AFLCMC team helps bring aircraft damaged in Afghanistan home

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- In August 2015 a small team of engineering experts and an aircraft technician from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center's Mobility Directorate were deployed to Afghanistan to provide technical support and expertise as part of an effort to repair a C-130J aircraft that had been damaged by mortar fire. 

According to Joel Lechene, an aerospace engineer with the Mobility Directorate who deployed, the mortar damaged critical parts of the plane including the wings, aft fuselage, center fuselage, aft nose landing gear door, main landing gear doors, engine numbers three and four, both right tires, as well as the fuel and electrical systems - rendering the aircraft unable to fly.

While deployed, the team worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week - often under threat of indirect fire - identifying damages and formulating a plan for repair which included replacing, patching up and deactivating parts of the plane.

"As the engineering team, we were able to immediately see the extent of the damages and use all available resources to restore airworthiness for the aircraft," said Lechene.

Alexis Sanchez, an aerospace engineer with the Mobility Directorate who also deployed, said that the team categorized, analyzed and designed repairs for more than 250 damages on the aircraft with the goal of making it safe to fly back to the United States where it could be permanently fixed.

In addition, Sanchez and Lechene provided expertise and made recommendations to experts from the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group's Expeditionary Depot Maintenance team which carried out the repair plan to prepare the C-130J for its flight back to the United States for maintenance.

Due to the team's efforts, an aircrew was able to fly the aircraft to the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex at Robins Air Force Base, for total and permanent repair. 

"There were a lot of people involved in getting this aircraft up and running again," said Sanchez. "I was just lucky enough to be part of the team."