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POL flight starts what could be 'benchmark' process

by Staff Sgt. Carolyn Viss
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/21/2010 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan (AFNS) -- The 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oil and lubricants flight has just implemented a process for filtering fuel that Air Force leadership wants to make a "benchmark."

This first in-the-area of responsibility pre-stage fuel filter system drew the attention of Maj. Gen. Robert H. McMahon, the Director of Logistics, Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Installations and Mission Support, during his Jan. 17 visit to the Transit Center.

The pre-filter pulls more of the sediment, water and other impurities in the fuel out and results in a better end product, said Senior Master Sgt. Henry Ellis, the 376th ELRS fuels manager.

"They are only half a micron big," he said, "but it allows us to pre-filter the fuel before it goes into the regular filter separators, into the trucks, and eventually into the aircraft."

Brainstormed by Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Parris, the outgoing fuels manager, the filters were easy to obtain by working with the Air Force Petroleum Engineering Team. The filters have a national stock number, so any POL flight can simply contact AFPET and get the equipment.

"It should eliminate us from having to change the filter separators every few days," Sergeant Ellis said. "We're hoping we can now go three weeks or even a month."

Saving both money and time, it's a very simple process, he said, but it has a huge impact considering the KC-135 Stratotankers here go through several thousand gallons a day. This air-to-air refueling is what allows fighters and bombers to stay in the fight over Afghanistan.

"General McMahon came through, we showed this to him, and he was very impressed with it," Sergeant Ellis said. "He stated he wants to benchmark it AOR-wide if not Air Force-wide."

The fact that deployed Airmen are coming up with innovative ways to improve processes proves the metal they're made of.

"It's been my experience that working in the AOR brings out the very best in our Airmen," said Col. Thomas Joyce, the 376th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander. "The initiative and get-it done attitude in our fuels flight and the entire wing is truly remarkable."

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