Robins Airman working to bring innovative tool to Air Force

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • Robins Public Affairs

Innovation and collaboration are two concepts Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., believes makes the impossible possible to accelerate technological advancements.

And in that spirit, Tech. Sgt. Darnell Head is fine tuning a gadget that will help his team at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, work smarter and not harder.

Head is the Airframe Powerplant, General master instructor for the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Aircraft.

The Tchula, Mississippi, native is a part of the 373rd Training Squadron Detachment 6, falls under the 82nd Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

“This would be one extra thing to help reduce injuries and allow us to work faster too,” said Head.

For now, Head simply calls the piece of equipment a brake removal tool, that he describes as a mechanical lift.

“The weight of one brake is about 200 pounds and it takes two people to handle one. In all, there are eight brakes on an E-8C,” Head explained. “The purpose of this tool is to relieve back stress for the Airmen who are removing and replacing the brakes.

“In maintenance we deal with a lot of back issues and other injuries that come with the job. I really believe this will help alleviate work-related problems that come up,” he continued.

And what was a two-person job, is now a solo task thanks to the device.

The 461st Air Control Wing’s Liberaider SPARK Innovation Hub at Robins AFB, connected Head with a group of Arizona State University engineering students.

ASU senior engineers created the drawings and built the current prototype.

The hub pursues innovation for the Air Force through networking and collaboration with other Department of Defense, industry and academia. The ultimate goal is to bring fast solutions to processes that will expeditiously aid the warfighter.

"Tech. Sgt. Head is a model Airmen,” said Master Sgt. Beau Hudson, 373rd TRS, Detachment 6 senior enlisted leader. “He has a desire for self-growth, a knack for training, and an intuition for innovation. He has excelled by stepping out of his comfort zone, taking risks, and making connections.

“He has been key to not just the detachment's achievements for more than three years, but has also had a huge influence to the growth and development of the men and women of the JSTARS maintenance community," Hudson added.

In Head’s 13 years at Robins, he has garnered many professional accomplishments and accolades which include: the development of a training course for E-8C Airframe powerplant general maintainers, acquisition of four virtual training programs, along with earning the Community College of the Air Force Master Instructor Certification and the Instructional Achievement Award. Personally, he recently received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and will soon pursue a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Project Management.

“I enjoy all things innovation and would like to join the Air Force’s Tesseract Team. Those Airmen shine a spotlight on the many hidden ideas that other Airmen have and boost the progression of those great ideas to the top, which ultimately improves the Air Force overall,” said Head.

For now, the brake removal tool remains in the testing phase.

“This isn’t a tool that can be used just for JSTARS, and we want to make it functional for a variety of aircraft to use it. This can be an item where it can be adjusted for the rods to match any aircraft brake. I believe this can be a universal tool to be used across the Air Force.”