The first class of maintainers to earn an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has officially begun at U.S. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

There are six members currently enrolled in the program, all from the 908th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Five students are studying the full course, with one member studying specifically for the powerplant portion.

The wing’s maintainers will be in one of two career fields, either a MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter Mechanical maintainer or a Grey Wolf Technical maintainer. A Mech maintainer combines the previous specialties of crew chiefs, hydraulics specialists, and engines/propulsion specialists; A Tech maintainer combines the previous specialties of communication and navigation systems specialists, electrical and environmental systems specialists, and guidance and control systems specialists.

The six students are Master Sgt. Matthew Marshall, Tech. Sgt. Jason Gessler, Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Hall, Tech. Sgt. Clive Johnson, Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Munkachy, all MH-139A Grey Wolf Mech maintainers and Master Sgt. Kevin Garrett, a MH-139A Grey Wolf Tech maintainer.

“Chief Master Sgt. Hester came up with the idea more than a year ago,” said Master Sgt. Scott Tucker, 908th Maintenance Group analysis noncommissioned officer in charge, and 908th A&P program director and coordinator. “He has been the driving force for the 908 A&P Program.”

Members of the 908th Maintenance Group have had to find ways to stay busy since the 908th Airlift Wing divested the last of its C-130 Hercules aircraft in April, in preparation for its new mission as the formal training unit for the MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter.

“This idea came about because the MXG needed some form of professional development for our maintainers during this gap between the loss of our C-130s and when we actually have the MH-139s on the ramp,” explained Chief Master Sgt. Quincey Hester.

At the time, Hester, and other leaders, were also under a belief that the FAA A&P certification could potentially be mandatory for maintainers, as the requirements are continuing to be established daily for the new aircraft and the Airmen that will be tasked with maintaining it.

The program is a mixture of hands-on training, online learning, written exams, and oral examination, and then a test of each student’s practical skills at hands-on maintenance.

“The first 908 A&P enrollees have been given their Canvas accounts recently,” said Tucker. “Canvas is the online study that CCAF requires students to complete along with their Qualification Training Package. QTP is a documented historical criteria of the member’s hands-on proficiency at specific aircraft maintenance tasks. Canvas study is in private and can take anywhere from two to six months to accomplish depending on person’s agenda. The 908 A&P program starts after the student completes Canvas. It allows the student to learn and accomplish the listed QTP criteria that they have not already completed and been signed off on. The goal of the school is to get the students hands-on training while prepping them for the written FAA General, Airframe and Powerplant tests which now can be taken for free with a military ID at the Maxwell 908 AW training office. Once the student passes all three written tests, they schedule a meeting with a Designated Mechanic Examiner, who questions them on their oral knowledge of the three FAA tests. The DME also tests their practical skills at hands-on maintenance. The result is a Federal Aviation Administration, Airframe and Powerplant Certification.”