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49-year-old aircraft receives Black-Letter status

  • Published
  • By Delanie Stafford
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs

Aircraft maintainers from the 755 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base recently achieved a feat rarely seen across the Air Force when one of their EC-130H Compass Call aircraft named Caesar received Black-Letter status for having zero discrepancies or inspections due following an inspection.

“This rarely happens, especially on an aircraft nearly a half-century old,” said Col. Melanie Olson, 55 Electronic Group commander. “I couldn’t be prouder of our maintainers who come to work every day with a can-do mindset. Their dedication and determination in keeping our aircraft in top shape are remarkable.”

The maintenance term Black Letter means there were no flyable or non-flyable discrepancies annotated in red ink during a maintenance inspection, only the first initial of the inspector’s last name and the production superintendent’s signature in black. This is rare for late-model jets and even rarer for an aircraft that was delivered to the Air Force in 1973.

The accomplishment was achieved in large part due to the hard work of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg, a 755 AMXS hydraulics craftsman who was recently appointed as a dedicated crew chief for his efforts in maintaining Caesar.

“He’s worked really hard and has even come in on his off time and on the weekends to fix discrepancies,” said Tech. Sgt. Korey Brown, 755 AMXS noncommissioned officer in charge and dedicated crew chief manager. “Being a specialist shows that he doesn’t only do his job as a hydraulics troop, but he also comes out and learns crew chief tasks and helps out crew chiefs during their inspections. It’s nice to see people like Staff Sgt. Faaborg take pride in their work.”

Master Sgt. Tan Pham, 755 AMXS production superintendent, said Faaborg’s dedication along with a good team led to the achievement.

"Many crew chiefs work their whole career to try and achieve a Black-Letter initial aircraft,” Pham said. “Doing this as a maintainer who doesn't even hold a crew chief [Air Force Specialty Code] speaks volumes about Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Faaborg's work ethic, determination and leadership. Achieving such a feat takes persistent coordination with all seven specialties within our squadron and the support from our teammates at our host wing's maintenance group. We're proud of Jeff and Senior Airman Dakota Harmon as well as the prior dedicated crew chiefs, to include Senior Airman Riley Smith, that set this in motion over two years ago.”

Faaborg said the Black Letter means a lot to him and the rest of his team.

“We accomplished something that no one here has ever really seen, and it was hard because every little thing on the plane can be a write-up,” Faaborg said. “Having no discrepancies is pretty tough, especially when working with aged aircraft."

The EC-130H Compass Call is used as an airborne tactical weapon system that disrupts enemy command and control communications, limiting adversary coordination essential for enemy force management. It has been operational since 1983 and will soon be retired and replaced by the jet-engine powered EC-37B Compass Call.