DECKPLATE and AMSRR: Comparing Two Ways to Measure the Availability of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Aircraft
Two Navy databases, DECKPLATE and AMSRR, track aircraft availability. Looking at Super Hornet aircraft, CBO found AMSRR’s availability rates better predict actual flying hours. DECKPLATE’s predictions are similar if data errors are fixed.
The Department of the Navy (DoN), which encompasses the Navy and the Marine Corps, uses two different databases to track the availability of its aircraft—that is, the percentage of time an aircraft can be flown on training or operational missions. Those databases are the Decision Knowledge Programming for Logistics Analysis and Technical Evaluation system (known as DECKPLATE) and the Aviation Maintenance Supply Readiness Report system (AMSRR). DECKPLATE is the official tracking program for Navy and Marine Corps aircraft. It contains monthly data on the availability of individual aircraft dating back to 1990. However, DoN says that the AMSRR system, which was introduced in the mid-2010s, better describes the availability of the department’s aircraft.
To compare the availability rates measured by DECKPLATE and AMSRR, the Congressional Budget Office examined monthly, aircraft-level data from 2017 to 2021 for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft, part of the fleet that forms the mainstay of naval shipborne aviation. CBO’s analysis reached the following conclusions:
- AMSRR and DECKPLATE use different methods for measuring aircraft availability. AMSRR is forward-looking, allowing operational commanders to project whether aircraft will be able to fly that day. DECKPLATE is retrospective, measuring how many hours aircraft were actually available.
- Availability rates measured by AMSRR were higher than rates measured by DECKPLATE. Throughout the 2017–2021 period, AMSRR’s average availability rates for Super Hornets exceeded DECKPLATE’s average availability rates. The difference between the two systems’ average rates widened in each year of that period. In addition, AMSRR showed an increase in Super Hornet availability from 2018 to 2021 that was not as clearly visible in DECKPLATE.
- AMSRR’s availability rates better predict actual flying hours for Super Hornets. Although DECKPLATE’s availability rates are supposed to reflect the actual hours aircraft were available, CBO found what appear to be data errors in DECKPLATE. As a result, AMSRR’s availability rates more closely correlated with the actual hours that Super Hornets were flown.
- Apparent data errors in DECKPLATE reduce its value in predicting flying hours. Both databases raise some concerns about data integrity. However, CBO found many fewer data problems in AMSRR than in DECKPLATE. For example, both systems showed that certain aircraft had 100 percent availability in months when they were not flown, which DoN experts told CBO is probably not accurate. In the case of DECKPLATE, aircraft did not fly in 59 percent of the months that showed 100 percent availability; the corresponding figure for AMSRR was 2 percent.
- Removing data with apparent errors makes DECKPLATE’s correlation between availability and actual flying hours similar to AMSRR’s. DoN told CBO that the department is working to improve the quality of its aircraft availability data. If the data in DECKPLATE were more accurate, that system’s measurements of availability might match actual flying hours just as well as, or even better than, AMSRR’s measurements do.