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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 18th Jul 2015, 17:37
  #361 (permalink)  
 
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Exactly Wander! Just how hard can it be to inspect a fixed undercarriage unflapped glider?
When the Vikings were first grounded it was described as a 'pause' in gliding ops. Fifteen months later I'm sure we can all agree that the MAA has taken the use of the word 'pause' to another level.
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Old 18th Jul 2015, 20:22
  #362 (permalink)  
 
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Essex Wing

Essex Wing has no flying powered or otherwise at the moment, the move of the powered flying from Wyton to Wittering can't have gone well as there has been hardly any flying since the move and its currently suspended UFN. The Gliders were grounded before my son Joined and I imagine will still be grounded after he has left in another year.


Still it has prepared him well for life in the modern RAF !!!
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Old 18th Jul 2015, 21:20
  #363 (permalink)  
 
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"Still it has prepared him well for life in the modern RAF !!"


Genius STN, genius. Wish I'd written that line in my column.
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Old 18th Jul 2015, 22:36
  #364 (permalink)  
 
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Furthermore (and with all due respect to my friends and colleagues in BGA clubs all over the UK) I suspect that the ATC Vikings constitute possibly the best maintained glider fleet in Britain.
If there’s really an airworthiness issue, why not take a couple of Vikings to reputable sailplane maintainers, such as Southern Sailplanes or Roger Targett (other sailplane maintainers are available) and get them stripped right down and thoroughly inspected.
Dave - I'm hearing of some pretty poor maintenance tales through the flight safety world. From my limited knowledge it was the right call (not by the MAA I hasten to add!).

I believe that the Vikings are being looked at under sub-contract by a number of experienced glider maintenance facilities (including your suggestion). I understand that the Viggis are keeping our own crowd quite busy. Furthermore, once the spotlight shifted onto the VGSs then other things started to be discovered as well, unconnected with maintenance, that also needed sorting out - as ever in the new world of post-Haddon Cave, every day is a school day!

How I understand it is that the VGS used to be the responsibility of the Air Cadet Org and they weren't really up to speed with modern continuing airworthiness practices. In the new MAA world the VGS were put under the Duty Holder (DH) for 1EFTS. After a period of time (and problems within their own primary aircraft type) the DH responsibility shifted to 3 FTS right at the point that they also had problems with their primary type (props falling off!). So 2FTS was re-formed to be the DH for VGS (about time too in my humble opinion) and after a year or so they felt the need to pause flying (again, from what I hear, this was the right decision) and, as I understand it, they have had more problems than expected with their return to flying (sort of 1 step forward and then 1 step back).

All this doesn't help the fantastic volunteers that give their time to our youths so selflessly. However, as you may have read what I have typed before in this forum, 2FTS have done the right thing. Taking known uneccesary risks with youth flying is never ever going to be palatable for the RAF and/or Air Cadet Org and I hope/expect that the VGS will come back from this far stronger/safer than before. Some recent flying accidents with air cadets has also re-focussed attention and appetite for risk - very sadly, indeed.

Please note that I do not work for a VGS, nor 2FTS, and I have only observed from afar of what is happening. Therefore, what I tell you is my own OPINION and RUMOUR. You have reached the limit of my current knowledge.

LJ
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Old 19th Jul 2015, 09:59
  #365 (permalink)  
 
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Lost records

The problem with these gliders is not the airworthiness of the glider its self, it is within the certification.

The aircraft were modified by the RAF to a point that they no longer comply with the Grob type certificate, the paperwork for some of these modifications has been lost giving those inspecting and doing recertification the problem of no data to comply with ! Added to this you have some repair work that has not been recorded, most of this is OK but some not and this all has to be inspected and re-certified or re-repaired IAW modern data.

The current type certificate holder is a company with a long and prestigious record of military aircraft maintenance but a small GRP glider is well out of there normal remit and to say that they are having to adjust their world view ( from a technical point of view ) to cope with this is something of an understatement.

If you are looking for someone to blame for this fiasco then you should look to those who had not kept and disposed of a large chunk of the aircraft records , not those who are currently working hard to fix the problem while working within a military flight safety system that is intended to assure the safety of complex military aircraft and is somewhat excessive for a simple glider.

Last edited by A and C; 19th Jul 2015 at 21:24.
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Old 19th Jul 2015, 13:13
  #366 (permalink)  
 
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How times have changed...

I joined the ATC in 1957.
During those magic years I flew in various types:
Anson
Chipmunk
Varsity
Beverley
Single Pioneer
Sedbergh glider
Cadet Mk3 glider

Annual Camps:
Linton on Ouse
Thorney Island
St Athan

Gliding Proficiency Course at RAF Hornchurch...

Happy days.
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Old 19th Jul 2015, 13:23
  #367 (permalink)  
 
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CISTRS - you and me both - but I was CCF RAF Section, with a short time before the Towers with Ruislip ATC.


Flew in Anson, Varsity, Chipmunk, Dragonfly, Dominie (the one with 2 of each!), Valetta, Piston Provost, Sea Devon


Camps - Tern Hill, Tower of London (Twice), others I cannot remember
day visits to Bassingbourn, Hendon, White Waltham etc


Flying Scholarship
Gliding A & B at Swanton Morley


Great times
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Old 19th Jul 2015, 17:07
  #368 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by A and C View Post

The aircraft were modified by the RAF to a point that they no longer comply with the Grob type certificate,

.
Why didn't they just buy the standard off the shelf, certified version ?
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Old 19th Jul 2015, 19:23
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[quoteWhy didn't they just buy the standard off the shelf, certified version ][/quote]
When bought in 1990 the Vigilant were just that, Grob 109b just like anyone else could buy. But then the fuel system was altered (improved?) to improve hot starting, the instrument panel layout was altered, Mag and engine oil experiments reduced the number engine misfires and dayglo patches were stuck on the wings. However the biggest change from what Grob produced was the change to the undercarriage legs as Grobs design kept snapping when used by the Air Cadets on grass runways (never the tarmac strips, odd that). The new legs were designed by the boffins at Farnborough and reduced the number of new propellors needed by not breaking.
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Old 19th Jul 2015, 20:03
  #370 (permalink)  
 
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Big Pistons

I was talking about the Grob 103 Gliders rather than the Grob 109 motorgliders.

It is one of the mysteries of the british military that they cant resist changing things, this pushes the price up and results in all sorts of other problems, the C17 procurment was seen as the gold standard of military procurment....... but this is because the need for the aircraft was so urgent that they did not have the time to change things and push up the price.

Last edited by A and C; 19th Jul 2015 at 22:20.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 07:08
  #371 (permalink)  
 
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The Vigilant is a Grob 109b and has been modified from the basic civilian version, although not too extensively and in some cases the civilian versions now match the Vigilant (undercarriage legs etc). The Viking, save for the addition of some decals, is still the basic vanilla Grob 103 Twin II Acro.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 10:20
  #372 (permalink)  
 
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Well, to paraphrase F.E. Smith, I may be better informed but I'm still none the wiser! Are the Vikings essentially Grob Acros, or not? And paperwork aside, a Viking isn't a complex jet, with pressurisation, afterburners, retractable undercarriage, flaps etc etc. How long does it take to inspect a sailplane? They're pretty simple really.

Furthermore, I don't recollect one 'clapping hands' halfway up a winch launch or falling apart in a strong thermal, so I'd suggest there's nothing inherently wrong with them (and remember, all the other G103s all over the world aren't grounded). In fact, I've always found the G103 to be a very robust machine.
In my column for Pilot I related the story of the World Gliding Championship held at RAF South Cerney in 1965. The Russians arrived with new metal sailplanes – KAI-14s - one of which crashed during a field landing. The pilot (Oleg Suslov) was understandably dejected, but the two RAF officers attached to the competition (Air Cdr Cleaver and Sqd Ldr Robertson) arranged for the wrecked aircraft to be taken to the RAF’s No.71 Maintenance Unit at Bicester, where a team of volunteers from the MU and the RAFGSA set to with a will. Less than 48 hours, later Suslov was presented with a completely rebuilt KAI-14, allowing him to re-join the competition.

So, it would seem that 50 years ago we had the ability to completely rebuild a crashed sailplane in 48 hours, but these days after 17 months its not possible to return to service gliders that were actually serviceable when they were grounded. Remarkable.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 11:41
  #373 (permalink)  
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From what I hear the whole VGS set up is totally screwed. Most of the experienced guys have walked and those that are left were pretty low hours and haven't flown for best part of two years now, will take them staks of hours to get anywhere safe to fly cadets. All the Viggies have been sat in damp hangars for all this time so I wouldn't trust those engines now.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 12:11
  #374 (permalink)  
 
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Its worth noting how many ex-Air Cadet Vikings have been sold into civilian hands, rebuilt and put back in the air after being written off (click on the blue information button on the right hand side for the aircraft history).

Demobbed - Out of Service British Military Aircraft

Are the Vikings essentially Grob Acros, or not? And paperwork aside, a Viking isn't a complex jet, with pressurisation, afterburners, retractable undercarriage, flaps etc etc. How long does it take to inspect a sailplane? They're pretty simple really.
From what I was told by someone who was involved with the original acquistion of the Grobs for the Air Cadets, one concern was the inability to check control linkages and bellcrank pivots in the base of the fin on a daily basis. The gliding world has accepted this as an idiosyncrasy of composite fuselages with T-tails, however according to the rules at the time for military aircraft, it was unacceptable.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 14:05
  #375 (permalink)  
 
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Rubbing salt into the wounds

To add insult to injury, the air cadet organisation is flatly refusing to even consider allowing sqns to team up with local civvy gliding clubs, to allow their cadets to get some gliding. This despite the civvy clubs being all for it, and offering some really good deals to sqns. I hear of one club offering a local sqn 3.50 launches and free instruction/air time.

Why not? You guessed it - health & safety, risk assessments, CRB/DBS, paperwork, red tape etc. etc.

In the meantime, Army cadets over at Wattisham have successfully teamed up with the Anglia Gliding Club and are busy racking up the hours in their gliders

In a year or two, the only cadets who will qualify for the flying scholarships will be Army cadets!!!!
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 14:33
  #376 (permalink)  

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the air cadet organisation is flatly refusing to even consider allowing sqns to team up with local civvy gliding clubs
Sorry Sky Sports - not quite true.

Whilst there may be annoying hoops to jump through (H&S, DBS, ACO orders etc etc etc) a number of units are teaming up as you suggest, and I know of quite a few more currently being looked at.

It might be difficult to get approval, but the ACO is most certainly not "flatly refusing to even consider" as you suggest.

If you do have access to/connection with an ATC Sqn, then they can find the exact procedure in ACTO (Air Cadet Trainng Order) #35.

Not an easy procedure to be sure - but not impossible.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 14:35
  #377 (permalink)  
 
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Lets understand. Airworthiness isn't the 'absence of occurrences of the type falling out of the sky', its a 'paper-trail setting out the integrity of the design, build, maintenance and operating systems amounting to overwhelming evidence of a lack of likelihood that one of the type will fall out of the sky.'

An obsession with not 'gold plating' the tech and operating processes of the old VGSs, beyond what was deemed absolutely necessary, ultimately blew up in the organisation's face. A perfect storm of more complex technology, higher expectations in airworthiness across the Service, a couple of high profile (but non-airworthiness) accidents in Air Cadet flying which should never have happened - all combined to mean the old ways simply wouldn't do any more.

I applaud those who had the courage to confront this awkward truth - and then to apply themselves to the task of setting it right. I wish them well with completing it before somebody puts it in the 'too difficult' file

As to whether the VGS staffs can ever be re-built, there was always a constant process of self regeneration of staffing in the VGSs. Once the process starts, it will happen again.

If I were a few years younger, I'd be offering to drag my uniform out of mothballs and help with the first steps of that regeneration, and then bow out to make way for a new crop of A2s to carry the standard forward.

Good luck to you all
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 14:51
  #378 (permalink)  
 
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Why is it "difficult to get approval" and what is this " more complex technology"? The thrust of my column is that sailplanes that were airworthy when their use was 'paused' (ha) 17 months ago are still not airworthy.
For the removal of all doubt, the Viking T.1 AKA Grob G103 Twin Acro is a pure sailplane. It does not have an engine, flaps or a retractable undercarriage.
So with regard to returning them to service (and with the best will in the world) - just how hard can it be?
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 16:16
  #379 (permalink)  
 
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I fear that we will have to wait until all those who were involved in the "pause" decision have moved on to their next posting so that there is some daylight and deniability between the decision to stop and the decision to restart. No one in the present leadership set up have the courage to restart operations. The good news is that everyone's flying suits will have standardised flying patches so something really worthwhile has happened over the last 18 months.
Those thinking the retention and recruitment of staff is not a problem are unfortunately wrong.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 16:48
  #380 (permalink)  

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so that there is some daylight and deniability between the decision to stop and the decision to restart.
Two problems with that idea pitotheat.

First is that under the "DDH Construct" (see my post number #335 on page 17), safety responsibility is for life so that a DDH can be called to account - legally - for any decision he makes, for all time (or until he dies one presumes.....)

Secondly, the DDH (OC 2 FTS) is an FTRS post, and so will not be "posted" (indeed - he can't be) in the foreseeable future.
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