Air Force selects two AMC-proposed innovations as Spark Tank finalists

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Two Air Mobility Command-proposed innovations were selected among six Air Force Spark Tank finalists slated for showcase before Air Force senior leaders at the Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium, Feb. 23 in Orlando, Florida.


The Spark Tank finalists representing AMC are: 


The KC-135 Aircraft Boom Instructor Platform, submitted by Master Sgt. Bartek Bachleda, 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

The Graphic Airfield Suitability Display, proposed by Joe Motowski, John Figgins, Jeffery Hopkins, Micah Turner, Air Mobility Commands Operations, Strategic Deterrence, and Nuclear Integration Directorate; Scott AFB, Illinois.


McConnell’s innovation proposed the reengineering of the boom operator instructor platform position, for the entire KC-135 fleet. The reengineering provides 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 Air Force dollars in this critical aircrew specialty.

AMC A3’s innovation proposal is aimed at enhancing operations at unfamiliar airfields, reducing potential damage to airfields and AMC aircraft by using a new automated graphical display to visually communicate airfield suitability information that is currently accessed through a manual textual process. Proposed implementation of this proposal is via a modified National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency application to be integrated in existing electronic flight bags.


“Innovation is central to our Air Force's ability to apply airpower,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, commander of Air Mobility Command. “Our continued success relies on the talent and skill of those who strive to improve processes and identify new services and equipment that make us a more lethal force.”

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson first announced the Air Force’s Spark Tank competition during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference Sept. 18, 2017.


The Spark Tank competition, which is co-hosted by the Airmen Powered by Innovation Program and the newly-announced AFWERX innovation ecosystem, is being conducted in a multi-step approach starting with Airmen innovators submitting their idea through wing leadership to their major commands. Each major command selected two ideas to compete at the headquarters Air Force level. 

“The pace of change is accelerating and the Air Force knows the next generation of innovators are the ones who will take us into our future,” Wilson said. “I know the true source of our military might is not merely in the investments we make but in the courage and ingenuity of our people, and the innovative spirit that has made our Armed Forces the envy of the world.”

These ideas will be implemented with the assistance of HQ AMC and AFWERX. Implementation guidance is being developed.