News & Opinion | July 17, 2018 5:00 am

The Air Force Paid $10,000 Each for These Toilet Covers

The covers protected aircraft from "corrosion damage in the latrine area."

air force
Giant military cargo aircraft Lockheed C-5 Galaxy takes off. (Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Air Force paid $10,000 each for toilet covers — which were “required to protect the aircraft from corrosion damage in the latrine area” — on the C-5 Galaxy, a Vietnam-era military cargo plane that is still in service. The Air Force had to replace the seat covers at least three times and as recently as last year, reports The Washington Post. The issues were that the plane’s manufacturer no longer produces the part, forcing the government to order a customized one when it needs to be replaced. Air Force officials describe the $10,000 toilet cover as “a case of supply-chain economics gone wrong,” but they recently made a big change to save money. The service was able to cut the average cost of the toilet cover to about $300 by using a 3-D printer, reports The Post, which officials hope they can replicate for other acquisitions.

“We are not now, nor will we in the future buy that aircraft part at that price, because we can now do so more cheaply using 3-D printing,” Stefanek said, referring to the toilet seat cover on the C-5, according to The Post. “Using this new process allows us to make parts that are no longer in production and is driving major cost savings.”