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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 18th Apr 2016, 11:18
  #2301 (permalink)  
 
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Loosing The Plot

The problem with the recent comments from the VSO's is it shows how little they actually know about the way ATC Gliding had evolved and how it was staffed by keen volunteers who did not need to be 'given orders' from above.
The system ran and disciplined itself in a very simple way, in that staff became capable and passed on that capability to those coming into the schools.The staff of the schools had to be multi-tasked due to the nature of their 'dispersed' locations that were not always in close support range of a RAF unit.
The Co's kept a tight reign on the operation and were used to getting the best out of 'volunteers' without needing formal military discipline.
In other words it WORKED,and the results are well recorded.
It must be a shock (not admitted) to those up top to see that the organisations failings have emanated from the full time paid staff (service and civil service) and not from that Volunteer part that actually flew the aircraft and trained the Cadets.The present situation shows us the classic failure of an organisation that lacks quality leadership and an understanding of what is required or how it should be done.F-Book,Twatter,and cascading have replaced sound leadership and a 'hands on' ability to get the job done to support those who have never failed the Cadets.
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 13:39
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The system ran and disciplined itself in a very simple way, in that staff became capable and passed on that capability to those coming into the schools
That doesn't sound very healthy to me, it makes normalisation of the deviation much more difficult to spot and prevent. Perhaps that is a contributory factor to the engineering problems.
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 13:55
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Beardy

There were 2 independent audits of the system a year (all aspects) by teams from ACCGS and CFS Examining Wing. Later in my time on the VGS we also quite often got secondments to us from ACCGS or CFS to instruct on the courses.

I'd suggest that 3+ independent audits a year of 'standards' is certainly more than adequate. Each audit/inspection followed up with a comprehensive report listing faults found, remedial action required and timescales to do it in.

The auditors also had the authority to stop flying operations or suspend the VGS IMMEDIATELY if serious or critical deficiencies were found.

That's probably more inspections, reports and checks of operations than most units go through in a year.................

It is probably also worth noting that the failure of the system appears to have been solely confined to activities either at the centre of operations and policy or in the activities run from the centre of policy...............no issues have been found on the VGS themselves during this 'witch hunt' - yet it is they who are being wound up/down or 'punished/rewarded' (depending which way you look at it)

Arc
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 14:21
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That certainly sounds very different from the set-up POBJOY described and does seem, in principle, sound.
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 14:35
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And - I think not unreasonably - the Air Cadet Organisation no longer wants a bunch of cadets in the back of a truck driven (illegaly?) by underage, unlicensed cadets .......


........... however good the songs are!
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 14:53
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For the sake of balance, I think it's probably fair to say that the historical VGS operation was fantastic, but large elements have had to change through necessity to bring it in line with what can be expected of a first-class flying organisation in the 21st century. The enthusiastic volunteer spirit still exists but long gone are the days of unlicensed drivers, marginal weather, in-house 'work-arounds' to serviceability issues, and I'm afraid to say (in line with much of the RAF) an old-fashioned attitude to reporting unfit the "following morning". Anybody suggesting these things weren't to some extent a feature of the historical model would be kidding themselves.

Fortunately, the state-of-play nowadays has struck a much healthier balance of flight safety, SOP adherence and reporting culture and the organisation has become much stronger for it. Most of the dinosaurs have long since bees weeded out. I'm fully expecting some flak for suggesting the system wasn't always without flaws but it probably ought to be said. Not all of the change has been unwelcome!
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 15:55
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Airbus & Teeters

I must be a dinosaur as I operated under the old system with the MK3 and T21 and also the new plastic system, actually probably one of the few left around to have flown the Swallow, MK3, T21, Valiant (ASW19), Vanguard (ASK21), Viking, Vigilant and Venture under ATC markings !!

I saw changes, most of them were not terrible in themselves but caused the organisation to die 'a death of a thousand cuts' until operations were not easy. By this I mean things like getting drivers licenced, the Stats return, Cadets fed, the Stats return, travel, the Stats return, flying clothing servicing, fuelling the vehicles, admin of all types (lots), the stats return, liaison with the wing and Sqns and servicing the aircraft (did I mention the Stats return ?) - all the 'administrivia' which on a regular unit on a regular station you have people to do whereas on a 'weekends only' unit at a detached location you just don't..................... these are 'the straws that break the camels back'. You can fly or you can have a complete set of paperwork and shiny vehicles - it seems the system wants the latter if it can't have both with resources available..................

Overall I think the Operation was OK and still working (not as much local authority as under the POBJOY system and not as much output/throughput) until this recent debacle around servicing (lack of, and associated records) which has killed it stone dead. And the people higher up have taken advantage of this fiasco to implement their own personal agendas for the VGS under the cloak of 'reorganisation' required to bring in the required changes to servicing.

I think in 5 years we will barely recognise the organisation we used to operate - and not in a good way.................

and Teeters - I agree about the comments regarding the truck.

Arc

Last edited by Arclite01; 18th Apr 2016 at 15:58. Reason: stats return
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 15:55
  #2308 (permalink)  
 
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I'd suggest that 3+ independent audits a year of 'standards' is certainly more than adequate. Each audit/inspection followed up with a comprehensive report listing faults found, remedial action required and timescales to do it in.
All things being equal, I concur. But the Nimrod and MoK Reviews were all about adverse audit reports being buried (by the same people) without taking remedial action. Both took evidence that staff at the "bottom" knew what to do and tried to implement, but there was no top down support. In both cases, the process fell apart at the same level/rank/grade and it turned out that staff had been instructed NOT to take remedial action and actively prevented from doing so. I read here of the exact same failings. Might I suggest that despite the efforts and professionalism of those directly involved in cadet training, there are higher level failings here that are way beyond the ken or pay grade of anyone in the ATC. Those involved are permitted to judge their own case.
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 16:05
  #2309 (permalink)  
 
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Arclite - you're right you must be one of very very few! By 'dinosaurs' I should perhaps clarify; I mean in terms of attitude and certainly not in terms of age or era. No offence at all intended.
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 16:15
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Airbus - none taken

I quite enjoy the label. Over 5000 launches conventional and 250 hours in the M/G fleet.

Arc

@Tucumseh - I agree with your comments about the 'high ups'

Last edited by Arclite01; 18th Apr 2016 at 16:24. Reason: @Tucumseh
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 16:28
  #2311 (permalink)  
 
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Have any operational aircraft types been subjected to a catastrophic long-term grounding like this, or is it just the Tutor, Vigi & Viking?
Plenty of operational types (and more complex trainers) have been grounded at some point. The duration of the grounding has inevitably been shorter, as the impact of a prolonged grounding is rather more serious.
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 16:50
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Grounding

Very good question, and TOTD is quite correct. At a certain level, the ATC simply won't register as the grounding isn't immediately significant. I think a more interesting question is what remedial action was necessary to prevent the even more frequent imminent groundings, and what the attitude at senior level was.


The obvious ones I can recall are the entire Sea King ASW and SAR fleets in about 1988 and RN Lynx in 1991. It would be more accurate to say the SKs would have still been able to fly, but without mission systems would have been extremely limited; pilot training only was mooted, for about 18 months. (Which some might say is pretty serious). Lynx was a safety critical fire hazard, with aircrew in hospital. Grounding was scheduled for the Monday and we were given the week-end to crack it. I can tell you exactly what the reply from above was - "Let the RN ground their fleet(s) and come begging for money next year". The first was fixed by the marketing director of a well known Design Authority tracking down critical spares in Lagos. (The problem had been identified, but Thompson-CSF had pulled the plug literally at the last minute. They should never have been given another MoD contract). The second by cancelling an RAF contract and using the money to make Lynx safe. (It wasn't expensive, just logistically difficult with about 30 deployed at sea). As I said before, the solution was well known and very simple, but there wasn't any support.
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 17:16
  #2313 (permalink)  
 
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All staff cadets had RAF licences.

the Air Cadet Organisation no longer wants a bunch of cadets in the back of a truck driven (illegaly?) by underage, unlicensed cadets
I know that most, if not all, Commanding Officers of Gliding Schools would not have permitted Staff Cadets to drive the MT without first having been tested and approved for an RAF driving licence by the local MT unit. My licence allowed me to drive the 1 Ton Austin and the Land Rovers on the airfield only (and that included the NAAFI and Airmans' Mess) despite not being old enough for a grown up civvie licence!!

The interesting fact was that the MT supplied to our gliding school was not deemed suitable for driving off the camp as they were only maintained to "Airfield Use Only" standards!!!

It was only later when our airfield finally closed down and the RAF left that the system allowed us to have vehicles which were road worthy to enable us to collect the cadets from the local army base. By this time naturally all drivers of Air Cadet vehicles had both an RAF Driving Permit and a civilian driving licence.

I see nothing about this system that was illegal, except now they would expect us all to be belted in (cadets included)!
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 17:38
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FRELON

I believe the Yellow 600 covered you for 'Camp Area' as well as Airfield, and a civilian licence was not required as long as you stayed on MoD property.

Teeters has a point though - even then I would have been careful carrying Cadets in the back of the Landrovers (not saying you weren't) - ours were all soft-tops after all............. the Austin had long gone by then................ we had a range of Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3 Landrovers (with underseat PETROL fuel tanks), all in pretty ropey condition, later we had LHD ones from Germany after war stocks were released.................. they were much better, eventually these disappeared and the first DEFENDER types arrived (DERV burners)

Arc
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 18:54
  #2315 (permalink)  
 
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Thumbs down Dinosaurs united !

Originally Posted by Arclite01 View Post
Airbus & Teeters

I must be a dinosaur as I operated under the old system with the MK3 and T21 and also the new plastic system, actually probably one of the few left around to have flown the Swallow, MK3, T21, Valiant (ASW19), Vanguard (ASK21), Viking, Vigilant and Venture under ATC markings !!

I saw changes, most of them were not terrible in themselves but caused the organisation to die 'a death of a thousand cuts' until operations were not easy. By this I mean things like getting drivers licenced, the Stats return, Cadets fed, the Stats return, travel, the Stats return, flying clothing servicing, fuelling the vehicles, admin of all types (lots), the stats return, liaison with the wing and Sqns and servicing the aircraft (did I mention the Stats return ?) - all the 'administrivia' which on a regular unit on a regular station you have people to do whereas on a 'weekends only' unit at a detached location you just don't..................... these are 'the straws that break the camels back'. You can fly or you can have a complete set of paperwork and shiny vehicles - it seems the system wants the latter if it can't have both with resources available..................

Overall I think the Operation was OK and still working (not as much local authority as under the POBJOY system and not as much output/throughput) until this recent debacle around servicing (lack of, and associated records) which has killed it stone dead. And the people higher up have taken advantage of this fiasco to implement their own personal agendas for the VGS under the cloak of 'reorganisation' required to bring in the required changes to servicing.

I think in 5 years we will barely recognise the organisation we used to operate - and not in a good way.................

and Teeters - I agree about the comments regarding the truck.

Arc
Hi fellow Dinosaur - I myself have flown the Mk3, T 21, Venture, Viking, Valiant and Vigilant on four RAF Stations over a period of 30 years or so, and two of the four RAF Stations were "front line" where standards during the weekend and during courses had, by necessity to be of the highest order in terms of professionalism in every sense, not least of which was latterly operating full air Traffic requirements in a mixed traffic environment.

On two of those VGS Units, I was ( in addition to the flying duties) the Adjutant responsible for the ever mounting requirements of Health and Safety, CRB, Medical liaison, Personnel record keeping, Home to Duty Claims, and general Station liaison, Deputy Flight Safety Officer including attendance at mid week meetings, and whatever other Admin duties were required.

Many times in my latter years I was actually in on the Station, sometimes many weekdays when there was a new requirement. Suffice it to say, that our professionalism led to being held in high regard by successive Station Commanders who supported the VGS to the last word and letter.

The aircraft were maintained by ACCGS Eng, and every Sunday evening at close of play the Eng issues requiring attention were transmitted promptly to them, whilst our local Eng requirements were supervised by our own expert Engineer an ex regular Wg Cdr Eng.

Flying standards were of the highest order, as we regularly had serving and very experienced RAF Pilots as part of our normal staffing, in addition to the usual customary CFS/ACCGS checks. Accidents? - well the only Vigilant accident was the result of a visiting Supervising Officer - not one of the VRT staff of the unit.

The Cadets and Staff alike have been very badly let down by the professionals at higher level, whichever way you stack the cards. If it is/was an Eng issue that caused "airworthiness concerns", then please be forthcoming and tell the whole world what was found, when and by whom, and at the same time please tell the long suffering taxpayers what endeavours have been made to legally remediate and recover our losses, and what disciplinary measures have been taken to hold those responsible for supervision of the maintenance of the fleet - after all the reported 9.4M cost of the maintenance contract IS OUR BUSINESS - WE TAXPAYERS FUNDED IT !!! Equally it is not subject to national security constraints, thus please come clean - I think we all realise we are being conned somewhere, but we don't quite know where !!

Equally, please come clean about the disposal of the Vigilant fleet - are they going to be trashed by a JCB, or, as I suspect, re-appearing at an airfield near you as possibly RAF GSA or Army GS or civilian club ?

Another question, if the "airworthiness concerns" were uniformly distributed across Viking and Vigilant, why can almost 100% of Vikings be recovered, but only 15 Vigilants and then only for a short period of time ?

As for the future - PTT's plus perhaps a half hour Tutor jolly once a year, with a day's travel to a Viking Super centre plagued by low stratus - is that what is going to make the Air Cadets join up ? I think not, and certainly isn't going to make large numbers of Adults pledge their weekends into infinity. Time alone will tell, but I suspect it's not looking like a good future.

Still the party line is being broadcast, the latest being the farcical Westminster "debate" where the Under Secretary more or less repeated verbatim his earlier speech in the House of Commons.


!
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Old 18th Apr 2016, 21:53
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RAF Driving Licence

T-Head/ARC
Staff Cadets driving Winches,Landrovers, Trucks 1 ton 4x4 All had a RAF driving licence issued (after test) by a parent station. I am surprised you have no knowledge of this.In fact the licence was type specific so you needed two tests for the Austin and LR. The fact that you could do this one year before driving on the road was because the licence was for airfield use only.
Beardy.
Staff Cadets were not involved with Glider servicing or repairs nor were the schools other than very minor repairs.The MGSP covered all that as well discussed before and it certainly was both sound and worked well. One could attend No1 Gliding Centre and do a Glider Inspection Course which would let the person do the daily DI and minor repairs/replacements, rig derig etc.
Staff Cadets could do this course and several did.Your comments on the 'engineering' only shows a lack of actual knowledge on how the system was organised and worked very well,with standards second to none.The 'Key' to the wooden fleet was the fact that the RAF ran it themselves to normal service standards,and it is only when they 'outsourced' that the problems started. By the time a Staff Cadet became an instructor he would know everything about the operation from the ground up and in those days most new instructors came up that way. The Schools were under the direct control of the Gliding Centre not their local Wing and that was the strength of the operation.
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Old 19th Apr 2016, 06:41
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Very interesting, although I am not sure what the difference is between 'knowledge' and 'actual' knowledge. Whichever, I feel enlightened now

With the current economic climate of responsibility and attributable culpability would the system you have described be achievable now on a plastic fleet?

Last edited by beardy; 19th Apr 2016 at 06:56.
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Old 19th Apr 2016, 09:33
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"Fortunately, the state-of-play nowadays has struck a much healthier balance of flight safety, SOP adherence and reporting culture and the organisation has become much stronger for it.

Interesting observation Airbus - I wonder if you'd mind qualifying it for me? Recruitment is down, the volunteer staff (the backbone of the ACO) are thoroughly fed up and - it would seem - are voting with their feet, both fleets have been essentially grounded for over two years and cadets are obviously getting very little (and no solo) flying. How, exactly, is the ACO stronger? Its clearly safer, I would imagine that both fleets have enjoyed a 100% safety record over the last two years - that's the inevitable byproduct of not er actually flying them! But stronger?
Please elaborate.
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Old 19th Apr 2016, 09:55
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POBJOY

I think I have agreed with all you have said.........................

Arc
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Old 19th Apr 2016, 11:32
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Capability

Beardy (With respect), We are talking about a Gliding System that had evolved from students learning in 'Single seaters' (instructor gave brief and then drove winch) to give 'ground slides' then low and high hops. The MK3 gave the organisation a proper basic two seater and the start of formal instruction as we know it today.This was long before CFS and such like, and No 1 Gliding Centre headed up the training system.
My point was/is that it was VERY SIMPLE and not overburdened by masses of paperwork,but the MT had its own records even though the equipment was usually 'hand me downs' from RAF stocks.
Everything ran under the normal RAF regulations except that in many cases the parent unit may not have been on the Gliding site.At the start of a days ops all the equipment was given a 'DI' (staff cadets) and signed for.Aircraft were signed off by those with a suitable 'ticket'. The GS Adjutant would keep the paperwork in order and make required 'returns'.
The system have to revolve around the fact that the actual flying time per launch was very limited 3mins so the pre-flight brief had to work; as comms in the air had to be limited to 'corrections' rather than a conversation.
My point about 'actual knowledge' really means 'hands on experience' on the job as opposed to reading notes and taking a test. 'Everyone' in the system started at the winch end and had to chop cables; and so when they eventually became instructors themselves they knew the advantage of a good cable DI to prevent cable breaks. This system spawned a very comprehensive knowledge of what was important (and safe) hence it was able to send thousands of Cadets solo* (3* in those days) which also got them an A&B BGA Cert. I have yet to be convinced that the following years 'improvements' saw improved benefits to the Cadets and just seems to have upped the amount of dual flying. We certainly did not need to go on an external 'motivational' course to be appraised about 'spinning' !! As to how the system has evolved with glass; well at the VGS level it has evolved very well, but has been let down by the those further up the food chain who were supposed to be backing it up. As said before; the Schools never failed the Cadets the failure point is higher up in the system.

Last edited by POBJOY; 19th Apr 2016 at 11:37. Reason: add content
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