How AFREP is reforming sustainability

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Team XL is the first Air Education and Training Command (AETC) base to launch a civil service-driven Air Force Repair Enhancement Program (AFREP), an initiative that supports self-sustainability and efficiency within the 47th Flying Training Wing Maintenance Directorate (FTW MX). 

AFREP prioritizes the repair and refurbishment of aircraft parts previously marked for disposal. This project supports sustainable maintenance practices, particularly in the face of budgetary constraints and supply chain challenges.  

“Due to constrained budgetary concerns, there is no longer a surplus availability of parts and hardware,” said Juan Cedillo, 47th FTW Component Maintenance Division director. “As old age and unforeseen events shape the ebb and flow of available parts; too often, well-contemplated forecasts do not match the needs at the field and depot levels of maintenance.” 

Previously, components with minor defects often had to be discarded and replaced entirely following Air Force Instructions. Today, the Air Force rewards innovative solutions and repairs by compensating the difference between the cost of a brand-new part and the repair expense made by an AFREP team. For example, a new airplane part costing $7,000 fixed for $2,500 would go into the AFREP savings account as $4,500. 

Before AFREP, workers were often limited to performing small repairs. Moreover, the team wouldn’t receive additional money to budget for more expensive repairs. This system resulted in smaller repairs, higher spending costs and the disposal of potentially serviceable parts. 

“The AFREP program allows our team to transform adversity into opportunity,” said Col. Jennifer Phillips, 47th FTW MX director, “Our AFREP team helps the Air Force extend the lifecycle of aircraft components, paving the way for self-sufficiency and sustainability in a resource-constrained environment.” 

The AFREP team employs a range of sophisticated techniques and state-of-the-art machinery. After determining what to repair, AFREP members can request components from the fabrication shop on base. 

Here, workers utilize an advanced 5-axis computer numerical control (CNC) mill, CNC turret lathe, water jet machining, and furnaces to locally perform repairs or create structural elements, tools, fixtures or test equipment. Additionally, sheet metal workers and welders locally fabricate approved parts, often for the T-38C Talon. These worker’s expertise and talent can especially be seen in creating elements that have become challenging to traditionally order. 

The program supports not only the U.S. Air Force and Laughlin’s demanding mission of building combat ready Airmen, leaders and pilots; but also provides repair services to the U.S. Navy. The AFREP team is currently repairing bus contactors for Navy F-5’s, a single seat fighter trainer utilized to simulate air-to-air combat.  

The program is expected to expand in the future to meet a growing demand and adapt to the evolving needs of the Air Force. 

“The team has already repaired multiple parts postured for disposition, establishing a current balance of $353K back to Laughlin,” said Phillips. “We are projecting $600K to $1 million plus in AFREP credits for fiscal year 2024!” 

By prioritizing repair over replacement, the program is actively conserving resources, supporting sustainability and encouraging workers to delve into new avenues of innovation. 

“This program is more than just repaired parts,” said Phillips “It’s a clear indicator of our potential to fully leverage organic capability, drive innovation and ignite change enterprise-wide.”