KC-46 team wins DOD environmental award

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Boeing photograph by Paul Weatherman

The KC-46A Pegasus performs its first aerial refueling passing 1,600 pounds of fuel to an F-16 Fighting Falcon on Jan. 24, 2016. The KC-46 program’ Environmental, Safety and Occupational Health team was recognized by the Defense Department for innovative and cost effective environmental practices.

The KC-46A Pegasus program’s Environment, Safety and Occupational Health team was named the Defense Department’s top large program in environmental excellence in weapon system acquisition April 22.

The award, which is part of the 2016 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards, recognized the cross-functional team’s integration of cost-effective environment, safety and occupational health measures into the KC-46’s system design.

“Our men and women work hard to keep environmental stewardship a priority while simultaneously advancing our national defense mission,” said Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. These efforts “foster a special type of innovation worthy of national recognition.”

The awards recognize individuals, teams and installations for their exceptional environmental achievements and innovative, cost-effective environmental practices across nine categories.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized for this prestigious award, and I’m extremely proud of Col. John Newberry, our KC-46 program manager, and his KC-46 ESOH team,” said Brig. Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, the Air Force program executive officer for tankers. “The KC-46 will be a revolutionary capability in the hands of the warfighter and this award recognizes the level of ingenuity and dedication within all the personnel that work the KC-46 program.”

The KC-46 ESOH team includes Nick Shouse, Maj. Matt Obenchain, Senior Master Sgt. Brian Cantrell, Bill Hunt, Don Jackson, Dr. Kevin Kendig, John Stallings, Darren Veneman, and Luis Diaz-Rodriguez.

The team was cited for a number of innovations, including the use of an advance performance coating topcoat that reduces the number of times the aircraft will need to be repainted during its service life. The use of APC polyurethane topcoats increases by two times the cycle between repaints compared with the standard polyurethane topcoat and reduces the discharge of volatile organic compounds. This mitigation is estimated to save $44 million over the life cycle of the initial fleet of aircraft.

The award also recognized the KC-46 will be the first commercial airline and transport-based aircraft in the world to be delivered with a Federal Aviation Administration-certified non-halon fire suppression system. Production of halon has been prohibited by the Clean Air Act since 1993, but is still used in all commercial airline and transport aircraft. The precedent-setting KC-46 halon replacement initiative gives industry and FAA valuable testing and certification experience that will support the gradual transition to non-halon systems for commercial aircraft in coming years.

In fiscal year 2015, the DOD invested $3.8 billion for its environmental programs: $1.8 billion to clean up contamination from past DOD activities; $1.3 billion to comply with environmental laws; $377 million to protect natural and cultural resources; and $184 million for research and development to reduce environmental impacts of DOD activities and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of environmental solutions. These investments help DOD to continue ensuring the protection of human health and the environment, and to sustain the resources required to support the readiness of the nation’s armed forces.

The other Air Force entities to earn awards include:

* Environmental quality, individual/team: Eglin Air Force Base Environmental Quality team, based in Florida — Demonstrated a holistic environmental management approach to exceed waste diversion and renewable energy goals, maintain compliance, and minimize impacts to the mission.

* Environmental restoration, installation: Beale AFB, Calif. — Used an objective-focused restoration approach and collaborative partnerships to protect human health and the environment, and make significant progress in cleaning up contamination from past defense activities.