Uruguayan and U.S. Air Forces Cooperate on Aircraft Maintenance Issues

Twenty officers from the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU) met with U.S. Air Force representatives Major John Ware and Master Sergeant Noel Mendoza on the grounds of the FAU’s Maintenance Service Team in Montevideo from February 29th-March 4th.
Julieta Pelcastre | 30 March 2016

Officials from the U.S. and Uruguayan Air Forces met from February 29th-March 4th at the Uruguayan Air Force's Maintenance Service Team's grounds in Montevideo. [Photo: Air Force of Uruguay]

Twenty officers from the Uruguayan Air Force (FAU) met with U.S. Air Force representatives Major John Ware and Master Sergeant Noel Mendoza on the grounds of the FAU's Maintenance Service Team in Montevideo from February 29th-March 4th.

The meeting's goal was “to fortify and exchange techniques necessary to raise the level of quality control and maintenance so that our aircraft may sail easily through the air to accomplish their assigned missions,” Aviation Major Álvaro Gestido, Chief of the Propulsion Device Section of the FAU’s Maintenance Service, told Diálogo .

During the conference, Maj. Ware and Master Sgt. Mendoza met with members from FAU’s Air Brigade I, Air Brigade II, Maintenance Service, and Supply Service to discuss how to enhance aircraft maintenance and quality control.

“Our personnel left very happy with the level, the topics discussed, and the way in which the U.S. Air Force instructors explained things," Maj. Gestido said. "The camaraderie was excellent."

The Uruguayan officers also reinforced their professional relationships by talking to their U.S. counterparts about quality control sub-programs, emergency procedures in maintaining aircraft, evaluation and inspection guidelines from the quality control program, and the maintenance standardization and evaluation program. Officials from the two Air Forces will discuss logistics when the nations meet in the Uruguayan capital from April 4th-8th.

The FAU provides maintenance professionals with the best training while adhering to environmental regulations. “The Uruguayan Air Force’s maintenance service has some sections certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2008, the quality management system,” Maj. Gestido said.

Colonel Guillermo Gurbindo, an FAU spokesman, agreed. “The FAU’s aircraft are the material support upon which strategies are formed and, as a consequence, security operations, which combat threats, furnish help during humanitarian operations, control air space, and help the Armed Forces themselves to cooperate. Qualified and well-trained human resources also form a country’s Air Force.”

Maintaining the FAU's fleet is crucial because the amount of time Air Force pilots spend flying. “We [flew] 12,350 hours last year [2015], maintaining a certain level of regular activity while also slowly beginning to increase the number of airplanes available, despite their number of years in service and the consequent increase in their operating costs,” General Alberto Zanelli, the FAU's chief, stated on March 17th during a ceremony commemorating the 103rd anniversary of the Day of the Air Force, according to an FAU press release.

International missions

The FAU participates in international operations , as it's deploying Bell 12 helicopters to the support the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to Maj. Gestido. It is “pleasing [to FAU pilots] to have completed important and complex missions, such as retrieving a helicopter from Africa to be refurbished in Uruguay, and having brought two aircraft from Portugal.”

From January 1st-August 18th, the FAU’s maintenance team repaired turbines for Bell 212 and UH-1H helicopters and A-37 and C-212 planes; overhauled landing gear for C-212 and T-260 aircraft; dynamically balanced the propellers of C-95, C-212, AT-95 and U206H aircraft; balanced other rotors and turbines; and weighed aircraft, according to the Máquina de Combate website.

The Uruguayan Armed Forces have a history of cooperating with the United States, a valued partner nation. “We are always receiving training courses or visits from U.S. personnel,” Col. Gurbindo said . “For Uruguay to participate in joint activities with [other Armed Forces] that are on the first level is very enriching. Maintaining a high, constant level of training of our staff in both the technology we have today and in future technologies would be excellent.”

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