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A $2 light bulb saves Air Force about $46,000

62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Published: 05:37PM June 19th, 2014

Every C-17 Globemaster III aircraft comes equipped with a buffet and galley subsystem, which provides an area for food and beverage storage and preparation, like those found on commercial airliners. The small galley consists of a refrigerator, freezer, coffee maker, sink, waste container and an oven. They are essential for the comfort of aircrews and passengers on board.

In April, one such galley system was turned into the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office. DRMO is managed by the Defense Logistics Agency and is responsible for the disposal of excess property received from military services.

After inspection of the unit at DRMO, a maintenance parts delivery driver who delivered the galley felt it could be fixed and didn’t need to be turned in. He contacted Tech. Sgt. Joseph Bilger, 62nd Maintenance Squadron product improvement manager, and asked him to look into it.

Bilger drove to DRMO and discovered the galley had not yet been processed, so he brought it back to McChord Field and returned the system to a maintenance shop to be inspected. Maintainers discovered that the galley thought to be unserviceable could be fixed with nothing more than a $2 light bulb.

Replacing the whole system would have cost about $46,000.

“The mishandling of the part was all chalked up to confusion between flightline maintenance and supply,” Bilger said. “We determined this incident occurred due to a lack of knowledge on the subject; therefore, no one was faulted.”

Supply shops and maintenance shops have repair logs to identify which parts maintainers can repair, and which parts they cannot. There were some mismatches on the two lists, which caused the confusion that led to the galley being sent to DRMO. This has since been rectified.

“Now that we have ensured the lists match, the next time a galley comes through to be repaired, it will be sent to the back-shops and not DRMO,” Bilger said.