Military Airlift:

Improving Management of Aircraft Loading Operations

NSIAD-87-5: Published: Oct 23, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 23, 1986.

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GAO evaluated whether the Military Airlift Command's (MAC) aerial ports, which are airfields selected for the sustained movement of military air traffic, can effectively support wartime airlift operations.

The military airlift system is made up of both military aircraft and commercially owned and operated aircraft committed to the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program. System readiness depends on having reliable materiel handling equipment (MHE) to load and unload aircraft and personnel to operate and maintain the equipment. However, problems with 59 elevator loaders MAC purchased from a contractor in 1982 reduced its ability to load wide-body aircraft. MAC took these loaders, which accounted for over half of its wide-body elevator loader capacity, out of service in 1985 after it experienced extensive problems. The absence of operational reliability testing, inadequate storage procedures, and lack of spare parts were major factors in reducing loader availability. Since MAC did not review the status of the spare parts kit components for 7 years, it found that the kits contained components for equipment no longer in use. While MAC has taken action to update kit components, the kits do not contain parts for elevator-type cargo loaders or have not been established for equipment stored as war reserve. Although CRAF-owned cargo loaders would provide an alternative to the government buying new equipment to meet wartime requirements, MAC policy is to use CRAF equipment only when its own resources are unavailable. As a result, the Air Force bought loaders even though CRAF carriers had the equipment. GAO believes that MAC plans should provide for use of CRAF-owned carriers to reduce the need for additional procurement and reduce the impact of loader shortages.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Defense (DOD) stated that existing procedures are adequate for vehicle storage; however, these procedures were not employed for the Wilson loaders. The adequacy of existing storage procedures will be considered for future audit work.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to ascertain the extent to which the storage problems experienced with the contractor's loaders may be occurring with other MHE stored as war reserve.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The aerial port planners guide was published and distributed in February 1989. Air Force Publication 76-2 is being changed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should revise Air Force regulations to require consideration of CRAF-owned elevator loaders in formulating operational war plans and determining procurement requirements.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC will use information on the inventory and location of private sector elevation loaders maintained by commercial carriers. MAC subscribes to this report, which is updated annually.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to develop and maintain an updated CRAF-elevator loader inventory.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The May 1988 contract obligation with CRAF carriers to furnish MHE where government-furnished MHE is inadequate or unavailable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to obtain contractual commitments from CRAF carriers for use of elevator loaders during a contingency.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  5. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Air Force does not plan to purchase additional WBELS.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to refine its procurement objectives and determine the reduction in war reserve requirements achievable by considering CRAF carrier-owned elevator loaders.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that future procurements will be made in light of the availability of CRAF carrier-owned MHE.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should defer procurement of additional elevator loaders until MAC refines its procurement objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD stated that spare parts requirements will be included in the next budget cycle for inclusion in the Air Force Fiscal Year 1989 through 1993 Program Objective Memorandum.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to identify the current inventory of war reserve equipment and establish war readiness spares kits tailored to the requirements of equipment at each storing base.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC is developing war readiness spares kits and base-level self-sufficiency requirements for all command elevator loaders.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to establish war readiness spares kits for all in-service elevator loaders.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC initiated a top-to-bottom MHE war readiness spares kit and base-level self-sufficiency requirements analysis.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to comply with Air Force regulations to annually review kit status.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC expanded its vehicle in-commission reporting requirements to include a category of problem vehicles. This, along with other management information, will be used as a basis for management action.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to identify equipment that falls below acceptable performance criteria, determine the causes for the reduced performance, and take timely corrective action needed to bring the equipment up to acceptable performance standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: MAC validated its base-level self-sufficiency requirements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should direct the Commander, MAC, to complete efforts to establish appropriate base-level self-sufficiency spare kit components.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

 

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