U.S., Ukraine exchange flight safety insight

Capt. Jenny Lovett
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Two members of the Ukrainian Air Force stopped by the 37th Airlift Squadron here Aug. 24 to gain some insight into U.S. flight safety that will be helpful in joint operations with the United States and the government of Ukraine.

Col. Anitoliy Kukhta, deputy chief of staff and deputy aviation commander for the Ukrainian Air Force Command, and Col. Andrei Berezniak, senior inspector for the Aircraft Utilization Safety Branch of the Ukrainian Air Force Command, toured the 37th AS and flew an orientation flight on a C-130 Hercules as part of the fact-finding mission prior to an impending joint U.S. – Ukraine safety conference in mid-September.

“The purpose of their visit is to solidify topics that will be discussed during our visit to Ukraine in September,” said Lt. Col. Richard Miller, U.S. Air Forces in Europe safety. “They are conducting a flight safety conference on the interoperability of their aviation systems and the rest of NATO.”

Because there is not only a language barrier but a “terminology” barrier as well, he said, a face-to-face discussion through an interpreter was required to be able to fully understand their desires and requirements for the upcoming conference.

During the flight, Colonel Kukhta showed an interest in navigating and the communication barrier was breached with smiles and gestures. “We did a very visual route so I showed him the navigation chart and pointed out the base for reference, and he took over navigating,” said Capt. Joey Dible, 37th Airlift Squadron navigator. “He would tap me on the arm, point (our current position) on the chart and then I would give him the thumbs up. He did really well and in the end kept the chart as a souvenir.”

The orientation flight on the Herk gave the two senior Ukrainian officers an opportunity to see and experience basic safety rules and procedures used by USAFE C-130 crews, said Maj. Michael Irwin, 37th AS assistant director of operations.  “The intent was to demonstrate how operational risk management is employed in our activities.”

The colonels took the ORM information back to Ukraine to prepare for the Americans’ trip there.