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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 24th Sep 2016, 09:33
  #2861 (permalink)  
 
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As ever, Tuc hits the nail full on. Well over two years have passed since the Air Cadet fleet was 'paused', or more accurately, grounded. It's become apparent that schoolchildren were being flown around in military aircraft that were non-airworthy. Ministers have admitted systemic failings in oversight and execution of what, by any definition, was a basic engineering task. Public money has been wasted on an epic scale.

So, where is the MAA's report on all this? The organisation charged with regulating and assuring airworthiness of military aircraft for the last 6 years hasn't yet got round to telling the public what the heck was going on.

Anyone on this forum got any info or rumours?

Best regards as ever to those trying to fix the issues,

Engines
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Old 24th Sep 2016, 14:27
  #2862 (permalink)  
 
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In years to come will Pully's legacy be that he allowed Air Cadet gliding to slip through our fingers?
On the contrary, (and assuming he had some personal involvement), I think he will be remembered as the man who had the balls to ground the fleet, knowing this act would serve to highlight the cowardice, incompetence and maladministration of his predecessors, who concealed the problem and were prepared to gamble with the lives of minors.

Agree about the photograph! I'd like to know if he had any editorial input.

I also agree about the astronomical waste that is, in effect, MoD policy - as it commits huge resources to defending and protecting those who insist on wasting the money. That 4Bn+ on Nimrod 2000/RMPA/MRA4 would have bought one or two gliders.
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Old 24th Sep 2016, 15:12
  #2863 (permalink)  
 
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tuc has rightly highlighted the leaden weight that the RAF is burdened with, like some monstrous ball and chain, in protecting the reputations of VSOs that conspired to rob it of the most fundamental quality of any air force, the airworthiness of its aircraft. That the CAS chose to ground the Air Cadets gliders, and thus compromise future recruitment rather than simply replace them, gives us some indication of what's at stake here.

If the RAF does not rid itself of these shackles and face up to the scandal of the cover up, then its airworthiness will remain compromised. That does not bode well for the future, either in the avoidance of avoidable accidents or prevailing over other air forces for command of the air.
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Old 24th Sep 2016, 16:06
  #2864 (permalink)  
 
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... where is the MAA's report on all this?
He's probably busy worrying about his rivet joints. Shouldn't #3 be finishing up the 'flight testing' in the US about now, that they were talking about a year or so ago ? Plus I gather #2 has recently been sent back to L3 for 'repairs following questions about its serviceability.' Apparently 'beset by technical problems.' According to AW&ST 12-25 Sept.
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 07:41
  #2865 (permalink)  
 
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To replace the gliders with k21s will take a long time. The order book is full, even if shleicher could double production and were willing to do so it would take up to 10 years. If wrangling about modifications started maybe it would take forever.

And unless the airworthiness issues are sorted out how long before the shiny new gliders were grounded?
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 08:52
  #2866 (permalink)  
 
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Cats

I understand that the order books are full, but also I understand that the company would likely, for the right order, open up more manufacturing capacity if needed. The RAAF have just had a sizeable order fulfilled.

I agree, using MAA-land to engineer gliders is cloud cuckoo land. Swapping to BGA regulation would involve training up the cadre of ass/full cat instructors and BGA engineering inspectors, but a large proportion could have been done by now. What would be in it for the BGA? Go to most gliding clubs and the average age is high. The BGA is suffering like most other GA sports from a lack of youth coming into the sport - this would be an instant fix for them by delivering their syllabus and guarantee them a bright future.

Plowing on with ~70 old Grob 103 Acros and a handful of modified Grob 109s under MAA rules is an expensive folly. The 109s will be dead by 2019. So what then? A bunch of old Acros slowly being nibbled to death by regulations designed for military combat aircraft.

If you want to be really radical, the RAF have over 22 Air Sports clubs ranging from light aircraft, gliding to microlight. Get 2FTS to administer Air Cadet flying through these clubs, many of which have worked on the civil regulations for many years, and bolster the club's instructor/support cadre through the extant network of cadet force volunteers. There is ACTO35 in place at present and this could provide the mechanism to deliver if it allowed defence budget money to be used - there would be an instant saving as the cost to run a mil registered glider/motor glider is high compared to the club aircraft. I'm not saying these clubs are in a position now to deliver this, but could be with the capability/capacity the manpower within 2FTS/VGSs, with training, could provide. If coupled to the 12 remaining VGS, running on BGA regs, we might have a system that could deliver what these youngsters deserve.

CPL Clott
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 09:03
  #2867 (permalink)  
 
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And unless the airworthiness issues are sorted out how long before the shiny new gliders were grounded?
It becomes more difficult and expensive to regress and take corrective action, the longer the systemic airworthiness failings exist. The MAA denied this to Minister in January 2011 and it is this that accounts for them existing for 6 years and not really moving forward. Of course, many in the MAA understand all this, but leadership is lacking.

If it did come to buying new gliders (and I'd love to be a fly on the wall during scrutiny, which is why these things drag on as those to blame need to be long gone to protect them), I'd ensure the supplier also had a long term contract to maintain airworthiness. Just take it out of MoD's hands, leaving them with the fitness for purpose decision. It hasn't been funded policy to do it since 1991 anyway and it is easier to justify paying a contractor than making the case to re-employ people in MoD, who then have to be trained. Remember, the MAA don't actually "do" airworthiness; they are meant to apply audit oversight and act as MoD's champion when bidding for resources. All of which rather raises the question of how they know what to look for (and they still haven't found it). It is not a subject for a 2 year tour. It is a vocation.
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 09:42
  #2868 (permalink)  

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It is not a subject for a 2 year tour. It is a vocation.
Indeed it is, or should be. I've always been of the opinion that there is an endemic flaw in the way that the RAF has traditionally allowed fundamental, long term decisions to be made by those whose main intent is looking good in the short term to facilitate a rapid personal rise to the top.

Having known the man for many years, I would by no means include Andy Pulford in the latter category, btw.
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 11:06
  #2869 (permalink)  
 
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tuc:-
It is not a subject for a 2 year tour. It is a vocation.
There, in a nut shell is the problem and the possible solution.

As Shy Torque says, this is a fundamental flaw in the system of ensuring Air Safety for the RAF. Only an independent MAA and MilAAIB, of the MOD and of each other, can provide for it again.

That will only happen when the holy scripture of Hadden-Cave is seen as part of the cover up rather than of the solution.

That will only happen when the cover up itself is faced up to by the RAF.

That has to come soon, or more avoidable accidents and needless deaths will carry on happening unnecessarily.
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 11:19
  #2870 (permalink)  
 
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No Inquest verdict yet !

"It's become apparent that schoolchildren were being flown around in military aircraft that were non-airworthy"
Not to mention, of course, the huge numbers of Officers and CGI's whose families were completely unaware of the additional heightened risks of compromised airworthiness.

Apropos CAS Andy Pulford, IMHO he was not within any conspiracy, he was in my experience a thoroughly decent and honest man who made it his business to assist Air Cadet & VGS activity on his station. At CAS level he merely endorsed decisions taken lower down the food chain - e,g., by 22 Grp and 2 FTS, relying upon integrity and knowledge at lower levels - perhaps the only error being just that - he trusted their reports !

The amazing thing is, that even now, some 2.5 years on, with precious little or no Air Cadet VGS activity taking place at the remaining 12 Units, there is no sign of an early return to levels of productivity seen "pre-pause", despite many HQAC "spin doctoring stories" on Facebook and other press releases on subjects like "Aerospace camps @ ACCGS Syerston". Additionally, there is little sign that the real scandal has been publicly aired, and even less signs that the guilty will be named, shamed and sanctioned.

This was a classic case of the Amateurs being professional and vice versa !

Maybe this is a sure sign that our MP's and Lords are far too warm and comfortable in Westminster village to be able to bring the villains to justice, and hold both the RAF and MoD contractors to the scrutiny of their work and public accountability for the expenditure incurred.

Maybe a job for dear old Nigel Farage in retirement !
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 15:37
  #2871 (permalink)  
 
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Reference CAS's decision: It was his, as I know that the original plan on powerpoint for his consideration was rejected in Autumn 2015 and the drafters were told to go and think again! If I recall correctly there were about 7 options given to him and he and his fellow officers were given the decision. I've even seen the decision paper and and accompanying powerpoint presentation. He had to consult at Ministerial level. Quite why they chose the current outcome is beyond me. As others have said before, a bolstered AEF is not the right answer as this reduces the chances to go solo - to ZERO!

Posts #1200, #1201, #1267, #1662 and #1773 show that Ministers and the highest rankers in the RAF made the final decisions - sadly I think the decsion taken eventually was totally the wrong one as we seem to be very little further forward a year after these options were discussed.

LJ
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 15:44
  #2872 (permalink)  

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What progress at Syerston, I wonder? I see that the NOTAM regarding the ATZ being deactivated at weekends is still being issued.
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 15:55
  #2873 (permalink)  
 
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I heard that Syerston has 4 Vikings and no Vigilants (the latter going to Topcliffe to get the first VGS going). Four aircraft is barely enough to keep the instructors current and checked out!!

As ever progress appears to be S L O W....
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 20:16
  #2874 (permalink)  
 
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I'd ensure the supplier also had a long term contract to maintain airworthiness.
It is so easy for the operators to bork airworthiness. Undocumented repairs, repairs done without a correct schedule from the type certificate holder, lost paperwork... Does any of this sound familiar?
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 20:22
  #2875 (permalink)  
 
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Plowing on with ~70 old Grob 103 Acros
Plenty of civilian clubs are ploughing on with old gliders with no problems. There are 31 G103s & Twin Astirs on the civilian register, four deregistered because they have gone abroad and one deregistered as it was destroyed in a mid-air collision. Thankfully all the pilots were OK in that incident.

It doesn't matter much how old or new the gliders are, if the paperwork etc. is allowed to get into the state that the gliders paperwork is in it's expensive to sort it out.
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Old 25th Sep 2016, 22:26
  #2876 (permalink)  
 
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Corp Clott (and others),

Perhaps I might offer a couple of observations on what (to me) is one of the key issues raised in this thread - the non-airworthiness of the ATCO aircraft fleet and how that is seen to relate to new MAA rules.

It seems to be a common assumption that the problem lies with application of the MAA regulations to the glider fleet. Understandably, some appear to believe that moving over to a fleet of aircraft operated under civilian rules would avoid many of the problems that led to this grounding.

In my view (and that's all it is, please feel free to disagree), the core of the problem is simply stated - the RAF have failed to look after their aircraft properly. And by 'properly', I don't mean to the new MAA rules - I mean to long standing and well understood basic principles of maintaining airworthiness. The rules that applied when they bought the aircraft in the first place. Despite being dressed up in a new format and in new language, the aims of the MAA regulations aren't very different to those that were used (and observed) for many years. Tuc has succinctly set these out many times, my version of them is:

1. Know what you have procured - define the configuration
2. Demonstrate that it's airworthy - build your safety case
3. Release the aircraft into service (with your RTS) to that configuration, underpinned by your safety case, with all the required information and support to allow the front line to operate and maintain the aircraft so that it remains airworthy
4. When you change the configuration (repairs. modifications) document the changes and update your safety case, RTS and the publications.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Doing this for a fleet of gliders and low power aircraft should have been an absolute doddle. Basic. Ops normal. Choose your adjective. So the big question remains - how on earth did the RAF NOT do that? Come on MAA, people want to know. After all, they paid for these aircraft.

If you let an aircraft fleet get into this condition and then years later slap a new set of rules on them that say, in effect 'do what you should have done back in the 1990s when you bought the aircraft' - well, that's when things will go pear shaped. And they have.

Way forward? Actually, I agree with other posters that the RAF have no business providing experience and solo flights for school children in military aircraft. If it's a core RAF requirement, then justify it (personally, i think that given the current state of the Armed Forces, it needs a good hard look) and contract it out to civilian organisations better equipped to do it. Sell off the fleet (although after all this, I'd see their resale value at about nil), and let a competent organisation bring what aircraft they can up to compliance with civilian rules.

And then bring those responsible for the waste of millions of taxpayer pounds to justice.

Best Regards as ever to those having to sort this lot out - they shouldn't have to.

Engines
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Old 26th Sep 2016, 09:11
  #2877 (permalink)  
 
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Spot-on Engine. If the gliders were on the CAA register they would still not be airworthy as the paperwork is in a total guddle.

I also agree about air experience flying not being RAF remit. In the case of gliding, the BGA has clubs all over the UK who are teaching youngsters to fly and sending them solo as young as 14. Of course there is nothing military about a civilian club apart from (at my club) a few guys in ex-military flying suits hanging around at the launch point. That's fine, the purpose of the club is promoting flying.
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Old 26th Sep 2016, 09:56
  #2878 (permalink)  
 
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"contract it out to civilian organisations better equipped to do it"
Engines, well said in terms of how the job should have been done, and sure enough there are many RAF Officers totally responsible for what has happened.


However, I tend to disagree with the above quote; having observed a civilian Gliding Club, I witnessed what could have been a fatal accident where the cause was by lack of independent inspection following re-rig. And the guilty person was no less than a BGA Examiner!


Tuition of Air Cadets IS and WAS a part of the RAF brief, as it is the preliminary training of many who go on to great success in RAF/Army and Navy aviation pilot careers. It was on VGS units that many of today's outstanding RAF pilots learnt their trade under the discipline and guidance of absolutely dedicated Instructors. AEF flying and other Air Ex merely are the icing on the cake, but NOT the important basics ( which HQAC seem to think replaces TRAINING on VGS units). The vital blend of expertise, professionalism and discipline was endemic. Clubs would, IMHO, be a less beneficial atmosphere than flying training on a front line station where all aspects of service can be realistically experienced, The latter is what gives these young people the realistic view of service life, flying and the observance of strict discipline and rules - something they need to understand for a service and flying career.

In my time, I frequently arranged service attachments on co-located Squadrons for Cadets as a part of their training and forward planning for a service career. I can point to many who benefited from this unofficial but beneficial "parenting spin off" being based on an RAF station.


The real answer is to ensure that professionalism returns to the RAF full time Engineering staff, to match the total professionalism and dedication of the VGS staff, who had absolutely NO responsibility for this monumental cock up. Additionally we must find out and remove those who were the guilty parties as this was monumental waste of Taxpayer funding. Sadly the organisation is all but destroyed in terms of productivity in flying training, with the emphasis now being on Air Experience, not flying training and the so called Part task Trainers.


If something is broken, fix it, don't buy an alternative that doesn't quite fit !

Last edited by EnigmAviation; 26th Sep 2016 at 09:57. Reason: duplicated words
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Old 26th Sep 2016, 11:21
  #2879 (permalink)  
 
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I think that you have rather missed the core point here EnigmA, with respect. I quite agree with you that the VGS's were second to none in introducing young people to the military ethos as well as the challenges of aviation. The problem is that what was a given, that the UK Military Airfleet was in the main airworthy, is no longer so. As engines says, this has not happened overnight but is the result of decades of neglect and cover up. That it has hit the ACO fleet so hard is a matter of great regret, that it has hit the operational fleets badly is a national tragedy that compromises our security.

As I have already proposed, the solution requires the RAF acknowledging the cover up, reappraising Haddon Cave therefore, and starting the reform of UK Military Air Safety by backing an MAA and a MilAAIB that are independent of the MOD and of each other. Only then can the rebuilding of UK Military Airworthiness start in earnest. It will be then further decades before the UK Military Airfleet can once again said to be, in the main, airworthy again.

What happens in the meantime to the ACO fleet is a quandary. Whereas the operational fleets must carry on as best they can, the same cannot be said for the gliders. Even if some are declared airworthy, and they may well be, who is to ensure that they will still be in the future? The MAA clearly cannot ensure it, as tuc and others have declared. The don't know how to, and are compromised by the cover up in taking the necessary steps to do so.

It seems to me that engines has it about right. If you want to get ATC and CCF cadets back into gliders ASAP, then the civilian register is the way to go. It has no doubt feet of clay, but it does have one great advantage; that Regulator and Investigator are independent of the Operator and of each other. That is the model for UK Military Aviation to emulate in my view.
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Old 26th Sep 2016, 11:42
  #2880 (permalink)  
 
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Although no-one here will need reminding, Air Cadet gliding has the potential to get you into the left-hand seat:

Meet the 'world's youngest female airline captain' - 26-year-old Kate McWilliams - BBC Newsbeat
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