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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 23rd Jun 2016, 11:55
  #2661 (permalink)  
 
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Mandatory ...

You are probably right with your comments for back then ... However, I understand LIS was implemented. I avoided including a reference to LITS (as it was then known) as this would have been a distraction to my specific challenge to the Minister.
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Old 23rd Jun 2016, 11:58
  #2662 (permalink)  
 
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Coffmanstarter

Terrific letter Coff, will be interesting to see whether they have any credible answers to your very detailed questions. It will be very revealing to all VGS staff like myself who spent years in these aircraft - all of us perhaps mistakenly believing that our Engineering was all up to correct standards. There is a very serious case to answer both in the blue suits and the contractors departments, and as I said before, they need to haul up a lot of people to appear in front of a Select Committee who should be primed by people like yourself to ask questions and pin them down.
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Old 23rd Jun 2016, 13:13
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HI Coff:

I agree - don't sidetrack them from your excellent letter with reference to LITS/LIS. However, it does seem to me that the airworthiness cutbacks coincided with the high-paid help looking for money to pay for the computer.
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Old 23rd Jun 2016, 19:45
  #2664 (permalink)  
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Can anyone give me some infomation about mid air collision stuff - mate tells me apparently Tutor has TCAS and FLARM after accidents. VIgilant and Viking had nothing not even Mode C transponders (money?) but apparently it was mandated they had to have it all fitted before flying cadets again. Now they are doing some flying cadets again at sys-ton and VGS restarting has all this stuff been fitted now? See a lot of civvy schools got FLARM now
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Old 24th Jun 2016, 06:13
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Vikings are pure gliders, I have no idea how much they ever get out of the circuit in Air Cadet flying. The commonest device for lookout assistance in gliders is FLARM which comes in at under 600 for the most basic version - the difference with more sophisticated models is not in the FLARM itself but if it's an IGC logger or not as well.

In the many club & private gliders that have it fitted it is often simply stuck on top of the instrument cover with something like very heavy duty Velcro. It needs a 12v power supply, it's very tolerant of low voltage, the big gotcha to be careful of is that the way the power is supplied won't interfere with ejecting the canopy. In some gliders the area it's normally mounted leaves with the canopy, in others it stays with the glider.
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Old 24th Jun 2016, 07:20
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Jimmy

The Vigilant had a Mode C Transponder (not Mode S although the entire Avionics pack was due for upgrade to Mode S and 8.33 plus some glass instruments as I understand it)

Viking had nothing apart from standard VHF Radio (non-8.33), the dual battery pack of the Viking means it could easily support FLARM but also some of the new Mode S Transponders (low draw) that are being developed.

Is any of it necessary for the type of flying the ACO did (not does.............) ?- you decide..................

Arc
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Old 24th Jun 2016, 11:50
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Air Cadet Glider Upgrades

Arc

You know that they will fit the most expensive Flarm kit and upgrade the radios to 8.33 spacing, just like they had to have the best parachutes available.

They have (at last) bought the best winches (although modded to diesel), so they will do the same for the gliders.

Would be nice to see them flying again......oh, I forgot no staff cadets to lay out the field for the newly qualified instructors!!
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Old 26th Jun 2016, 01:00
  #2668 (permalink)  
 
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The Air cadets getting some air under the wings at Cosford




As to the gliding issues, as an LAE, Chief Engineer and Camo, I cannot comprehend how anyone could destroy documents pertaining to an aircraft.
Civilian wise, the tech logs and work packs are all deemed to be part of the logbooks and are retained for a period of time after the aircraft is lost, scrapped or written off.. it just beggers belief they were being shredded.

I can remember when the Gliders were introduced around 1990, because if memory is serving me correctly one of the first things the RAF did was to take one and cut access holes into the wings to inspect the structure, this wrote it off in the military eyes so it was disposed off cheaply, I knew the person who bought it and he carried out perfectly legal repairs to this new glider and If I remember correctly registered it.

.

Last edited by NutLoose; 26th Jun 2016 at 01:30.
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Old 26th Jun 2016, 05:42
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Nutloose

I agree. I always thought that those who destroyed such records (to conceal embarrassing truths) got away with it precisely because it was so unthinkable that nobody guarded against it. After one fatal accident in 2003, the BoI report prompted such panic there was wholesale destruction of files. You can see the same panic seeping through this case. Maintenance records? They are money in the bank. I think MoD doth protest too much in the letter to Coffman.
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Old 26th Jun 2016, 07:55
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Nut, Coff and Others,

The letter from Julian Brazier was trying to shut down further questions. I've seen a few like it in my time, and it's always worth reading them carefully to see what's been left out. Follow on questions then arise.

The reference to documentation being 'inadvertently' destroyed raises an obvious one. Who authorised the destruction? Because destruction of ANY document requires a deliberate and documented decision, which should also have been countersigned by an appropriate officer (or civil servant). Did this happen? Or was there a breakdown in the systems being used to handle airworthiness documentation? By the way, I pose this question in a rhetorical sense - many people who have worked in DE&S recently know that this breakdown occurred some while back. I have personally seen airworthiness files (marked as such with a big sticker) stored in unlocked drawers, being handed around an open office with no control or records of who had them, or what was in them.

Doing this stuff right is just so easy that it beggared (my) belief that it wasn't being done. What was even worse was that the (quite junior) officer responsible for these files didn't even known that they shouldn't have been handled that way.

Well done Coff.

Best Regards as ever to those asking the questions,

Engines
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Old 26th Jun 2016, 14:46
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Well said Engines.

MoD's letter presupposes only MoD had a copy of the documents. This is seldom the case. Design Authorities are paid to retain insurance copies of much of the airworthiness audit trail. The same contract maintains the safety case. Lord Philip knew what to do. He simply got in touch with retirees who had followed instructions and kept their own copies of documents they'd signed. This won't be possible with all documents, but the rules allow one to make an engineering judgement on the evidence available.

MoD will go to extraordinary lengths to perpetuate the lie. On a number of occasions I've reached the situation above, only for MoD to claim the produced documents do not exist - so they must be forgeries. On one unforgettable occasion a Gp Capt even denied the existence of the aircraft under discussion, when his department (in AML at RAF Wyton) was caught red-handed destroying files. We fell about laughing as there was a photo of the aircraft on the wall behind him. (Nimrod R). At the same meeting, it was put to him that his department had actually scrapped Reference Systems (fundamental to functional safety and, hence, a valid safety case). His reply was that the company (GEC-Marconi Secure Systems in Basildon) had stolen them and the police should be called. GEC promptly produced the letter telling them to break down the rigs and return them to 14MU, and the resultant delivery notes. You really can't make this stuff up.
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Old 26th Jun 2016, 19:13
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I'd like to clarify my thoughts on the documentation angle here, but first a sincere 'well done' to Coffman Starter for keeping the pressure on.

The basic fact here is that the RAF has shown itself unable to properly manage the airworthiness of a fleet of basic and uncomplicated commercially sourced aircraft. In issues like this, there are often two scenarios to consider - I often called them 'Marx Brothers' or 'Machiavelli'.

In the 'Machiavelli' scenario, records have been deliberately destroyed to protect those who failed to manage the aircraft properly. In the 'Marx Brothers' scenario, the records have ben inadvertently destroyed because those charged with managing them had no idea how to do the job, and have simply cocked it up. I admit that I tend towards the latter explanation. Mainly because I've seen the loss of basic expertise at first hand, and also how basic requirements for maintenance of an auditable airworthiness trial have been ignored in PTs within DE&S as well as at RAF departments and units.

I'd like to make it clear that I don't blame the more junior personnel involved in these 'Marx Brothers' antics. They simply haven't been giving the training or guidance required to undertake what should be (and was) a fairly simple technical administration task.

But the elephant in the room here is this. If it's a 'Marx Brothers' issue of incompetence, then where does the systemic issue stop? How many other RAF aircraft fleets now have gaps in their documentation following blind and dull adherence to poorly drafted MAA regs?

Sorry, just thought of another elephant. When were these documents destroyed? (That should be an easy one to answer, as there will be destruction certificates - won't there?). So, for how long were the RAF flying schoolchildren around in non-airworthy aircraft?

Best regards as ever to those following up the leads,

Engines
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 05:18
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Engines. Quite right. It is easy to date the instructions not to maintain airworthiness, as the evidence exists in (e.g.) reports from the Director of Flight Safety. But if or when they were implemented in individual projects teams is a different thing, as many simply ignored the orders, while others gladly obeyed. Much depended on the background of the project manager. In AMSO, the pressure was on from 1990, and by June 1993 any thought of a full audit trail was long forgotten. That was when the admin section in Military Aircraft Projects supporting HQMCs was closed. This was MoD's depository for many of the records necessary to demonstrate airworthiness - it was closed precisely because AMSO had chopped all funding and they no longer had any "customers" as the engineering staff had been told to get other jobs. (I left my post in August 1993). A matter of weeks later, the offices and storage facility were deserted and we could not access historical or even current records. (Little or nothing was on computers in 1993, and there was no e-mail). The staff were gone and there was no evidence they had even been tasked to archive the data. In turn, this led to your other point. There were no jobs, so no one was recruited or trained. In 1996, PE staff were thrown to the four winds, and when we moved to AbbeyWood I'd say about 90% of paper files were destroyed. On the Friday you'd sign over 10 filing cabinets to the contractors in London, and on Monday one would turn up in Bristol. It was completely random which one. The same year the Chief of Defence Procurement confirmed he no longer needed engineers managing engineering projects, so very few were left to train new entrants anyway. (And in any case, the new entrants skipped the previous 5 or 6 grades, so had no grounding and no concept of what their predecessors had been required to know. None even asked the question). By announcing this just after staff and their families had been posted to AbbeyWood, with half of MoD(PE) spending their time searching for houses, schools and the like (and, now, new jobs) very little attention was paid to the practical effects of his policy. Now and again it would be raised in Post Project Reviews, but it wasn't until Haddon-Cave noted the shortfalls that it received wider attention. Even then, he dated it to 1998, conveniently protecting those responsible.

While it would be a huge effort to reconstruct the glider audit trail, I believe it possible. The practical problem is MoD doesn't have sufficient expertise, and will be reluctant to issue a contract to those who do; to do so would be to admit incompetence and lack of corporate knowledge, which of course are components of airworthiness. I suspect a very small team of ancients are gradually picking through this, but wonder if the MAA are doing what they were advised to do in 2011 - submitting bids to resurrect the core, centralised functions. The evidence suggests not.
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 11:42
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Perhaps I can shed a little light on this issue of 'documentation' - particularly for those aircrew who might be reading some of the recent posts with both bemusement and exasperation.

First, thank as ever to Tuc for another piece of evidence about the organisational chaos that hit the MoD in the 90s. I can attest to the fact that when the department I worked in moved to Abbey Wood in 95, a newly drafted in civil service 'admin expert' set a target of 70% of all files to be 'disposed of'. She then declined to set any guidelines or instructions for said 'disposal'.

I thought it might be helpful to give a brief summary of the types of 'documentation' held by the MoD that may have gone missing, and why they are important.

The first and most obvious one is the maintenance documentation. That is, the documents that record what happened to the aircraft after it was delivered to the RAF. These will have recorded all servicing (including application of technical instructions) repairs and modifications. The key documents would be the servicing records, rectification records (MF707), modification record log cards, and the airframe and component log cards. In sum, these documents assure the condition and configuration of the aircraft presented to the aircrew for flight. This set of documents is maintained by what is now called the 'CAMO' - basically, the 'in service' engineering teams based on stations and at support units. Back in the day, as documents were filled in, they were sent off for long term storage. As Tuc has posted, here's the first potential source of gaps - many have been destroyed.

The next back are the documents normally held by the organisation that managed that front line support. In the case of the gliders, we're looking here at the engineering staffs in 22Gp. These are important, because they have key roles to play in ensuring that the stuff at the front line is happening properly, and also in developing and applying technical instructions. Their documentation would have mainly been in the form of files containing correspondence, and particularly records of decisions that affected airworthiness. This would have included the results of 22Gp's supervision and quality assurance checks being applied to maintenance carried out in service as well as any that was contracted out. They would also have included records of any amendments to maintenance publications, as well as records of compliance with modification programmes and tech instructions.

Many of these files should have been marked as 'airworthiness files' and subjected to controls similar to those applied to classified information - held in secure cabinets, signed in and out, regularly reviewed and any destruction requiring special authorisation. Looking at the recent MAA report on the Hawk XX156 fatality, where 22Gp were unable to find any records of a long series of meetings related to the development of a safety critical TI, it's possible that there might be some gaps here.

The next set of key documents would have been those held by the departments that procured the aircraft and provided the ongoing support. In the old days, the procurement was carried out by the MoD(PE), and support was provided by DGSM, who became DLO, who became...well, too many acronyms. These two functions were merged and nowadays, it's the DE&S PT that holds the information.

Again, there would be a set of files recording all decisions and purchases made for the aircraft fleets. I'd also expect there to be a set of files holding key documents such as certificates of design, modification leaflets, drawings, repair schemes, technical instructions, results of technical investigations, as well as all the safety related information and the RTS. They would also hold the 'safety case' - the controlled suite of documents (almost all of the above) that specify the configuration of the aircraft, demonstrate that its design is safe and can be released to service as per the RTS. There should be a lot more 'airworthiness' files here, see my earlier posts on how some areas of DE&S have forgotten how to manage these. Again, looking at XX156, where the PT didn't even hold a safety case for the ejection seat, one gets an idea of the possible gaps in the glider fleet documentation.

In the really old days, MoD Project Offices would have held a thing called a 'Tech Data Pack', or TDP. This was a set of documents comprising drawings, certificates and technical information that were maintained by the Design Authority under a dedicated PDS contract, and copies delivered to the Project Office. Regular updates were supplied and incorporated into the TDP. As Tuc will confirm, the supply of these TDPs was one of the casualties of the spending cuts, and the responsibility for holding the documentation was passed on to the Design Authority. If you were dealing with a company that knew their way around the various DefStans and requirements, and had a decent contract, this wasn't too much of an issue. However, I could see that an outfit like Grob, responding to a requirement for a quick contract agreement (if it was an in year underspend purchase) would probably have had some issues in complying with all the MoD documentation requirements. Or not, I'm really speculating here. The real damage done in this area was the wholesale slashing of the budgets for the PDS contracts that (among other things) existed to pay the companies to maintain these documents.

Really sorry if this has bored some readers - but I thought it might help some of the pilots understand what might have gone missing and who might be responsible. My final point - this might look like a really complicated picture, and one might think 'no wonder they had problems'. Dead wrong. This was once a well understood and straightforward system. It required a bit of experience in key posts, and people putting in a proper days' work. For a fleet of off the shelf gliders with no engines, no power flying controls, almost no avionics and simple strong airframes, it should have been an absolute doddle. The RAF need to find out why it wasn't. And fast.

Best Regards as ever to those having to wade through my ramblings,

Engines

Last edited by Engines; 27th Jun 2016 at 21:45.
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 12:35
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Didn't anyone ever audit them, Christ, I have the CAA visit either annually or bi annually and they audit me to ensure the records are up to date and accurate, they do sample checks throughout the fleet logbooks, calling for work packs they wish to see, then do a traceability through the stores system to confirm parts used are correct, recorded and can be traced back to manufacture.
Any repairs are looked at and if drawings are used, that they are correct and that the paper trail is in place to backtrack what has been carried out, finally they also do a sample check of the fleet, to check the aircraft and ensure any Airworthiness Directives and lifed items are up to date and current. They then do a full facility and documentation audit , to check all manuals and data is current and the tooling is calibrated and in date .
I cannot believe how lax the RAF has become, how the hell can you ascertain the current build, mod state or fit of each airframe without documentation in place to show that.
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 13:09
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Nutty

I'd suggest 2 things;

1. That when people outsource (not just the RAF) they think that they have absolved themselves of any responsibility for the end product (i.e. they just become 'consumers' rather than 'stakeholders')

2. That actually the RAF is so thinly spread that they don't have the amount of suitably qualified/experienced manpower to supervise the contractors anymore. So they have to 'trust' them

The impact of which we can see for ourselves..........

Arc
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 13:33
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Engines:-
In the 'Machiavelli' scenario, records have been deliberately destroyed to protect those who failed to manage the aircraft properly. In the 'Marx Brothers' scenario, the records have ben inadvertently destroyed because those charged with managing them had no idea how to do the job, and have simply cocked it up. I admit that I tend towards the latter explanation.
tucumseh:-
It is easy to date the instructions not to maintain airworthiness, as the evidence exists in (e.g.) reports from the Director of Flight Safety. In AMSO, the pressure was on from 1990, and by June 1993 any thought of a full audit trail was long forgotten........The same year (1996) the Chief of Defence Procurement confirmed he no longer needed engineers managing engineering projects, so very few were left to train new entrants anyway. (And in any case, the new entrants skipped the previous 5 or 6 grades, so had no grounding and no concept of what their predecessors had been required to know.
"Machiavelli, meet the Marx Brothers..."
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 17:45
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Originally Posted by Arclite01 View Post
Jimmy

The Vigilant had a Mode C Transponder (not Mode S although the entire Avionics pack was due for upgrade to Mode S and 8.33 plus some glass instruments as I understand it)

Viking had nothing apart from standard VHF Radio (non-8.33), the dual battery pack of the Viking means it could easily support FLARM but also some of the new Mode S Transponders (low draw) that are being developed.

Is any of it necessary for the type of flying the ACO did (not does.............) ?- you decide..................

Arc
Some Vigilants had Mode C but only where absolutely operationally necessary. For instance, despite their proximity to Brize, 612 did not have Mode C transponders.
It would have been one of the cheapest mods to enhance conspicuity but was never rolled out fleet wide... despite MAC being the highest risk. A lot of effort went into Power FLARM with a negligible result.

I think that says it all really.
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 18:01
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Arc,

The audit measures that Nutloose describes were, for all of my career anywhere near front line engineering, absolutely ops normal. They were carried out by ship, station and HQ staffs. What's more, they were exactly the same as the checks carried out on maintenance carried out by contractors. Nut's excellent question 'Didn't anyone ever audit them?' begs some really hard questions for 22Gp's staff. If any engineers in the RAF thought that outsourcing an activity absolved themselves of any responsibility they were ignorant of the content of their contracts, and of their terms of reference.

It's also all too easy to blame one's ills on lack of resources. Lack of suitably qualified/experienced manpower is (in my opinion, and thats all it is) normally down to lack of proper training and career progression. As Tuc has so eloquently said many times, if you make a management decision that you don't want engineers to run engineering projects, and then get rid of the engineers, you run out of experience and qualifications. Quickly.

The RAF has shrunk. All three of the Armed Forces have. The Civil Service has. It's the job of the senior staffs to manage the change and ensure that performance of key functions (like airworthiness) is maintained. Moreover, if you go out and buy what was, apparently, the largest fleet of government owned gliders in the world, it's incumbent on the owner to make sure that those aircraft are properly supported and looked after. These aircraft weren't.

Best Regards as ever to those sorting out the c**p,

Engines

Last edited by Engines; 27th Jun 2016 at 21:47.
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Old 27th Jun 2016, 20:00
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It's a glider for Christ sake, how long does it do to do a physical inspection to see if any repairs have been carried out and inspect the airframe, log any serial numbers of parts and if needed send them off for overhaul or replace them on a rotating basis, similar with lifted components, if no record, replace them, they must surely have basics like tech logs or logbooks (700 Or whatever it is called these days) to go by. You would at least be able to reintroduce parts of the fleet relatively quickly, heck you could rob other aircraft that have a paper trail for some of the components until you have generated several airframes, and then sort out the others.
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