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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 29th Jul 2018, 09:54
  #4541 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2000
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Thud

Without wanting to go down a huge rabbit hole...

Wow. Are they really that bad?
Yes, they probably are. A well respected glider maintenance comoany has had real issues trying to unravel this mess to generate the aircraft that have been recovered. It all stems from the Air Cadet gliding organisation being allowed to go a bit ‘feral’ over a number of years which resulted in poor maintenance practices and incident reporting - documentation, repair processes and general husbandry. During the recovery of some of these aircraft the company found repaired damage to aircraft that had no record of the incident that caused it or the repair scheme that had been undertaken to fix it - repairs like this had to be cut right out and started again, with extra non-destructive testing or replacement of components to ensure that the full extent of any damage was contained in the repair. This means that to try and patch together the provenance of the aircraft’s airworthiness has been very tricky and costly. It should never had happened and luckily no one got hurt because of it. I believe that the decision to ‘pause’ gliding was ABSOLUTELY the right decsion, but the return to flight programme was not so well handled in my humble opinion.

Would I buy one of the G109 Vigilants as a government surplus aircraft for civvy flying? Not a chance. It would be far better to buy a G109 and then paint it to look like a Vigilant!
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 17:06
  #4542 (permalink)  
 
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Double Wow Lima Juliet! I honestly had no idea the RAF/ACO/VGS etc was so incompetent. And every single one of the 109s (70-ish?) is suspect? Triple Wow. My buddy has zero interest in keeping one in ATC markings, think he was just hoping to hoover up some cheap 109 spares if they are parted out.
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 17:23
  #4543 (permalink)  
 
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The MoD won’t sell the aircraft for anything except scrap due to leagal liability issues, the exception to this is if a company with the approvals to inspect and certify the aircraft was to buy them.

With the refurbishment and engine retrofit issues likely to cost £120k per aircraft unless a military or corporate customer is found who wants 20+ airframes I can’t see these aircraft ending up as anything other than scrap.

Last edited by A and C; 30th Jul 2018 at 09:20.
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Old 29th Jul 2018, 18:31
  #4544 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Chugalug2 View Post
T105:
The issue isn't serviceability, it is airworthiness, or rather the gross lack of it. The situation passed beyond embarrassment decades ago. It certainly extends way beyond ATC gliding. It is so widespread, so challenging, and so beyond the ken of the MAA, the MOD, and the RAF that frankly they don't have a clue as to where to go next or what to do to begin solving it. Airworthiness, or rather the gross lack of it, is now the number one issue concerning UK Military Aviation. There is no quick fix, indeed solving it will take many more decades. How we get there is very debateable, but where we start shouldn't be. The MAA, the MOD, and the RAF have to bite the bullet and admit the truth. UK Military Airworthiness was deliberately subverted by RAF VSOs from the late 80s onwards, and the cover up has to stop now. Unless and until that happens this scandal will simply go on gnawing away at the very vitals of UK Air Power.
To give some measurable detail to the size of this problem May I offer the following personal opinion on the current state of “airworthiness” in the RAF fleets.

1. Using the assumption that LITS got to all of the FJ Fleet in the early 2000’s, then all of those fleets would not be airworthy.
2. Using the assumption that all IPTs worked to similar criteria and opinion toward regulatory requirements in the early 2000’s, then all of those fleets would not be airworthy now.

I know that the (two) Fleet was subject to gross data investigation as soon as the (one) Fleet data was found to be so poor and that it was thought to be too late, even then, for the (three) Fleet...one well-known contractor quickly purchased an independent maintenance management system to counter the effects of RAF systems and data.

I have high hopes that the C17, A330, A400, Shadow and Sentinel Fleets will probably have good data...because, I believe, that data and component management is not managed by the RAF.
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Old 30th Jul 2018, 17:08
  #4545 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks for your input, Rigga. Much appreciated. As has been stated before, thank goodness that this airworthiness related thread isn't a fatal accident one, as has been the case of so many others. That of course is the issue here. It is imperative that real remedial action to reform UK Military Airworthiness is undertaken without delay. The pertinent word there is 'real', rather than yet more spin via the MOD's sign-writer. Time is of the essence. Before the next inevitable tragic and sad airworthiness related UK Military fatal air accident thread appears here, it is vital that real reform has begun. While the 'independent' MAA and MAAIB (yes, I know!) are shackled to the MOD and each other that cannot happen.

As to the fleets you instance I only wish I could share your optimism. Thanks to the genesis each experienced they do indeed give certain cause for some confidence I admit, but once on the UK Military Register they are as vulnerable as any of the others in my view. Deliberate subversion of the system from above may now seem unthinkable. So it did in the 80's, yet the unthinkable happened thanks to Self Regulation. So it can again, and all that ignores the continuing systemic shortcomings that evolved from that very first illegal order to suborn the Regulations.

To suffer one subversion may seem unfortunate, to suffer another would seem more than careless...
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 15:20
  #4546 (permalink)  
 
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If anyone still cares, pasted below is my current column from Pilot magazine

It’s a beautiful summer’s afternoon and my little Jodel’s engine is humming happily as we hop over to Saltby, where I’m helping at a local Scout troop’s flying evening. I’ve barely climbed out of the diminutive cockpit before a young girl wanders over to introduce herself, her eyes bright with enthusiasm. “We’re here for the scout flying” she announces peremptorily “and I’m here early cos I want to go first.” Eleven-year old Lily is as bright as a button, as sharp as a tack and the charming, confident side of precocious. She eyes Buzz with keen interest, and when I ask if she’d like to sample the cockpit she doesn’t need asking twice. Having explained the controls and instruments I lift the tail up into the flying attitude and she grins delightedly. Having helped her out I make my excuses and go to check in with the duty instructor. Half an hour later and the troop of Melton Mowbray scouts are assembled and briefed at the launch point. I’m about to ask, “who’s first” then realise it’s completely unnecessary. Lily is already wearing her parachute and standing next to the K-21 with a very possessive air. There is no doubt who’s first. Lily squeals with delight during the winch launch, and having wafted up to 2,000 feet in an evening thermal I encourage her to take control and she loves it, particularly when I hold my hands above my head to prove that only she is controlling the sailplane. She wants aerobatics but all I’m prepared to do is a steep spiral, and as we’ve already been airborne longer than we should have, put the K 21 in a tight corkscrew. For the first time that flight the rear cockpit goes quiet, so I ease off on the ‘g’ and level out. “Everything okay Lily?” I ask with a hint of trepidation. There’s a pause then “I’m grinning so hard my jaw hurts” she giggles. “That was amazing!” As we turn final I realise that as we’re landing on 07 and its already well into the evening our shadow is racing us to the runway. I point it out to Lily, who is enchanted.

Several hours later and Buzzand I are wending our weary way home through the pellucid sky with a certain sense of smug satisfaction. The flying evening has been a huge success. All the children (and some of the parents) flew at least once and there were several soaring flights. The children were fun, the parents and troop leaders appreciative and – most importantly - everyone had enjoyed themselves immensely, and safely. Lily’s comment about her jaw hurting still has me chuckling as the patchwork fields basking in the late evening sun slip slowly under Buzz’s broad wings. The air is like warm velvet and the light glorious –what a great evening.



The next day I hear the latest on the Air Cadets management (or perhaps more appositely, mismanagement) of its two fleets. I’ve written about the VGS debacle before (see PTTs passim) – and the word on the peritrack now is that all the Vigilants (known to everyone else as the Grob 109) are to be summarily scrapped. What a fiasco! Unhappily and reluctantly, I am forced to the conclusion that the ATC has lost its way – particularly regarding the VGS - and has made a completely mess of a once-great organisation. I couldn’t help but contrast how much flying a medium-sized provincial gliding club had achieved the previous evening, with how little the ATC do. Buckminster GC doesn’t get a single penny from the government, and no help from the air force (OK, we might have had an old Phantom pilot driving the cable retrieve vehicle, and a retired Air Chief Marshall had got the day started as Duty Instructor, but that’s not the point!) Somehow a group comprised of mostly either pensioners or students (and respect is due to the Loughborough Students’ Union Gliding Club for helping that evening) and an itinerant Flight Test Editor had given air experience flights to a group of children safely and efficiently.

I think that part of the problem is that the VGS tends to ‘gold plate’ its operation. A VGS instructor wears the same boots and flying suit as a Typhoon pilot - all paid for by the tax payer. They sign a Form 700 for each Viking (also known as a Grob 103), and it’s the same Form 700 as the Typhoon driver signs. Finally, and just like a Typhoon pilot - they are checked every three months - yet they’re flying simple gliders from a vast field that I could almost land in with my eyes shut. I don’t know how much each winch launch at the VGS headquarters at RAF Syerston costs, but with the empire built there I reckon it’s a lot more than at a civilian club. And remember, a lot of those launches aren’t even for the cadets, but for checks on the instructors.

It saddens me to say it, but perhaps the VGS should just give all their kit to the BGA and RAFGSA, and stick to simulators, where everyone is ‘safe’. The money saved should be spent on commissioning RAFGSA and BGA gliding clubs to fly Air Cadets. This would be in line with Governmentpolicy, which favours contracting certain services out into the private sector where it is more efficient. In fact, the old Flying Scholarships were always administered in this manner. Payment to the gliding clubs could be partially in kind by the donation of equipment. Doing this would save the tax payer an absolute fortune and – more importantly – would start getting significant numbers of children flying again.
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 17:37
  #4547 (permalink)  
 
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Alas Dave You merely confirm the main difference between two organisations: Scouts and the ATC.
The Scouts have quality leadership and 'can doers' at the top, and the ATC has Facebook Fanatics and Pension toppers in the system.
Both organisations have large numbers of Volunteers at the coal face, however the ATC has been heavily crushed to death by the Volunteers being badly let down by those mandated to support it. The simple fact is that the more the full time RAF became involved with the organisation (a useful facility in a shrinking RAF) the less capable it became. The effect of more paperwork and an ever increasing culture of returns, box ticking, and risk assessments for everything has just chocked the organisation to death, with the resulting drop in numbers. And what did all this paperwork lead to :- NOTHING as they could not even keep a fleet of Gliders airworthy.
If the people at the top had any actual ability or leadership then this would never had happened, but they are too busy with papering over the obvious with Celeb endorsements and their facebook fancies. The organisation has being going downhill for many years and those at the top must bear the responsibility for that.
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 18:38
  #4548 (permalink)  
 
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Great article Dave

One point of correction:

the VGS tends to ‘gold plate’ its operation. A VGS instructor wears the same boots and flying suit as a Typhoon pilot
The Typhoon Force have boots with inflatable bladders in them to help with the G and they have diffrent flying coveralls than the FACS that everyone else wears. Other than that, as ever, a nicley pointed article.

The B Word
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 19:57
  #4549 (permalink)  
 
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Has Middleton gone yet?
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 20:13
  #4550 (permalink)  
 
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Second point of correction, instructors aren't checked every three months, probationary instructors under supervision are but not all.
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 21:20
  #4551 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks Pobjoy and The B word. How often are instructors checked then Tingger? I was told every 90 days, irrespective of whether they were current or not. I was also told that some VGS instructors don't even have a Silver C- is that also not true?
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Old 3rd Aug 2018, 22:06
  #4552 (permalink)  
 
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Instructors and Silver c's

Dave The ATC had ALWAYS been a training organisation for basic gliding instruction for Cadets to obtain their A&B certificates (BGA) and the (ATC) Gliding Proficiency Cert.
The organisation was geared up for that and used the most basic of equipment which (importantly) included the ground equipment frequently being operated by Cadets who stayed on after their initial course to assist the running of the 'School' (as was). There was no facility for 'out landings' or trailers to do a distance retrieve so the focus was on getting a young Cadet to solo standard thereby setting him off on a voyage of self discovery that no other organisation could offer. This was the Corps USP, and it achieved this amazing feat by utilising a cadre of actual Cadets to assist in the running of the schools. As a C cat Cadet on the school I was instructing other Cadets; having been winched up by another Cadet, and towed back to the launch point by yet another one. 14,000+ hours later I still marvel at how well it all worked and how we managed to get a Cadet solo in so few short launches. When you only have 3mins to impart useful information on a 'one way' (we talk they listen) system then it really concentrates the mind on what is important and ensuring the briefing is not over complicated. Yes we did some soaring (and strayed out of the circuit if you could get away with it) (if time allowed) but it was not what the ATC was about, and the instructing that was needed had to fit in with very short flights in very basic machines. The standard of instruction was very good for what was needed, and a Silver C would not have added any real benefit to do that job although some keen types did go for it. Oh I forgot all this was done with a minimum of paperwork, but a high % of capability from the w-end warriors who were back at work on Monday mornings (waiting for the next w-end). Cadets teaching other Cadets and all working together to keep the system running (my God what have they thrown away)
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Old 4th Aug 2018, 04:23
  #4553 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by POBJOY View Post
Dave The ATC had ALWAYS been a training organisation for basic gliding instruction for Cadets to obtain their A&B certificates (BGA) and the (ATC) Gliding Proficiency Cert.
The organisation was geared up for that and used the most basic of equipment which (importantly) included the ground equipment frequently being operated by Cadets who stayed on after their initial course to assist the running of the 'School' (as was). There was no facility for 'out landings' or trailers to do a distance retrieve so the focus was on getting a young Cadet to solo standard thereby setting him off on a voyage of self discovery that no other organisation could offer. This was the Corps USP, and it achieved this amazing feat by utilising a cadre of actual Cadets to assist in the running of the schools. As a C cat Cadet on the school I was instructing other Cadets; having been winched up by another Cadet, and towed back to the launch point by yet another one. 14,000+ hours later I still marvel at how well it all worked and how we managed to get a Cadet solo in so few short launches. When you only have 3mins to impart useful information on a 'one way' (we talk they listen) system then it really concentrates the mind on what is important and ensuring the briefing is not over complicated. Yes we did some soaring (and strayed out of the circuit if you could get away with it) (if time allowed) but it was not what the ATC was about, and the instructing that was needed had to fit in with very short flights in very basic machines. The standard of instruction was very good for what was needed, and a Silver C would not have added any real benefit to do that job although some keen types did go for it. Oh I forgot all this was done with a minimum of paperwork, but a high % of capability from the w-end warriors who were back at work on Monday mornings (waiting for the next w-end). Cadets teaching other Cadets and all working together to keep the system running (my God what have they thrown away)
Well said Pobjoy.
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Old 4th Aug 2018, 05:23
  #4554 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by DaveUnwin View Post
Thanks Pobjoy and The B word. How often are instructors checked then Tingger? I was told every 90 days, irrespective of whether they were current or not. I was also told that some VGS instructors don't even have a Silver C- is that also not true?
instructors (B1, A2, A1) are "checked" annually for their instructor competence check. Junior instructors B2 (in their first few hundred instructor launches) are checked every 90 days by a local flying supervisor.

although I'm sure there are many who have silver C and many more who have elements of the silver most likely unrecorded. It's fairly irrelevant to the area in which the VGS operate of circuits, landings and local area soaring.

Last edited by Tingger; 4th Aug 2018 at 05:39.
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Old 4th Aug 2018, 07:02
  #4555 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks Tingger, my information was not complete and Pobjoy, of course you are right. And in the old days of flying -21s and -31s Silvers were not necessary. I was flying a -31 earlier this week, and you wouldn't want to encourage people to go too far from the field in one! But - when the ATC went from T-31s to G103s (and knowing its propensity to Gold Plate' stuff), having acquired sailplanes that had reasonable performance I'm surprised the 'powers-that-be' didn't tighten up the licensing requirements at the same time. I'm not saying they needed to, more surprised that they didn't.
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Old 4th Aug 2018, 07:13
  #4556 (permalink)  
 
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Oh, and very well said Pobjoy, hear hear! Funnily enough, just the other day I flew a mate in a T-31, 60 years to the day that he went solo in one. He'd been on a course, gone solo in less than the prescribed number of launches and had used his last launch for two loops with the CFI. As he put it, it had 'lit the blue touch paper', and after tours on the Javelin, Phantom and Tornado, and a career flying A320s, that 'blue touch paper' is still lit. He still flies, glides and tugs, but wasn't current on the T-31, hence my participation.
I don't see a simulator doing that, and I don't think you do either. What a waste!
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Old 4th Aug 2018, 08:24
  #4557 (permalink)  
 
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Smug. What a telling word to use in your article.
Javelin and Tornado in one career, wow!
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Old 5th Aug 2018, 08:24
  #4558 (permalink)  
 
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It is just possible to have flown Javelin and Tornado. The last Javelin in op service was 1968 so that is unlikely. But there was a Javelin in the test pilot world until 1975. So if this pilot became a TP having flown F4 then they could have flown Javelin until 1975 and then Tornado prototypes shortly after. A slim chance but just about possible if they had an airline career as well.
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Old 5th Aug 2018, 08:39
  #4559 (permalink)  
 
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From Dave Unwin. Just the other day I flew a mate in a T-31, 60 years to the day that he went solo in one. He'd been on a course, gone solo in less than the prescribed number of launches and had used his last launch for two loops with the CFI. As he put it, it had 'lit the blue touch paper', and after tours on the Javelin, Phantom and Tornado, and a career flying A320s, that 'blue touch paper' is still lit. He still flies, glides and tugs, but wasn't current on the T-31, hence my participation.
I don't see a simulator doing that, and I don't think you do either. What a waste![/QUOTE]

I trust they didn't loop a T31!
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Old 5th Aug 2018, 15:09
  #4560 (permalink)  
 
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Olddog Why not? I wouldn't loop ours today, but this was 60 years ago.
Lima Juliet, I'll get the specifics when I see him next, but I know he was 16 in 1958, if he moved from the Javelin to the Phantom in 1968 he was 26. I think he was an IP on the Tornado so if we say 1980 that makes him 38 then. That doesn't seem 'just possible' to me but I will ask him.
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