Flight Sergeant Andy Sayers has been presented with a Royal Air Force GEMS Award. The award is in recognition for his investigation and development of an alternative method for the trailing of air-to-air refuelling (AAR) hoses.
Voyager Warrant Officer Paul Heane explains more. “Voyager Engineers predominantly utilise maintenance steps similar to aircraft passenger steps as the preferred method for accessing the AAR Pods at the correct height.
“The operation requires a team of six to trail and stow the 90 foot long hose and maintain enough tension in conjunction with the integral motor to ensure the hose sits perfectly on the drum assembly.
“Andy has designed a harness that attaches around the drogue assembly with lanyards that can be held by the engineers from the ground. His design has been adopted and manufactured by Cobham and is now a permanent addition to the AAR Fly Away Packs.
Andy himself said of the harness, "It's a simple design to help with a simple problem. I'd thought on a number of occasions that we could benefit from something to reduce the manpower involved, so decided to design something myself."
WO Heane continued, “The use of the harness enables the engineers to service the AAR Pods without the need for access steps, which are not always available. The only requirement is a scissor lift to access the motor controls and Pod rear fairing. More importantly it has been proven to reduce the team composition to five.
“GEMS is a Defence wide staff suggestion scheme that recognises and rewards implemented ideas that offer both financial and operational benefit across the MOD.
“The GEMS Scheme receives approximately 2000 suggestions annually generating average savings of £13.2 million per year. It is open to all MOD Civilians, Armed Forces Personnel and ex-employees and can be accessed via GEMS on line.
Speaking after the award presentation, Andy said, "I'm pleased to have received recognition for my work, but what gives me more satisfaction is knowing that it will help the Voyager engineering force, hopefully, for years to come."