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1st ACB Maintainers Prep Aircraft for Afghan Mission


BY STAFF SGT. JOE ARMAS 1ST ACB, 1ST CAV. DIV. PAO


CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan


t’s full speed ahead for the soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division as the brigade’s aircraft roll into theater. It is the duty of the brigade’s aircraft maintainers and maintenance test pilots to ensure the aircraft are fully mission capable and safe for the pilots who will take the machines into combat. The process started late last month, as the first batch of helicopters began arriving in country. “It [the maintenance buildup process] starts from the time the aircraft is downloaded and transported to the area where the majority of the initial maintenance is conducted,” says Chief Warrant Officer 5 Cliff Mead, the brigade’s aviation maintenance officer, originally from Redding, Calif. “Then, an initial assessment of the aircraft is made, and the build crews proceed with the initial maintenance,” says Mead. Extra precautions while moving the aircraft are a must otherwise damage to the aircraft or injury to personnel is possible. Depending on the aircraft, the maintenance can be relatively simple or in the case of the CH-47F Chinook helicopter, it can require extensive time and effort. The rigging process on a Chinook, for example, can be complex and time consuming.


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As for the maintainers, they each have military occupation specialties that normally bind them to one specific airframe, whether that airframe is a CH-47F Chinook, UH-60L Black Hawk, or an


42 Aviation Maintenance | avmain-mag.com | June / July 2011


AH-64D Apache, according to Staff Sgt. James Wilson, section sergeant, Company B, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st ACB, originally from Yorba Linda, Calif. With a time crunch that is mission critical, the maintainers have taken a flexible approach to their tasking. They’ve come together as a team to assemble and perform scheduled and unscheduled aircraft maintenance regardless of


airframe affiliation. “It’s one team, one fight at this point,” said Wilson.


“The goal is for the ground commanders to never notice any transition,” said Mead. “The same level of support they get today from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade [the outgoing unit] should be the same that they receive tomorrow from the 1st ACB.” Wilson points out that the


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