Afghan airmen begin functional check flight training

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jamie Humphries
  • 438th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
With coalition adviser support, Afghan airmen began post-phase funcitional check flight training recently in an effort to further professionalize the Afghan air force at Kandahar Air Wing.

 A phase inspection is a detailed inspection of an aircraft that includes servicing and cleaning and takes place every 100, 200 and 300 hours. After these inspections, maintenance ground runs and an FCF are performed ensuring the aircraft is airworthy.

"These maintenance ground checks and functional check flights are important because they ensure the aircraft is within all permissible operating parameters prior to the aircraft being removed for flight to perform regular missions," said Master Sgt. Carl Snider, a maintenance adviser with the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group. "With this new formalized process, (maintainers) can sit with aircrew (members) and explain why the checks are required, if there were any major components changed during the inspection that will require additional checks and if there are any items of interest that maintenance can't confirm unless the aircraft is running."

Maintenance ground run checklists are a way to document operating ranges of a particular aircraft system and aircrew members perform the checks first on the ground, Snider said. Then, maintenance professionals review the document to ensure all systems are within appropriate ranges and safety of flight standards.

When the aircraft is ready for flight, maintenance Airmen provide the FCF checklist that tracks operating parameters in flight and again consults with ground maintenance that all systems are within appropriate ranges.

"This process will improve FCF success rates and aircraft reliability by identifying items that need correction early and eliminating redundant checks," Snider said. "More importantly, it improves flight safety and impresses upon maintenance that aviation is a professional endeavor that is enhanced by formal processes."

Initiating a training class or process is one thing, but officials indicate the challenge is implementing the training with AAF leadership support. With any new process, it occasionally takes time and coordination to ensure leaders are sure the new process will be useful in their particular functional area.

"I first noticed this need (to initiate an FCF program) when I arrived in September," Snider said. "The challenge was creating an atmosphere for change with Afghan maintenance leadership. When I arrived, aircrew (members) were stepping to the aircraft after their own crew briefs, but not receiving a brief from maintenance on condition and requirements. I started by working with our coalition partners to create two checklists one for ground checks and one for flight."

After briefing Afghan maintainers and advisers on the new checklists, Snider said the maintainers began to be receptive to the new process.

"Afghan maintenance leadership was very receptive to this new process, and they thoroughly understood its importance and identified with it as a step towards professionalization thus creating buy-in was easy," he said. "Our next step, now that our product has been vetted and validated with an actual FCF, is translating the checklists into Dari for Afghan flight crews and maintenance throughout the area of responsibility, ultimately leading to an Afghan-run process."