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NEWS | Jan. 22, 2021

A bigger, better facility for AIT Soldiers

By Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

A new building is under construction which will improve the educational experience of Advanced Individual Training students assigned to Fort Eustis.

The 733rd Civil Engineer Division coordinated the construction of a high-bay aviation maintenance instructional building, which will augment the existing facility currently utilized by the 128th Aviation Brigade for training future helicopter mechanics.

“This is going to be a tremendous improvement from the current facilities, and everything that is going to be there is state-of-the-art,” said Pandora Howell, 733rd CED engineering flight chief. “If you walked in there as a [non-mechanic], you wouldn’t know that it isn’t a maintenance hangar.”

A notable feature Howell pointed out with the under-construction facility is that the classrooms are co-located with the maintenance bay, minimizing the need for students to travel to-and-fro between training sessions.

The new facility is expected to accommodate the brigade’s training subset for CH-47 Chinook helicopters, which currently share space with UH-60 Black Hawks. Upon completion, the Chinooks are slated to be moved to the new building, leaving just the Black Hawks in the older facility.

128th Avn. Bde. leaders listed numerous benefits the new hangar will bring to the brigade’s educational mission, such as extra space, enhanced safety measures, modernized equipment and a realistic environment which mirrors an operational hangar.

“It’s a modernization project to upgrade our facilities and training environment for the CH-47 subset of our training,” said Col. Bryan Morgan, 128th Avn. Bde. commander. “When the [students] walk into the new hangar, it looks exactly like a hangar they’ll walk into any station across the Army. This will enable us [the students and equipment] to spread out more, making for a safer and better training environment.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Resmondo, 128th Avn. Bde. command sergeant major, added that the new facility will include equipment which Soldiers can expect to see when they complete their training and move on to their duty stations.

“When you’re doing aircraft maintenance, you need cranes and lifting devices—things to be able to remove engines and heads,” Resmondo said. “This new hangar will have all of that, and it will be very similar to what they see when they get out to the force.”

In addition to the new facility, the Chinook helicopters slated to be moved there are also undergoing upgrades. Wireless technology will be included in the building, which enables students to take their laptops—which function as logbooks—and download or upload their maintenance records, lesson plans and programs of instruction.

Morgan remarked that this project impacts not just the brigade’s training, but enhances the Army’s aviation mission overall—providing a more realistic glimpse of the operational Army to the students passing through.

“This provides better-prepared maintainers,” he said. “When they leave here, they are ready to step in on day one and do their job. One of the biggest goals of the brigade is to remain relevant with the operational force. This will help us accomplish that.”

Construction of the facility began last year, and is expected to be in completed in late 2021.