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Whatever happened to the Chinook HC 3s?

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Whatever happened to the Chinook HC 3s?

Old 19th Dec 2007, 19:01
  #141 (permalink)  
 
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See also:

http://www.publications.parliament.u.../386/38607.htm

Including;

30. Until a final decision on the way forward was made, the Department had taken a prudent accounting measure in writing down the value of the Chinook Mk3s by £205 million in the Departmental Accounts. The value had been written down to reflect that of usable spares only.[42]

31. The Department had considerable experience of identifying lessons from procuring equipment but failed to learn from this experience when acquiring the Chinook Mk3. The Department said that it had now implemented the lessons from this particular procurement project.[43] These included the clear points of failure in the project such as deviations from standard procures, identifying how Smart Acquisition processes could have made a difference and the way in which the need for Military Aircraft Release acted as a constraint. The Department had formulated an action plan based on these lessons and would review progress in mid-2005.[44]



Given para 30, it would appear the cost of this faux pas is £295.1M, plus the incalculable cost to operational capability caused by the lack of these aircraft.

Para 31 is rubbish. “Smart Acquisition” would have made no difference whatsoever. The key point that is never made is that the same Directorate was concurrently delivering far more complex programmes to time, cost and performance. All they had to do was ask “How?”.
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Old 20th Dec 2007, 16:42
  #142 (permalink)  

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Lewis Page: MoD sorts out 'turkey' helicopters for Xmas
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Old 4th Jun 2008, 08:23
  #143 (permalink)  
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Looks like the National Audit Office have been at it again:

Taken from the Guardian website (I'm only interested in the Chinook - honest!)

The Ministry of Defence is accused today of a litany of mistakes after it was revealed to have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on eight Chinook helicopters which are still not airworthy 13 years after being ordered.

A report by the National Audit Office reveals that for seven years the helicopters have been stored in air conditioned hangars in Britain while troops in Afghanistan have been forced to rely on helicopters which are flying with safety faults. The new helicopters should have been in service in 2002.

Now the new helicopters are to be downgraded - stripping out some of their more advanced equipment - in a "quick fix" solution so they can fly by 2010. By the time they are airworthy, the total cost of the project could be as much as £500m.

The MoD admitted to the National Audit Office that it has put British troops at some risk in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, by adapting existing helicopters for special operations. Eight more basic Chinook helicopters have been given temporary night vision equipment which obscures the pilot's forward and landing views. Edward Leigh, the Conservative chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said the disclosures revealed "a gold-standard procurement cock-up" and "one of the most incompetent procurements of all time".

Main findings of the NAO report are:

· In 1995 eight Special Operation Mk3 Chinook helicopters were ordered by the MoD from the US manufacturer Boeing but officials did not include in the contract access to security codes to test their airworthiness;

· In 2001 the helicopters were delivered and found not to comply with airworthiness standards. The MoD was told they could only be flown safely up to 500ft from the ground on a clear, sunny day. They were put into store in hangars in Boscombe Down;

· In 2002 less sophisticated Mk2 Chinook helicopters were equipped for night vision flying instead - but the infra-red computer screens partly obscured front and landing vision, making them less safe to fly. The cost of the upgrade was £32.3m.

· In 2004 the MoD decided on a high-level upgrade at a cost of £215m to get the aircraft airworthy by 2008. But it took much longer than anticipated to get the programme organised with the contractor and it became clear the helicopters would not fly until 2011;

· In 2007 the MoD cancelled the upgrade, at a cost of £17.25m, because it would take too long. It opted for a cheaper programme with a new night vision system, costing £53m. That cost later more than doubled to £112m, with a further, unknown sum for night vision equipment.

The MoD now says it will have one of the eight helicopters in operation by 2009 and the rest in 2010.

The report is certain to exacerbate relations between the MoD and army commanders in Afghanistan because it makes clear that they will have to wait two years to get the extra Chinooks, a year longer than previously promised. In the meantime, troops will have to travel by land, at a time when they are increasingly susceptible to attack from roadside bombs.

Not all the RAF's Chinooks are in good condition and some have been cannibalised for spare parts to keep others flying in Afghanistan. Leigh said: "This is a very unhappy state of affairs, made more acute by the knowledge of how much our soldiers in the hostile terrain of Afghanistan need helicopter support. By the time it is sorted out, the whole programme will have cost more than £422m - probably substantially more."

The minister for defence equipment and support, Lady Taylor, said: "The reversion project will allow delivery of more Chinooks to theatre in the shortest time-frame. The project remains on track in terms of time and budget, and is just part of a package of measures that we are implementing to improve our helicopter lift capability on operations."

The RAF fleet of 48 Chinooks is the largest outside the US. They have a good safety record except for the crash of a Chinook in the Mull of Kintyre in 1994 which killed 29 intelligence officers and service personnel.
Article by David Hencke
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Old 4th Jun 2008, 15:33
  #144 (permalink)  
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Surprisingly, this is a good, accurate article about the report. A few small errors but generally correct. What's gone wrong?!
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Old 5th Jun 2008, 08:23
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To paraphrase ' I dont believe it!!

Has any other country in the world ever taken such an expensive retrograde step with new build aircraft?? I bet this is a first, if so we must congratulate ourselves - roll (role) on Mk 4.
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Old 10th Dec 2008, 17:53
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What is so depressing about this whole protracted administrative disaster is that almost everyone assumes that the fault is with the aircraft engineering when it could equally be that the engineering is perfectly adequate for the role in the context of the whole range of risks that are involved, but the standards being used to judge that adequacy are excessive and inappropriate.

This is a twin engine MILITARY helicopter, with two piloting positions and fully duplicated systems right the way through from power supplies and sensors to display instruments.

The engine management systems and the navigation and flight instrument systems were not supposed to be interconnected, so the risks ref FADEC and instrumentation are independent.

Then there are the reversionary modes where displays on the left can be fed from the displays on the right, and vice versa, if there is good reason to feel one of the systems is misbehaving. THEN there are the electromechanical back-up instruments - as far as I remember there is an electromechanical AI on each side, and there was supposed to be a Meggitt combined backup electromechanical HSI & altimeter too. Looked at from an overall systems point of view, it's hard to see that the software in the digital flight and navigation instruments really is flight critical.

Then there is the extensive operating history on all the instruments used, in other aircraft types - I believe they all had FAA certification.

The fact is that too many people have had their fingers burnt with the Chinook FADEC software analysis and certification issues, the crash, and all the subsequent enquiries. No-one has dared make the pragmatic decisions for HC Mk3 that have been taken on other MOD aircraft types such as Apache and C17 that have flight instrument, engine, and a lot of other, software that was "off the shelf" from the USA rather than built from scratch in the way favoured by particular teams of experts at UK MOD / Boscombe Down. The truth is that unless the software is designed from the outset in accordance with the UK Def Stan preferred methodology, it's virtually impossible to get the tick in the box from Boscombe Down that says "Yes, we can assure you this is absolutely safe and a software glitch will never give you a problem".

The experts have not been proved that the systems and aircraft are DANGEROUS; rather, they have been unable to prove independently that they are absolutely fault-free. That is a very different thing.

This little extract from the 2004 Public Accounts Committee report should have received far more attention as a possible route out of the morass:

"The Department acknowledged, however, that, as with the Apache Attack Helicopter, it was not always necessary to have access to source codes to achieve adequate safety assurances. The Department currently operates the C17 aircraft within United States' safety parameters without having independently validated the avionics software codes."

i.e. don't blame the aircraft, or the contract it was purchased under, blame lack of systems-wide failure-modes-&-effects analysis, and gold-plated MOD UK software assessment standards that very few people understand enough to challenge.

We will probably never know what actually happened in-between all the documentation leaving the MOD PE offices citing Def Stan 55, and a contract actually being placed on Boeing by the embassy offices in Washington. It IS clear that there were fundamental conflicts between the overall policies to maximise use of Commercial Off-the-Shelf software and Boscombe Down's preferred software engineering and analysis methods. Within the limited budget available the Boeing engineers, and everyone else with a brain involved at the time, must have put creating a system that would do the job, using certificated components that were already proven in other aircraft, in a highly redundant system, as a higher priority than designing a complete new set of instruments from scratch for just eight aircraft at far higher cost much more slowly and with more timescale risk.

Also from the Public Accounts Committee report of 2004: "there needed to be a better understanding of the underlying safety issues, particularly where there was a unique British requirement for the independent validation of source software codes. The need to validate independently the software codes for the Chinook Mk3 had been a British requirement. Other countries, including the United States, were happy to fly the aircraft. "

N.B. This is saying "make sure you challenge the requirement" just as much as it is saying "carry the requirement right the way through the contract to the testing and the release to service".

Indeed Boeing has always asserted that the aircraft is safe and fit for purpose - including extremely low level night-time operations in bad weather - which Boeing was perfectly well aware were the intended missions for this aircraft type. Their test pilots had passed the aircraft as fit to fly.

So the wasted costs being discussed may really be the costs of a policy, not the costs of an aircraft that according to some daft newspaper reporters "can't fly in the rain".

One other cause of the problems that seems not to have received much comment is that if most of the people on a project change part way through, through retirement or whatever, key aspects of their approach may get lost too.

Any comments or corrections from people more closely associated with this programme recently?
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Old 10th Dec 2008, 21:26
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Demoralised

A good first post, if I may say so. I’d take issue on a few minor points but the thrust is excellent.


almost everyone assumes that the fault is with the aircraft engineering
That may be the view of Joe Public or elements of the press, but the real cause was predicted almost immediately and came to pass with depressing inevitability. The question never asked is why corrective action was not taken at this time.


The fact is that too many people have had their fingers burnt with the Chinook FADEC software analysis and certification issues, the crash, and all the subsequent enquiries. No-one has dared make the pragmatic decisions for HC Mk3 that have been taken on other

I agree the Mull experience is a large factor here, but believe one should look deeper at the very obvious breakdown in relationship between Boscombe and elements within MoD(PE). (I say “elements” because, as I’ve said above, other programmes of greater complexity were, and continue to be, delivered with effortless competence. The question “Why” is never asked).

In very simple terms, you engage with Boscombe from Day 1, not as an afterthought. That they were once MoD and are now QinetiQ matters not, the principles are the same. It just costs more now. You adopt a JOINT approach to trialing, validation, verification, acceptance etc. You agree boundaries of responsibility. That is, you place both industry and Boscombe under contractual obligation to work together from day 1, thus eliminating as far as possible any nasty surprise late in the day, for example if Boscombe are forced to regress, catch up or are faced with software which they cannot verify in accordance with the standards imposed on them. Ask anyone who has worked at Boscombe what their biggest problem is. They’ll say, lack of communication, we’re engaged too late in the day, the bane of our existence is project offices who ignore our advice and insist on accepting unsafe aircraft or equipment – and so on. But they’ll temper that with the fact many project managers know the score and never experience a single problem with Boscombe, ever.

Crucially, you make sure you adhere to the regs covering feedback. If the project office doesn’t agree with Boscombe, you talk. You offer reasons why you don’t agree or are not accepting their advice. What you DO NOT do is blank Boscombe and leave them seething. It leads to toys being thrown. If you drill down through Mull and Mk3 you’ll eventually narrow it down to a small number of boneheads who couldn’t stand the thought of some jumped up Boscombe type highlighting the fact the simple regs weren’t followed. And, given the timeframe, you’ll find the same names crop up.

None of this is new and it wasn’t new in 1995.


One other cause of the problems that seems not to have received much comment is that if most of the people on a project change part way through, through retirement or whatever, key aspects of their approach may get lost too
.


It’s certainly an inconvenience but I go back to what I said. Others managed fine. Why? Achieving a seamless transition is easy if the basic groundwork has been robust and the correct people are selected. Eliminate the fixed problems (by early Risk Reduction), use your resources to manage the variables.


There is more, but I just wanted to concentrate on the breakdown of relations between PE and Boscombe. It’s crucial to both this and the Mull case.
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Old 10th Dec 2008, 22:25
  #148 (permalink)  
 
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Demoralised,

Your post strikes many chords with me. I've never been involved with chinook, and have no idea whether your technical assessment is correct, but I have harboured suspicions that your views may well be very near the mark and the real scandal here is possibly that the HC3 is, and always was, arguably, fit for purpose.

Whilst I'm no expert, I have some grasp of of the

gold-plated MOD UK software assessment standards that very few people understand enough to challenge.
and think they have gone unchallenged far too many times at great cost in time and money to many projects.

Tuc, whilst I agree that :

many project managers know the score and never experience a single problem with Boscombe, ever.
there is still the flip side that Boscombe can sometimes take too purist a view, and your qoute...

It leads to toys being thrown.
...does I think correctly imply that toys can get thrown (i.e. a negative behaviour) and sometimes the actual risks and safety context get lost in a rather unfortunate communication breakdown / willy waving contest.

It would be interesting to know if
Any comments or corrections from people more closely associated with this programme recently?
could shed light on your views.
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 07:23
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JFZ90

...does I think correctly imply that toys can get thrown (i.e. a negative behaviour) and sometimes the actual risks and safety context get lost in a rather unfortunate communication breakdown / willy waving contest.
Couldn't agree more. A project manager's job, be it in MoD or Boscombe, is to make decisions within his remit, and seek them outside his remit. Boscombe are contracted to give advice, which is based on internal decision making within their remit. The advice (typically the MAR recommendations report) is the decision seeking part. If there is no complementary decision from MoD, then I suggest that is the point at which Boscombe MUST take a purist view.

The difficulty comes when MoD makes a decision so bizarre, so obviously politically motivated, that Boscombe feels it cannot support it. The decision to ignore Boscombe's advice on Mk2 just prior to Mull is a classic case, but it by no means unique.
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 10:56
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Not wishing to start a fire but...

Tecumseh, you hit the nail on the head

what BD produce is ADVICE, and the IPTs are free to take or ignore it.

BD do not have the right to make absolute decisions. BD is frequently at odds with others in the procurement chain and everyone is entitled to their opinion, it's a matter of view point.

At the end of the day the decision lies with the IPTs as to what ADVICE they listen to, be it the users, the manufacturers, QinetiQs or some other agency. Just because they ignore BD from time to time there is no reason to get all uppity about it. Boeing no doubt have a similar view regarding those aircraft not flying when in their opinion they are perfectly safe.

DM
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 11:14
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Dangermouse

I would add that if MoD chooses to ignore Boscombe’s advice, any Safety Management System (and certainly MoD’s own) requires reasoned explanation to be logged.

Not only that, but something like the FADEC issue would immediately be logged as a risk (if it wasn’t already), and the same rules require a full record to be retained even if the risk is fully mitigated or deemed erroneous.

It cannot be acceptable for any MoD officer to say that a Boscombe report stating there is a safety risk can be ignored. It must be investigated. Equally, it cannot be acceptable for a contract to be paid off, the aircraft offered to the RTSA and the RTS signed, in the full knowledge that it is physically or functionally unsafe. But that is precisely what the Chinook 2 Star in MoD(PE)/DPA ruled.

It is rulings like this which have prompted IPTs to adopt a too literal interpretation of “Boscombe only give advice, we don’t have to take it”. They don’t have to accept it, but they do have to investigate and state why they don’t; and record the reasoning.
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 12:55
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OK but

by definition the MAR (recommendations remember) are just that and again I reiterate it comes down to a difference in view between the BD trials officers and other agencies.

I have no inside knowledge of the Mk2 procurement so the only comment I can make on your statement 'in the full knowledge that it is physically or functionally unsafe' is that the term 'unsafe' is one particular point of view, obviously the IPT had a different view, as is their right.

I accept that the MoD Proc system requires 'reasoned explanation to be logged', but does that apply to BD as well? Do BD have to justify why any existing limitations are disregarded and their own put in place, or is the statement 'we havent looked at it so it must be unsafe' all that is needed? In my experience no credit seems to be given to previous work or certification already granted to other operators of the aircraft, it smacks a bit of arrogance in that only BD's view is taken as valid.

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Old 11th Dec 2008, 13:07
  #153 (permalink)  
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While the airworthiness folk are inevitably (and quite rightly) cautious, I remain puzzled by the fact that Boeing, the US DoD and others all viewed these aircraft as being perfectly airworthy and fit for service, and by the fact that one of the Boscombe project pilots viewed them as fit for release. There were also suggestions that had these not been delayed, they'd have been judged entirely acceptable under previous Defstans.

Is all of the money wasted on storage for long years, the abortive 'fix-to-field' and now 'reversion' a massive piece of ar.se covering because of a change to the rules and regs surrounding how airworthiness is judged?

Worse still is the way in which the Government are now trumpeting reversion as some kind of 'pride-worthy' and 'significant' expansion to SH capacity.
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 14:59
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I accept that the MoD Proc system requires 'reasoned explanation to be logged', but does that apply to BD as well?
In this context, the recommendations Boscombe make are always accompanied by a reasoned explanation, so “yes”. I’d say Boscombe are meticulous in this regard. If they didn’t provide reasoning, they wouldn’t be paid!


Do BD have to justify why any existing limitations are disregarded and their own put in place, or is the statement 'we havent looked at it so it must be unsafe' all that is needed? In my experience no credit seems to be given to previous work or certification already granted to other operators of the aircraft, it smacks a bit of arrogance in that only BD's view is taken as valid.

I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m wrong, but the whole point on Mk3 is the configuration is unique to MoD UK. The Aircraft Safety Case has to be constructed against that build standard and intended use. What is safe in one build standard/use may be unsafe in another so, for example, existing limitations (say, on the Mk2) would not just be accepted on the Mk3, but would have to be assessed against the new build standard and use. It is not for BD to justify this, but MoD, and is a much abused area of airworthiness certification. In this case it would appear Boscombe’s adverse comments were confined to what could not be validated or verified, in accordance with the standards imposed on them (Boscombe) - the “new” hybrid nature of the aircraft equipment, particularly its software.

Of course Boeing’s input is crucial, which is why I wonder at the relationship between them, MoD and Boscombe. This whole saga smacks of Boscombe having warned MoD of the dangers of the hybrid design procurement strategy, but were ignored. If I recall, the contract was originally all Mk2s, with the split to Mk2 and Mk3 made later. That is a big change. Originally, the programme resources would have been geared to a “follow on buy” of a known build standard. To suddenly include a new Mk of aircraft requires a complete reappraisal of procurement strategy and funding. My gut feeling is they ran into financial trouble immediately, “forcing” the hybrid solution – but in fact it would have been wiser to pay more for a build standard that Boeing recognised and carried less risk. In short, this was “novel and contentious”, the criteria for elevation to 2 Star and above to benefit from their “wisdom”. And so to the Audit report which trashed that very senior management for “lack of management oversight”. Notably it didn’t name anyone, but we all know………

Jacko’s post gets back to what we were saying – a certain nervousness existed in MoD post-Mull because, very clearly, the Mk2 should never have been released to service. Boscombe were probably frustrated at MoD’s bizarre inconsistency. Ignored on Mk2 in 1994, similarly ignored in the following years on other programmes (leading to the 2 Star ruling I mentioned, which was specifically sought to establish just what rules we were working to - those laid down or those made up on a whim) yet at the same time suddenly listened to on Mk3 and MAR withheld at the first sign of concern. What this highlights is how compartmentalised MoD is at a certain level. Indeed, MoD encourages this and in doing so fails to learn lessons from other programmes which were recognising and avoiding the same risks on a daily basis.
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 15:29
  #155 (permalink)  
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I personally found the approach to C17 very refreshing. BD/QQ were desperate to get their fingers into the programme and cite the same issues. The intelligent safety case presented for the aircraft is how it was introduced in a year and a day. I just hope no-one ever decides to operate outside the bounds of that safety case, QQ would surely ground the aircraft while they start from scratch.

lol - allowing the crews to wear US flying kit is a small price to pay, and they do look soooo pretty!!!
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 15:59
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QQ would surely ground the aircraft
Please don't repeat the old falsehoods about Boscombe Down.

Boscombe Down does not 'ground aircraft' and it does not 'give clearances' either.

It makes independent recommendations and delivers advice. End of.
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Old 11th Dec 2008, 17:02
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Southbound:
I personally found the approach to C17 very refreshing.
How much though do the RAF's C17s vary from the USAF ones? Surely the problem with the Chinook Mk3s is that they were very much one off variants cobbled together by the cash strapped Brits? The reason for being cash strapped may very well be because we are forever "cobbling" (see MRA4), but that is another matter. It is Boscombe's job to assess such one offs and make sure that they meet the airworthiness standards prescribed. When they do not and the solution is to ignore BD then alarm bells should be ringing at illegally high decibels. Sorry, what's that? Can't hear you old boy, it's the bells, the bells!!
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 07:53
  #158 (permalink)  
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Please don't repeat the old falsehoods about Boscombe Down.

Boscombe Down does not 'ground aircraft' and it does not 'give clearances' either.

It makes independent recommendations and delivers advice. End of.
Yawn. Surely QQ involvement would lead to the aircraft being grounded. Better?
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 11:51
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The quote
"One other cause of the problems that seems not to have received much comment is that if most of the people on a project change part way through, through retirement or whatever, key aspects of their approach may get lost too."

I've often thought about this re the military way of everyone changing jobs after 2 or 3 years. (especially officers (read managers))
The first 9 months are spent bringing the individual upto speed on how their new job works, the last 9 months are spent winding down (new posting is being sorted etc) which leaves possibly only 6 months of good honest productive work.

I've no doubt the frequent changes produce a more rounded and experienced individual but do the jobs get done in the most productive way?
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Old 12th Dec 2008, 13:41
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One of the great 20-20 hindsights of Defence Procurement is that if we'd just bought 8 straight MH-47Es they'd probably have cost an awful lot less in total and been in service years ago.

Buy cheap, buy twice as my old Gran used to say!
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