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Joint maintenance teams practice first KC-46 CDDAR exercise

A sling attached to a spreader bar hovers over a KC-46A Pegasus as part of a Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery exercise Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.  The week-long exercise included 15 Airmen from the 22nd and 931st Maintenance Squadrons.  This was the first time this type of training was performed with the KC-46.

A sling attached to a spreader bar hovers over a KC-46A Pegasus as part of a Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery exercise Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The week-long exercise included 15 Airmen from the 22nd and 931st Maintenance Squadrons. This was the first time this type of training was performed with the KC-46. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein)

Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Mitchell, 931st Maintenance Squadron Repair and Reclamation Section chief, directs a “cherry picker” crane as part of a KC-46 Pegasus Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery exercise Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.  This was the first time a CDDAR was performed with the KC-46.

Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Mitchell, 931st Maintenance Squadron Repair and Reclamation Section chief, directs a “cherry picker” crane as part of a KC-46 Pegasus Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery exercise Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. This was the first time a CDDAR was performed with the KC-46. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein)

Tech. Sgt. Kyle Kozik, 931st Mainteance Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker Repair and Reclamation craftsman, operates a crane to simulate a nose lift on a KC-46 Pegasus Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The exercise took place at Hangar 1126, and included a simulation of a collapsed nose landing gear of a KC-46 aircraft for the joint Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery, or CDDAR, program.

Tech. Sgt. Kyle Kozik, 931st Mainteance Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker Repair and Reclamation craftsman, operates a crane to simulate a nose lift on a KC-46 Pegasus Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The exercise took place at Hangar 1126, and included a simulation of a collapsed nose landing gear of a KC-46 aircraft for the joint Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery, or CDDAR, program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein)

Tech. Sgt. Tommy James, 22nd Maintenance Squadron KC-46A Pegasus Repair and Reclamation craftsman, and Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery NCOIC, checks the lift bag for proper inflation and stability Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.  The training was part of a week-long CDDAR exercise that involved 15 members from the 22nd and 931st Maintenance Squadrons.  The lifting bags are placed on top of a makeshift platfrom of railroad ties and plywood sheets, and under the wing of damaged aircraft secure it prior to beginning maintenance repairs

Tech. Sgt. Tommy James, 22nd Maintenance Squadron KC-46A Pegasus Repair and Reclamation craftsman, and Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery NCOIC, checks the lift bag for proper inflation and stability Sept. 17, 2020, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The training was part of a week-long CDDAR exercise that involved 15 members from the 22nd and 931st Maintenance Squadrons. The lifting bags are placed on top of a makeshift platfrom of railroad ties and plywood sheets, and under the wing of damaged aircraft secure it prior to beginning maintenance repairs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Abigail Klein)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Fifteen members of the 931st and 22nd Maintenance Squadrons took part in the first crash recovery training with the KC-46A Pegasus this week.

The exercise took place at Hangar 1126, and included a simulation of a collapsed nose landing gear on a KC-46 t for the joint Crashed, Damaged or Disabled Aircraft Recovery, or CDDAR, program. Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Mitchell, 931st MXS Repair and Reclamation Section chief, helped lead the training.

“The main goal for this exercise is to familiarize team members with recovery equipment, procedures and the Aircraft Recovery Document specific to the KC-46,” said Mitchell. “It is important to maintain proficiency in the event an aircraft mishap occurs. A CDDAR team has three objectives: clear runways as efficiently and safely as possible, prevent secondary damage and preserve evidence for investigations.”

During the first part of the training, the CDDAR team members were trained on the secondary method for lifting an aircraft -- using inflatable lifting bags -- while learning proper lifting procedures and equipment operation.

This process includes placing inflatable lifting bags on a makeshift platform of railroad ties and plywood sheets under the wing of an aircraft. The maintenance crews then attach an industrial-grade air compressor to the bag to slowly inflate it. In practice, this procedure would lift an aircraft with collapsed landing gear and allow maintenance teams to secure it prior to beginning maintenance repairs.

Later in the training the Airmen utilized the primary method, using a construction crane to lift a 15-foot-long steel spreader bar above the nose of the plane. Airmen on the ground then held the spreader bar steady with ropes attached to the ends, while two workers in a "cherry-picker" crane attached a 30-foot-long, 12-inch-wide sling to each end of the bar.

Mitchell said the Airmen accomplished more than 32 hours of hands-on training by the end of the week.

Tech. Sgt. Tommy James, 22nd MXS Repair and Reclamation Section chief, and CDDAR NCOIC, who helped organize the training, said the Airmen’s efforts paid off.

“The training was a success because we were not only able to do the first KC-46 CDDAR event, we were also able to give Airmen the knowledge and the annual training they’ll need to succeed,” James said.

James and Mitchell said this week’s training will also benefit them when they leave at end of the month to train Airmen at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Mitchell said they anticipate going to several other bases for similar training throughout the year as more KC-46 aircraft are delivered.