Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
It has come to my attention that the procurement chaps, in league with some Ops bods, have once again managed to throw money down the toilet in a fairly spectacular fashion.
Middle Wallop and Shawbury are two of the busiest bases in the UK (several hundred movements a day, every day). They need to refuel their helicopters between sorties, which means a LOT of refuels every day - as a result, their bowsers have become knackered, have pumped their last, and have just been replaced.
GREAT!!! 3 new bowsers have just arrived at Shawbury, resplendent in their shiny livery. Imagine the surprise of OC Ops when the wraps came off the new toys only to reveal that they can ONLY pressure refuel - this means that they are unable to refuel any of the helicopters at SY. Not to worry, Shawbury still have the old ones - unfortunately these are no longer legally allowed to drive on public roads, so refuelling at the RLG's (as is the norm) is now a problem.
Middle Wallop have the same pressure nightmare...but they have got rid of their old bowsers. Oh dear.
Is it just me, or is yet another of the myriad examples of imbeciles who believe they know what is going on (because of their rank), failing to get guidance from the people who actually KNOW what is going on (jnr off's/SNCO's etc...). I am aware that this decision may well have been made by a civil servant who is just doing his job (if I did mine that badly, people would die), but somebody should be brought to book for this fiasco, which must SURELY be classed as gross incompetence, by any definition.
Without knowing the details, I’d ask if the person responsible KNEW what he was doing and simply abrogated responsibility by taking the easy option (and probably moved on, upwards, before it was spotted). Or if a genuine mistake was made and he's doing his best to correct it.
I once asked my XD in DPA why he promoted people who continually cocked-up like this. His response was that they had "learned a valuable lesson”. When asked why he didn’t promote people who (a) had never made such a mistake in the first place and had a long track record of delivering to time, cost and performance, and/or (b) the people who spend their careers successfully cleaning up these cock-ups, he wouldn’t reply. Speaks volumes.
Years ago when the main runway was being refurbished, we all decamped to a nearby USAF airfield. However, rather than just use the US bulking facilities, the knurled gnomes decided to drive huge tankers daily from main base.
The first tanker was a degree or two from overturning at the first roundabout as the fuel sloshed to the side. The tanker had no internal baffles to stop this happening.
The morons at the top took many months sorting it out to allow main base bulking. The cost was enormous, instead of arranging to use US fuel....
Typical of the thinking at the time - good to see that 'lessons learned' [which became 'lessons identified'] haven't.
This is a big company problem that is not just something that hapens in the military.
A long time ago when I worked for a big airline based near London I went to the Farnbough air show, the trade show was very good with all types of new equipment on display. One company was showing a small aircraft jack that used compressed air or a good old lever to jack the aircraft, the whole thing could be lifted by one man and put into the back of a landrover....... just what we needed for line in line engineering.
I remarked on what a good bit of kit this was to the young lady who was with me, this was overheard by the company rep and the young lady was wisked away by another company rep for "refreshments".
I was told that this jacking system had been shown to Mr xxxx at the company that I worked for and he said it was not what we wanted, it transpired that the guy who buys the equipment had never jacked an aircraft in his life and could not see that this small bit of kit would work and so he ordered much bigger and more costly jacks.
I managed to get the company to take a range of the jacks that they had for sale to the crew room and let the guys who do the work select the equipment that they had to work with. This saved the company money on equipment perchace and countless man hours over the life of the jacks.
To my knowlage this is the only time that the guys on the "front line" had any input into equipment buying and it saved a lot of money.
The question I have is do the RAF have any "crew room" input when buying new kit?
“The question I have is do the RAF have any "crew room" input when buying new kit?”
The short answer is “Yes” and there is a recognised process for doing so. Generally, this involves formal visits to air stations by System Design Authorities, under the management of the Project Manager or, more importantly for in-service kit, the Technical Agency. (The named MoD individual responsible for airworthiness/type approval). I always found the user tended to want separate aircrew and maintainer meetings. As ever, there is a “but”. Funding was cut for this activity in 1992 (it’s the same funding that ensures the safety of a design is maintained) and so does not occur on a regular, formal basis anymore – more on an opportunity basis. I should add that I’m more used to the FAA than RAF in this respect. Having said that, I also found that at the “lower” level in a squadron they simply did not want “****ing civvies” visiting them, and they often made life difficult. (I, and a colleague, have been physically ejected from a NAS when trying to gain some background on a safety hazard that needed fixing. Hope you liked the solution guys! Boscombe did). However, more experienced officers – CO, AEO, SOBS etc recognised the benefit and were always helpful.
I’ve also managed army projects. At unit level they are ALWAYS grateful for such input and go out of their way to help. I’ve seen guys pulled out of theatre to attend a design meeting in the UK. Great attitude and they have no hang-ups about rank. If you want to talk comms, you get the L/Cpl signaller and his word goes.
Bottom line. If the PM doesn’t knock on doors seeking user input, he’s a moron.
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Does anyone have a copy of that splendid old cartoon "What the aircrew wanted" featuring a swing hanging from a tree branch? It really summed up the way procurement screws things up....
The final delivered solution had a tree with one branch either side of the trunk, a large section sawn out of the trunk for swing and occupant and a complicated truss system to hold the whole thing in place!
Agreed! Does anyone have a copy of that splendid old cartoon "What the aircrew wanted" featuring a swing hanging from a tree branch? It really summed up the way procurement screws things up.... The final delivered solution had a tree with one branch either side of the trunk, a large section sawn out of the trunk for swing and occupant and a complicated truss system to hold the whole thing in place!
For you Beagle,,, I won't put in one of those "Search the forum" or "google" funnies, I just assume you didn't find it because JB is at the bottom of the forum list now
When I was working on the line, it was standard practice for all pressure refuellers to carry open-line nozzles for use on aircraft not fitted for pressure refuelling. As you pointed out, they were easily fitted to the pressure coupling when required and stored in a 'clean' box when not in use.
Maybe the "modern" Air Force doesn't think that such a useful tool is necessary any more.
Even so, somebody deserves to have his a**e severly kicked for making such a basic error of judgement when ordering the replacement refuellers.