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Old 30th Dec 2012, 08:15   #941 (permalink)
 
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Ten years is a long time and as you've stated, it doesn't take long for skills to fade if a chap is remaining in the military but not in a SAR role. Without a common training regime delivered by instructors subject to external standardisation, a postcode lottery of styles of rescue will surely result. This may not be such a big deal for the chap being rescued but for external agencies such as RNLI and MRTs it's a big problem. They already have to put up with the RN, RAF and MCA doing things in slightly different ways. Throw in an inquest, fatal accident inquiry or similar where a lawyer uncovers the confusion caused by different operating practices and suddenly the public's faith in SAR will be severely damaged.

Last edited by Vie sans frontieres; 30th Dec 2012 at 08:16.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 08:46   #942 (permalink)
 
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Problem: Overnight accommodation.....Solution: live at home. Oh and bring in packed lunch so no need for full catering facilities either. C'mon crab stop comparing everything to your coveted world. It's the actual service provision that needs to be no less capable, not all the cosy extras that the mil provide with associated hidden costs. And yes that may mean if you want a job with the new contractor you may have to actually move home!!

Vie...you call it optimistic, I call it realistic . The other difference with the Soteria plan was that there was a steady throughput of mil crews that would need converting and training. The new plan does not have that complication.

Local MR, CG or RNLI teams will very quickly get experience and yes even training with their local helicopter. Different procedures may only become an issue during major incidents when more than one asset is on scene. But that's not that different today - as you already point out the RAF, RN & MCA all do it slightly different and the guys on the ground cope admirably. I think you should give them a little more credit.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 10:36   #943 (permalink)
 
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Quote:

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Without a common training regime delivered by instructors subject to external standardisation, a postcode lottery of styles of rescue will surely result. This may not be such a big deal for the chap being rescued but for external agencies such as RNLI and MRTs it's a big problem. They already have to put up with the RN, RAF and MCA doing things in slightly different ways. Throw in an inquest, fatal accident inquiry or similar where a lawyer uncovers the confusion caused by different operating practices and suddenly the public's faith in SAR will be severely damaged.
A little overly dramatic I think.

You could argue that RN, RAF and MCA being merged into one service might actually standardise things a bit more given robust enough SOPs and training directives. I don't buy the requirement for a common training regime either. The current (military) system delivers crews at a fairly basic standard; they then develop on the various flights under the tuition of QHIs and QCIs who will inevitably have their own slightly different styles driven by personality/local operating factors. I don't think that subtle differences are a 'big problem' for the RNLI and MRTs. As long as they're capable of steering a boat on a certain heading/speed or able to make a grid-reference for a pick-up then the bit where their job involves a helicopter will work just fine.

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The next question to be asked is what will be the public's reation to all the bases being changed and many communities losing their 'local' SAR helicopter? If Chivenor, Portland and Boulmer are anything to go by there will be a lot of flak in the press and many more questions in the house.
You could argue that some communities will be delighted to gain a 'local' SAR helicopter. This really isn't an issue on a national scale so long as the coverage works. The flak in the local press will soon die down and I think you'll find Cameron has far bigger questions in the house to concern himself with. I know it's a big deal to those of us directly involved and a handful of on-side locals, the other 99.99% of the population really couldn't care less. The only time any of this would become a major political issue is if there were a large scale disaster with numerous lives lost and the SAR cover was not adequate. This could have happened on any of the days in recent history where the 'on-state' picture around the UK was poor. It may happen in the future due to inadequate training. Management types call this 'risk'.

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If, as rumoured, the Culdrose flight might move to St Mawgan and Chivenor to Swansea, Valley to Caernavon, Prestwick to Glasgow, Lossie to Inverness, Lec to Humberside and Wattisham to er...Wattisham, you will be replacing purpose built SAR flights with portacabins and just make life completely miserable for those that have to work there, especially for overnight accommodation.
Make life completely miserable, really! How much do you need to be comfortable? You might even find that some comfortable beds get installed!

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a travesty that the Military are losing SAR. However, it's going to happen and it might not necessarily all be bad. Just different.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 11:12   #944 (permalink)
 
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The current (military) system delivers crews at a fairly basic standard
That's the point. They're at the same basic standard certainly as far as the ouput from Valley is concerned. If the personality/locality driven styles that you describe are allowed to develop without basic skills having substantial commonality and an independent standards unit in place to stamp out unsanctioned deviations from SOPs, who knows what disparity in operating practices might exist after ten years. It sounds like chaos theory!
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 12:36   #945 (permalink)
 
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Oh and bring in packed lunch ...
There you go Crab. No more RAF packed lunches with kiddie crisps and cereal bars made from cornflakes and araldite!
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 14:50   #946 (permalink)
 
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However, it's going to happen and it might not necessarily all be bad. Just different
there's no doubting it will be different but I wonder how many of those who want the jobs we have in the locations we are in will be terribly disappointed with what working for UKSAR on a shoestring will actually be like.

Miminal and temporary infrastructure, few perks and minimum flying hours for training, I suspect the shock might be just as big for those coming from existing civSAR flights as from the mil ones. Add in the pecking order of seniority within the company and the individual pay scales depending on how good a bluffer you are and it all makes for a jolly time.

Mobility of the workforce is one thing but if you have to live near your base then you have your other half to keep happy - what is the schooling like in Caernavon for instance? How much will you have to pay for a house in Aberdeen? Or St Mawgan?

Sadly it is all in the lap of the Gods (or rather the civil servants who think they are) and even if it doesn't work very well, the MCA PR machine will make it look like it does

We're all doomed!!!
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 15:37   #947 (permalink)
 
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What is this nonesense about poor accomodation under the new contract? Anyone ever been to Lee or Portland, never mind the refurb at Stornoway? Seems to me the MCA dont believe in portacabins, tents or any such rubbish, and we can expect new accomodation that is up to the latest environmental, HSE and other legal standards. Wonder how long it would have taken the MoD to sort that - look at Chivenor!
Looking at the DfT requirements documents, there's a whole section needed on any bidder's infrastructure response. Not sure that indicates any intention to go cheap!
Sorry if some of you ex-mil guys who may get employed in the new service may have to move to some different places, if as the guessers suggest there will be new operating locations, but I don't believe that's going to deter anyone who is worth employing.

This debate is now verging into seeing demons for the sake of demons - or just Crab in wind-up mode?
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 16:06   #948 (permalink)
 
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I do think that there will be a few different locations. I also think that this is what will wake Joe Public up to what is happening. Prepare for several months of mis-reported rubbish in the press about misunderstood basing decisions during spring 2013.

However, here and elsewhere, I think the location card is over-played.

Last edited by jimf671; 30th Dec 2012 at 17:24.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 17:56   #949 (permalink)
 
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never mind the refurb at Stornoway?
Missed that one last time I was there? Sumburgh maybe?
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 18:43   #950 (permalink)
 
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Suppose it depends which decade you were at Stornoway, Flounder.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 19:01   #951 (permalink)
 
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Depends what you consider a refurb I suppose. Christmas trees and tinsel don't count in my book...although it does look jolly.

Budgets what they are, tinsel might be all we can look forward to when it comes to upgrading equipment.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 19:08   #952 (permalink)
 
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Jimf, I agree. Looking at whats going on near me on the South Coast and the rubbish that gets reported we can only imagine the drivel that will be forthcoming.

No doubt some MPs will chip in as well around the country, and as usual completely miss the truth for the sake of a few goody points on their "vote for me" credentials.

All that matters for basing other than they have suitable infrastructure to cuddle the helos and personnel is that they are spread across the country to provide an equally responsive service to any UK citizen anywhere. Within reason and sensible cost of course and perhaps a bit of sensible bias where we know there will be quite a call on the service. Sorry Crab but there has to be a cash limit in any era and many taxpayers if they were ever really to take an interest might ask why they are already paying so much for loads of helos etc that dont do much for 90% of the time.

Unfortunately, SAR helos carry similar emotional baggage to the ever so precious NHS and local hospital closures or service changes although only to those near where they are based.
IMO the media so often miss the point and the media only throw fuel onto the fires rather than try a bit of objective analysis and proper journalistic reporting. So much ill informed drivel gets written about the impact of any change whatever it might be. No doubt we will even read of wasting money on "dangerous US choppers" instead of the "trusty (heavily unserviceable and out of date) Prince William Sea King".

CHC can afford tinsel? - so thats where the 20% goes then!

Ah Well - back to the supper

Last edited by 4thright; 30th Dec 2012 at 19:11.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 22:36   #953 (permalink)
 
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Don't confuse what has been on offer with previous contracts with what might just come on the 'lowest bidder' contract since the MCA don't care what happens with accommodation as long as they can show pictures of shiny aircraft waiting to save lives at each flight.

Whilst on the subject of cash - how is it that a company who have already been operating 4 UK SAR flights can be undercut by 20%? Surely they should have a good idea of what it will and won't cost to run UKSAR.

Are we going to be faced with a similar comedy to the recent railway fiasco where Virgin had to point out that First had got their sums badly wrong and the contract award had to be reversed?

It is the same contract drones from the DfT who were responsible for that who will be scrutinising and awarding the SAR contract - if they award it to someone who has 'got their sums wrong' we could be faced with a failed service after a year or two, no military option to save the day, and a taxpayer-funded bailout of that mysterious 20%.

Or perhaps we will see the BAE school of contract management - bid 50% of what the contract will cost, identify some errors in the contract spec but keep schtum until it is signed and ensure that any modifications to the contract are subject to the contractor's rates - suddenly a small amendment costs the other 50% but it's not their fault.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 23:10   #954 (permalink)
 
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"how is it that a company who have already been operating 4 UK SAR flights can be undercut by 20%? Surely they should have a good idea of what it will and won't cost to run UKSAR?"

You've answered your own question...."What did they base their costs on?"

Ans: The truth, probably - or their willingness to lose the contract...?

Last edited by Rigga; 30th Dec 2012 at 23:12.
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Old 30th Dec 2012, 23:24   #955 (permalink)
 
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Whilst on the subject of cash - how is it that a company who have already been operating 4 UK SAR flights can be undercut by 20%? Surely they should have a good idea of what it will and won't cost to run UKSAR.
I have bored you all before with what I wrote elsewhere in early 2010. Never mind, here's another gem.

"UK-based helicopter contractors are still smarting over the injury of CHC coming over here and taking the MCA contract from under their noses. Now the same thing is happening with SAR-H. These guys want blood."
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Old 31st Dec 2012, 00:05   #956 (permalink)
 
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Sage words Jimf indeed. Bristow were always going to fight to the death. Conspiracy theorists can and will dwell on CHC's bidding tactics, and often it can be more than meets the eye, especially if you think you are going to lose anyway.
Crab anyone has to admire your stubborn persistence and continued cynicism about the DFT and MCA. Anyone would think you had been working for them. Oh no I forgot, you haven't or you wouldn't be writing on here would you. What I know is that your endless lowest bidder twitterings are not supportable in this case. Government contracts can work that lowest cost way, or by the best value for money approach. By EU law they have to decide which, and my understanding is that the SAR competition is being run under the value for money approach. Of course, no government is going to pay a too high price (CHC?) but neither can the UK government simply go for the lowest tender. If you check out the evaluation rules on the DFT's website (yes I know its sad that I have bothered to) it makes this clear and also is clear what rules are used to eliminate those bidders that are simply too costly. Finally in this day and age it is simply ridiculous to imagine that either remaining bidder will bid too low and undermine themselves and if you think so you simply have no idea how the funding or senior management of the big commercial helicopter companies work these days.

Last edited by 4thright; 31st Dec 2012 at 00:09.
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Old 31st Dec 2012, 08:55   #957 (permalink)
 
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Just hope this doesn't unravel in the future as the West Coast rail bidding did when someone points out it can't be done for the winning bid. Surely the present incumbent of part of the system (CHC) couldn't be that far out with the figures?

Look at NPAS, the 'savings' are already being revised down by as much as 20%.
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Old 31st Dec 2012, 09:26   #958 (permalink)
 
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4thright - it is you who sounds like they work for DfT or MCA - the precious DfT and European rules you promote are the same rules that allowed the West coast rail bid fiasco to occur.

Just because the bid is the cheapest, it does not make it viable or sustainable
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Old 31st Dec 2012, 13:22   #959 (permalink)
 
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It's interesting that the EU Treaty of Rome approach has come up. Also, the approach of the DfT and MCA.

In Sweden, the SMA and Norrlandsflyg situation was largely about the indigenous helicopter market not being big enough. Is the market big enough even in the UK? In this so-called competition, we are left with Bristow and Bond; the usual suspects; and the expectation that the DfT will require a two-contractor solution to provide commercial resilience. In reality, perhaps we're not substantially better off than Sweden.

The MCA won't get any easier to deal with as the years pass. The Weakest Link in this whole matter may appear invulnerable but it is not the case. In a Single Market, what possible reason is there for member states to retain coastguard services? The European Parliament has been asking that question for some time and only intransigence on the part of the Council and Commission has prevented the further development of the EMSA. An empire set to crumble behaves in strange ways.
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Old 31st Dec 2012, 14:35   #960 (permalink)
 
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Is this any better value than the original SARH?

The original SARH was usually reported to be a contract worth 5-7bn for 25 years. Let's call it 6bn = 0.24bn per year. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the article in the link below but Shephard's estimated 2-3bn (let's call it 2.5bn less the now infamous 20% = 2bn) for just a 10 year contract looks almost as expensive at 0.2bn per year.

Bond, Bristow and CHC shortlisted for UK Long SAR contracts - News - Shephard

Wasn't SARH originally reviewed shortly after the coalition came to power and realised that an expensive PFI was going to hoover up the nation's funds for the next 25 years? Apart from the contract length, how is son of SARH any different? 40m difference per year is loose change even for a hard up government. For the extra 40m we could have had Boulmer and Portland surviving and genuine harmonisation across all bases.

Last edited by onesquaremetre; 31st Dec 2012 at 14:43.
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