NEWS | Dec. 16, 2008

Fighter pilot's software prowess saves Air Force millions and earns award

By Sean Bowlin 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

A former 12th Flying Training Wing Airman saved the Air Force more than $2.3 million by creating a flight forecasting computer program which earned him an Air Force 2008 Productivity Award. 

Major Eric Schmidt also modified an existing Air Force flight scheduling software program to efficiently replace hand-writing a schedule on a magnetized board . 

Major Schmidt, who recently joined the 3rd Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., created the flight forecasting computer program while he was chief of scheduling with Team Randolph's 435th Fighter Training Squadron.

"Major Schmidt was the critical link in taking the 435th Deadly Black Eagles to the next level on many initiatives," said Lt. Col. Bruce Smith, 435th FTS commander. "His scheduling prowess and dedication to the squadron, group and wing led to the 435th's 'excellent' rating and to the 'outstanding' rating we got in flight training (during the ORI)." 

Major Schmidt's forecaster identifies surpluses and shortfalls in both flying hours and pilot availability earlier than was possible before. 

Using the forecaster allowed the major and thus the 435th FTS to save 450 excess flight hours. In turn, this saved the Air Force about $970,000 which would have been used for fuel and maintenance for those sorties, if they had been flown by the 435th's instructors. 

"The Department of Defense doesn't want us to waste the taxpayer's money," Major Schmidt said. 

In the end, the squadron trained an additional 12 students that were not originally programmed into the squadron's annual training load with the money saved by using the forecaster. 

Major Schmidt was also the primary enabler to incorporate TIMS ,Training Integrated Management System, in the Air Education Training Command with modifications he suggested to fully utilized the software's digital scheduling capabilities. 

Using the modified TIMS reduced time formerly required to produce a valid flight schedule from 14.5 hours per day to 6.5 per day. It also cut human errors typically made by hand-entering information on the magnetized flight board by 80 percent. 

He also oversaw the 435th FTS's execution of a 6,000 sorties per year while using the modified TIMS to monitor flight hours and returned 850 excessive flying hours in total. 

This saved AETC an additional $1.5 million.

Major Schmidt's modifications to the TIMS are under review for an AFSO 21 Improvement Process. 

Lieutenant Colonel Smith said he didn't even need to point out Major Schmidt's software modifications and creations to the Inspector General team during the recent Operational Readiness Inspection. 

"It was easily recognizable," Colonel Smith remarked. "'Major Schmidt is the go-to guy. He's the guy that takes the tough jobs and makes them look easy -- and loves doing it!"