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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 14th May 2016, 13:57
  #2501 (permalink)  
 
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Perhaps I could add a few comments that might be of some help.

The first is the use of the term 'pause', which was used in this case. Of course, it's a political tactic, but one that obscures the truth, which is never a good thing. This is a grounding. Or it could be called a 'cease flying' order. The reason? The ATC aircraft fleet is non-airworthy. It's non-airworthy (as far as we can tell in the absence of much information) because the RAF lost control of the material state of their aircraft, either via inadequate documentation of servicing and repairs, or inadequate documentation of modifications. Or some of both.

I had direct experience of 'cease flying' orders issued by the RAF, and in both cases they were inadequately staffed and missed the crucial element - a plan to get the aircraft airborne again. I know that the RAF were capable of issuing perfectly good technical orders - sadly, I was clearly unlucky. Having a recovery plan was a key lesson drilled into RN Air Engineers, and on the three occasions I was involved in aircraft being grounded, a recovery plan was set in place straight away. (I can only offer the observation that when you are on a ship a long way away from help, and you ground the aircraft, the Captain is EXTREMELY keen to know how and when you are going to get the aircraft fixed).

This has been a pure shambles, and I say that because I can't in all honesty see why it has taken so long to get a fleet of extremely simple and basically well designed aircraft back into the air. Grounding a whole fleet at multiple locations also points also towards a serious systemic failure within the accountable organisation. And, in my personal opinion, this is where some key points around the MAA arise.

The MAA says that it is an 'organisation responsible for the regulation, surveillance, inspection and assurance of the defence air operating and technical domains'. (my bolds).

Again just my personal view, but the main thrust of the Military Aviation Authority (incidentally, not the 'Airworthiness Authority' recommended by Haddon-Cave) to date seems to have been in the area of regulation. So, we've had a complete 'rewrite' of the books, but as Tuc and others (including the new DMAA) point out, this has really been a reissue of the old regs. (Unfortunately, in some areas, the sense of the old regs has been diluted or lost). We've also had a mighty edifice of authorisations and certifications erected, with Letters of Delegation (or whatever they are called this month) extending to tens of pages, and every single person associated with aircraft support being required to be certified as 'SQEP'. As well as the 'Duty Holder' system, which has had the effect of moving decision points at least two ranks upwards from where they were.

What's not as evident (to me) in the MAA's activities are surveillance, inspection and 'assurance'. What does the MAA think of a 'pause'? Did it support it? Or of a 'pause' that lasts well over two years? What about that? Or why an RAF owned servicing organisation got into such a state, despite the MAA's surveillance, inspection and assurance' regime? Why hasn't the MAA opened an inquiry into this debacle?

This is a common issue with other accidents. The MAA reveals that they couldn't find any documented records of an organisation's decision making process around an RTI that was directly linked to the death of a Red Arrows pilot, and then....silence. Where was the MAA mandated 'pause' for 22Gp's engineering management team? No safety case for an ejection seat - where was the MAA mandated 'pause' on the responsible PT? Assurance, anyone? Why does the MAA keep issuing SI recommendations that, as Tuc so excellent points out, amount to no more than 'comply with mandated regulations'? Why not do something about the organisations that didn't do their job?

Surveillance and inspection? I've worked in PTs that didn't carry out the most basic elements of airworthiness assurance. (Examples - proper control of airworthiness files, effective configuration control, management of modifications - I could go on). And these PTs sailed through MAA 'inspections'.

My final thought - I'd be a lot more comfortable about the MAA if it started withdrawing some of its approvals for organisations that have manifestly failed to operate correctly. Same goes for individuals. Let's see some Duty Holders relieved of their duties.

Sorry if I've gone on a bit here - it's just that I feel strongly about this stuff.

Best regards as ever to all those trying to do the right things,

Engines
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Old 14th May 2016, 16:24
  #2502 (permalink)  
 
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Engines

Excellent, as ever. I, too, could offer many examples of each point you make, but the comment that strikes home most is this;

My final thought - I'd be a lot more comfortable about the MAA if it started withdrawing some of its approvals for organisations that have manifestly failed to operate correctly.
Where is the authority to do this? Well, it used to be in the only airworthiness-specific procedural Defence Standard, which was mandated in every aircraft-related contract. But it was cancelled, without replacement, in 2008; having been ignored since 1992, by order of AMSO. (An order that was ignored, until those who routinely used it moved on). Or, rather, the MAA attempted to replace a small part of Part 1 (of 2), but in the first page got the basic definition wrong and promptly went off at a tangent never to return.

That Def Stan describes very important MoD and Industry appointments. In MoD, the Technical Agency, the named man in the contract, with the signature over all the elements of airworthiness Engines mentions. The TA has the power of God over his counterpart in Industry, at each firm, because the company merely propose their man, and the TA appoints him. This is unique. The reason is simple. Airworthiness. Again, uniquely, that appointee is granted authority to commit MoD funding without having to seek the TA’s approval. The sole purpose of this is to nip safety problems in the bud. No need to even phone – he self-tasks in the certain knowledge he will be paid. If he doesn’t do his job properly, his appointment is withdrawn by the TA. I only had to do this once. The word soon gets round. I forced the company to replace a senior manager with a recently retired RN Chief Petty Officer (whom Engines will know), whom I considered the only suitable employee.

I do not believe the MAA has anyone junior enough to be a TA. (Discuss!) I doubt if they have anyone experienced enough, as one of the criteria is to have maintained, and preferably trained maintainers and diagnosticians, on the equipment or aircraft he is responsible for; at all Depths. Again, discuss – what became of MoD’s natural recruitment ground for such people? Bottom line – these perfectly good regulations are simply not implemented.
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Old 14th May 2016, 17:16
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Airworthiness !!!

Engines Thankyou for the missive; the real 'shock' to many of us on here (who remember and were involved with the earlier wood days) is how the back up system has failed to keep up with changing times. It is not as if we were dealing with complicated systems and pyrotechnics/rocket fuels but no one can really see how the RAF/MOD has allowed itself to get into such a mess with really simple equipment,and or why there is a lamentable lack of Tech expertise in the upper echelons of decision making.What makes it even more unbelievable to those of us that operate in the civil world of EASA and LAA/BGA that operate similar types (some to Public Transport Cat) is the complete lack of accountability as to why the Air Cadet fleet was allowed to decay its ability to maintain standards to the point that it had to be grounded. This is not just a reflection on the Air Cadet organisation itself but also the mainstream MOD/RAF system that seems to have lost all control and actual expertise on basic airworthiness issues that the civvy world seem to manage even under commercial cost considerations. With no 'changes' to the upper 'management' how is the system supposed to heal itself for the future.
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Old 14th May 2016, 17:49
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Hi Pobjoy, hope you are well.

I agree with your sentiments entirely, except that you included the word "accountability" and the acronym "EASA" in the same sentence!
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Old 14th May 2016, 19:21
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POBJOY:-
With no 'changes' to the upper 'management' how is the system supposed to heal itself for the future.
It was 'upper management' that sabotaged UK Military Airworthiness in the first place, mainly in the form of RAF VSOs. Ever since then 'Upper Management' has engineered a cover up which not only prevented the truth being discovered by various BoI's into airworthiness related fatal air accidents, but ensured that UK Military Airworthiness remained compromised and dysfunctional to this present day. Indeed, it has worsened over the years, as the missing and incomplete documentation that is the very essence of ensuring continuing airworthiness has dragged many more fleets into this morass.

You may well ask how simple structures such as the ACO gliders should fall foul of this scandal The answer is that simple gliders or complex systems (such as ejection seats), all require that continuous paper trail to prove that all that is right has been done, and all that is wrong has not been. Without that assurance unintended ejections, spontaneous explosions following AAR, collisions between aircraft using illegally fitted HISLs, blue on blue shoot downs and, to this day, unexplained impact into rising ground, can and have caused avoidable deaths; 63 killed in airworthiness related fatal accidents featured in this forum alone.

If the MOD had taken its primary responsibility as UK Military Air Regulator to heart and ensured that airworthiness be returned to the UK Military Airfleet, rather than protecting those who had initiated this scandal, many of those lives would have been saved. It didn't and they weren't. Thank your own AOC for grounding his fleet before more lives joined that count!

The only solution to reinstating military airworthiness is to make the Regulator and Investigator separate from the MOD and from each other. At the moment the DG DSA is responsible, inter alia, for assuring UK Military Airworthiness and for Investigating the lack of it! Even Sir Humphrey would baulk at such effrontery.

All of this edifice built upon sand was the result of the biggest lie ever told regarding Air Safety; the Haddon-Cave Report. It is quoted as holy script, instead it is a travesty of history and a formula for failure.

It will be a long hard road to rebuild military airworthiness so the sooner that first step is taken the better, which must be to march out of the morass that is the MOD. Those that complain about the CAA (I certainly have in my time!) and EASA should reflect that whatever their shortcomings, they never set out to subvert the very Regulations for which they are responsible. The MOD did, and good people died.

Like others have said, I am indebted to tucumseh and Engines for their knowledgeable and experienced contributions. I know that there are many others like them, qualified and dedicated engineers, who daily see the depths to which UK Military Air Safety has sunk. Please add your thoughts to this thread. You will be surprised how many will read what you have to say and take note.

Self Regulation Never Works, and in Aviation It Kills!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 14th May 2016 at 19:33.
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Old 14th May 2016, 20:25
  #2506 (permalink)  
 
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Who Does What When

Chug I understand all that but who is actually going to make the changes required and are they actually capable of knowing how to go about it.
Is it possible that they have so little expertise in their own system (at top level) they will have to import a 'team' from a known capable organisation outside (poss major airline) that operate to the very highest public transport regulations that can advise them. As stated if there are no changes to the present 'staff ' who are supposed to be dealing with this how will it CHANGE.
I am afraid my opinion is rather non PC on this but i always have doubts on organisations that have 'names' in charge rather than those with a proven background in the actual job in hand. With the Air in Air Cadets being a bit of a clue one would expect some suitable air qualified people running the show.The fact that this is not the case is now well proven by the current situation. Perhaps an airline that ran a Mach 2 airliner in the commercial arena could point the way.
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Old 14th May 2016, 20:43
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Acronym

Clive; When did you learn to read and write and use such impressive words. When i saw you last you were signing with a cross!!!
Anyway such is progress;I only mention EASA as this is what we have to work with (or around). It always amuses me that the 'Europeans' manage to find the most complicated way to tell the Americans* how to operate and maintain an aircraft that they*designed,built,certified,fitted with their own avionics and engines plus most of the systems. We do have some good people over here but they just get lost in the sea of bureaucracy that seems to have overtaken basic engineering safe practice. Europe is a nest of vipers with bureaucracy and it seems the RAF has been bitten. I was only joking about the cross i think someone else did that for you.Our esteemed ex WO eng at Kenley would have wept if he could see what goes on nowadays. Glad you are still up and about.
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Old 14th May 2016, 21:10
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POBJOY:-

Chug I understand all that but who is actually going to make the changes required and are they actually capable of knowing how to go about it.
If there were an easy answer then I'm sure that even H-C or Lord Philip would have come up with it and it would by now be well established. The dedicated men and women that worked so far behind the scenes that I was blissfully unaware of them when I was a mere GD/P have long since gone. Those that replaced them are now gone, hounded from their posts or leaving of their own accord because those that would not suborn the regulations when ordered to do so were persecuted, their health ruined. Those that remain are, as tuc says, their replacements. Ignorant of long since forgotten regulations and procedures. Whatever is to be done, the present status quo is not the answer. The MAA is not the answer, nor is its overlord the DSA.

The expertise that you seek has to be relearned, the old regulations have to be resurrected before they can be then amended, the old procedures re-applied. The only body capable of assisting in that is I believe the CAA. If the new MAA were 'sistered' alongside the CAA, the cross fertilisation should lead to proper Regulation by an independent Authority. Similarly I would restore the MilAAIB, sister it with its civilian counterpart, and practice professional independent military investigation (which would be a first!).

Of course there are a thousand and one reasons why such a solution would not work. Certainly it would require strong leadership and steely determination to make it work, but as long as Military Air Safety lies within the maw of the MOD I see no chance for Air Safety, let alone Airworthiness, being regained in the UK Military Airfleets.

The only reason that it worked in my day were those anonymous dedicated engineers of whom I spoke, and the honourable VSOs that ensured that they could carry out their essential work unhindered. Once that situation was turned on its head there was no going back. Reputations are more valued than honour these days, which is why I repeat:-

Self Regulation Never Works and in Aviation It Kills!
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Old 14th May 2016, 21:41
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CAA !!!

Chug The CAA is but a shadow of its former 'engineering' self,with many of its former 'inspection' type of operations now reduced to 'audits' and more audits, and with few actual engineers out there.
More and more the real experience and expertise is with the 'operators' who see and deal with day to day incidents and have to make the system work and keep fleets flying in the 'safe' PT environment. I think a system that kept the aforementioned Mach 2 airliner in daily service must have been both capable and able to attend to maintaining standards and a commercial service together. This must have been a quality operation that could not 'fudge' the numbers and therefore has merit in the setting of a viable system that would work for the military.Do we have to have 'another' inquiry to tell us what we know already that the Military have lost their way, and need to find a way back to reality.
Clive How do you manage with 'check lists' that you cant 'biro' on your hand as per CISTRS and CBSITCB. !!!
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Old 15th May 2016, 07:12
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POBJOY, point taken re the CAA, and indeed EASA, Clive Watson! I don't pretend to offer a blueprint for sorting out the scandal that is UK Military Airworthiness, but others created a system that assured it in the past. The trick is to do the same, but this time to ensure its independence of the operator (aka the MOD) and the investigator (which must be made independent of both).

You speak of Mark 2 airliners, but their airworthiness was assured by that very arrangement in civilian aviation. Those engineers that were so engaged did so under the authority of an independent Regulator, just as the ones who assured the airworthiness of lesser technologies, such as gliders. Even the engineers who maintained and serviced these different types did so under the authority of the Regulator, rather than that of their employer. If that system that worked so well has been "mended" then I would question the efficacy of doing so. The military system though is well and truly bust and has to be mended! I still say that the civilian model of Operator, Regulator, and Investigator, all separated from, and independent of, each other is the way to go.

All that said it will take a great deal of time to return Military Airworthiness to a functional state. Anything worthwhile takes years to build and mere minutes to destroy. So it was with UK Military Airworthiness Provision and Maintenance. As I said before this will take real leadership to achieve. A new Trenchard is needed, someone whose name will be forever linked with this essential reform.

The very first requirement is to acknowledge the situation and to start that reform on its way. Perhaps the CAS, who has personal experience of the realities of conducting an investigation into a military aircraft accident when not independent of the operator, might be so minded...
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Old 15th May 2016, 09:15
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There are a few fundamentals that must be understood before tackling this failure.

1. It is systemic. Refusal to recognise this results in the immediate problem, in the aircraft under discussion, being resolved, but the same problem in others being ignored. The Nimrod Review accepted this (he didn't actually reveal anything new) and recommended an MAA, not a Nimrod authority. With Nimrod now scrapped, hey presto, most of the problem is gone. No need to do much else. Let's *** off early, it's Monday afternoon. Until the next imminent grounding or fatality.

2. Airworthiness and serviceability are two different things. The former facilitates the latter. There is no need to work backwards through the problem. What MoD won't acknowledge is that this is well known. It was the subject of numerous scathing reports in the late 80s and 90s, and formed the basis of the main evidence to the Nimrod and Mull of Kintyre Reviews.

3. Attaining and maintaining airworthiness are different from Fitness for Purpose. With all due respect to Service engineers at front line (and I've done 1st, 2nd and 3rd maintenance, and managed 4th), they seldom see the first two. If they do, the system has already failed, big time. Their focus is on FFP; as is the MAA's, only they don't realise it. They think they're addressing airworthiness but six years on haven't started. I'm sorry if that upsets them, but the proof is in the pudding. Moreover, it was predicted here on PPRuNe before they were even stood up; and confirmed almost immediately when it became known who was conducting their initial audits (as mentioned by Engines). This is why you get people on here denigrating those who attain and maintain - "It's all bollocks, let's just get on and fly". The reason why they never saw or even heard of this before was because it was done quietly and efficiently in the background, as a core subject by properly trained people. This is not a 2 year tour job, it is a long term vocation. MoD personnel policy militates against this.

Normally, one would revert to known good practice. There is very little evidence of this in MoD today. It is actually formal policy not to employ people who would provide it. It is therefore ludicrous to expect MoD to resolve this in a reasonable time without serious help. Worse, one cannot expect more than a mere handful to recognise the warning signs and see it coming; so help is sought far too late. That, despite the Nimrod and MoK Reviews pointing the way; not to mention a raft of Inspectorate of Flight Safety and Internal Audit reports from the 90s. Significantly, hubris plays a major part.

A few years ago, the Chief of Defence Materiel, Bernard Gray, submitted a report to the Labour Government that got perilously close to suggesting going back to mandated policy. He was then appointed by the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition to implement it. He called "his" initiative "GOCO", Government Owned, Contractor Operated. The trouble was, none of his lackeys had told him it was 95% mandated policy, and that a detailed submission had been made to one of his predecessors in January 2000 suggesting the same thing. (No reply). As soon as this was put to MoD, by a Lib Dem Minister, they promptly denied Gray had even mentioned it. Hubris again. But, it is actually a good idea. No one is left in MoD to do this work, so get a decent industrial partner to help.

An effort was made to implement GOCO. Word is, it failed (in its original form) because (a) MoD could not articulate the requirement, and hence (b) Industry could not cost it. (I'd add a third - no competent company bid, probably because they saw that MoD hadn't a clue, so trouble loomed). Where does it tell you how to articulate and how to cost? (And even how to control the data required to do it). The cancelled Def Stan I mentioned before. All roads lead it. It is THE Bible. Again, hubris, because MoD don't want to admit the solution is staring them in the face, but they have instructed staff not to implement it.
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Old 15th May 2016, 15:32
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When you thought it could not get any worse

Well TUC We knew it was bad but we did'nt know how bad.
In fact it looks 'terminal' for gliding 'as was' and thats before they realise they have lost most of the staff one way or another.
There is no confidence in the organisation and its leadership anymore,and missives from 2FTS are worthless.In reality there are so few Air Cadets this will not be a national scandal and with Scouts numbers of 573,000 and rising perhaps they will take on the mantle of more gliding activity.
Lowering the age limit may appear to increase numbers but when they find out how long they must wait to go solo (even if this is still an option) then the incentive evaporates. Pretending that the supposed increase in AEF will save the day will do little to stop the rot because no one believes anything that comes out of Cranwell or Syerston. 75th anniversary of the organisation and its effective death knell is all they can celebrate.
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Old 16th May 2016, 06:48
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POBJOY:-
In fact it looks 'terminal' for gliding 'as was'
In truth it looks terminal for UK Military Aviation, because the systemic failures of which tuc speaks permeate it throughout. You may be sure that this is a major preoccupation for those at the very top. No doubt the grounding of the ACO fleet is as much to do with behind the scenes politics as it is to do with Air Safety.

On the face of it the ODH is to be applauded for taking such decisive action and indeed should be, but the airworthiness problem doesn't stop just there. It infects every other fleet, and what are their ODHs to do? They are on their own because the Authority that should back them has no real authority, and those that do have a much greater priority than the mere airworthiness of the RAF, FAA, or AAC, and that is to protect their 6 o'clock. It is the cover up that is the real threat, because while it continues no acknowledgement of the problem, let alone reform, can happen.

That is the nature of this scandal, the protection of VSO reputations threatens the fighting capability of UK Air Power. One or the other must end soon...

Last edited by Chugalug2; 16th May 2016 at 06:58.
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Old 16th May 2016, 08:26
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Chugalug2

I doubt that the current airworthiness situation debilitating as it is would have much effect on the air fighting capability of the U.K.

In a national Emegency all the airworthiness bull and those who spend a working day polishing their rear ends on office furniture while debating the correct formular of rubber for use in wheel chocks will be brushed aside.

I am old enough to have been apprentice to a bloke who was maintaining RAF aircraft in 1939, he told me that within days of the declaration of war a whole raft of piece time maintenance practices had been swept away and did not return until well into 1946.

No doubt the rate of maintenance related aircraft losses was just lost in the fog of war and considered just part of the cost of doing business.
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Old 16th May 2016, 09:29
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A and C

all the airworthiness bull
To which the standard reply is, what regulations should be done away with? I'm sure the MAA are open to suggestions.
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Old 16th May 2016, 09:37
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We're not talking about maintenance, A and C. We are not talking about serviceability (please read tucumseh's post #2511 above). We are talking about a lack of airworthiness of unknown extent. That is already affecting the air-fighting ability of the UK as it inexorably and persistently reduces aircrew and aircraft numbers. When we go to war those costs will accelerate as war-time reality overtakes peacetime complacency. 10 died in a Hercules because it wasn't fit for the purpose for which it was designed, ie as a tactical transport. 14 died in a Nimrod because its fuel system lacked the airworthiness required of it. Both aircraft were on active duty at the time, ie at war!
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Old 16th May 2016, 09:43
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As a general comment on wartime risks, I think it's true to say that more aircraft are lost NOT due to enemy action in most wars than losses directly attributable to enemy action.

I believe this to be true for WW2 and Korea and Viet Nam - I know it to be so for GW1 ..... ..... GW2 and Afghan anyone? Falklands?
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Old 16th May 2016, 10:13
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That may well be true, teeteringhead, but in a struggle for aerial supremacy it is better to avoid as many such losses as possible, so that more Air Power can be brought to bear were it is most needed, ie against the enemy. If such a struggle for Air Supremacy is much accelerated in the future (a debatable point, I'll admit) then such unnecessary and avoidable losses are all the more costly, because of the lack of time to make them good. To avoid that you need to ensure airworthiness beforehand, ie in peacetime, lest not doing so enables a more thoroughly prepared enemy to prevail.
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Old 16th May 2016, 10:33
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teeteringhead

-re GW2, there were three losses in one day due, according to the BoIs, to airworthiness failings. Nine dead. All the stated failings were notified to the relevant 2 Star at least 4 years before, and he ruled the aircraft need not be safe when delivered to the Service. The frustrating thing was that in each case the "system" I describe above worked perfectly well up to the point of his ruling. There was adequate funding and perfectly good designs. In each case, it was actually easier, cheaper and quicker just to stick with those designs. Huge resources, both in MoD and Industry, were expended arguing the case. Industry and most of MoD wanted the aircraft to be safe; some seniors didn't and they just issued an overrule. A possible solution emerges. Sack them.
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Old 16th May 2016, 13:47
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Perhaps someone who knows the facts should petition parliament? I'm sure that thousands of cadets, their parents and the VGS staff could make up the numbers to get this matter debated, or at least get the fiasco in front of a wider audience.

https://petition.parliament.uk/

Any volunteers? (not more than one petition though, otherwise the effect will get diluted)
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