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News | May 18, 2011

Course helps Afghan aircrew communicate, stay safe

By Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver , 438th Air Expeditionary Wing

 KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (May 18, 2011) — Afghan Air Force pilots and aircrew were taught an aircrew coordination training class May 14 at Kandahar Airfield.

The ACT class is a three-part course that is designed to help improve the communication between pilots and their crews.

“One of the biggest things we’ve seen and heard with the AAF crews is the pilots are not interacting with their back-seat crewmembers the way they should,” said Sergeant First Class Clinton Bruce, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade non-rated crewmember standardization instructor assigned to Task Force Thunder. “Pilots must understand that cultural barriers aside, their enlisted crewmembers are just as important to mission success as they are. At the same time the back-seat crewmember must understand the same thing, their voice does matter for the safety of the aircraft and overall mission success.”

The first class focused on the background and importance of crew coordination and what the individual elements aircrew should be doing and listening to and the actions they need to take to make the interaction happen between crewmembers, said Bruce. The second class focused more on team effort and the decision making that happens before and in flight that the command pilot has to make and actions taken by the crew to ensure all mission requirements are met.

Once students have completed the final class, they will take what they’ve learned to the flightline for a practical application.

“The next step is getting them in the aircraft and showing them how crews interact with each other and how much it is critical for mission success,” said Bruce, a native of Norco, California, who finds this job very rewarding. “For me, it is knowing that what I am teaching sinks in to the student and they apply what I have taught to their own actions.”

Sergeant Bruce brings with him many years of combat and individual experience as one of the many seasoned crewmembers of TF Thunder.

“Our goal is to share our experiences and hopefully relay to them how to not make the same mistakes we have made as well as help the overall effort of the combat effort,” he said. “Because the initial audience of the Afghan crew chiefs is relatively new, what I am applying to their training program is the many years I personally have teaching crewmembers how to be crewmembers.”

For Sergeant Bruce, his biggest challenge is dealing with the large turn-around of crews.

“It takes years to develop the mental aptitude that makes one crew operate safely and to think along the lines that we wants them to in the crew resource management world,” he said. “The challenge is to get those crewmembers up to speed with the proper procedures quickly and safely. New crewmembers want to fly for the thrill and we need to show them that while flying is good fun, it’s even more fun when everyone comes home safely and we can only do that when everyone on board thinks safety.”