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March 17, 2011
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C s s ff i h - A i 2011
N v S S i
B si ss S vi s U i
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FRONT & CENTRE
CPL Zenith King
MAINTAINERS are working around-
the-clock to keep the C-130 in the sky
throughout the MEAO.
Working out of Al Minhad Air Base
in the United Arab Emirates, a small
team of dedicated avionic and aircraft
technicians work long hours under pres-
sure to ensure the aircraft are safe and
Avionic technicians are the so-called
'White Handers' who work with the rela-
tively 'clean' electronic and electrical
systems on the aircraft. Their counterpart
'Black Handers', or aircraft technicians,
typically work with the engines, pneu-
matics and hydraulics.
Both trades have an important role in
supporting the C-130J, which combines
advanced electronics with an airframe
that often flies into harsh environments.
Avionic technician LAC Jack
Kitching of 37SQN, who is on his first
deployment, said teams had a responsi-
bility to ensure aircraft were ready for
"The C-130 has missions which need
to be achieved," he said.
"The flight crew need the aircraft to
be working so there can be a bit of pres-
sure at times."
He said the challenges they faced
in the MEAO were similar to back in
"The only real difference is that we
have to get the aircraft back out there
quicker on operations," he said.
"The aircraft are designed to be flown
and, from my experience, the more they
fly the better they perform."
LAC Kitching said that he was enjoy-
ing working with a small team in a high
tempo environment as it has allowed
them to bounce ideas off each other.
"I'm still on my journal (training log-
book) but the guys helped me back in
Australia to get me qualified at a level
which allowed me deploy," he said.
"Working in this environment has
A deployment like
this gives everyone
experience and opens
them up to the bigger
picture of what we
-- CPL Piers New
'provided me with more confidence on
the aircraft and allows me to offer my
opinion. Often you will say something
that could lead the team in the right
Aircraft technician CPL Piers New of
37SQN is currently on his third deploy-
ment to the MEAO. He said in an opera-
tional environment every member of the
team had to step up to the challenge.
"You're definitely expected to per-
form," he said.
"When there are a lot passengers or
VIPs needing to be moved around thea-
tre there is a great deal of pressure on us
to ensure the aircraft will fly safely.
"In saying that, a deployment like
this gives everyone in the team a lot of
experience and opens them up to the big-
ger picture of what we do."
According to CPL New, the atmos-
phere in the MEAO plays an important
role in the maintenance schedules of the
"The extreme temperatures definitely
play havoc with the aircraft and the dust
gets into a lot of the systems," he said.
"The aircraft are serviced frequently
while in-country to accommodate the
"It's always good to have all three
aircraft as serviceable as possible," he
said.Aside from their day-to-day work
at Al Minhad Air Base, an avionic and
aircraft technician travel with each flight
in and out of country and attend to any
issues that might occur.
BUSY BODIES: LAC Marc
Rodriguez, above, and LAC
Jack Kitching, below, conduct
maintenance on a C-130.
Photos: CPL Zenith King
WORKHORSE: Left, ground
support staff unload a Hercules
at Al Minhad Air Base.
Photo: SGT Rob Nyffenegger
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