Tuesday 19th June, 2018
23.2
2 ℉ | 25 ℉Jefferson City
face-of-defense-airman-earns-first-spark-tank-innovation-award

Face of Defense: Airman Earns First 'Spark Tank' Innovation Award

U.S. Defense Department - Thursday 8th March, 2018

ORLANDO, Fla., March 7, 2018 - An airman from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, took home the top prize in the Air Force's first-ever Spark Tank innovation competition at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium here Feb. 22. Air Force Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 22nd Air Refueling Wing, refuels an F-18 Hornet aircraft over Missouri, Feb. 10, 2017. Bachleda developed an ergonomically correct support cushion and floor panel for KC-135 Stratotanker boom operators, which potentially helps prevent future medical problems for airmen. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor Rhynes Refueling Over Missouri Air Force Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 22nd Air Refueling Wing, refuels an F-18 Hornet aircraft over Missouri, Feb. 10, 2017. Bachleda developed an ergonomically correct support cushion and floor panel for KC-135 Stratotanker boom operators, which potentially helps prevent future medical problems for airmen. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Trevor Rhynes Download Image Image details page

Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, an aircraft refueling boom operator with the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, won the inaugural Air Force Spark Tank Competition Cup for his proposal to reengineer the boom operator platform position for the entire KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft refueler fleet. He asked the Air Force for $1.5 million to implement his innovation.

"It's refreshing to see [leaders] encouraging airmen to innovate," Bachleda said. "It's really cool!"

Better Boom Operator Platform

Bachleda's winning idea is designed to provide a more stable and ergonomically correct platform for all KC-135 instructor boom operators. The proposed innovation aims to both reduce back and neck injuries and save the Air Force $132 million each year in this critical aircrew specialty.

"We were getting neck and back injuries, and it's been happening since the 1950s," he said.

A panel comprised of Air Force senior leaders, including the secretary of the Air Force, the Air Force's chief of staff and industry partners, judged six innovative finalists.

After Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson heard Bachleda's idea, she gave firm direction to the Air Force's acquisitions lead.

"Before we leave tonight, I want you to talk to this guy, figure out his [system] and get this [out] to the airmen," she said. Air Force Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, right, an 22nd Air Refueling Wing aircraft boom operator from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., briefs his idea to the Spark Tank panel during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22, 2018. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark KC-135 aircraft boom instructor platform wins Spark Tank cup Air Force Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, right, an 22nd Air Refueling Wing aircraft boom operator from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., briefs his idea to the Spark Tank panel during the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 22, 2018. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark Download Image Image details page

Innovation Competition

The Air Mobility Command, based at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and its Phoenix Spark innovation program embraced the call for innovation after Wilson kicked off the Spark Tank competition last September. The competition was co-hosted between the Airmen Powered by Innovation Program and the newly-announced AFwerX Innovation Ecosystem, and was conducted in a multi-step approach starting with participants submitting their ideas through their major commands.

AMC was the only command with two innovations selected for presentation to Air Force and industry leaders in Orlando.

"Innovation is central to our Air Force's ability to apply airpower," said Air Force Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, AMC commander. "At a time when we are challenged with resource constraints, with no rest from our adversaries, we need to find more effective ways to continue as the world's most dominant Air Force."

Bachleda encouraged his fellow airmen to keep bringing their ideas forward.

"I didn't come here to win," he said. "I wanted senior leadership to see this problem in front of them and explain to them that we can save the Air Force all this money."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, contributed to this article)

More Missouri State News

Access More
Loading data...
{{item.TITLE}}

{{item.SOURCE}}

Missouri State News.Net

{{item.TITLE}}

{{item.SOURCE}}

Missouri State News.Net

Sign up for Missouri State News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!