Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Story of a transport mission in Afghanistan

A pilot Transall, commander of the transport group operating in Dushanbe, says a mission like no other in the Afghan theater. Story.

"That day, I received a request for a mission on behalf of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force Force International Security Assistance). The message comes from the head of the "tasking branch", an American colonel, which already gives me an indication of the importance of this mission. It is to get a high-ranking Afghan delegation and on the ground Chakhcharan in central Afghanistan. The preparation of the mission requires even more care than usual because the destination field is isolated, almost non-existent infrastructure and mountains are performance Transall strain. Security measures are, in turn, very strict. Passengers must be "scanned" to stop air from Kabul, ammunition recovered and sealed in boxes before they embark.

Real risks to this mission since the Afghan authorities are prime targets for the insurgents. It can be a ground to air threat, or even an enemy infiltrator in the delegation. Thus, marines commando detachment reinforce the crew on board as observers, but also to ensure the safety of the cockpit. At dawn, about an hour before takeoff, an intelligence officer makes a detailed briefing while providing airport services defrosting the appliance, the climatic conditions in Dushanbe for two weeks being particularly harsh. Arrived in Kabul, I
asked the crew to prepare the next step and I make sure my passengers are ready to board. Afghans are culturally very attached to their arms and do not understand that we'll have to separate the time of flight. And held discussions with the coolness and detachment of advice with me protection, a solution is found quickly. Boarding can finally take place. On landing at Chackcharan, a large welcoming committee waiting for our passengers mark on the tarmac.

The second stage of our mission should be a formality. It is to reach Herat, in western countries, to ship and bring Italian soldiers in Kabul before returning to Dushanbe. After takeoff, we climb to our cruising altitude. In the early afternoon, the weather is perfect for enjoying the landscape of snowy mountains, some reaching almost 6000 meters. When suddenly a light on the top panel lights engineer, informing us that the left engine vibrates beyond tolerances. Cabin, disbelief gave way to anxiety. These vibrations emanating from the heart of the engine. While the alarm is usually related to a problem indicator that engine itself, seeing the alarm banner has been off and repeater failure dumb. It was therefore necessary vigilance all the mechanic crew to realize the problem.

I try, in vain, to vary the engine speed. We decide to turn around, rather than venturing further in the heart of the mountains. Chakhcharan field is closest, but the track is short and tiny parking. After methodically place the "checklist" warned controllers and our passengers, we decided to stop the engine, it is inevitable. Then we are in distress. The single-engine flight on Transall, particularly in Afghanistan, is a critical phase. I shows the maximum authorized power on the right engine, while the left propeller is feathered. Speed ​​decreases quickly and it is no longer possible to keep the aircraft level. Air control allows us down on the ground of Herat. In the cabin, my crew mobilizes all its experience and demonstrated a high concentration, chasing the stress that has no place on board. Drives conducted in France on this situation to fruition and make sense. The track is in sight and the air traffic controller gives priority to putting it on hold aircraft ready to take off. The Transall arises gently on the clear track. On switching off the engine, we blow, relieved.

However, we must already think in troubleshooting Transall engine failure in Herat, which is more on December 29. We still do not know what we were really dealing with. An engine problem? Detection? In addition, we do not have the equipment necessary to conduct thorough investigations. Must therefore send a repair team. Luckily, the second Transall and his crew have a mission scheduled for the next morning. By hook, they can file a small team of engineers Dushanbe. In one day, everything will be resolved, we are confident! But the next day the verdict: impact statements to the endoscope on the third floor of the low-pressure compressor demonstrate that the engine was well deteriorating. Five working days will come to the end of the repair.

On balance, we owe a debt of gratitude to our engineer, because the light that alerted is outside the visual field of the crew. Vigilance has enabled us to react in time and stop the engine safely. '

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
© Copyright 2012-2013 — Asian Defence News. All Rights Reserved