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Culdrose senior rating invents money saving widget

7 April 2016
It may be small, but a little widget invented by Culdrose senior rating Neil Tregenza has saved the Merlin community more than £350,000 – and netted the engineer a cash reward.

The simple device – the chief petty officer dubs it the ‘Triggs Extraction Tool’ – is now being used around the globe by his fellow helicopter engineers, meaning Merlin rotorheads no longer have to be sent all the way back to Cornwall to have a routine component replaced but can be fixed in theatre.

It’s saved hundreds of thousands of pounds – and means the helicopters are not out of action for as long.

CPO Tregenza, who serves with the Merlin training squadron, 824 NAS, was inspired by the sight of a rotorhead being delivered to the workshop in Culdrose from the Gulf, where the helicopters are operating around the clock. 

It was a bit of a light-bulb moment to be honest

CPO Neil Tregenza

A crucial bolt, involved in connecting the rotor blade to the main rotorhead, had seized in place. This had prevented a routine component replacement from taking place and had therefore required that he entire rotorhead to be detached from the airframe and brought back to the UK.

Neil, who’s worked as a mechanic his entire career in the Royal Navy, recognised that similar tools which he had at home could – with some modification – be used to extract the bolt from the rotorhead.

Beyond saving the MOD a lot of dosh, his brainwave has earned him the MOD’s GEMS award of over £10k; the scheme recognises money-saving and innovation by Service personnel and civilians across the Armed Forces.

The award was presented by the head of the Fleet Air Arm, Rear Admiral Keith Blount, who was introduced to the Triggs Extraction Tool by its inventor (pictured above by PO(Phot) Paul A’Barrow) in the Merlin repair facility.

“It was a bit of a light-bulb moment to be honest,” Neil explained. “I had the idea, designed it and then used the facilities at the Culdrose workshops to make the tool myself.

“It worked first time! It is great that any idea, no matter how small it may seem, can have such a positive impact.”

“It has made things a lot easier for the aircraft engineers in theatre, but unfortunately, now that I have been given an award, I am going to have to buy the cakes!”

That’s not a bad thing...

“As ideas go, this is right up there with the best of them,” Rear Admiral Blount said. “Everyone will benefit from this invention and it ensures that we get the maximum out of our aircraft whilst they are in theatre.

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