German aircraft undergoes maintenance in 167th hangar

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An Airbus A400M touched down on runway 26 and taxied to a parking spot on the ramp at the 167th Airlift Wing, Feb. 23, an unusual sight at the Martinsburg, W.Va., air base.

 The aircraft, with “Luftwaffe” painted in large black block letters on each side, flew in to the wing so it could undergo a maintenance procedure in one of the hangars.

 The Airbus, assigned to the 62nd Air Transport Wing of the German Air Force, provides cargo transportation to the United States.

 The aircraft landed at Dulles International Airport, in Virginia, Feb. 16, with a propeller blade seal leak.

 “The aircraft had landed with a leaking prop blade seal.  One of the blades to the number four propeller needed to be replaced due to the leak,” said Master Sgt. Maik Nattkemper, who works flight operations for a detachment of the German Armed Forces Command, based at the Dulles airport.

 A maintenance crew was flown in from Germany to do the repair. They determined the repair needed to be accomplished inside an aircraft hangar. But hangar space was in short supply at Dulles due to other aircraft maintenance demands there.

 Nattkemper asked his wife, Tech. Sgt. Heather Nattkemper, a logistics manager for the 167th Maintenance Group, if a hangar at the 167th AW could accommodate the aircraft for the repair.

 “Given the past relationship between the German Armed Forces Command and the 167th, I knew that the 167th would be capable and willing to help us complete our mission,” Master Sgt. Nattkemper said.

 Col. Christian Cunningham, 167th Maintenance Group commander, said they welcomed the opportunity to support fellow NATO members.

 “Because we were close and had the facilities and capability, it made sense for us to receive the aircraft,” Cunningham said.

 Approvals from the National Guard Bureau and Headquarters Air Force were sought from the 167th AW while the German Embassy and the airman at the German Armed Forces Command were working with the Pentagon, NGB and the 167th Information Protection Office for a Foreign Visitor Request, Customs and Border Patrol, and the 167th Airfield Management to get the proper clearances, Tech. Sgt. Nattkemper explained.

 “The biggest challenge was ensuring everything came together at the same time,” she said.

Once the aircraft arrived at the wing, the German and 167th Airmen worked together and the repair was successfully completed.

“Our maintenance team did an outstanding job working an extended shift to repair the German A400M aircraft and ensuring that our own mission was not compromised,” Cunningham said.

Master Sgt. Nattkemper credited everyone involved with getting the coordination completed in such a short timeframe.

“It was an honor to work with such a professional team,” he said.