Experts inspect air wing

National, Normal

The National, Friday, May 13, 2011

A TEAM of engineers, pilots, loadmasters and operation specialists from the Australian and New Zealand Defence forces arrived in the country on Monday to inspect the PNG Defence Force Air Transport Wing.
The team came at the request of PNGDF commander Brig-Gen Francis Agwi, who wanted a tho­rough audit of all air assets of the force and its capability to mobilise its resources.
Agwi visited Port Moresby’s Jackson Airport on Tuesday to meet the team comprising of nine Australian Army and Air Force personnel and two New Zealand Air Force engineers working with their PNGDF counterparts to conduct the review. 
The review focuses on the air wing’s command and control procedures, flying standards, safety standards, and maintenance arrangements.
Agwi ordered the review to ensure the PNGDF “is as ready as possible to meet the government’s expectations for support with upcoming events such as the July census, next year’s general election and any unexpected assignments such as the need to deploy troops to provide humanitarian assistance.
“The military contributions after the recent Queensland floods, Christchurch earthquake and Japanese tsunami point to the valuable assistance highly capable defence forces can provide,” he said.
The review reflects the need for improved levels of air support, availability, safety, and value-for-money identified in an earlier report on the wing.
The visit by the 11-member team followed a visit by two senior RAAF officers last month to help refine the syllabus and select candidates for PNG-funded basic flying training in Australia.
Head of Australian Defence staff Col Mark Shephard said Australia’s re-engagement with the air wing reflected the PNG government’s and commander’s priorities.  
The review team will finalise a report and present it a month later.