Colombian and Ecuadorean Air Forces Train in Aircraft Maintenance
By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo October 10, 2017The Air Maintenance Command (CAMAN, per its Spanish acronym) of the Colombian Air Force (FAC, per its Spanish acronym) exchanged knowledge and experiences with its peers in the Ecuadorean Air Force (FAE, per its Spanish acronym). The meeting was held from June 27th to August 26th at Madrid Air Base in Cundinamarca, Colombia. The training was part of the “Major Aviation Maintenance Training Course and Specialization” for Ecuador’s A-29 Super Tucano landing gear. It is part of the current cooperation agreements between the FAC and FAE, in order for both nations’ military aviation to be updated with new procedures and doctrinal training. Major maintenance, also known as overhaul, is done to aviation components when they reach the end of the life cycle recommended by the equipment’s manufacturer. In this case, the landing gear should complete 5,000 landings or six years of use. The work consisted of completely disassembling the component and performing nondestructive testing to ensure the operability of the pieces in order to extend their useful life cycle, the FAC reported. Spare parts were brought in from Ecuador as part of the certification training. “The Colombian Air Force has broad experience in this complex overhaul task. Ecuador needs to build this capacity,” First Sergeant Nestor Tinitana of the FAE told Diálogo. “At present, our planes are grounded because we need to overhaul them.” During the training sessions, workshops on different aviation components, such as hydraulics, were involved. The hydraulics workshop was the most important because it involved assembling, inspecting, cleaning, painting, and using electro-chemistry on certain parts, as well as a session on nondestructive testing. “They were taught how to use special tools and were taught about technical orders and test benches,” Chief Master Sergeant Julio César Carillo Tunjano, the chief of inspectors and an advisor to the Hydraulics Workshop for CAMAN’s Air Intelligence Group, told Diálogo. “Now, they can do this servicing at their various air bases.” Upon completing the trainings, the command delivered the landing gear that had undergone maintenance, together with its Colombian certification, which was approved by international institutions. Ready to complete the mission “After attending the various workshops and experimenting, analyzing, and working, the Ecuadorean specialists have the knowledge and experience required to overhaul the landing gear on their A-29 Super Tucano units,” FAC Brigadier General Eduardo Contreras Meléndez, the commander of CAMAN, told Diálogo. The A-29 has very robust landing gear and is able to land on runways as short as 500 meters. This combat aircraft is used mainly by the Brazilian, Chilean, Colombian, Dominican, Ecuadorean, and U.S. air forces in air interception, attack, and surveillance operations. Colombia has 24 units in this class. In Ecuador’s case, its air force acquired 18 Super Tucano units in 2010 to cover the capacity of conducting operations in border areas and the Amazon region. “We’re ready to overhaul these air units in our country,” 1st Sgt. Tinitana reiterated. Keeping up with technological developments To perform landing gear maintenance on the FAE’s A-29 units in Ecuador, a group of engineers and technicians from the lead logistics unit in Colombian aviation will travel to that country to supervise the implementation of major maintenance procedures on the equipment. The Ecuadorian officers who have been trained will be able to reinforce what they have learned and complement their capabilities. “Ecuadorean service members have shown interest in acquiring other capacities in CAMAN through ongoing courses related to ejection seats, the C-130 brake system, and aircraft painting,” 1st Sgt. Tinitana added. “In the future, we’ll overhaul a CASA 295 that we have in FAE.” Both nations are studying the scope of new trainings for FAE. Some agreements are in a development phase to be completed at CAMAN. The Uruguayan, Chilean, and Peruvian air forces are also interested in establishing ties and alliances with Colombia in order to complement their capacities, in accordance with each nation’s needs.