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Unit Manual Section 5 - Aircraft

Category: Unit Manuals

Published date: Apr 12, 2024

AIRCRAFT ASSIGNMENT, MAINTENANCE, AND RESTORATION A. Application and Review Procedure for Aircraft Assignment Headquarters will publish a list of CAF aircraft available on the CAF Operations website - Units may contact the Chief Aviation Officer for detailed information on the aircraft’s condition and fund balance. 1. Request for Aircraft Assignment Use the CAF Operations Website: Forms/Request Aircraft Asset Assignment: All Unit requests will be considered, and Headquarters will communicate their decisions by the end of the announcement period or earlier. 2. Aircraft Maintenance Account/Minimum Fund Balance (MFB) Headquarters maintains a maintenance account for each CAF aircraft. Monies from this account are typically used to fund associated operational costs. Sponsorship monies, general donations, and airshow revenues are examples of monies that are forwarded to Headquarters for deposits in the Aircraft Maintenance Account. A fully funded Aircraft Maintenance Account is one in which the Minimum Fund Balance (MFB) for that specific airplane has been met. In most cases, an airplane will only be assigned to a Unit if the MFB will be fully funded with donations from prospective Aircraft sponsors or other Unit general funds. (See the table on page 5-6 for a listing of the Minimum Fund Balance levels.) See also Section 4 of the Unit Manual for more information on the Minimum Fund Balance.

  1. How the Assignment Process Works The assignment process varies according to how the airplane becomes available. Normally, there are three ways this happens: reassignment of airplanes already in the inventory, CAF or a Unit buys an aircraft, or someone donates an aircraft to the CAF. a. Why aircraft are returned for reassignment: When an airplane comes up for reassignment, it is typically for financial reasons. Although occasionally, a Unit will turn in aircraft with fully funded aircraft accounts, this is unusual. Airplanes with a debt are most common, followed by airplanes with a zero balance in the aircraft account. The money in the aircraft account, along with any associated debt, are assigned with the airplane. Units who turn an aircraft in with debt are Units that are closing, or so close to folding they are allowed to turn in the aircraft with the hopes of helping them rebuild the Unit. b. Reassignment of airplanes already in the inventory: Units must first request assignment/reassignment using the procedures listed in C. in this section of the Unit Manual. The Assignment Committee makes the preliminary assignment decision, with final approval from the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum. Decisions are based mostly on objective criteria listed below: Criteria: 1) Operational issues: The Committee looks at the following operational issues as part of the decision-making process: • The last three years of flight activity (or lack thereof) for every airplane assigned to the Units. • The progress (or lack thereof) on aircraft in restoration and extended maintenance.
    • The number of current pilots in the Unit, along with new pilots coming on board.
    • The number of certified mechanics, hangar facilities, and special capabilities such as machine shops or special skills of Unit members. 2) Financial issues: The Committee looks at the following financial information as part of the decision-making process: • The account balance on every airplane assigned to the applicants. • Any past due billings owed to Headquarters or other vendors. • The Unit’s financial history and obligations (hangar and property leases, etc.). • The number of sponsors pledged to the new airplane. • The amount of money in the aircraft account when it is assigned. • The number of Unit members, which indirectly indicates financial support. c. When the CAF buys an airplane: This situation is usually the result of efforts by one of the Airbases/Units: A Unit finds an airplane they want to operate, raises the money to pay for it, and submits their concept of operation which addresses the areas listed in the criteria for a reassignment. The Assignment Committee reviews the proposal and if it is approved, briefs the AAHFM Board and asks for their approval. If approval is granted, Headquarters executes the purchase after an acceptable pre-purchase inspection and assigns the airplane to the Unit. The Unit is responsible for coordinating with the Chief Aviation Officer to schedule the pre-purchase inspection. Airbases/Units may not purchase aircraft without Headquarters approval. d. Aircraft donations from Unit members: Although in most cases, aircraft donated by Unit members are assigned to those Units, this is not always the case. All donations are unconditional, and the airplanes will only be assigned to Airbases/Units which are approved by the committee using the same criteria as any other assignment. The committee will inform the donor and the Unit if they will or will not get the airplane without competition. e. Aircraft Leases: The Assignment Committee may consider aircraft leases on a case-by-case basis. Leased aircraft are operated and maintained in the same manner as owned aircraft and require no special instructions.
  2. Types of Aircraft Assignments There are two types of aircraft assignments, provisional and non-provisional: a. Non-provisional Assignment A non-provisional assignment is the basic agreement in which the Unit, Sponsor Group, or individual agrees to comply with all minimum requirements set forth by CAF regulations and the Aircraft Assignment Agreement, and at the time of assignment, the MFB is fully funded and all debts for the aircraft are paid in advance. b. Provisional Assignment Provisional assignments include the Unit, Sponsor Group, or individual agreeing to comply with all minimum requirements set forth by CAF regulations, and have specific additional requirements established for the entity requesting assignment of the aircraft. These requirements may contain details regarding: • a time schedule to fully fund the aircraft's MFB • Payment of all debts • Any other condition(s) stipulated by the President, including: o providing a hangar for the aircraft o performing specific maintenance or restoration actions; i.e. rebuilding the engine or prop o requesting information regarding the names and qualifications of those who will provide maintenance and restoration support for the aircraft All requirements established under a provisional assignment must be met during the time period established by the President. Airbases, Units, Sponsor Groups, and individuals who do not meet the initial requirements are subject to review by the President, which may result in possible reassignment of the aircraft. c. Before applying for an aircraft up for assignment, the Unit is encouraged to inspect the aircraft and review the aircraft records and log books. Upon assignment, the Unit Leader will sign a document stating that the Unit agrees to accept the aircraft in “as is” condition.
  3. Aircraft Purchases a. Aircraft may be purchased by individuals and donated to the CAF following the procedures in paragraph 5 above. b. If a Unit wants to buy an airplane, they should notify the Chief Aviation Officer. They will need to have the money to buy the airplane and meet all the requirements for aircraft assignments listed at the beginning of this section.
  4. Recalling Aircraft for Reassignment If at any time the President determines that an assigned aircraft is not being operated, restored, and/or maintained in accordance with CAF policies and procedures, the President has the option of recalling the aircraft for reassignment with final approval by the AAHFM.
  5. Donations of Aircraft If an individual or group of individuals wants to donate an airplane, they should contact the Chief Aviation Officer. The donor will need to provide a title search, pictures, and information to describe the aircraft’s condition. This information will be briefed at the next meeting of the AAHFM for approval. If the donor intends for the aircraft to be assigned to a specific Unit, the Unit will need to provide an aircraft assignment request as explained above. In both cases, the Director of Operations & Maintenance must inspect the aircraft before the proposal is complete. The Unit requesting assignment will pay the travel expenses for the inspection. a. General Guidelines Donations of aircraft to the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum and Commemorative Air Force have allowed the Ghost Squadron® to grow to its current fleet size of over 165 World War II and other historic aircraft. This growth has brought with it an increased burden for sponsors of all levels to care for these aircraft. CAF’s current policy emphasizes the restoration and maintenance of the aircraft in our existing inventory as a primary goal. This policy does provide for controlled growth of the fleet, and the acceptance of donated aircraft is therefore under the guidance and authorization of the Administrative Staff as directed by the President of the CAF and the board of directors of the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum. b. Frequently Asked Questions.
    Can I donate my aircraft to a CAF Unit? No. The aircraft operated by the CAF are owned by The American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum (AAHFM), and any donation must be made to that organization. CAF Airbase/Units are not separate tax-exempt entities, but rather branch offices of the Commemorative Air Force, and thus cannot own the aircraft or other properties. Under certain circumstances the donated aircraft may, at the discretion of the President of the CAF, be assigned to a particular CAF Unit. Under IRS rules, however, the donor cannot attach conditions to the donation, nor can they specify the way donated property can be used. If I donate my aircraft, can I still fly it? Yes. However, under IRS rules, there can be no special benefits given to the donor in trade for the donation. You will need to become an Aircraft Sponsor. If you qualify under appropriate CAF regulations as a pilot on the aircraft, along with others of the same type in the CAF fleet, and if they are only one of several pilots assigned to that type aircraft, they may be authorized and assigned to fly the aircraft in question. The donated aircraft must be under the control of CAF Headquarters Operations, on an approved flight movement or mission, and the donor must receive no special treatment or consideration that could be construed as a benefit or privilege not received by other Active Aircraft Sponsor pilots in the CAF for that aircraft.
  6. Headquarters Assigned Aircraft All aircraft assigned to Headquarters are open to sponsorship; however, all new sponsors must understand that this policy will be mandatory. Although the sponsors will generally maintain all the privileges enjoyed by other sponsors of CAF aircraft, operational scheduling and maintenance will be controlled by Headquarters Operations Department. The Chief Aviation Officer shall be the Aircraft Coordinator for all Headquarters assigned aircraft. B. Aircraft Maintenance Aircraft maintenance fulfills a basic purpose for which Units are organized. All Unit personnel should consider the opportunity to operate and maintain a rare World War II or other historic aircraft a privilege, and this privilege should provide the incentive for active Unit participation of its membership. Before an aircraft can be assigned to a Unit for operation, the Unit must prove its ability to maintain its assigned aircraft to the highest professional standards. Superior maintenance is one of the CAF's highest priorities and should be so for all Units which operate CAF aircraft. The primary responsibility of the CAF, above all others, is the preservation of these rare and historically important aircraft. If we are going to both fly and preserve these aircraft, the highest quality of mechanical perfection must be maintained in each aircraft. Flying and preservation are compatible terms as long as we maintain the aircraft in top mechanical condition and provide professional maintenance as a priority. For the Unit with an assigned aircraft, this clearly defines a most important responsibility of the Unit Staff. You must provide the best possible maintenance for your aircraft by providing the best qualified, most experienced, and best-trained flight, maintenance, and ground crews possible. It is the Unit's responsibility to locate, motivate, and enlist the qualified people to build the Unit Maintenance Team.

  7. Building the Maintenance Team Aircraft Maintenance Crew The duty of the Maintenance Crew is to maintain the CAF's assigned aircraft. The number of personnel required for a functional crew will depend on the complexity of the aircraft. A maintenance crew of two could handle routine maintenance on a trainer or liaison ship up to and including the AT-6. The more complicated combat aircraft such as Helldiver, P-51, B-25, and others of the same class, will require four to six crew members with a wide range of mechanical specialties, including engine, electrical, hydraulic, etc. Four-engine aircraft such as B-24, B-17, and B-29, etc., will require a maintenance crew of 10 or more mechanics with the required specialties.

  8. Major Components Before contracting for the overhaul of major components (those having type certificates), the Unit or individual must contact the Director of Operations & Maintenance for approval of the vendor chosen to perform the overhaul. If the Director does not approve the vendor, aircraft funds cannot be used to pay for the overhaul. This program is not designed to dictate which vendor you will use, but to prevent Units from getting involved with an unreliable vendor. The procedure for major component overhauls is as follows: a. Notification of Overhaul Vendor The Unit notifies the Director of Operations & Maintenance, in writing, of the component to be overhauled and the name of the vendor they’ve selected. b. Approval of Vendor The Director of Operations & Maintenance will return the approval within 15 days from receipt of written notification. c. Funding Approval The letter of approval will be copied to the Finance Department so aircraft funds can be used to pay the vendor upon completion. C. Aircraft Restoration Before an aircraft restoration project can be assigned to a Unit, that Unit must develop a team of people who are expert in all phases of aircraft restoration. The Unit must also provide adequate shop facilities and the necessary tools and equipment to accommodate the proposed restoration project. An equally significant requirement is locating and recruiting enough dedicated people who have the required experience, knowledge, and skills to restore the aircraft to the highest professional standards. Different aircraft will require different mechanical skills. Some aircraft will require only metal workers for airframe restoration. Others will require craftsmen skilled in aircraft wood and fabric work. Engine specialties will vary from 65 hp. opposed cylinder engines on liaison or trainer types to Wright R-3350 radial engines on larger combat or transport types. It is the Unit's responsibility to locate, motivate, and enlist support in building its Aircraft Restoration Team. Keep in mind that each Unit is expected to develop the maximum support potential from its designated geographical area. When the Unit meets the above requirements, they should apply for aircraft assignment with sufficient documentation of the above requirements.

End of Text for Section 5, (MFB Listing, Sample letters, and forms follow)

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