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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 2nd Aug 2016, 22:29
  #2781 (permalink)  
 
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Chug,

I suppose that where we might (gently) disagree is the way forward from where we seem to be. Also, I think it's important to try to post stuff for those reading this thread who are still doing the job - we owe it to them to not only tell the truth, but also to explain and where we can, offer a way forward. And hope. In this case, for the Air Cadets. Let's try that first.

I think the majority of the aircraft will be fixable. Cost and lack of technical expertise (to allow fast and good decisions) will, however, slow the process. On the bright side, no cadets or instructors (to my knowledge) have been hurt, and some will get back into the sky in airworthy aircraft. Keeping them that way will be the challenge. For gliders like this, that's not a big challenge. Honestly, it's really not. The big danger is that the RAF and the MoD go ahead and repeat the same mistakes they have been making now for some years. I'd suggest that one way to ensure a good organisation emerges from this would be to form a 'greybeard' team under the auspices of, oh, I don't know, let's suggest the RAeS's Airworthiness and Maintenance Group, to offer sage and experienced advice. I've seen it done in the US to very good effect.

I also believe that a full independent enquiry into this latest airworthiness scandal (judge led and staffed by reputable aerospace experts) is needed to really get the lessons out there.

I absolutely understand your point about needing a regulator (and inspector) that is more independent. My problem is not so much the idea, as where it would be located. Outside of HM Government? Funded how? Charitable giving? ANY organisation that gets money from the Government eventually becomes part of 'the Establishment'. At the end of the day, the MoD and the RAF have also to heal themselves. In my view (and thats all it is) the key way forward will be with good young engineers given a chance to do the right things at the working level. I always have huge confidence in the ability of young people to do amazing things. For all our opinions, right now the future is in their hands - and I trust them to get it right.

Best regards as ever to all the young engineers out there

Engines
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Old 3rd Aug 2016, 08:28
  #2782 (permalink)  
 
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Engines, your gentle disagreement is gently acknowledged. In reality it is more a difference in emphasis, and I absolutely agree that the ACO fleet needs to get airborne ASAP to continue its vital work in ensuring tomorrow's engineers and aircrew for HM Forces, particularly the RAF.

My problem with your long term approach is that the "Savings at the Expense of Safety" were made to compensate for AMSO's disastrous 1987 policy of disposing of bulk spares holdings. The inevitable consequence of massive cost increases was entirely self induced and independent of government policy. That is why the previously ring fenced Air Safety budgets were plundered. It was not the British Establishment that initiated this scandal but RAF VSOs. The Establishment's part was, and still is, the subsequent cover-up. My solution to the crisis, to make regulator and investigator independent of the MOD, will by definition require the Establishment to acknowledge cause and effect and hence end the cover-up.

My two-penneth worth as to how to do that is to keep it simple; sistering the MAA with the CAA and the MilAAIB with the AAIB, with civilian heads to both. Obviously it won't be simple at all, but at least the respective Director Generals can then be free to perform their duties unmolested and begin the very long haul back to ensuring UK Military Airworthiness again. At the moment there is no such freedom to do that.

May I also endorse the book linked to by tucumseh? The author not only reveals where the real gross negligence lay in the 1994 Mull of Kintyre tragedy, but how it was not unique to that terrible loss of 29 lives, nor unique to that fleet, but to UK Military Aviation as a whole. Which brings us back to the ACO fleet...
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Old 3rd Aug 2016, 09:04
  #2783 (permalink)  
 
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Chug,

Good suggestions for the MAA and MAAIB - 'sistering' with the CAA and AAIB would be a good way forward - and would encourage transfer of best practice.

However, having had a little experience of how the system works, I'm not sure that this would then lead on to any admissions of responsibility or guilt. As is often the way of things, the cover up will gently run on, occasionally muddying the waters, until the key VSOs are no longer around to care.

I know that sounds a bit cynical - but in my view (alert - personal view there) the focus now has to be rebuilding the necessary technical expertise at low to middle desk working levels in MoD and RAF HQs. A limited rework of the regs would also be needed to restore the administrative and organisational tools and procedures required to build and maintain airworthiness. Again, here's a task that a good 'greybeard' panel could really help with.

Please note - I'm not angling for a job here!

Best Regards as ever to all those who can help fix this,

Engines
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Old 3rd Aug 2016, 10:10
  #2784 (permalink)  
 
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Engines, I am delighted that we are in violent agreement as to a possible way forward. Your point about the "British way of doing things" is well taken. The silver lining though, to the black cloud of the cover up, is that those who perpetrated this scandal will know that they will indeed sooner or later be outed by the historians. It may well be after they have quit their mortal coil; leaving their titles, honours, and awards vulnerable to being subsequently reclaimed. Such bling is important to them, and the nagging possibility that their obituaries will be subject to such revision will indeed be an awful ordeal to bear.

Whatever be their fate the important preoccupation for us now is to return the UK military Airfleet to airworthiness ASAP. Time is of the essence, and certainly cannot wait for the convenience of those responsible for its subversion to pop their clogs. Aviation doesn't know of such social graces and will continue its cull of men and machines until constrained again by the regs (which always worked when enforced, as you say) being properly enforced again. If that needs a recall to the colours of the greybeards, then send out the press-gangs now I say!

Careful, Engines, you may well find a coin of the realm in the bottom of your next pint!
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Old 4th Aug 2016, 06:54
  #2785 (permalink)  
 
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A limited rework of the regs would also be needed to restore the administrative and organisational tools and procedures required to build and maintain airworthiness. Again, here's a task that a good 'greybeard' panel could really help with.
In 2001 my boss was asked if I could be released for 2 days a month to oversee the up-issue of the key procedural airworthiness Def Stan. This is how the system works - D/Stan don't actually employ experts on each standard. It's a boring task, but 2 days a month makes it bearable. The reason it's boring is because most amendments are simply reflecting the perpetual organisational changes within MoD. The actual procedures have been well known and barely changed since Marconi was an apprentice. Anyway, my boss was the wrong person to ask as he simply cited policy of the day (safety cases are irrelevant and a waste of money) and the request was refused.

The D/Stan lady in question is now long retired. The standard in question has been cancelled without replacement, and MoD don't even have an old copy. All the ART reports from the 90s, various audit and Parliamentary reports, the Nimrod Review and the current glider issue can all be summarised - "implement that standard". Yes, it requires expertise, but no company can be appointed a Design Authority without demonstrating it, so even if MoD doesn't want to do the job properly, many can. What MoD must provide is leadership in the form of someone with the balls to stand up to those who don't see the need. When the MAA was formed I predicted they'd have a hard time in this respect. This glider issue would suggest they have rolled over. The Independence pillar of airworthiness was knocked down many years ago. It is now being pounded into dust.
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 10:51
  #2786 (permalink)  
 
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I wonder if any of the PPruners out there could help clear up one aspect of the ATC glider scandal that has been bothering me.

Who is the Design Authority? I have assumed that it was Grob at the time of the purchase, but does anyone know whether they were certified against the key DefStans at the time? Since then, there have been mentions of both Slingsby and Marshalls - I know the latter are certified for some aircraft, but I've never seen them as a glider DA.

Anyone got any reliable information out there, please?

Best regards as ever to all those working with their certified DAs,

Engines
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 11:28
  #2787 (permalink)  
 
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Hi Engines:

Marshall is the DAOS for the Viking. Helpful list from the MAA here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/upload...roved_orgs.pdf

Can't find Grob or the Vigilant on it though (only a quick search mind you).
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 12:04
  #2788 (permalink)  
 
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Being on the DAOS list and holding a Design Authority or Design Custodian appointment are two different, but related, things. The DA holds and maintains the Master Drawings. A DC can be contracted to do much of the day to day work (maintaining the Build Standard), but has a directed sub-contract to the holder and maintainer of the Drawing Set (who often wants to retain control for commercial reasons, but is not interested in the work). The DA/DC need not hold the repair/maintenance contracts.

A company may hold DAOS "approval", but if the MoD Technical Agency (the named person in the contract responsible for the Build Standard, which is what we're talking about here) deems them unsuitable, or decides their performance has deteriorated, he can (indeed, is obliged to) suspend their appointment. A suspension does not affect the company's DAOS status, largely because the DAOS section in MoD is interested in company processes and jumping through hoops, whereas a TA is interested in whether the company can do the job properly. This authority vested in the TA is frowned upon at a certain level in MoD, because by definition the posts are filled by the two lowest technical grades in DE&S; and only then if they have the requisite competence and experience, which must include, as a minimum, hands-on engineering repair and maintenance of the equipment and/or aircraft, QC, Design, and other related disciplines. Observers of current MoD practice will note these are infinitely more demanding posts than the more senior positions in the MAA, which is perhaps why so few civilian engineers would wish to be promoted into the MAA, and then forced to dumb down!

The key postholder at the DA/DC is the PDS Officer (PDSO). The company nominates him to the TA during contract negotiations. His is a personal appointment of the TA. He is, uniquely, granted financial delegation to commit MoD funding. This, because he must have the wherewithal to immediately launch, for example, fault investigations when the immediately safety of the aircraft or equipment is at risk.

My guess is no Glider DA/DC or MoD Glider Team staff have applied these mandated regs in 20 years!
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 14:47
  #2789 (permalink)  
 
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Mandator,

Thank you so much for coming back with this - I could (and should) have done that search myself. Accept my apologies for not doing so.

Looking at the list, there are a number of varying formats and types of DAOS approvals here, which is what you'd expect. Some are general in nature (e.g. 'Aircraft' for BAES), some are specific (look at the approval for Boeing UK). Some are highly detailed down to subsystems (e.g Honeywell).

The one for Marshalls at Cambridge is fairly sketchy, though. it reads:

a. Modifications and special installations in fixed wing aircraft.
b. Modifications and special installations in Viking Glider aircraft
c. Modifications and special installations in helicopters.
d. Special test and support equipment for items a,b and c.
e. Flight testing. Authorised flight testing is Ltd to: Quantitative assessment of aircraft performance and avionic and engineering systems on fixed wing aircraft.

What I can't see there is anything to do with being an approved DA for the Viking structure, or the aircraft, just 'mods and special installations'. There's nothing in the list for the Vigilant, nor do Grob or Slingsby appear elsewhere.

So. The follow up question to all you PPruners out there (including anyone involved in this cluster***k who might want to open up a little) is this. Who is the Approved Design Organisation for the Viking and Vigilant aircraft? Put another way, who issues their Certificates of Design? Or put another (possibly less fair) way, has the RAF been operating these aircraft without an ADO? If the answer to the last is 'yes', one has to then ask the question WTF?

Best Regards as ever to all those who help the discussions along

Engines
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 15:05
  #2790 (permalink)  
 
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THE SKY'S THE LIMIT

The Summer 2016 edition of the RAF Club's magazine arrived today. It includes an article from an unnamed author titled 'THE SKY'S THE LIMIT. The Air Cadets at 75', which includes:

...In sum, as we entered the Air Training Corps' 75th anniversary, we were faced with a challenge that could not be ignored. The gliders were grounded for sound reasons and it was simply not an option to continue to operate without an assured safety case in place. Two years of technical analysis led to a difficult position where the cost of Vigilant recovery was actually greater than the acquisition of new aircraft and so the RAF senior leadership resolved to field a new system instead...

Interesting. 'it was simply not an option to continue to operate without an assured safety case in place', eh? Use of the word 'continue' seems rather to be an admission that they'd been operating without an assured safety case hitherto.

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Old 5th Aug 2016, 15:07
  #2791 (permalink)  
 
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Hi Engines:

Fair comment with respect to the formal scope of the Marshall approval for the Viking. However, I would hazard a guess that within the MOD, the Marshall DAOS is probably viewed from the perspective of Marshall being the DA.

One thing that does stand out is that most of the companies on the DAOS list are huge and would not, I suspect, have the first idea about supporting light aircraft. I think there is only one minnow on the list - de Havilland Support Ltd - which looks after a light aircraft in the form of the Chipmunk.
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 15:53
  #2792 (permalink)  
 
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Mandator,

Thanks for coming back.

I think you might not be completely right about Marshall's here - but in the absence of hard information, I'm guilty of speculating - sorry if I get this wrong. The DAOS approval is given to a specified company for a specified set of activities. (Note that D stands here for design, there's also a MAOS scheme that looks after maintenance).

This looks as if Marshalls have a DAOS approval that is restricted to designing modifications and 'special installations' (whatever they are) for Viking. That does not make them the ADO (Approved Design Organisation) for the whole aircraft.

If this is true, it's not in the gift of anyone in the MoD to view them as anything else. They are either a full ADO or they aren't. Binary choice.

As far as company size goes, getting DAOS approval rests on submission of a 'design exposition' which is then examined and vetted by the MAA. They're not outside the competence of any normal; aerospace engineering firm to prepare. I've seen a few of these, and they are sometimes, to say the least, variable. As Tuc would point out, the intentions are good but the MoD's ability to tell the difference between a proper 'exposition' and what is actually happening on the ground has been weakened over the years. It's now more of a box ticking exercise, with the final decisions being made by VSOs who respond to political pressures.

Example - there's at least one organisation on that list which is approved to 'design' modifications to an in service aircraft - in actuality, they cannot 'design' anything, as they have no authority to issue drawings for that aircraft.

The other thing to note is that heavy, light, fast or slow, if its a UK military aircraft it needs an RTS to fly. Only an ADO can issue a Certificate of Design. No C of D, no RTS. No RTS, no fly. It's really as easy as that. Honestly, it's straightforward.

You're hearing it here a lot, but it bears repetition. The problem is not the regulations. It never was. It's that people aren't implementing them. Why? In large part, because they've never been taught how to do it, nor have they been required to do it. Why? Because senior people have decided that it's not worth the trouble. Or the money. That brings us to where we are now.

Question remains - who is the current ADO for the Viking? Anyone?

Best regards as ever to someone who can answer this one,

Engines

Last edited by Engines; 5th Aug 2016 at 16:44.
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 17:12
  #2793 (permalink)  
 
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Q

OK lets say I bought a Vigilant and paperwork as they are right now and wanted to put it on the CAA Register.

WHat would be required and what sort of cost are you looking at?

As for the engine life situation there are plenty of companies that can forge/ machine or indeed print almost any part to the required standard.

This has been happening in the vintage automotive world for a good few years now.
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 18:12
  #2794 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
The Summer 2016 edition of the RAF Club's magazine arrived today. It includes an article from an unnamed author titled 'THE SKY'S THE LIMIT. The Air Cadets at 75', which includes:




Interesting. 'it was simply not an option to continue to operate without an assured safety case in place', eh? Use of the word 'continue' seems rather to be an admission that they'd been operating without an assured safety case hitherto.

Field a new system that neither recovered the aircraft nor replaced them...

Nor one that has achieved anything tangible in 2 years and 4 months.
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Old 5th Aug 2016, 19:10
  #2795 (permalink)  
 
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e. Flight testing. Authorised flight testing is Ltd to: Quantitative assessment of aircraft performance and avionic and engineering systems on fixed wing aircraft.
To be fair to MoD staff who try to implement these regulations (despite the orders they are under) it is not unknown for politicians to issue an overrule, and direct that major aircraft contracts be handed to companies who (a) didn't bid, and (b) have no such approval. You end up with silly situations such as the company doing all the work being a sub-sub-sub-contractor. The first thing to go is the audit trail. Speaking of which, on 17 January 2011 the MAA and Minister for the Armed Forces were told that the work the former had put in motion post-Haddon-Cave was meaningless without regressing to close the gaps in audit trails caused by the 1991 decision to run down airworthiness management. I'd say this is a significant part of what has failed here. Later, when asked for progress by another Minister who was present, MoD denied the subject had been raised. Which is why you record meetings. There is nothing new in what's going on.

Good spot Beagle.
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Old 6th Aug 2016, 00:16
  #2796 (permalink)  
 
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RAF Club magazine unnamed author ...

Re Beagle's post 2790 above -
It includes an article from an unnamed author titled ....
I imagine the unnamed author is AVM Andy Turner, AOC 22 Gp. The quote is a slightly edited third-from-last paragraph of his three page article "Putting the air in the Air Cadets ... " in the RAeS magazine June 2016 - as referred to by ATFQ (with link) in his 12th June Post # 2630 on Page 132 of this thread. LFH

....................
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Old 9th Aug 2016, 12:21
  #2797 (permalink)  
 
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I just watched the video of the Queens Jubilee at FY on another thread:http://www.pprune.org/military-aviat...inningley.html
Just wondering, were the a/c all airworthy back then? I ask because, as per my post on above thread, while all were having a great time at FY, at Lossie we were busy trying to find out if a crashed Jag was one of hours which, unfortunately it was and, sadly, the pilot died.

Last edited by ACW342; 9th Aug 2016 at 12:22. Reason: added two words to make reading more understandable
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Old 9th Aug 2016, 13:02
  #2798 (permalink)  
 
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ACW342

I was one of many fitters rounded up and sent to Fleetlands to get as many helicopters as possible flying for the Spithead Review. (Weather was poor on the day, and a sensible decision was made not to fly many of them). I can't say if the aircraft fleets were airworthy (better chance in those days than in the last 25 years), but there was certainly a lot of pressure to get some right old crates flying which would otherwise be stuck in a storage hangar hoping someone would set fire to them. (Arson being a not-unknown event at Fleetlands in those days, although confined to the fishing club's hut!) A couple of "events" I recall are a less-than-qualified US exchange pilot flying a Wasp calling an unnecessary Mayday resulting in a heavy landing on a cricket pitch, and a Wessex crew taking the opportunity to move a crewman's furniture to his new house during a test flight - and fracturing a fuel line with his 4-poster. I was marshaling and like a prat stood there while the crew bolted past me toward the control tower. Safety issues, certainly, not least giving me that job after 2 minutes training.
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Old 9th Aug 2016, 14:49
  #2799 (permalink)  
 
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I guess tuc's post is as comprehensive answer as you are likely to get from anyone. However, just to reiterate his point, there have always been unairworthy aircraft and, despite any palliatives offered here or elsewhere, there always will be. The entire fleet that I was on, that of the Hastings, was grounded throughout the world in 1965 following a crash on departure from Abingdon killing all 41 on board:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Baldon_air_crash

The accident was traced to the failure of the elevator outrigger bolts. Checks on other aircraft revealed other bolts also liable to failure. All bolts were replaced with higher grade ones and a good deal of re-riveting around the tailplane area done also, again because of poor quality material. The difference then was that such a crucial part of our airlift capacity was withdrawn at an instant. No pauses, no obscuration, just action by a system that swung immediately into action and got the aircraft airworthy again.

As tuc tells us repeatedly, the problem is now with that entire system. It is both dysfunctional and incompetent. If Little Baldon happened again it wouldn't know where to start, other than to lie or to permanently ground yet another fleet, or more probably both.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 9th Aug 2016 at 15:00.
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Old 9th Aug 2016, 20:31
  #2800 (permalink)  
 
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Chug

Thanks for the link. I did note the following with great interest:

The day after the crash an investigation and an inquest were opened at RAF Abingdon. The Coroner for North Berkshire, Norman Challoner, opened and adjourned the inquest into the 41 deaths. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch convened a five-member board of inquiry at the airfield and started examining the wreckage at Little Baldon. A team from RAF Bicester arrived at the site and began salvage and recovery work

Little Baldon is in the Henley parliamentary constituency. In the House of Commons its then MP, John Hay, proposed that because of the great loss of life and public anxiety, the board of inquiry should be held in public. Denis Healey replied that "there are juridical obstacles to the inquiry being in public", but added "I will make the fullest possible statement about the findings of the inquiry as soon as I possibly can".
So if the AAIB investigated, and not the military, then why wasn't it deemed the much vaunted "independent" investigation by the MP?

LJ
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