There's an App for That! Mobile Mission Kit reduces aircrew workload, increases reporting accuracy

Citizen Airman/Aug. 2017 -- The continued success of the Air Force Reserve depends upon developing Citizen Airmen who are prepared for the mission requirements of the future, and innovation is a major part of the future force.

The Mobile Mission Kit is a great example of the innovation of today’s Citizen Airmen and their ability to lead the total force. The MMK, conceived in 2012 and championed by former chief of Air Force Reserve Command’s Mobility Operations Division Col. Kevin Webb, is a mobile application that enables aircrew members to record required flight information and access related data in real time. The original concept of the MMK came from a requirement for Reservists to complete the Air Force Form 781, which is used to document flying hours and other flight information.

“MMK delivers a paperless solution to processes that were previously accomplished via pencil and paper,” said Lt. Col. Mike Ballard, AFRC Mobility Operations Division branch director. “It reduces errors by enforcing AFI (Air Force Instruction)-defined business rules and creates efficiencies that shorten the mission data generation and post-mission review processes. MMK enables commanders at all levels to have access to raw, near-real-time information on their aviation units' level of effort and support to the overall mission of the Air Force.”

Ballard explained that MMK was first developed to automate the Form 781 but is being expanded to include all mission-related forms involving aircraft operating procedures. The application was first introduced to the field at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, in 2015.

“The initial field testing of MMK in October 2015 was done with version 22 of the application,” he said. “We are now on version 59. Each new version adds functionality and further addresses AFI-defined business rules.”

Much like commercial applications, the MMK’s capabilities continue to be expanded as more users adapt to the technology.

“Reservists are generally a little skeptical when they are first presented with MMK, and the first time they use it, the process is slower,” said John Crowell, an AFRC mobile innovation-integration specialist. “However, after very little familiarization, Reservists quickly begin to see the benefits.”

MMK’s main benefits are reductions in workload and increases in reporting accuracy. By leveraging the knowledge and experience of Citizen Airmen who are also commercial pilots and the best practices from the aviation industry, Ballard and his team are able to make continued improvements to the application as more users in the field provide feedback.

Lt. Col. Lance Avery, 700th Airlift Squadron chief pilot at Dobbins ARB, said adapting to the MMK has been challenging, but he has seen some improvements to the app.

“The program has come a long way,” Avery said. “We have experienced quite a few frustrations with it, especially in the beginning with connectivity issues and losing our paperwork because of it. The connectivity has definitely improved. I haven't had as many issues as before.”

Avery said he is looking forward to more improvements to the MMK such as enhanced program interfaces with more interactivity as well as further connectivity dependability.

In February 2016, Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, who served as AFRC commander at the time, was briefed on the results of the initial field-testing of MMK. Recognizing the success at Dobbins, Jackson directed the fielding of the program at all mobility air force units throughout the command. The total rollout of the MMK is on track to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2018.

“We have fielded MMK at 10 units, and those units are using MMK as the standard platform for generating the Form 781, the master record of each flight,” Ballard said.

With the implementation of the MMK underway, the next phase in development is to build a web-enabled interface that will allow information to be automatically transmitted from the MMK to the Air Force network and into other authoritative data systems. Also, Ballard has begun analyzing data collected by the MMK to quantify cost-savings of the application for the Air Force.