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Today good, tomorrow better

Tuesday 10 September - 13:59h  |  News & Press updates

… he was the first to witness a fire starting in the cockpit. Showing high reactivity, he took immediately measures to stop the fire, managed troubleshooting to the damaged material, allowing the crew to fulfill its mission. At the same time - thanks to his professional appearance - he mastered the panic of some passengers…

What looks on first sight as the beginning of an action movies trailer, is a small episode of a soldier belonging to the European Air Transport Command (EATC), a soldier, who now - 13 years after the event - works on a much more calmer place behind his desk. Although … there is still enough “fire inside” him, and the man behind the counter would always be the first to help, if it comes to the test: French Adjudant Major Andre Auffret works as loadmaster and tasker meanwhile within the EATC’s Operational Division. At the Dutch Eindhoven Air Base, home of the Partcipating Nations’ military air transport command, he takes care for the right preparations within the tasking branch to responsibly plan the assets of tactical aircrafts on European destinations. With all his experience, he is the very right person to assess and catch the right measures on air transport- and air-to-air refueling missions.


Auffret at his workstation


Do the right thing…

“My main duties according to my loadmaster experience on C130 and Casa CN235 are planning and tasking of assets.” What sounds simple on first sight, becomes more clear, when having a closer look at his workload. “One cannot just fly like that”,  he remarks and clicks aloud his fingers. ”And it is my job and responsibility to use all my experience in order to prevent the crew from getting their fingers burnt.” Therefore he became a diligent worker on the subject to find the right aircraft for the specific mission, checking its availability within the five Participating Nations as well as a fitting crews availability on the precise date the air transport request had been applied for. He also organizes the right diplomatic clearences, takes national caveats into account and checks the necessity for waivers. But is the destinations airfield suitable for the mission? Will the route possibly touch sensitive or unsecure areas? Shall he ask in house to provide an additional intelligence assessment? And does the route really perform with the flight time calculation… ?


Auffret in the Hercules cockpit


… and task responsibly

A lot of steps need to be collected and proved again and again, before A. is willing to finally execute a plan into an Air Task Mission Order (ATMO). And this is by far not the end of the process: To execute mission tasking activities, additional works need to be implemented. Now A. is focusing on the load itself, he collects and distributes different cargo with different dimensions and weights in one plan – to use the space as efficient as possible and to modify the load when it comes to later changes. And this is for sure, because one of the EATC’s principles is to avoid so called “empty legs” – flights without cargo on board. In order to have the flight mostly efficient, A. assembles a number of several missions and chains them together in one line – always aiming to have as much cargo and PAX on board as possible. He also - and always - keeps an eye on adapting leg timings where necessary: “We try to be as effective as needed first – and then we have a closer look, how we can save resources. By chaining those single flights into one big mission we save a second or even third aircraft to do a parallel job. And when finally the call-signs are allocated and the overall reliability of the ATMO is proven … I am satisfied. Not before. And I will not leave the house before I’m done.”

EATC building at night


Airborne all over the world

A. was born in Brittany, as small town in the eastern part of France. At school he studied mechanics and became aircraft technician when he entered the French Air Force in 1984. He was promoted as a  flight engineer in 1992 on C130 Hercules.
Ten years later he changed over to do the same on the Casa 235 – staying on the other side of this planet: New Caledonia. For those, who have never heard of this place… one will find New Caledonia behind Australia, north of New Zealand, small islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. Coming back three years later from this “exile”, he went back to Orleans, meeting “his” Hercules at ET 02/061 "Franche-Comté"-Squadron.

Auffret and his team at New Caledonia

And finally… the EATC was lucky to employ this very industrious and experienced person, who has been acting so often as a role model on reliability when it comes to the test: Whether recognizing solely a metal object in a tyre, he showed composure and managed to stop the aircraft, which was already about to lift-off, thus avoiding an accident. Or while a mission over Sarajevo in 1994, where his aircraft was hit by small arms fire – and where he assisted with great professionalism his captain, thus maintaining the humanitarian airlift and return to the unit safely. Whether it is his specifically rigor and remarkable readiness ensuring the evacuation of nationals in a hostile environment at the "Antelope"- operation in 1997 at Gabon or any other combat missions he joined at Central African Republic, the Congo or Afghanistan… he still remained a reliable but humble person with a dedicating attitude - and 7,000 flying hours on his back.



A steady pioneer

Adjudant Major Auffret was always willing to take over decisive roles in the development of new processes within test flights. And he is not the one to burry his experience, instead he shares it: “My passion is teaching, anywhere, everywhere”, explains the married father of two nearly grown up children. During his plenty of assignments, he participated in some research missions, thus acting as trainer on high altitude approaches, defying on difficult weather conditions or within medical evacuations. Always willing to share his skills, he trained members of the Armed Forces not only within the French borders, but on several locations abroad, e.g. training how to drop loads over Papua and New Guinea.
No wonder, why the EATC is happy to have such a dedicating and respected NCO amongst them. “I am no hero, I am just a man with a lot of experience owning – what’s because of the fact that my employer gave me the chance to share all these events. Therefore I am just giving back my “lessons learned” and do my best today for the EATC. Of course there is always a personal aim, because I think everyone needs an aim to live for.

Mine is simply easy: Today good, tomorrow better!” 


Auffret all over the planet


Words: Norbert Thomas

Pictures: Andre Auffret, EATC


Find additional jobportraits of people within the air transport world here.


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