KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan Air Force maintainers completed the first 600-hour aircraft inspection in country, including the post-inspection engine run, on an A-29 Super Tucano Nov. 23, at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan.
This 600-hour inspection is a significant achievement for the AAF maintainers as they were able to use their recent qualifications to complete the maintenance with minimal contractor assistance.
“Having the Afghans complete major inspections in country will be key to their sustainability, and I was impressed with their efforts and enthusiasm to learn and complete such a complex task,” said Scott Stover, A-29 contractor site lead.
A milestone has been reached in the buildup of the latest fixed-wing combat squadron for the AAF. Maintenance graduates from initial A-29 training at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., have worked together with their contractor trainers and U.S. Air Force advisors to gain critical skills to maintain and employ this aircraft -- which has been here less than a year.
A major inspection on the A-29 involves many separate inspections. Over the past three weeks, the maintainers took an in-depth look at the airframe and aircraft systems, including the flight controls, landing gear and avionics packages. The inspection is required preventative maintenance to ensure the aircraft is reliable until the next scheduled major inspection.
A single A-29 typically flies multiple combat sorties in a day, and major inspections minimize malfunctions between flights.
“Many aspects of the Afghan Air Force technicians’ backgrounds are parallel to our own,” said Tech. Sgt. Ralph Wellington Jr., A-29 advisor. “They come from various parts of their country and a variety of professions, all with one goal in mind--serving their country and working toward peace for their families.”
Wellington said many of the Afghan maintainers were prior maintainers on C-130s, C-27s or helicopters. Combined, they have decades of experience to bring to the A-29 program.
“It’s this experience which has enabled them to rapidly learn the advanced systems, and in turn, impart that knowledge to their peers in their own language,” said Capt. Andrew Johnson, 440th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron fixed wing operations officer. “This feat is impressive since it’s done under a high ops-tempo generating combat missions, both here and at forward operating locations.”
AAF Brig. Gen. Shafi Noori, Kabul Air Wing Maintenance Group commander, was at the engine run to congratulate his maintainers’ efforts.
“You’ve worked tirelessly learning a lot of information and your ability to complete this inspection means today is a very special day for us,” said Shafi through an interpreter.
The Afghan maintainers will continue working with their contractor trainers and Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air (TAAC-Air) advisors with the goal of sustaining the A-29 fleet independently.
“Our mission under TAAC-Air is to train, advise, and assist in order to help build a professional, capable, and sustainable Afghan Air Force,” said Maj. Elbert M. Waters IV, 440th AEAS commander. “The commitment of the Afghans working with the A-29s is a testament to how far they have come, and how far they will go. Understanding that air worthiness cannot be achieved and maintained without dedicated preventative maintenance is key. This historical moment identifies that these maintainers get it…and are all in…in this fight against the insurgency and in the fight to build a stronger Afghanistan.”