View Full Version : Qinetiq and its independent position - a question
30th Sep 2009, 17:04
Qinetiq's bit at Boscombe Down evolved from DERA which was AAEE etc and Qinetiq represents the MOD's interests by providing independent test and evaluation of aircraft manufacturers products. The independence of T&E testing has (rightfully so) been guarded carefully by those working at EGDM.
Rumours suggest (and again I may be wrong) that Qinetiq are doing actual upgrade work on certain MOD rotorcraft for the MOD (Chinook & some of the Puma Mk2).
How can you be an independent tester AND manufacturer/modifier who's product requires independent T&E? Who checks Qinetiq's work?
No"chinese walls" answers please.
30th Sep 2009, 17:21
Apparently the Carson blade work on the SK was independantly checked by Cranfield University (!)
god knows who will act independantly on other QQ work, no doubt some similar world renowned centre of expertise
(interesting how the OEM can be forced to use QQ to check their work but then remain completely out of the loop when QQ choose to get involved in design changes to the OEMs' product... fair world isn't it?)
30th Sep 2009, 17:28
Dear dangermouse person,
I think you may carry a certain bitterness towards Qinetiq based on experience?
(or should I use QQ if that is the service approved abbreviation?) :)
My question remains unanswered, perhaps someone from QQ would be well placed to calm my worried mind.
Genghis the Engineer
30th Sep 2009, 21:54
BDN has been in this game for years - the Jaguar GR1b springs to mind, circa 1995, and it's currently in the business of "upgrading" Chinook HC3s to a modified HC2 standard so that somebody can finally use them. Before BDN, Farnborough used to do this sort of thing also - the SK Autocat pods used in the Falklands in 1982 were Farnborough lash-ups.
It does seem dodgy, but it's also been going on for years - not least with all of their own research aircraft which have never been subject to much, if anything, in the way of external assessment.
How do they do it? To be honest, because they're pretty damned professional about it, and yes chinese walls. Does that always work?, good question. To be honest the attempts of BDN to bid left, right and centre for work that is outside their true competence in recent years (tanker fleet?, management of civil registered research aircraft when QQ has no civil approvals) has been unedifying at times and does a really very competent organisation no great favours. On the other hand, rapidly prototyping and modifying military aircraft is something they've got a lot of competence in, but it would probably be wise for them to be truly independently monitored.
But by whom?
1st Oct 2009, 03:56
Not trying to hijack the thread but to broaden it out a bit. As an OEM tester, I often find it harder to convince our in-house reps we've checked a mod out thoroughly than the majority of the authorities.
The whole problem of who, within a company, checks the checkers as authorities delegate certification duties to industry will only get more & more important.
1st Oct 2009, 09:19
T & E is kept apart from any other work at Boscombe QQ. There are 2 seperate organisations, without going into too much detail one for engineering and one for T & E and to be fair it is still very relevant as over the years OEMs have been found to greatly exagerate many claims for thier products. :ok:
1st Oct 2009, 11:18
I think your question is more than a fair one and I am glad that it has been raised.
There still seems to be a double standard in play here. OEMs are hauled over the coals by a supposed independant organisation (QQ), yet that organisation seems to rely on others that, on the face of it are not suitable to do a similar task. Export variants of UK built aircraft are only asessed by the OEMs so why is that good enough but not for the UK? It would save a lot of time/expense and the services may get a more useful (less limited) aircraft, some export variants have less limitations than effectively the same aircraft in UK service (thanks to QQ)
Although T&E may be seperated at BD from Engineering at the end of the day the difference between QQ and DERA is that QQ are a BUSINESS with the bottom line being an important factor (just like industry).
As far as the Chinook/Puma Mk2 work is concerned it may be that QQ Engineering are carrying out some manufacturing work on behalf of the OEMs, in which case the assessment of the OEM design could be conducted by QQ T&E as QQ will not be the design authority for the changes.
we shall see....
The major problem with using QQ for independent certification work isn't really the degree of expertise or independence, rather unsurprisingly they are pretty good at being beyond reproach in that area.
The problem comes when QQ need access to overseas provided data, particularly data from the US. I needed QQ to provide assurance advice on some FADEC software. Technically they could do this, but the US refused to allow the code to be passed to a UK defence company; they would only allow the release of the code to a government agency. The solution was to use the CAA and FAA to undertake a military approval, far from ideal as it was outside their comfort zone.
My personal view is that T&E should never have been privatised, primarily because of the additional cost to the taxpayer that has arisen as a result.
2nd Oct 2009, 08:45
To set the record straight, A & AEE did not become DERA, it became T & EE.
DERA was originally DRA and prior to that RAE; all were under the control of MOD DPA which evolved from MOD(PE).
Genghis the Engineer
2nd Oct 2009, 10:47
My recollection is slightly different:
RAE (+ others) --> DRA
A&EAA --> T&EE --> DTEO
DRA + DTEO --> DERA
DERA + privatisation --> QQ + DSTL
I can't help still feel that it all worked better (as defined by independence, technical quality, and value for the taxpayer) as RAE & A&AEE, albeit that both did need a bit of reform, but maybe I'm turning into an old luddite.
2nd Oct 2009, 10:52
With you all the way. A&AEE should have been left within MOD. Yes it needed reforming and streamlining but MOD T&E should belong to the MOD. Maybe thats just my tinted opinion as I never wanted to leave the MOD but ended up QQ anyway :ugh:
2nd Oct 2009, 12:27
"T&EE"? Never heard of it.
I either slept through that one, or you mean "DGT&E".
So, the Boscombe titles were:
A&AEE -> A&AEE -> DGT&E -> DTEO -> DERA -> QinetiQ -> ATEC (i.e. QinetiQ+AWC)
The first two are because the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment became, for a very short while, the Aircraft & Armament Evaluation Establishment.
Probe Probare still hangs on by its teeth, mind...
Genghis the Engineer
2nd Oct 2009, 13:10
That sounds about right, although I'm pretty certain that in one of the more cobwebbed corners of my memory is recollection of a few bits of MoD calling the place T&EE BDN during the DGT&E period. Not, now you mention it, probably ever an official title but I think that it got used nonetheless.
On the subject, we also got RAE --> RAE over at Farnborough (Bedford, West Freugh...) when it briefly changed from Royal Aircraft Establishment to Royal Aerospace Establishment circa 1988.
What's still lost on me is why they couldn't still be called RAE and A&AEE, but both happen to be parts of QQ, just as they used to be parts of MoD(PE), and before that Min of Tech, Min of Av....
2nd Oct 2009, 17:03
What's still lost on me is why they couldn't still be called RAE and A&AEE
Clearly they could still be called RAE and A2E2.
Why they are not (in my experience of observing organisations that go through some big change) is because the new bosses do not want to know about the past (even though it is what gave them their jobs) and try and suggest it all starts now chaps - hence we need a new name.
2nd Oct 2009, 17:35
Thankyou all for some very comprehensive history on how QQ got to where it is today in terms of T&E, and on the work QQ does that is not T&E.
It seems that nothwithstanding its status as a company, QQ CAN do valuable independent test on behalf of the MOD.
QQ T&E is done as a for profit activity by a commercial organisation.
I am new to this forum, admit to not knowing the full situation, but I did ask the original question, and, the answers above seem to indicate to me a slightly unhealthy arrangement between T&E and other company activities that could result in a conflict of interest for company executives of QQ.
It is worth recalling that the first responsibility of any company is to make a profit for its shareholders.
Another queston could be, if during T&E QQ finds an aircraft deficiency that MAY have an operational impact, surely it is in QQ interest to perhaps (over)emphasise the deficiency so that the aircraft is modified and further testing occurs which of course QQ can get paid for and hence have an additional profit making opportunity?
As a tax payer I dont like the idea of my independent tester getting more profit from extending the testing, AND, I dont like the idea of my independent tester making recommendations on aircraft modified by my independent tester.
I clearly need to get some QQ shares or write to my MP!
2nd Oct 2009, 18:58
As usual John, never a truer word said.
In my later stages ( late 80's- early 90's ) at BAe Dunsfold, none of us actually knew what the latest acronym we worked for was, we couldn't keep up.
I remember we were Military Aircraft Division for a while, until someone realised that spelt MAD !
A shame as you say, history and past achievements are buried by this sort of thing; and new bosses at any level who feel they ' have to be seen to make a change ' are just idiots grasping at straws.