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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 20th Jul 2015, 17:37
  #381 (permalink)  
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That is my point. Now that he has halted flying OC 2FTS and his staff have a far higher threshold to satisfy themselves it is safe to resume flying compared to the regular review of continued operations. In reality to hold anyone responsible for a decision that is amended and reviewed by subsequent post holders until death would never stand up in a court of law. The decision to stop flying could never be argued to be unsafe it is the decision to hit the green button that will exercise the minds of many and will perhaps lead to some bringing forward their retirement plan and thereby leaving the decision to a fresh group of staff.
As for a DDH not being posted whilst part way through a review would not necessarily be in the interests of the Service or individual and as at the moment this is an open ended problem there will come a time when either retirement or Service needs will become a factor.
The management of this pause has been poor. E mails through the chain of command periodically have been at times aloof and fail to acknowledge that they are addressed to volunteers who deserve some respect. Many are in management roles themselves and are bewildered by the way this has been handled. The cadre of many VGSs is crumbling and there is little support from the top to galvanise support. Visits have been cancelled at short notice and not rescheduled. Our leadership above individual VGS level is absent.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 20:38
  #382 (permalink)  
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"The decision to stop flying could never be argued to be unsafe it is the decision to hit the green button that will exercise the minds of many and will perhaps lead to some bringing forward their retirement plan and thereby leaving the decision to a fresh group of staff."

I think you've hit the nail on the thumb there Pitotheat.
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 20:49
  #383 (permalink)  
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To my mind, setting the bar high at a point where everything is known about the serviceability and maint. record of these aircraft is one thing - but then maintaining it there will be another real challenge.

The volunteer staff include an EngO, who is not a qualified engineer and defects etc are reported by other volunteers. Sqn staff have only a limited degree of authority for sign-offs (rigging and de-rigging etc). Serious problems are then passed on to Serco (or whoever takes on the contract). The paperwork trail at all these points does not always have Is dotted and Ts crossed, but then you are relying on volunteers (the same people who are flying them!). This has worked reasonably well and I certainly have confidence in the people doing it.

If the paperwork and inspection bar is to be reset to a higher standard; would it not make sense to think about a RAF full-time engineer or two being apointed to go around the VGSs and coordinate on a full-time basis? Otherwise you are relying on volunteers, who come and go (I am one) to get it right every time in every way with the paperwork. Just saying that if you are doing this every day you would soon get to know the fleet and can be there to advise the volunteers when they need help.

In civvy street, there are a whole range of aicraft airworthiness certifications, starting at EASA and going down to Permit to Fly or even none at all. One size does not fit all but it seems the RAF may be falling into that trap. These are not public transport category aircraft - they are light instructional aircraft with students who have been briefed etc.

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Old 20th Jul 2015, 21:21
  #384 (permalink)  
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Spot on. They now want it all run like a proper RAF squadron and station now. fair enough. But they expect unpaid volunteers to do the engineering, driving, run the airfield, run the radio, run the school, do all the paperwork stuff and all the flying etc.. Etc...

It's totally unworkable nowadays.

How come the AEFs have paid bosses, all engineers and drivers provided and ATC etc.. Their pilots just fly. VGS have nothing!!!
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 21:51
  #385 (permalink)  
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That's not entirely true. For example the VGS at RAF Cosford, Odiham, Halton, Henlow and Swansea and Newtonards have other people running the airfield and the radio! I'm sure there are others that I have missed.

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Old 20th Jul 2015, 21:57
  #386 (permalink)  
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It is sad that we have to resort to a forum to discuss this - the whole affair is obviously soooo top secret that not many people really know what is actually happening (or not)!
The time is well overdue for OC 2 FTS to publicise some details to the shrinking band of volunteers.
Is any ATC non powered glider flying underway at Syerston yet ?
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 22:22
  #387 (permalink)  
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I never go on 'Twittah' but made an exception in this case....

john middleton ‏@oc2fts 18 Apr 2014
Mindful of the inconvenience caused by pause in gliding. Team working 24/7 to resume flight. Will provide update on BADER next week oc2 fts
The team must be exhausted if they have been working 24/7 since April 2014

john middleton ‏@oc2fts 27 Mar 2014
OC 2Fts thought for the day

We have ACO Gliding for at least 10 years don't let us compromise it by rushing the next "cadet sortie"
Oc2 fts
Well they sure did not rush that next ''Cadet Sortie''
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Old 20th Jul 2015, 22:55
  #388 (permalink)  
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LJ - really has that changed then? Sure I went to a few of those places and VGS we're doing radio from their caravan thing and provided all the fire cover as well. Good news if the RAF provide proper firemen now for VGS sites as I always thought it was as bit dodgy having the volunteer VGS chaps do it.
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 00:37
  #389 (permalink)  
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Not Fit For Purpose !!!

This whole saga is just another example of an over complication of what was a relative simple operation.
If we take the 'pure glider element' of the VGS it appears that all that happened was the MGSP was replaced by a civilian organisation that serviced the aircraft rather than carrying out repairs that would require a return to HQ. As there does not seem to have been a series of incidents that resulted in a major problem then one must assume the system worked but that the paperwork trail was seen to be a 'possible' (not actual) item for onward fine tuning.However what has happened is the 'civilian' element in the VGS seems to be held in less regard nowadays than was the case for decades. Most of the VGS operations do not require aircraft to be rigged/de-rigged on a regular basis but i suspect that the organisation still requires suitable staff to be able to conduct heavy landing checks and structure inspections to a standard that picks up a potential fault.
I would therefore suggest that the 'system' was fit for purpose even if it needed a better 'file' operation.
As for the Vig then you merely had to add an extra level of tech training to those Squadrons to look at the engine/prop side of things.As there are hundreds of PFA/LAA machines all over the UK operated by non certified owners then it is hardly a problem to train suitable staff to undertake some of the extra inspections that the addition of a VW engine would give,and an engine issue is really only another version of a cable break in the take off mode. What seems to have happened is the tech back up/training from centre has been diluted over the years to be replaced by more paperwork/websites/glossy advertising,and press releases.The organisation has had a major morale and leadership issue that has deprived Air Cadets the chance to engage in something that is a great confidence boost with the ability to show initiative and become more involved.VENTURE ADVENTURE is the motto Air Cadets is the name (the clue is in word AIR),and i would suggest that the organisation in the main was/is fit for purpose and that improvements could have been made without the classic baby and bathwater approach.

Last edited by POBJOY; 21st Jul 2015 at 00:53.
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 08:51
  #390 (permalink)  
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The problem with the VGS fleet is that the maintenance records are incomplete, and as a result the aircraft have unrecorded repairs and modifications.

So the task is to get these aircraft back to a state where the aircraft meets a known technical specification and have a quality assurance system that makes sure it stays that way.

The biggest problem is that some of the modification paperwork has been lost and it is therefore impossable to check compliance of a part if the data refering to that part is missing.

What would be a small problem with a civil glider where you could just consult the owner and replace the part with a new part from the manufactures but this is complicated because you have to maintain a fleet standard and dont know (without a lot of investigation ) if the unrecorded modification has an impact on another unrecorded modification or you are going to take one aircraft away from the fleet standard.

The decisions as to the action to take in these cases is being taken very carefuly by the military (as it should be) some migh accuse them of being slow in these decisions, this is partly because this type of aircraft is not their usual bread and butter and partly because they are acutely aware that they need to get this recertification program correct first time.

There are a lot of people writing above who say this should be a simple task, this view demonstrates that they dont have the full picture or perhaps I should say they dont understand the lack of picture that the people doing the recertification have been presented with.

As always with these forums there is a seach for the root of the problem and this is the missing fleet Technical data for modifications and the poor or missing individual aircraft records, had significant parts the aircraft fleet technical data and individual aircraft records been securely kept the fleet would not be stopped flying.

I am confident that the gliding fleet will be retuned to service not only in a safe state but in a better state as this review has highlighted areas in which the civil gliding world has moved to better practice and until now these practices had not been followed by the military.

As with all big projects the biggest problem is finding out what you dont know and this takes time, once this knowlage has been aquired the pace of aircraft return to service will sharply increase.
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 09:43
  #391 (permalink)  
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As Flug pointed out - one size does not fit all. There's a creeping tendency within EASA to treat a C-172 as if it were a B-727 and a PA-28 as if it were an MD-82. They're not, in exactly the same way that a Viking T1 isn't the same as a Hawk T1 - yet the MAA seem to think that they are.
I still think (as an ex-Air Cadet) that this sorry saga is truly shameful - and its not finished yet. Does anyone know if even a single Viking has been returned to service yet?
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 09:48
  #392 (permalink)  
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Thumbs up

Good news for one of my cadets who started his GS the day of the grounding, he has been awarded twenty hours of instruction at Oxford Aviation for being best cadet at RIAT camp this year , so at least one getting airbourne
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 10:19
  #393 (permalink)  
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I think you are quite correct in saying that this is a shameful situation but you seem to be pushing the blame onto the people trying to clean up the mess rather than finding out who failed to keep the required aircraft records in order............ the problem that precipitated the situation.

As you say the MAA are not properly set up for glider oversight, their mandate was for complex military aircraft and that is what their rules are writen for but trying to get this fleet back into the air and re-writing the MAA rule book all at the same time is too big an ask if you want to see a glider flying this side of 2020.

I am sure that inside the MAA they are fully aware that one size oversight will not fit all and that the rules will be applied sympatheticly and no doubt in the future rule changes will be made to provide an appropriate oversight for the glider fleet.

EASA has taken years to publish CS-STAN so they are no standard to judge the MAA by, who have recently formed after the Haddon-Cave report inherited oversight of an aircraft fleet that could not be further from their normal remit.
EASA's remit was for light aviation from day one and after years of doing their very best to destroy the GA industry with masses of inappropriate paperwork are finaly getting their act together, I have no doubt that the MAA will,; after climbing the glider learning curve move swiftly mandate the apropriate oversight.

I think your statement that "shamefull sarga- is not over yet" very wide of the mark and deeply insulting to those who are working hard to clear up the mess that has been left by the poor record keeping.

I am told Gliders are now ready to fly from a technical point of view and the final paperwork issues are now being delt with before release for test flight.

Last edited by A and C; 21st Jul 2015 at 12:36.
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 10:40
  #394 (permalink)  
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Hi A&C, it sounds as if you know more about it than I (but I can assure you I did try). If I read your post right, you don't think its the MAA's fault that its taken more than 17 months to not return to service gliders that were serviceable when they were grounded. So who's fault is it? Even if the paperwork wasn't up to scratch, why has it taken so long? For as you point out, there still aren't any that are actually airworthy and they were grounded April 2014. At this juncture I suppose I should point out that I've owned several sailplanes and even managed a gliding club for several years so I do have a vague idea what goes into keeping a sailplane airworthy.
I don't mean to insult anyone, and I'm sure that some people somewhere are working hard to rectify the problem. I just think that it really is a damned shame the Air Cadets haven't had a serviceable sailplane for almost a year and a half, and simply can't get my head around why.
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 10:58
  #395 (permalink)  
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Air Cadets Grounded

I agree with you Dave, a very sad state of affairs for the future of Air Cadet gliding.

I flew with the Air Cadets many moons ago and worked my way from Staff Cadet to CFI at one of the schools. We volunteers worked long and hard with very little thanks from on high. My feeling is that if this "pause" had happened during my time the morale of the staff and cadets would have been at an all time low, whatever the reason.

It would seem that the 3 Grob Viking gliders that were damaged in 1990 when the hanger at Predannack collapsed did better than the rest of the Air Cadet fleet!! I recently flew one of them and it flew very well.

Last edited by Frelon; 21st Jul 2015 at 11:11.
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 11:12
  #396 (permalink)  
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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.
This may be the case, but the 'end user' or 'customer' (14 year old boys who just want to fly) are not being told this. All they know is, they can't fly gliders, while army cadets are.

I am told Gliders are now ready to fly from a technical point of view and the final paperwork issues are now being delt with before release for test flight.
Can we start a sweepstake on how long the 'final paperwork issues' will take to sort out, and at what cost.

I'll start with 1 year and 1M!
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 12:32
  #397 (permalink)  
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To get a Fleet of this size recertified ( remember this is to MIL/EASA145 standard Not BGA standard, while BGA standard is technically OK it will not do in terms of oversight when you are the RAF flying someones kids) takes time and the will and the money to do it. It should also be remembered that air cadet gliding is not at the top of the list when it comes to the day to day work of the RAF as a whole and so recorces have to be prioritized.

At first the size and scale of the problem was not fully understood by the military and it took some digging to reveal this but once it had become clear to the MAA appropriate action was taken.

I could but wont comment on the sorce of the problems but as this would only be my opinion and not hard fact that would stand up in court so I think it is best I say nothing on this issue.

Sky Sports.

If I was thinking you had the money to back up your bet I would take it and would be placing the order for a new Beech Barron today!

I think the first glider will fly very much sooner that you seem prepared to bet !
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 19:44
  #398 (permalink)  
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I do hope it is soon A+C but I fear it will take some time to get much of the fleet airborne...possibly just not in time to rescue the remnants of the VGS's and ATC squadrons - some of which are struggling with cadet retention !

The shameful bit really is the absolute lack of information from 2FTS - if people have a realistic timescale to work to then they have the correct expectations !

I work in military aircraft maintenance so I do understand the standards required these days - but I do think this whole situation has been badly mishandled from the top !

They would perhaps have been better to give the Groupies job to a keen and very experienced gliding instructor rather than an ex Tornado Nav with a bit of a reputation !
longer ron is online now  
Old 21st Jul 2015, 20:53
  #399 (permalink)  
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Longer Ron

I too want to see the VGS system running without further delay, my first contact with flying was with the VGS and it set me on the way to 14,000 hours of flying, it pains me to see the air cadets of today not getting the the same chance at a start in this business as I did.

I cant comment on any of the goings on in the airforce managment, that would be pure speculation and personal opinion.

What I can say is the hard part of this sort of project is the first six or seven aircraft, once a system is in place the task rolls along at an ever increasing pace with the last airframe taking 20% that the first five did !

My only concern is that the operational side of the VGS can keep pace with the aircraft return to service in the latter stages of the project, with no flying for this long period crew training and revalidation will be a major task.
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Old 21st Jul 2015, 22:09
  #400 (permalink)  
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No arguments with anything you have posted A+C ,I work on a small eclectic fleet of aircraft and in the last couple of years have changed quite a few completely serviceable expensive components purely because of slight item Log Card anomalies so I do understand some of the potential pitfalls !
I just think that the whole situation has been badly mishandled - with little info and no realistic timescales from the Brass !
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