Innovation empowers safety culture

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), LSIS Justin Brown (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW

Topic(s): Science, Technology & Innovation, Fleet Air Arm

Commodore Chris Smallhorn, RAN, outlines the Fleet Air Arm innovation strategy though a Shark Tank style forum at HMAS Albatross. (photo: LSIS Justin Brown)
Commodore Chris Smallhorn, RAN, outlines the Fleet Air Arm innovation strategy though a Shark Tank style forum at HMAS Albatross.

In November, HMAS Albatross will play host to the final of a series of forums designed to harness the creativity of Navy aviation personnel.

Commodore Chris Smallhorn, Commander of the Fleet Air Arm said the sessions, dubbed the 'Shark Tank' provided an opportunity for innovative ideas to be presented to a broader Defence community.

“I am consistently impressed by the intellect and ability of the people in our Navy and the exceptional projects presented reflect this belief,” Commodore Smallhorn said.

“Providing the opportunity to think differently and enable processes that move good ideas quickly is a core enabler of any high-performing team.”

The winning pitch from 816 Squadron’s Aviation Safety Officer, Lieutenant Jordan Taylor, was a proposal for a multi-person, external helicopter emergency life raft pod for the MH-60R Seahawk.

“Transitioning from flying the S-70B-2 to the MH-60R, there was a significant reduction in available cabin space,” Lieutenant Taylor said.

“I began to look into whether or not an externally carried life raft fitted to the standard military bomb rack was feasible.”

There were two other presentations that were very well received, including an idea for positive air breathing apparatus, developed to improve current respiratory protective equipment, presented by by Able Seamen Aviation Technicians Brad Watson and Ben Price, from 808 Squadron.

“It was great hearing ideas from other members of the Fleet Air Arm that were both interesting and informative,” Able Seaman Price said.

Aviation Warfare Officer, Lieutenant Andrew Serchen’s proposal was for a software audit tool to automate quality management checks on flying related proficiency data.

“It was a great opportunity to answer questions from peers regarding the ability to implement such a system and to hopefully spark ideas of what other similar functions in the Fleet Air Arm could benefit from the application of this methodology,” Lieutenant Serchen said.

Commodore Smallhorn highlighted the broader benefit of the scheme.

“If we are to be the best maritime warfighters we can be, we need to think differently and be better than whoever we might be up against,” Commodore Smallhorn said.

“We have the best people our country can produce, and the best equipment is in our hangars and on the water.

“With the right way of thinking and solving challenges, we will be greater than the sum of our parts.”