Twelfth Air Force (Air Forces Southern) sent a Mobile Training Team (MTT) to Chile to conduct training with the Chilean Air Force (FACh, in Spanish) on crash damaged disabled aircraft recovery (CDDAR), May 13 to June 8, 2018. The CDDAR MTT consisted of four seasoned crew chiefs from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; and Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado who have experience being aircraft crash team chiefs. The team traveled from the United States to the 3rd Aviation Group at Los Condores Air Force Base in Iquique, Chile, and then to the 5th Air Brigade Maintenance Group at Cerro Moreno Air Base in Antofagasta, Chile. “I view the MTTs as a key tool in our security cooperation apparatus,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Hector L. Gonzalez, Air Force section chief for the Theater Security Cooperation division at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile.
Lt. Col. Gonzalez explained that MTTs are requested and funded by FACh. “By us being able to provide assistance in an area that they feel a need to improve, we’re building that partnership, that relationship.”
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Powell, 388th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron MTT member, explained that the MTT taught the basic principles of how to preserve the area surrounding an aircraft mishap for an investigation and recover a damaged or disabled aircraft. Throughout the training course, the Chilean airmen were given classroom instruction covering an aircraft recovery plan, personnel protective equipment, and CDDAR operation followed by hands on training.
The two-week CDDAR course was instructed in English, the same as the U.S. Air Force CDDAR course. This was an opportunity for the Chilean airmen to practice speaking in English. They already read in English, since their aircraft technical orders are the same as in the U.S. Air Force.
“The course being in English actually helped me,” said FACh airman Gonzalo Payacan, 5th Air Brigade Maintenance Group F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief. “All of the technical orders of my specialty are written in English. The course helps me prepare when needed.”
Chilean airmen demonstrated their knowledge by responding to a simulated damaged disabled F-16 Fighting Falcon and connecting a crane to simulate lifting the aircraft for the final objective of the course. “To physically see the aircraft lift procedures was a great experience,” Paycan said. “I’m grateful to have experienced it.”
Thirty-five Chilean airmen graduated the CDDAR course from both locations. They included crew chiefs, jet engine mechanics, sheet metal technicians, avionics mechanics, safety noncommissioned officers, egress technicians, non-destruction inspection technicians, aircrew flight equipment technicians, maintenance officers, and quality assurance inspectors.
“It’s very important we interact with different aircraft specialties when we need to pick up an aircraft,” said FACh Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Zepeda, 5th Air Brigade Maintenance Group F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief. “They will have different viewpoints and they are going to be the ones lifting the aircraft.”
Upon completing the final objective, U.S. and Chilean airmen conducted a team debrief over what went well and what could’ve been improved. The following day the U.S. airmen held a graduation ceremony for the newly CDDAR certified Chilean airmen.
“Thank you for your time and your patience and for giving us the instruction, life experiences and your knowledge,” Tech. Sgt. Zepeda said. “The instructors did everything in their power to make the course the best.”