Calling Susan Whitley a lifesaver is more than hyperbole.

For Whitley, saving lives and turning around near-terminal acquisition programs is part of the job.

As the integrated product team lead for the Military Flight Operations Quality Assurance (MFOQA) system, a software application that provides analysis and visualization of flight data, Whitley is responsible for the overall design, development and execution of the program designed to identify potential human error and other factors before they lead to aircraft mishaps.

In 2011, Whitley led the initiative to create a new baseline for the challenged MFOQA program when its growth was imposing unacceptable life-cycle costs. She embraced a new methodology for the software development and got “buy-in” from all stakeholders in the naval aviation community. Now back on track, MFOQA is scheduled for Milestone C approval this spring, which will pave the way for limited production and installation of the software on naval computers.

 Assistant Commander for Acquisition Keith Sanders, who oversees the Air Combat Electronics Program Office (PMA-209) where Whitley is assigned, called her performance the “most impressive program turnaround that I have ever seen in my career. She resurrected a program that was behind schedule, over cost and headed for termination. The Navy will save millions of dollars that would have been lost if the program had been canceled.”

Whitley was recently honored with a Copernicus Award for her leadership on the MFOQA program. She will be recognized at a ceremony May 7 in Chantilly, Va. Managed by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and the U.S. Naval Institute, the award honors individual contributions to naval warfare in the disciplines of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I), information systems and information warfare.

Whitley said she is passionate about “breaking the link” before a naval aircraft mishap or maintenance failure occurs.

“I spent nine years on the Ground Proximity Warning System/Terrain Awareness Warning System team in PMA-209, providing a product that was proven to save lives. I know MFOQA is going to make as big a difference as GPWS did. I like a challenge, and MFOQA has provided that i