the performance metrics that matter to the fleet,” she said.

Industry partners will continue to be an essential part of sustainment, according to Chesser. “Most of Naval Aviation’s weapon systems are transitioning into or are in their sustainment phase,” she said. “Their platform support strategies are dependent upon the relationship between the government and industry.”

The next step, she said, is to take all lessons learned and replicate their successes across all TMSs.

“Right now,” Harris said, “is an exciting time to be part of Naval Aviation.”