Kenneth Burkett, Senior Aircraft Mechanic, 10DV Flight Facility, Lincoln Laboratory
Richard Coveno, Subcontractor - Technical Staff, DAG Consultants
Brandon Dilworth, Technical Staff, Group 71 Mechanical Engineering, Lincoln Laboratory
Todd Lardy, Pilot, 10DV Flight Facility, Lincoln Laboratory
Robert Longton, Specialist, Group 77, Rapid Prototyping, Lincoln Laboratory
Robert Maynard, Chief Pilot, 10DV Flight Facility, Lincoln Laboratory
Christopher P. McNeil, Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor, 10DV Flight Facility, Lincoln Laboratory
Kenneth McKenna, Senior Aircraft Mechanic, 10DV Flight Facility, Lincoln Laboratory
Lance Michael, Associate Staff-Engineering, Group 108 Tactical Defense Systems, Lincoln Laboratory
Todd Mower, Technical Staff, Engineering Division, Lincoln Laboratory
Robert Allan Murray, Senior Aircraft Mechanic, 10DV Flight Facility, Lincoln Laboratory
Melissa Nelson, Senior Aircraft Mechanic, 10DV Flight Facility, Lincoln Laboratory
(presented by Eric Evans, Director, Lincoln Laboratory)
The first Innovative Solutions award goes to a team at Lincoln Laboratory that was faced with one such stumbling block—in fact, a true life or death challenge. The name of this team—the Gulfstream GII APU Root Cause Investigation Team—belies the heroic nature of their work.
Early in 2014, after a routine flight of one of Lincoln Laboratory’s Flight Test Facility aircraft, a near catastrophe unfolded. The Gulfstream GII—a highly valuable plane that supports an important U.S. Air Force national security testing campaign—experienced a major fuel leak while on the ground during a cross-country pitstop.
What was originally thought to be an isolated mechanical failure was quickly identified as a very serious puzzle. And there was this added bit of pressure. The solution had to be found and developed within five months so that the aircraft could support the next test mission.
The lab immediately pulled together a highly skilled interdisciplinary team of mechanics, engineers, project managers, technicians, and management staff. This team would essentially live together over the next five months to complete a comprehensive failure analysis and implement a mechanical system redesign. Each team member gave 150%—hundreds of hours a month—and endured heavy physical and psychological strain.
When they identified the problem, the Gulfstream team fabricated hardware, implemented the engineering changes necessary, sought and received FAA approval, and installed the new equipment. What should have taken a good twelve months was completed in only two—and significantly under budget. The actions of the team allowed the return to service of this critical US Air Force plane, allowing the aircraft to do what it does best—support national security.
For their outstanding efforts we would like to reward the 12 members of the Gulfstream Team with the MIT Excellence Award for Innovative Solutions.