Teamwork & Communication Benefiting All
In March 2009, Boeing and Vector Aerospace, via the Through Life Customer Support contract, began supplying civilian support to the maintenance effort for the RAF Chinook helicopters in Afghanistan.
This activity is performed under the MoD’s Contractors on Deployed Operations (CONDO) regulations. When the request first went out for volunteers to work in Kandahar, there was an overwhelming response from the staff at Vector’s Fleetlands site in Gosport.
Of those with the necessary skills and experience to carry out the scheduled maintenance tasks, more than 80% volunteered. The Vector staff currently go to Afghanistan in teams of eight and are expected to carry out a four month deployment. They work 12 hours on/12 hours off, with one day off in each 14 day period. They work and mess alongside the RAF Technicians and the Boeing Field Service Representative. The civilian employees, who are embedded with the UK forces in Kandahar, carry out Primary maintenance as required, as well as giving assistance to any maintenance activity which can increase aircraft availability in theatre.
The relationships being established at the working level between the RAF maintainers, Vector Aerospace technicians and the Boeing Field Service Representative are proving beneficial to all. Communication between all three parties has increased greatly, with a growing trust and understanding. Many benefits have resulted from this, such as improvements within the whole maintenance cycle of the aircraft. When the people supporting the aircraft are supporting one another, the end result is enhanced availability, serviceability and airworthiness.
The Vector Aerospace technicians and the Boeing Field Service Representative are learning the true operational requirements of the Chinook. Equally the RAF technicians are gaining a greater appreciation of depth maintenance. When the aircraft return from theatre, the engineering departments of both Boeing and Vector have had prior warning of most emerging work. Repairs or modifications can be planned, additional spares demands can be actioned, and manpower can be reallocated as necessary – prior to an aircraft’s arrival back in the UK. This results in the smoother operation of the maintenance pulse lines at Fleetlands, which in turn creates greater benefits to the end users.
We all want a safe, reliable aircraft, available to do the job that it is required to do, when it is needed, operating as effectively as possible, in hostile conditions. With the greater teamwork and communication witnessed in this CONDO operation, it is something we are clearly achieving.