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Train to Maintain: Implementing TC 3-04.71

By MAJ Brandon A. Shah, CPT Justin Hall and 1LT(P) Nicholas Ortiz: In the past year, the Directorate of Evaluation and Standardization (DES) and the Directorate of Training and Doctrine expressed concern over the pace of TC 3-04.71 (.71) Aviation Maintenance Training Program (AMTP) implementation in Army Aviation. These agencies sought feedback from the force as USAACE amends its approach to maintainer developmental doctrine. The enterprise is learning that .71 AMTP implementation is no easy task for reasons that include “it’s too difficult,” “it needs to be a top-down program,” or “there is not wide-spread standardization and support.”

Company Implementation

One of the greatest luxuries for a leader in a deployed environment is a captive audience to implement initiatives. Provided that bonus along with the company’s mission to perform all scheduled phases, our team prioritized AMTP implementation during Atlantic Resolve (AR).

SGT Duntrea Plater and SPC Jesse Holcombe repair
main rotor blades in the company’s airframe repair shop at Illesheim, Germany, in support of OPERATION ATLANTIC RESOLVE./ U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY SPC EZRA KOSKEI, B/603RD ASB

TC 3-04.71 broadly defines the program’s scope for all Aviation related MOSs and DAC technicians. Each MOS and skill-level can have up to 60 training tasks. Aggregate the Aviation Support Company’s (ASC) more than 13 different 15-series MOSs, and the task of defining a scope becomes critical. The .71 states “it is not necessary to evaluate every task in the ICTL [Individual Critical Task List]” and “at least two ICTL tasks must be evaluated for the Commander’s Evaluation” (para 4-12). Therefore, our program scope was to provide 10-level evaluations and training while supporting our deployed mission.

The ASC (and AMC/AMT for specific 15-series MOSs) provides an ideal environment to implement a formalized maintainer training program, generating combat power through maintenance. Additionally, the ASC offers two distinct populations well suited for maintainer development: experienced (ICTL 20/30 levels) and inexperienced (ICTL 10). The first population should be the most experienced maintainers with backgrounds including instructors, technical inspectors, DES, and leadership positions. The second population, our initial target audience of 10-level maintainers or apprentices is largely fresh out of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and has little experience. These populations make for an ideal learning ecosystem, teacher and student.

In addition to increasing maintainer proficiency, we use the .71 AMTP designations as quantifiable measures of effectiveness which assist with talent management and ensure expertise is spread appropriately throughout the CAB. It enables the commander to understand maintenance combat power and apply it appropriately. To this end the company outlined a timeline and approach to reach our objectives without compromising the mission.

Lines of Effort

LOE 1 (Define Program Infrastructure) began with defining the detailed scope. It included classes and meetings on implementation strategies, expectations of sections, initial record building, Commander’s Evaluations to determine duty positions, and an ICTL consolidated task list or “job books” as we named it for each Soldier.

LOE 2 (Conduct Formal Training) started with initiation of phase maintenance inspections at the start of AR. Formal training began with Quality Control (QC), Section Sergeants, and Team Leaders who would serve as evaluators, trainers, and records maintainers. In this LOE, platoon, section, and team leaders documented trained and completed tasks each day, made write-ups in records as needed, and captured any negative or positive trends as maintainers progressed.

LOE 3 (Evaluate, Maintain Records, and Continue Training) depended heavily on QC’s ability to manage programs because it was focused on evaluation creation and implementation. Evaluations are annual, no-notice, progression-level checks. Essential to this LOE was detailed records maintenance using digital and analog systems.

The end state sought to develop all eligible maintainers to a .71 certified specialist, which we objectively defined as completing two ICTL evaluations and trained in identified ICTL level 10 and 20 tasks. The general mechanics (15R, 15T, 15U) advanced 85% of eligible maintainers to certified specialist, while the component repair platoon achieved 45% due to limited training opportunities available.

Lessons Learned

Be self-aware of your organization’s talent, time, and impact to mission when beginning any learning initiative. Initially, we incorrectly assumed that leaders had the required knowledge to train the less experienced. A Commander’s Evaluation of all parties will establish a baseline of trainers and trainees. Similarly, OJT brings the risk of bad habit pass down and must be prevented by evaluators. Training evaluators and trainers are separate actions and must be treated as distinct events.

Establish clear LOEs. Technical inspectors (TIs) evaluate the evaluators, supervisors evaluate maintainers, platoons manage records, and TIs ensure records are in accordance with the AMTP. We clarified our LOEs through a memorandum of duties and responsibilities for each section placed in the job book for quick reference.

Pick a FEW ICTL tasks to evaluate. TC 3-04.71 highlights this technique several times. Tasks should range in difficulty for each level and avoid trying to evaluate every task on the ICTL. The .71 proposes to “include more than two ICTL tasks.” For B Co., 603d ASB the right mix was 5-6 tasks per MOS for ICTL-10 and 3-4 for ICTL-20 and 30.

Create a comprehensive continuity book with all MOS and level ICTLs maintained by QC. The job book serves as a one stop shop for the program, incorporates inspection criteria to include an ARMs inspection checklist, maintains training memos signed by the first O5 identifying tasks to train, inspections, and responsibility roles to include DTMS update procedures blending the .71 with unit SOPs.

Enterprise Suggestions

Standardization of training records should occur above the Brigade level, much like aircrew training records. The expectation outlined in paragraph 4-12 envisions maintainers changing duty stations and presenting records within 14 days to the gaining commander. Upon AIT graduation, Soldiers should be issued a baseline Maintainer Training Record at AIT and PCS to their initial unit as paragraph 4-12 highlights. At minimum, each 15-series Advanced Leader’s Course should teach .71 records maintaining. This will facilitate records consistency and provide oversight as the Aviation enterprise expands its use of the .71.

Training aids would provide maintainers hands-on experience prior to performing tasks on the aircraft. SGT Steven Perricone, our Powerplant Repair Supervisor, summarized this shortcoming by noting “every unit is different and many do not get enough work to practice and evaluate the Soldiers…without these aids, units are forced to use the academic evaluation method which does not truly demonstrate the Soldier’s maintenance skill.”

The enterprise should also define the lead agent for each 15-series MOS across the brigade, ensuring standardization. For example, the ASB Commander is responsible for establishing the 15-series low density (15B/D/F/G/H/K/N) MOS ICTL evaluated tasks. The GSAB or Assault Battalion Commander is responsible for establishing the evaluated task for 15Us and 15Ts. The ARB/ARS Commander is responsible for the 15R and 15Y evaluated ICTL.

Summary

Implementation of TC 3-04.71 may seem daunting, but if carefully planned and implemented it can assist in all aspects of maintenance management. The .71 AMTP will formalize the practices already occurring on the hangar floor and foster consistency across the force. A deliberate planning and preparation timeline can help alleviate friction points as a merger of maintenance and formal maintainer development occur. For wide-spread consistency and value, the enterprise should look at resources and standardization across the force, particularly with records and training aids. The Aviation Maintainer Training Program will be invaluable to a force stretched thin by high demand. A trained maintainer will not only improve work efficiency but also the quality of work across the entire Aviation Enterprise.

MAJ Brandon A. Shah is the commander of Co. B, 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, CPT Justin Hall is the Composite Repair Platoon leader, and 1LT (P) Nicholas Ortiz is the Maintenance Platoon leader at Hunter Army Airfield, GA.

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