News: Crew chiefs learn to train future generations through MTT
Story by Jennifer Andersson
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - For nearly five weeks, 10 crew chiefs with 4th and 7th battalions, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, have been studying standards and immersed in instruction as they take the Aircraft Crewmember Standard Instruction course.
The objective of the course is to qualify the crewmembers to be flight instructors, meaning they will have all the tools they need to be a certified flight instructor.
Soon, the crew chiefs who graduate from the course will be able to train and evaluate future crew chiefs. This means they will be even more proficient in tasks such as aircraft systems, malfunction analysis, aviation medicine and other aviation safety subjects.
The class also focuses on preflight, inflight, and postflight tasks and tactical flight training tasks.
“In the ACSI, they are taught how almost every little component has a purpose and keeps the aircraft flying,” said Sgt. 1st Class Clinton P. Bruce, the standardization instructor for the brigade.
Crew chiefs enter this course with the basics of aircraft systems.
However, the most difficult part of teaching others is learning how to communicate effectively, said Staff Sgt. James Rubert, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter standards instructor with Company F, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment, out of Fort Rucker, Ala., and a member of the mobile training team certifying the 159th CAB’s UH-60 Black Hawk crew chiefs.
“It’s all about communicating,” he said.
Students receive flight methods of instruction training, fundamentals of instructing, aircrew coordination instructor qualification, and academic training.
The four-week, four-day course is intensive and somewhat overwhelming, said Sgt. Kyle Fletcher, a crew chief with Company A, 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt.
“It seems like it should be longer,” Fletcher said. “It’s a lot of information in a short time.”
“It’s the fire hose effect,” said Bruce. “They are given so much information very quickly. It’s a lot to retain. Specifics on aircraft systems in my opinion are the most overwhelming.”
It’s the specifics – the technical parts of the helicopter, though, that are crucial to flight.
“[The instructors] need to teach every facet of the aircraft because we [the crew chiefs] are the mechanics on board and we need to know how to diagnose a problem and have the knowledge of how to fix it quickly and safely.”
Rather than attending the class at Fort Rucker, Ala., the training is being done right here, at home.
With 159th CAB returning from a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan, Fletcher said he definitely appreciates not having to be away from his family.
Fletcher said had he taken this course at Fort Rucker, his wife probably would have come to visit at least once during the five weeks, therefore saving them those travel and lodging expenses.
Sgt. Joseph Torchia, a UH-60 Black Hawk standards instructor with Co. F, 1st Bn., 212th Avn. Rgt., said it’s more cost effective for the Army this way. The cost to send a 159th CAB Soldier TDY to Fort Rucker is equal to sending a MTT instructor TDY to Fort Campbell, so it’s more resourseful for the Army to send three people TDY than 10.
“The MTT is a great tool for the CAB, in the fact that when you send soldiers to Rucker, it's onsies and twosies,” Bruce said. “They have only so many classes per year. We have to schedule that time. And that time is also being shared with the rest of the Army - all the other CABs across the Army, so we have to try and get our guys in those classes piecemeal. When the course comes to us, we get to knock out 10 to 12 students, all at one time.”
One major benefit to the MTT is getting the crew chiefs even more familiar with their own equipment – and their own aircrew members.
“[The crew chiefs] have the added effect of going through the MTT here – getting to fly with their own pilots,” Bruce continued. “If they go to Fort Rucker, they are flying with other students they may never see again.”
Torchia agreed that crew cohesion is imperative during flight.
“There is more risk involved in a helicopter that has several million moving parts and crews that are flying together,” he said.
The risks involved for flying is the main reason for the class – to prepare these crew chiefs to train the next generation of crew chiefs to the same standard they learned, without losing critical information.
Passing the torch from one generation of crew chiefs to another, it is possible that some information could get forgotten or skewed, if it were not for maintaining standards. This course guarantees the trainers know, understand and can readily explain the standards to up-and-coming crew chiefs.
In the classroom, communicating concepts is the key. In flight, standards are.
“Just like any job, soldiers need trainers.” Bruce said. “Because flight duties onboard any aircraft have to follow strict standards and safety procedures, [the soldiers] need dedicated instructors to teach them exactly what they need to be doing.”
As qualified flight instructors, that is exactly what they will be able to do for future crew chiefs.