News | May 17, 2021

Agile acquisition response keeps C-130s in the air

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Resolving aircraft safety issues is a time-sensitive mission affecting a number of agencies, and when a critical part was needed to repair C-130 Hercules aircraft, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation collaborated with other groups to ensure parts were available six weeks ahead of schedule.

One of the leaders procuring the part — hinge pins used in the installation of leading-edge sections between aircraft engines — was Deion Turner, the [former] deputy chief of the Aviation Commodities Division in DLA Aviation’s Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate.

Turner said the tight turnaround for procuring the hinge pins was due to the potential grounding of C-130s. These aircraft serve a number of agencies, including all branches of the armed forces.

“A safety issue was identified regarding cracking and loose bolts at the center-to-outer wing joint on the C-130 aircraft,” said Turner. “Once the problem was identified, a time compliance technical order, or TCTO, was issued in order to inspect, retorque any necessary bolts and inspect for any potential damage.”

The repair and inspection require the removal of the leading-edge sections between the inboard and outboard engines of the aircraft; the sections are installed using hinge pins.

“Once the pins are removed, they are generally not used on the aircraft again, presenting the urgency to acquire additional pins to fulfill the order and inspect the current C-130 fleet for safety,” he said.

“Knowing the immediate need of the aircraft due to be inspected in the short term was vital to getting additional stock in the pipeline. We immediately sent out calls to vendors who previously provided material for any available stock for immediate shipment.” Turner said.

Turner’s team worked with representatives from the U.S. Air Force C-130 System Program Office, DLA Troop Support, and the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

The calls to vendors turned up 126 units available for immediate shipment with the remaining units to be provided in under 90 days. The pins procured were a universal size that could be cut to fit, Turner said, allowing the group to procure just one national item identification number rather than multiple NIINs.

“The main challenge you face in a situation like this is the unknowns within the supply base,” he said. “You know there is an immediate requirement, but you don’t always know whether you will be able to find acceptable material that can be procured in a timely manner.”

The immediate response was well received by all interested parties, but the task of ensuring adequate stock for the remainder of the fleet was still on the table. To do this, Turner and his group expedited the purchase request.

Turner lauded Troy Thomas, the chief of the Materiel Planning Division in DLA Aviation’s Planning Programs Directorate, for getting a purchase request generated for an ‘urgent and compelling’ requirement in a short time: hours, in fact. Team members Dorothy Groux and Kalisia Winkey-Pacer, both acquisition specialists in Turner’s division helped expedite purchase requests for additional required stock, executing procurements the same day the requirement was verified.

Challenges like this one are not unusual for Turner’s division. In November 2020 his team was asked to resolve a similar situation involving a part used for the Nuclear Reactor Program. Delivery orders for a spacer sleeve had been canceled but there was a need for immediate stock, since the contract cancellations reduced the overall material availability by almost one percentage point.

“In this situation we were able to acquire 120 units for immediate shipment using urgent and compelling procedures,” Turner said. “The swift action allowed DLA to reduce current back orders and increase overall material availability back to acceptable levels.”

Turner said dealing with situations of this magnitude enables him to use live examples to show the critical role his organization plays in supporting the warfighter, to the contributions of employees.

“Within the buying community, employees don’t always see how their individual contributions factor into the overarching mission of DLA,” Turner said. “But it’s the live examples that can change the perspective of these employees — especially direct hires and pacers who are new to the agency.”