News: Another Afghan Air Force first: C-27 Maintainers launch aircraft
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jared Walker
KABUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Afghanistan - For the first time, Afghan Air Force C-27 Spartan aircraft maintainers inspected, serviced, and launched a C-27 without advisor or contractor assistance at the Afghan Air Force Base on the Kabul International Airport, Dec 8.
“The main goal of this event is to build professional AAF maintainers that can work independently of coalition forces,” said Tech. Sgt. Charles R. McCollum the C-27 Crew Chief Advisor, with the 440th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron/NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan.
McCollum said that professional and independent maintainers in the AAF are important because part of having a strong government is having a strong and capable military. The C-27’s purpose is to allow the Afghan government to quickly reach the populace. Providing professional maintainers to sustain this capability is paramount to winning hearts and minds of the general Afghan population.
“A pre-flight check is done before an aircraft takeoff to make sure everything is okay and not broken. If something is broken, we sign a form saying that something is broken and if everything is okay, the aircraft is ready for takeoff. Pre-flight checks are important because make sure that our pilots, crew members and passengers are safe,” said Airman Gullam Mustafa, C-27 maintainer with the Afghan Air Force.
In preparation for this event everyone involved, from NATC-A advisors to AAF members, has been working everyday and training on the C-27 for the last eight months. The AAF maintainers have worked with NATC-A advisors and contractors to develop basic maintenance skills and C-27 systems knowledge. The Afghans have been involved in all phases of maintenance from washing the plane to replacing the propellers and engines.
McCollum said this event will help develop the Afghan Air Force because this is a major step in the autonomy of the AAF. He said that coalition can train aircrew all day, but without maintenance to generate aircraft, the aircraft would not be able to fly.
“I am proud of the C-27 AAF maintainers and of how hard they have worked to get to this point. We have a ways to go, but they are well on their way to becoming professional maintainers,” said McCollum.