A Covington future here and there

  • Published
  • By Raquel March
The future is "still bright" according to Britt Covington, Arnold Engineering Development Complex's (AEDC) executive director, whose future is with another assignment at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, Robins, AFB, Ga.

Covington will become the new technical director at the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex beginning Dec. 18.

As he departs, he shares his thoughts for the future of AEDC and what the future holds for him in his new position.

High Mach: How do you see the future of AEDC?

Britt Covington: Still bright. Despite the imminent threat of a fiscal cliff, I think AEDC is strongly postured to succeed in the future.

Unfortunately, looming global adversaries still exist. The Department of Defense will still need to develop systems and weapons in an era of expanding technology. We will also continue to rely on legacy systems to do more and perform more reliably.

I see hypersonics work at AEDC as a growth industry. I view the test capabilities inherent in the new Space Threat Assessment Testbed as necessary and needed for space protection and survival of space-based platforms.

New fuels, new engines, and the need for enhanced service life on existing turbine engines will continue to drive workload in AEDC's turbine engine test cells.

However, the complex can't rest on past successes.

We have yet to pin down our role in the rapid worldwide growth of remotely piloted aircraft and their developmental test needs.

Smart folks at AEDC should continue to realize that our primary value doesn't reside in the great test infrastructure built at AEDC. Instead, the complex's value is the intellectual capital and experience resident here.

Every AEDC employee should be in the business of business development. We should continue to try to stay in front of the nation's aerospace needs. Innovation, flexibility, and foresight are AEDC's heritage and AEDC's future success still depends on our ability to produce.

Ones and zeros are not AEDC's product. Knowledge is. We should continue to provide more than just data and focus on providing the knowledge our customers need.

HM: How do you think the people and community have contributed to the AEDC mission and its future?

Covington: I have worked as an Air Force civilian for 27 years and have moved to many bases and communities. None have been more supportive of their base and its mission than the Arnold AFB surrounding communities.

In four years, I have yet to hear anyone disparage AEDC's mission.

I have worked closely with the Arnold Community Council whose mission is to support the base . . . the individuals on the Arnold Community Council are as united and focused as any successful team.

They each wholly and completely have AEDC's interest in their hearts and actions.

I am also a base representative to the Community Liaison Program. This group of four dedicated individuals uses their own money and time to promote AEDC.

Recently, members of this group traveled on their own dime to attend the Air Force Materiel Command's Change of Command ceremony just to ensure the new commander knew first-hand that the local community completely supports Arnold AFB.

While limitations exist on interactions between AEDC's leadership and elected leaders, these community supporters are less constrained. Their visits and efforts do not go unnoticed and they are great positive contributors to Arnold's mission and its future success.

HM: How will you remember the relationships you have developed here - business, personal, community?

Covington: From a personal and community standpoint, my wife and I have watched our four kids spend four formative adolescent years in Tullahoma, Tenn. They don't want to leave. I greatly admire the efforts the teachers and school administrators put into our children's education. The school system is fantastic and personal.

Folks have embraced our family and we will fondly remember our time here. I am grateful to the local community for their efforts and would encourage them to offer the same support to military families and other transient Arnold employees.

As I move away, I hope to continue to exploit the business relationships I have enjoyed while at AEDC.

I am still amazed every day at the number of "big brained" people who work out here. I'm from Alabama, but it still intrigues me to talk to a PhD with a thick southern drawl; and we have tons of those folks.

I will also miss working with several people who have made me better every day. I am even a little jealous that my replacement, Dr. Doug Blake, will immediately benefit every day from the likes of John Sutton, Tom Sizemore, and Ken Jacobsen while I have to start anew to find three suitable substitutes at my new job.

HM: What and where is your next mission?

Covington: I will be the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex's Technical Director at Robins AFB, Ga.

I met with my new boss last week, Brig. Gen. Cedric George, and he already gave me a list of tasks.

I will be focused on leading cost reduction in an aircraft production environment, workforce development and junior workforce retention, and reconciling delegated engineering disposition decisions.

The primary mission of Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex is to successfully perform programmed depot maintenance on aircraft and other Air Force systems in a cost and schedule constrained environment and ultimately get these weapon systems quickly back in the hands of the warfighter.

I have previously worked at two Air Logistics Centers and the work there is fast paced and very satisfying (especially for an engineer who wants to see quick results).

HM: How will your service and experiences here be beneficial in your next assignment?

Covington: Having never worked directly in test before coming to Arnold AFB, I now have a much better appreciation for the importance of a rigorous and extensive test program for major developmental systems.

Dr. Ed Kraft always foot stomps that test doesn't cost money, it saves money. I will have some influence over C-130, C-17, C-5, and F-15 aircraft planning, maintenance and modification. I hope to use what I've learned at Arnold about deliberate testing to help ensure these and other AF programs don't repeat some of the mistakes of the past.

HM: What advice would you give to the team you are leaving for the future of AEDC?

Covington: Embrace change...because it is coming.

They say "flexibility is the key to airpower." It is also a requirement to successfully navigate major change.

My other advice would be to those long-serving AEDC employees who may have limited exposure to working at other locations: Don't take working at AEDC for granted.

You are very blessed. It is an Air Force crown jewel and a fantastic place to work.

I never woke up on any morning in Tennessee dreading coming to work. For that, I would like to thank the men and women who make AEDC what it is every day. Godspeed!