Seek and “We” Shall Find

Feb. 28, 2006
DAND Aerospace Services was formed to help AGE technicians quickly find and purchase the best and most efficient parts in the least amount of time.

When I was first introduced to the Air Force and the Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) career field some 28 years ago, I discovered a passion for troubleshooting and providing the best possible equipment to our flight line counterparts. The principles we were taught almost 30 years ago still apply and most are still taught today. In the last 30 years thousands of manufacturers have given us multiple versions and types of support equipment. To maintain all of the different types of equipment, it takes a dedicated team of highly motivated individuals to accomplish this task.

Design engineers some 40 years ago didn’t expect their creation would still be functioning around the world today, as many a piece of ground support equipment is still being maintained and serviced on today’s ramps. Maintenance of this equipment at original standards and to preserve or extend its service life takes great technicians and mechanics.

Being An Age Ranger For 28 Years And Enjoying Every Minute of It

The Air Force paid for my education of AGE and a degree in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The Air Force not only has a diverse workforce, it has a diverse workforce that has individually unique talents, and utilized correctly, can ensure the entire group performs amazing accomplishments together.

When this equipment was introduced into the Air Force, there was an all-encompassing supply system to support everything the Air Force owned and operated. Budget cuts and downsizing created innovative and streamlined methods of purchasing and maintaining ground support equipment in nearly brand new condition for years past its service life. AGE technicians have utilized the item managers, commercial vendors and even looked as far away as australia to locate manufacturers and parts that may be up to 25 years old.

AGE technicians have very creative minds which enable them to maintain 94 percent and upward, in-commission rates. The major hurdle to maintaining this equipment is locating parts within the limitations that commanders and budgets will allow.

Creativity was the key to successful production and incommission rates and never did I see any of my fellow AGE rangers stop when they were told a part or manufacturer could not be located to fix the unit they were working on, and besides, the equipment was more than likely older than they were. Over the years technicians kept little green books and as the years passed, large green books with part numbers, national stock numbers and manufacturers, so as to get the parts needed to fix the equipment. Observing the processes within my flights, I saw that the government purchase card holders increasingly spent more and more daily time locating sources and finding the best prices for the almost extinct or antique parts that were required for support equipment 20 years old or even 10 years old.

My tech school block III instructor, a civilian as I recall, kept impressing on us, “take the knowledge you learn in AGE, apply it and you can make a buck on what you learned.” Over the last few years of my active duty time, I recalled this quote and applied it as a way to help my fellow AGE rangers long after I retired.

My wife and I formed DanD (D&D) aerospace Services, LP as an avenue to continue to help AGE folks find, locate and purchase the best and most efficient parts and products in the least amount of time. We have compiled a database, with the help of many of our fellow AGE rangers, from a collection of these green books, so as to develop a central point of information for technicians and card holders to locate parts. The continuous saying of doing more with less, and “let’s put some LEAN processes into what we do,” is the premise behind our company. If a shop needs to locate a part, why spend your day looking for an obsolete supplier? Go on our Web site and use the parts locator for us to find it.

Additionally, our goal is to help AGE technicians utilize their time in the most efficient way possible. We locate products in the commercial world and find the shops that can use them. There are thousands of manufacturers in the market that have gone to pain staking lengths acquiring National Stock Numbers (NSN) for their products, and the workers and technicians on the floor are still working with archaic technology because they don’t have the knowledge of the latest products in the marketplace. One of our product lines is a small portable steam cleaner. It is so environmentally friendly that it uses only one gallon of water an hour and the waste stream is an oil diaper that folds up and goes in your IAP. This one product has had a NSN for almost 10 years and the technicians on the floor know nothing about it. We are in the business of finding anything that will continue to make AGE rangers’ jobs the most stratifying and efficient as we can. An AGE person was trained to support war fighters and not spend days hunting down parts for 30-year-old equipment.

I truly believe I was taught more and received more knowledge from the people around me who maintained and produced quality work than I ever taught or passed on. The dedication in AGE technicians around the world is something that will continue to breed excellence and keep the Air Force going for many generations in the 21st century with 20th century technology. If DanD Aerospace Services can aid in continuing excellence in support equipment operation and cost efficiency, then maybe we will be able to continue giving back for all the many things learned and passed on within our AGE community. I thank every AGE ranger out there for their dedication.