NAVAIR Program Support Manager (PSM) Darrell White was recently named the 2019 Office of the Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment PSM of the Year (Major Defense Acquisition Program, Acquisition Category I) for successfully increasing the number of mission-capable V-22 Ospreys available to the fleet.
“This award recognizes PSMs as key leaders in providing the very best product support for our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines,” stated Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord in White’s congratulatory letter. “The award furthers the Defense Acquisition Workforce (DAW) vision of ‘creating a high quality, high-performing, agile DAW to achieve technological superiority and protect America’s national security.’ Congratulations on behalf of the Secretary of Defense.”
White, who provided logistics sustainment solutions to the V-22 Joint Program Office from May 2017 to November 2019 and whose area of responsibility included over 350 Marine Corps, Air Force Special Operations Command, the Navy and the government of Japan’s aircraft and their associated mission kits and ancillary equipment, was instrumental in the overall reduction of the community’s long term-down (LTD) aircraft by 40% in fiscal year 2019. The community also saw an increase in V-22’s mission capable (MC) rates by approximately 15% from 2017 to 2019.
Those successes, White said, were realized by executing the program’s three-year Return-to-Readiness (R2R) Plan, a naval aviation initiative that strengthens program managers’ role as “cradle-to-grave” life cycle owners, empowering them to produce mission capable (MC) aircraft through direct engagement in the maintenance, supply, manpower, equipment, infrastructure and industry domains.
An assessment conducted through the R2R Plan outlined parts shortages, identified required engineering solutions and highlighted backlogged work orders, White explained. However, empowering government and contract maintainers—those with the ability and authority to mitigate aircraft material condition at the point of execution—was key to his success.
“This concept called for a team of experts who had situational awareness of each aircraft’s material condition and who were tasked as the catalyst for the reduction of long-term down V-22s,” he said. “It was important that government and industry work together, align resources and leverage each other’s strengths.”
White was also instrumental in the implementation of the Common Configuration-Readiness and Modernization (CC-RAM) initiative to update Block B aircraft with 58 modifications, bringing them up to the 2018 V-22 production standard. CC-RAM is projected to improve MC rates by 15%. It is also expected to yield a cost avoidance of $1.5 billion across the V-22’s life cycle and a 30% decrease in maintenance man-hours per flight hour.
In conjunction with Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support Logistics Cell (local and virtual teams that integrate and collaborate on near real-time data sources, enabling expedited decision making), White’s efforts in 2018 led to the reduction of 89 V-22 National Item Identification Numbered back-ordered parts by 25%. He also assisted in the roll out of the Customer Oriented Leveling Technique/Predictive Demand Loading to all Marine aviation logistics squadrons responsible for V-22 maintenance, reducing the average customer wait time for off-station consumables by 50% at each site.
White again attributes these gains to coordination and a shared purpose among all stakeholders. “Each person/agency knew how the decisions and actions they undertook were vital in order for component availability to increase and the Logistics Cell efforts to be successful,” he said.
As a forward thinker, White is credited with securing the future of V-22 sustainment. White led the effort to award a fixed-price, incentive-fee, performance-based logistics and equipment contract with Bell-Boeing that incentivizes the contractor to aggressively pursue an 18% reduction in the V-22’s non-mission capable maintenance rate during its five-year period of performance. It also calls for reducing the number of LTD aircraft by 10-15 each year. Both requirements are a first in naval aviation.
Sustainment Group Director Candy Chesser congratulated White for a job well done and for raising the visibility of naval aviation throughout the DoD.
“His hard work, dedication and vision is exemplary and representative of the talent at NAVAIR,” she said. “Strong leadership coupled with a focused, engaged and well-performing workforce yields results—proof that is seen on the flight line. We are proud of Mr. White for being selected for this honor and the V-22 community who helped make this possible.”
White is scheduled to be recognized at the 2020 Office of the Secretary of Defense Product Support Manager Workshop in April.
Focus, perseverance and a positive outlook is critical to any endeavor, according to White. “In order to have the best opportunity to achieve our improved readiness outcome, the team started with a good definition of the desired goal and then identified and positioned resources as required,” he said. “We realized that obstacles would constantly challenge our progress, but positive energy, over-communication and a work-hard-have-fun attitude will always win the day.”