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Old 20th Jan 2008, 22:08   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Perth, Western Australia
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AMSA - AeroRescue Dornier 328 fleet a "mechanical nightmare"

From The Australian:

Rescue fleet a 'mechanical nightmare'
Gary Hughes | January 21, 2008

AUSTRALIA'S new multi-million-dollar fleet of search-and-rescue aircraft has been plagued by mechanical problems, often leaving planes unable to respond to emergencies and forcing authorities to call on private aviators to provide urgent help.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau records show the $200million fleet of five twin-engined Dornier 328-100 turbo props was involved in half a dozenmid-air mechanical incidents last year, including four engine failures.

In another incident, one of the Dorniers had to land immediately after taking off from Perth airport after smoke was seen coming out of the aircraft's right side.

The hi-tech Dorniers - hailed by the Howard government as representing a new era in Australia's lifesaving services when the first was commissioned two years ago - have also suffered mechanical problems on the ground, leaving them unable to respond to emergencies.

On New Year's Day, a Dornier based in Perth was grounded with a mechanical failure and unable to respond to an emergency call.

Another aircraft had to be chartered to take its place. The Dorniers, which are equipped with the latest radar, night-search equipment and satellite technology, now need modifications to their doors that require each of the five to be withdrawn in turn from service.

The upgrade will leave only four aircraft available during the next six months to take part in operations ranging from sea rescues to bush searches and efforts to locate missing planes.

There are also concerns that there is not a Dornier based in NSW, resulting in lengthy response times to emergencies, with search aircraft being sent from Melbourne or Brisbane. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which operates the five planes, has admitted to "some initial technical issues" with the aircraft,which came into service between October 2005 and February last year.

AMSA said in its annual report, released in September, that the problems had "some impact on aircraft availability".

But it claimed the problems had been "expeditiously resolved" and the aircraft were now operating "within expectations".

Despite the continuing problems, the federal Government has backed the fleet. A spokesman for Transport Minister Anthony Albanese yesterday said: "We are unaware of any problems, and these aircraft are fulfilling contractual arrangements that have been made with the maritime safety authority."

An AMSA spokeswoman told The Australian the Dorniers were "running as normal".

"There are ongoing maintenance issues for all aircraft, so they are not online all the time," she said. "Sometimes they are off having scheduled servicing or training. There's always a back-up tasking (of another charter aircraft) if the Dorniers are unserviceable."

But aviation industry sources have told The Australian that the AMSA's Dorniers have experienced far more mechanical problems than normal, leaving them grounded and "off line" for long periods.

One source said there were "shortcomings" with the Dornier 328s and they were not the best choice of aircraft for the type ofwork for which they were being used.

Another described the Dornier as a "mechanical nightmare".

The Howard government awarded contracts worth $196.5million to AeroRescue Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of the Paspaley Group, in 2005 to provide and fly the five Dorniers.

Prior to creating the dedicated fleet, search-and-rescue authorities relied on independent contractors around the country to help with rescue efforts, and AMSA was credited with co-ordinating the rescue of thousands of people.

The Dorniers are not the first major government purchase to be plagued by problems. The multi-billion-dollar Collins-class submarines are the most notorious to suffer serious teething problems. And there are ongoing dramas with Australia's proposed new military aircraft, the $15.5 billion Joint Strike Fighter.

The Dorniers were purchased second-hand from overseas operators and fitted with a range of hi-tech equipment, including infra-red imaging radar to search at night and satellite communications.

The Coalition government said the Dorniers, which are based in Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and Perth, would be on 24-hour standby and "ready to fly to an emergency within 30 minutes".

The AeroRescue fleet replaced three previous aircraft charter companies that had provided dedicated twin-engined search aircraft. Some of those companies still provide back-up aircraft when the Dorniers are grounded.

There are concerns within the aviation industry about the effectiveness of the Dorniers.

In one incident involving a missing aircraft in southern NSW last year, a Dornier flown in from interstate spent all night searching unsuccessfully. A local search aircraft found the missing light plane and the bodies of the pilot and passenger within 30 minutes the following morning.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau records show the Dorniers were involved in 17 reported incidents last year. Eleven of the incidents involved safety issues, such as pilots turning on to the wrong course or entering restricted airspace without clearance.

The Paspaley Group did not respond to a request for comment.

Additional reporting: Richard Kerbaj


Regards,
David
David Eyre is offline  
Old 20th Jan 2008, 22:49   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 23
So this is just another typical Pearl Aviation contract..... using cheap old aircraft with no spares and the company not prepared to spend any money on it..... what do you expect????
lucky101 is offline  
Old 20th Jan 2008, 22:53   #3 (permalink)
 
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From an inside source (flt crew)......it might be more a media beat up of some operational facts.

Mountain out of mole hill.

I could be wrong of course

J
Jabawocky is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2008, 06:58   #4 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
A spokesman for Transport Minister Anthony Albanese yesterday said: "We are unaware of any problems, and these aircraft are fulfilling contractual arrangements that have been made with the maritime safety authority."
Okay, this is code for we have not been told officially that the contract is not being met. The truth is that Aerorescue ARE in breach of their contract.
Quote:
But it claimed the problems had been "expeditiously resolved" and the aircraft were now operating "within expectations".
That is, within the revised/lowered expectations since they simply cannot provide the coverage that is required in their contract.

This mess will blow up in the ministers face if he doesn't jump on it NOW.
Icarus2001 is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2008, 07:38   #5 (permalink)
 
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Simple to Refute

Surely just too easy for AMSA to refute. Provide the requirements under the contract and the current daily availability stats. Either that, or the percentage details when the Dorniers were available for tasking within the contracted period.

I am sure that whenever there is a need, an aircraft is found.

Nomadic Frank
Frank Burden is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2008, 09:39   #6 (permalink)
 
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From myself being at the pointy end I think we are doing a fine job.
Green gorilla is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2008, 13:46   #7 (permalink)
 
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isnt this state of the art radar only a 160 degree nose mounted one that is shared with the pilots as a weather radar?
gav_20022002 is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2008, 20:44   #8 (permalink)
 
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To Toecutter Knows, I am sure you are right and agree on the poor standard of journalism with AMSA being able to easily refute the main thrust of it. I guess we need to wait and see what happens next. If nothing, then we have little to make a decision on the 'excellent-average-failing to meet contracted service levels' scale.

Nomadic Frank
Frank Burden is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2008, 21:51   #9 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Perth, Western Australia
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More on this in The Australian today:

Air rescue group gave to Coalition
Gary Hughes | January 22, 2008

A COMPANY awarded contracts worth $200 million to run Australia's fleet of search and rescue aircraft was a financial donor to the Howard government.

Australian Electoral Commission records show the Paspaley Group, which operates the fleet of five Dornier 328-100 turboprop aircraft through its subsidiary AeroRescue Pty Ltd, donated $265,000 to the Liberal and National parties over six years.

The donations included $90,000 to the Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory, $85,000 to the West Australian Liberal Party and $60,000 to the federal Liberal Party.

The donations from the Paspaley Group, which is based in Darwin, were made between 1998-99 and 2004-05.

The contracts were awarded to the group in 2004 and 2005.

The Australian revealed yesterday that the five hi-tech Dornier 328s had been plagued by mechanical problems both in the air and on the ground, reducing their availability for search and rescue operations.

There were four mid-air engine failures last year and in another incident, one of the aircraft had to land immediately after emitting smoke on take-off.

On New Year's Day, one of the Dorniers was unable to take off from Perth because of mechanical problems and another search aircraft had to be chartered in itsplace.

AeroRescue was awarded two contracts worth $196.5 million by the Howard government to operate the fleet of twin-engine Dornier 328s on behalf of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

AMSA admitted in its annual report in September that "some initial technical difficulties" with the Dorniers had led to reduced availability, but said these problems had since been overcome and the aircraft were now operating "within expectation".

But aviation industry sources told The Australian that the problems with the aircraft have continued.

The five Dorniers, which are based in Perth, Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane and Melbourne, are undergoing modifications to their cargo doors, which means one will always be out of service on a rotation basis during the next six months.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said the aircraft had met or exceeded performance levels.

"From the advice that we have received, they are doing the job that they are contracted to do," he said.

"In the past 12 months, they have responded to 630 search and rescue incidents and saved 250 lives."

He said mid-air mechanical failures experienced by the Dorniers had been fully investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

"Incidents were thoroughly investigated and resolved as one-off incidents and quickly rectified," he said. "They don't see a systematic problem here."

The Paspaley Group, which also runs Pearl Aviation, donated $45,000 to the ALP between 1998-99 and 2004-05 as well as $15,000 to individual ALP candidates in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

A spokesman for Paspaley declined to comment yesterday.

The first $24.5 million contract to operate a search and rescue aircraft in Darwin was awarded to Paspaley's subsidiary AeroRescue in November 2004. There were eight bidders, including at least one from an operator already providing search and rescue services to AMSA.

In November 2005, the Howard government announced that AeroRescue had been awarded a $172 million contract to provide a further four aircraft for AMSA.

Regards,
David
David Eyre is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 03:18   #10 (permalink)
 
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Location: Adelaide
Posts: 73
Interesting stuff isn't it.....
From my position in aviation, I have access to much first hand information, all of which would be rejected by the authorities, but I think it fair to say that the AMSA contract was definitely tainted by political interest, and the best man for the job did not get the contract,,,,,,so to speak.
Lets revisit this one in twelve months time and see where it's at then.
Happy landings.....................................
Gordstar is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 09:04   #11 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
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Must be a quiet time of the year Mr Hughes, everyone else on holidays and your left in charge?
Perhaps the boys from Pearl should take him on familiarisation flight on a dark stormy night!
Stationair8 is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 09:50   #12 (permalink)
 
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What happened to Howards Hughes's post????

I must be dreaming......too much beer can dreaming
Jabawocky is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 10:39   #13 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Hong Kong
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Quote:
It goes on
The Minister has reported to 250 people being VERY happy with the service due to being helped out in a big way.
But doesn't that statement rather beg the question of the happiness of the number of people that may not have been saved?

Edit. It would seem the poster who uttered the above quoted statement has now deleted his post and gone elsewhere..?

Last edited by FlexibleResponse; 24th Jan 2008 at 13:21.
FlexibleResponse is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 10:58   #14 (permalink)
 
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Australia
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Oops, must have been some mighty painful contract penalties for all that downtime.
justfun is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 20:04   #15 (permalink)
 
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Location: SYDNEY
Posts: 20
They should've given the contract to Surveillance Aus. They had the established fleet, suitably qualified personnel and SOP's in place. They have being doing SAR's for years now so nothing new there either. The issue of dropping rescue equipment could've been solved one way or another.
chickendrummer is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 21:55   #16 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: west
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Nearly all Aerorescue staff are from SA they moved across for better conditions and the roles are different.
Green gorilla is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2008, 22:08   #17 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Go west young man
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From what I've heard SA are having enough problems meeting their own contractual obligations! Maybe they might be next for getting the media burner put under them??
Sarcs is offline  
Old 23rd Jan 2008, 04:18   #18 (permalink)
 
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If the Dornier can't get up - does that mean we have to chuck the raft back in the cabin before going to LDH???
Icarus53 is offline  
Old 23rd Jan 2008, 08:15   #19 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 59
so there is no designated search radar ( just one co shared with the piolts for weather and only covers 160 degrees), is it true Aerorescue are still operating under Pearl's AOC and dont have their own? meaning at night and in crap weather ( where murphys law dictates things will go wrong) they have to drop rafts at LSALT? so instead of dropping at 1, 2, 3, 500 they have to drop at 1500 and chances are the cloud will be between LSALT and the ocean/land so u have to drop through cloud?

**not fishing for anything here at all but want to seriously know. i may be completely wrong here and only curious if its true**
gav_20022002 is offline  
Old 23rd Jan 2008, 15:04   #20 (permalink)

Don Quixote Impersonator
 
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Very very sloppy journalism.

"And you stopped beating your wife ....when??"
gaunty is offline  
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