Airfield repair: 4 Construction Engineer Squadron specialty

News Article / July 4, 2017

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From 4 Construction Engineer Squadron

The expertise of 4 Construction Engineer Squadron (4 CES) personnel proved useful during the Airfield Light Repair (ALR) course held in May 2017 at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta. Under the supervision of 4 CES operations officer Captain Chelsey Litjens, 18 Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) members received theoretical and practical instruction from May 8 to 19, 2017.

The Airfield Light Repair course i trains technicians to repair airfield surfaces on Canadian bases or in foreign locations while being used by deployed Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft. While the training addresses only what are considered light repairs—cracks measuring up to a maximum of 2.5 centimetres and damaged surfaces up to 2.25 square metres—it is given twice a year, and is very popular.

4 Construction Engineer Squadron commanding officer Major Megan Kavanagh explains that RCAF needs have shifted: “Airfield repair training has changed considerably since the end of the Cold War. Today, the courses serve to prepare RCAF engineers to provide essential repairs in a constantly evolving operational context, fixing wear and tear problems, weapon hits or any other types of light damage.”

Runway repair skills are particularly important on military humanitarian missions, especially after an earthquake or major flooding. Airfields are often damaged  and the technicians from 2 Wing Bagotville, Québec, who are deployed first, have the right capabilities to assess runways and make temporary repairs to surfaces so that they can accommodate landings of aircraft carrying equipment and provisions to aid the country in distress.

A standard Airfield Light Repair team consists of five members: a master corporal or sergeant construction technician team leader, a corporal construction technician assistant, and three private or corporal members from any engineering trade. The team is part of the deployed mission operational support element.

Five members of 2 Air Expeditionary Squadron from 2 Wing attended the training. They learned to find damaged portions of runways and studied the technical properties of concrete and asphalt surfaces, the advantages and disadvantages of cutting and levelling tools, and fill materials such as hot oil, asphalt and concrete.

Captain Litjens said she was impressed by the team spirit shown by the group. “Despite the inclement weather and the very long work days, the students were attentive and in good spirits, which created an excellent working atmosphere, both for them and for the instructing personnel.”

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