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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 2nd Nov 2016, 11:10
  #2961 (permalink)  
 
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Leon, No definitely Sweden
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 12:19
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Engines:-
I'd sincerely hope that some of the people involved in this huge waste of money have the chance, at some time in the future, to help bring those responsible to book.
When all the dots are joined up one day it won't just reveal the huge amount of money wasted on ACO gliders, it will reveal vastly more money wasted on much of the UK Military Air Fleet over the past 3 decades and, far more importantly, the many lives lost in avoidable UK Military Airworthiness Related Air Accidents. The dots will point right back to the late 80s/early 90s, and the VSOs who wrought the lasting damage to UK Military Air Safety, and in particular to the provision and maintenance of airworthiness.

That joining up of dots will not be done while the MOD has control of the UK Military Air Regulator and Air Accident Investigator. In particular the RAF High Command will continue the cover up of the illegal orders and actions of certain of its VSOs. Only an independent Regulator and Investigator can confirm that and begin the necessary rebuilding of a dysfunctional system that should, but does not, protect aircrew, passengers, and members of the public from avoidable airworthiness related fatal military air accidents. That won't even begin to happen until those dots are finally joined up!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 2nd Nov 2016 at 12:29.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 12:34
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Engines

It fails to keep them airworthy, but doesn't actually know it's failed.
Great post although the published evidence suggests they did know.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 14:09
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Dervish,

Quote: 'the published evidence suggests they did know...'

Thanks for coming back. My apologies for not being clearer on that point. Please let me clarify. Yes, the RAF knew, but my view is that they didn't know until 2014.

It's clear that the deterioration in the state of the ATC aircraft fleet started at some time soon after their entry to service, and continued for some years. That's the RAF's first failure.

Then the RAF's engineering management systems failed to understand what was happening to this fleet. Why do I come to that conclusion? Because they didn't do anything about it until 2014. Second failure. And probably a more serious one than the first, because it points to a major failure of basic engineering supervision and quality control. And that could very well be a systemic issue across the service.

My guess (and thats all it is) would be that the exercise to gain full CAMO status was the trigger for this realisation.

To repeat: we are talking here about a large fleet of simple and basic aircraft. A fleet that the RAF bought and were responsible for maintaining. A task that should have been absolutely routine, basic, day to day, bread and butter engineering management. The fact that they failed to do this should be a major concern. Financially, it's a disgrace.

Best regards as ever to those engineers doing the job properly,

Engines

Last edited by Engines; 2nd Nov 2016 at 14:41.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 16:20
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Engines

Understood. I had in mind the evidence contained in a book you mentioned earlier in, IIRC, this thread. Key word, systemic. Key fact, VSOs informed and did SFA.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 16:49
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Dervish,

Thanks again for coming back.

I think there's an issue here which might best be called 'the particular versus the general'. As an old retired engineer who strove mightily and happily to achieve a rank well below VSO, I tend to focus on the 'particular'. In this case, it's the spectacle of the RAF (a service whose people I had huge respect for) failing to execute a simple and non-onerous task - look after a fleet of very simple light aircraft. And, in so failing, putting the lives of kids at risk. I'd like to see some proper transparency and answers over this 'particular'.

The 'general' issues are just as real, but harder to pin down. Once you start trying to put blame on 'VSOs', or 'systems' or 'organisations', in my experience it inevitably ends up with lots of disappointed people. Why? Well, the tendency for VSOs to protect themselves and ex-VSOs, and so on. Plus the way that bureaucracies hate to be embarrassed.

I'd just like someone to focus like a [email protected] on this 'particular', and start hauling those directly responsible (if necessary those of relatively low rank, e.g. the people who signed off the quality audits on the glider maintenance shops) into the light and getting the facts exposed. If that leads on to VSOs, fine. But let's start digging.

Best Regards as ever to all those out there doing the right thing

Engines
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 16:58
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Engines

Understood. Well put.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 17:23
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Engines, I appreciate your attitude as an Engineer, "well below VSO", to want to concentrate on the particular, to drill down to the fault, and rectify. Rather like the general case that you specify though, easier said than done. When a VSO gives a clearly illegal order in front of witnesses and no action is taken, no interview, no investigation, and certainly no charges, then one can but agree with you that

the tendency for VSOs to protect themselves and ex-VSOs, and so on
is an accurate statement of the situation that UK Military Aviation is now in. Unfortunately, pursuing those of "relatively low rank" will accomplish for the MOD exactly that for which it hopes, while the truth of the scale of subversion of the system remains hidden by the much beloved stovepipes.

As Military Aviation Professionals, we should surely face the facts, or aviation will quickly bite us back. UK Military Airworthiness provision is in a dire state. Never mind unairworthy ACO Gliders, grounded Nimrods (and now Hawks?), what of the front line operational fleets? The dysfunction is systemic; no aircraft, no system, no capability, is spared from its malevolent effect. UK Military Air Regulation and Accident Investigation has to be made effective again, lest the cost, in blood, treasure, and capability, continues unhindered. If the way that:-

bureaucracies hate to be embarrassed
stands in the way of that then we have to unite in insisting that reform of the MAA and MilAAIB goes ahead, by making them independent of the MOD and of each other, so that our military airfleets regain their airworthiness and avoidable air accidents are once again avoided.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 17:40
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A friend of mine was a Squadron Leader engineer who retired in 1995. I was showing him David Hill's excellent book, "Their Greatest Disgrace" which describes in great detail the failings of those VSO's. He was very surprised that he had never heard of one of the leading villians, ACM Michael Alcock, who was the RAF Chief Engineer, and his ultimate boss at the time. It does rather suggest that those VSO's kept themselves fairly remote from the coal face and this may help to explain why the ATC gliding got into the mess it is in.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 18:07
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pulse

And yet Haddon Cave praised his "long screwdriver" management style, during the "golden period".
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 18:53
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Couple of pertinent responses here, and I'd like to risk boring the a**e of other readers to respond.

I absolutely agree that 'strategic' decisions taken by RAF VSOs on budget cuts have had a very bad effect on UK Military Airworthiness. I also know that there have been occasions when senior civil servants have issued what can only be construed as illegal orders. These are serious matters.

But I think this case shows a disturbing lack of 'grip' at a relatively low level of engineering rank. Once the VSOs had decided to procure a fleet of aircraft (I believe out of RAF in-year 'underspend' - particularly galling as my own support budgets for Sea Harrier had been raided the previous year to prop up support for RAF engines) then the business of maintaining airworthiness would, quite properly, fall to the engineers at the Command, stations and units involved.

From what I can conclude from the limited evidence available, there seems to have been a severe lack of attention to detail and a reluctance to execute the basic, straightforward, easy routines that would have kept this fleet airworthy.

Yes, one can draw a line from the actions of VSOs in the 80s to these problems in the 90s and the 00s. For my part, I prefer to keep the focus on those who had the job to do and, apparently, just didn't do it. If there is ever to be a proper enquiry into this one, I honestly don't think it's worth starting with ACM Alcock's support budget cuts ten years earlier. As I've suggested, the thing to get the investigative juices should be this simple question:

'Was the RAF flying schoolchildren around in potentially non-airworthy aircraft?'

If the answer to that is 'yes', let's, for the sake of all that's holy, find out why. Start with the F700s and the correspondence and keep digging.

Best regards as ever to all those who uphold the ethics of engineering

Engines
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 20:01
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I'd like to risk boring the a**e of other readers to respond
Not so Engines. I for one appreciate reading and mostly agreeing with the sentiment of your posts. Keep it coming and keep exposing the truth behind the great oxymoron of military airworthiness.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 21:23
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I think Engines’ proposal would be fine if there was general acceptance in MoD that (a) the problem exists, and (b) what caused it. There isn’t. The MAA consciously took the wrong turning in 2010 and have never looked back.



So, if any submission is to be made to, for example, try to force an investigation or even inquiry, I think it should start by setting the scene. In part, this is necessary because Haddon-Cave knowingly placed the wrong date on the beginning of systemic failings, by claiming 1998. He was given actual papers demonstrating otherwise. Therefore, he and his report are part of the problem and need exposing at every turn.


My proposal would be to start with a simple paragraph reiterating three factual events.


  • AMSO promulgated a policy in 1987 that resulted in astronomical waste beyond the imagination of most here.
  • In the following years, compensatory savings were made (at the expense of safety) throughout aircraft support budgets. The example I always use is that which affected me directly (and is closely related to what Engines speaks of on SHAR). That is, AMSO’s successors attacked the direct airworthiness budget to the tune of 28% per year; compounded by the DTI aviation index and inflation bringing the real term cut nearer 40%. In my opinion, they would have been better rescinding the policy.
  • Sitting astride this from 1991-1994 was the RAF Chief Engineer, ACM Alcock, who became double hatted as AML in 1994, replacing AMSO. (That is, it is unfair to say ACM Alcock introduced the cuts, but he certainly knew of them and condoned them, because he was one of only two addressees on the 1992 CHART report which noted the 1992 cut and the effect it was having – which was actively concealed until uncovered during the MoK Review in 2010).
Finish the paragraph by including a Reference to the submission to Lord Philip that (a) explained this in detail, and (b) provided the actual documents; which MoD denied the existence of. (Believe me, Lord Philip was not impressed when he had to ask non-MoD civilians to supply MoD policy documents).


There, simple: now start with the stuff specific to Air Cadet gliding, because the failings are directly traceable to these three events. But if one does not explain this history every time, MoD/MAA will continue trying to re-write it with the help of tame QCs and the promise of knighthoods.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 22:01
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Tuc,

A bit of a long reply. Again my apologies to those who started this ATC glider fleet thread.

You know that I agree with your analysis and I have enormous respect for the amount of detailed evidence you've managed to lever out of the MoD. Yes, The VSOs concerned should be exposed and, I fully agree that 'the MoD' (you'll see why i have put those quote marks there) don't actually accept that they have a problem.

I also agree that the MAA's basic premise, built on Haddon-Cave's faulty conclusions, and further twists since then by the MoD, is misguided. In short, again to avoid boring the pants of those who want to read about ATC glider stuff, the MAA's approach has been to rewrite the regulations for managing airworthiness. As you so ably point out, the direction they've taken misses the key elements of configuration control, and actually adds little value to maintaining airworthiness.

Again, as you've shown, the problem was never the regulations. It was (and remains) the fact that the MoD and (in this case) the RAF simply aren't applying the rules they've been given.

Here's where, on this issue at least, we probably part company. But only on matters of emphasis, and I certainly don't wish to reduce the importance of your points. If anything is to happen about this scandal, I am of the opinion that starting 30 years ago isn't going to get the attention the scandal deserves. So where would I start?

I'd keep it simple. The RAF has demonstrably failed to keep the simplest possible fleet of military aircraft airworthy. In doing so, they may have put school children at risk. And wasted millions. This problem probably started in the late 90s, and continued until 2014. At least ten years. The reason? Simple failure to implement mandated regulations that either went undetected or encouraged. Who was responsible? Just like an account investigation - start at the grounding, and work back.

I sincerely hope you don't take this as criticism, and I urge you to keep fighting. But I honestly feel that in this case, a direct approach at the point of failure would yield better results. However, this is, as ever, an open thread, and all the above is really no more than my opinion. Other opinions are at least equal, and most probably better.

Best regards as ever to all those working for truth, however they do it.

Engines

PS: I realise that i've rather 'hogged' this thread over the last day or so, so i'll step back and let others have their say. I apologise if I crowded anyone else out.

Last edited by Engines; 2nd Nov 2016 at 23:09. Reason: Adding PS.
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Old 2nd Nov 2016, 23:33
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Engines, I'm not sure what it is you are trying to achieve by keeping it simple as you say. Haddon-Cave had much the same approach as you are taking, name a couple of relative juniors (OK they were not so junior but below the protected two stars and above Droit de Seigneur level), and presto! the problem of Nimrod airworthiness is done and dusted. Like his Golden Period it was all part of the MOD cover up. I'm not suggesting that is the purpose of your suggestion, but the ACO gliders were grounded before their lack of airworthiness killed any of your at risk school children.

As you well know, this Forum has counted 63 dead in UK Military Airworthiness Related Fatal Air Accidents. We know why each and everyone of the aircraft involved was unairworthy, when that process began, and who were the VSOs involved that caused that unairworthiness to come about in the first place. That death list won't stop there, that wastefulness will not stop there, that loss of UK Military Capability won't stop there, all of them will go on eating away at UK Military Aviation Airworthiness until the system of providing it and maintaining it is fully reformed. That won't begin to happen until the Military Air Regulator and Air Accident Investigator are made independent of the MOD and of each other.

Now that seems to me far more important and urgent than naming and prosecuting a few JOs and SOs who were simply doing what they were told, or didn't know better, or indeed knowingly furthered their careers by reengaging on their duty. Who knows? This all started with members of the RAF High Command, who ensured that the process could not be reversed by ridding themselves of all those who understood the system and refused to subvert it. Even so I don't want them prosecuted out of revenge. I want them prosecuted because only then will the cover up be exposed, enabling the necessary reforms to be carried out.

Keeping it simple will merely ensure that the rot continues. This is a nettle that my own Service has to grasp. It caused this scandal and has to face up to the consequences of its actions. There is nothing simple about that, I agree.
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Old 17th Nov 2016, 13:53
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Air Cadet Spin Doctors need Spin Recovery training !!!

Quote from recent Air Show programme at Southport Air Show - Advertisement for Air Cadets:

"Where else can you learn to fly aerobatics, go solo in a glider .........."
  1. AEF's have NEVER taught aerobatics (officially) to Air Cadets under the terms of their brief, they have merely demonstrated them when requested as part of a 25 mins sortie. Thus NEVER achievable anywhere. Completely false statement.
  2. AEF PILOTS are just that, and not instructors for the purpose of Air Cadet sorties
  3. Going solo in a glider ? - When do they estimate that this may be available throughout the UK ?
  4. 14 VGS units closed, a handful of Vigilants at Topcliffe used for revalidating their Instructors, not Cadet GS training.
  5. All the remaining Viking equipped VGS units not yet operational, nor likely to be any time soon, due to instructors 2.5 yrs out of currency, new staff to train, and lack of serviceable airworthy aircraft.
Seems like this clearly is a good piece of Spin Doctor fiction !!! Spin recovery training required at Cranwell !!!
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 06:28
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For the first time, I’ve seen the Duty Holder Advice Note from April 2014. Don’t understand why I missed it before. Old age. But it is immediately obvious why MoD has tried to keep this disgraceful saga under wraps.

At para 5, it lists “significant” airworthiness issues, including;
  • Lack of configuration control of the Aircraft Document Set across glider maintenance sites.
  • Progression of SI(T)s and MF765s not being managed effectively.
  • Lack of an effective Quality Management System.
Engineers will recognise these as mandated, core components of maintaining the build standard, otherwise known as Post Design Services. The primary output of such work is a valid Safety Case, supporting the Release to Service.

In 1991 this was deemed a “waste of money”, and staff have had to fight for even minimal funding ever since. That some have been successful, or found underspends/offsets, while others haven’t, explains to a large degree why some equipment and aircraft fleets are reasonably robust, while others are grounded and scrapped. The only mandated Defence Standard has not been updated since January 1992, and was scrapped without replacement in around 2008. MoD no longer has a copy; or at least Part 2. Any reference to the work in MAA documents gets the basic definition wrong, and proceeds down a rabbit hole – exactly what happened in late 1993 when the ill-fated Chief of Defence Procurement Instructions were drafted by a few graduates in DPP(PM). I see significant similarities between these CDPIs and many MAA documents.

Other serious failings are noted, such as “independent inspections not being carried out on systems vital to the safety of the aircraft”. And, “workforce carrying out unauthorised maintenance and modifications”. These are also long standing issues. The mandated requirement for independence was removed in June 1993. The unauthorised work is an inevitable product of MF765s not being progressed. This is reminiscent of the 1992 Chinook/Puma/Wessex report in which the Director of Flight Safety made precisely the same complaints to the Chief Engineer and ACAS – citing an example whereby the Chinook pubs were so poor, maintainers were using captured Argentinian books (1982), relating to a different model of Chinook (CH-47C). They did nothing, and DFS had to repeat his complaints in further reports of 1994/6/7/8. In March 1999, CDP admitted to the Public Accounts Committee that configuration control was not maintained on Chinook (which should have immediately cleared the ZD576 pilots). The following month, after IPTs were re-formed, what configuration control money existed was robbed and diverted. (Savings at the expense of safety).

Summary – nothing new. Nimrod XV230. C130 XV179. Hawk XX177. And so on, depressing so. Every single Board of Inquiry and even Haddon-Cave’s report can be summarised – implement mandated PDS regs. It is something you learn of as an apprentice at workshops. Oh, we don’t do either anymore, and universities don’t teach it. Again, a solution emerges.
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 06:35
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Hi Tuc

I guess the not-so-depressing news is that they didn't wait for another Nimrod, Herc or Hawk (to use your examples) and ceased using the assets until those items you mention could be assured. Surely, that's a good thing?

LJ
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 07:12
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Leon

Indeed, but if one studies the timelines, it is clear that the requirement for continuous feedback and review was not satisfied. Even then, why is the Duty Holder's review dated 2014, when the first thing the MAA would have done in April 2010 was to demand that IPTs demonstrate their safety cases were valid? It is not just the gliders that seem to have passed this test - the Mk10 ejection seat comes to mind.

The "pause" (grounding) has lasted 31 months and counting. The capability no longer exists yet, as we have seen, MoD continues to advertise gliding to entice new ATC members. The only difference between this and Nimrod is that PR lessons have been learned, and the JCBs have not been sent in. Some gliders are to be made airworthy, and then apparently sold off. Easier to spin to the media.

I should make it clear that I don't know how long the Duty Holder who signed this in April 2014 had been in post. He did the right thing, but the detailed timeline of events would be interesting. What prompted him? On the face of it, it is likely that MoD has knowingly flown civilian minors in unairworthy aircraft for some years. Good (or slightly better) practice now does not forgive that maladministration, and it is by the Grace of God we are not talking of more deaths. The cost of doing it properly would have been peanuts - and that applies to all the examples we discuss here.
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Old 22nd Nov 2016, 10:15
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Gliding is still available to cadets, just not through the VGS route.
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