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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 8th Nov 2018, 09:24
  #4621 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Shaft109 View Post
Well as Tucumseh has pointed out any new aircraft will be on the road to UN airworthiness from day 1 unless registered on the CAA/ BAA register but you can read all about it on this very thread -it's all here.

But to point out the Volunteer staff have been badly burned from this saga and lots would be unwilling to invest so much time again after the near radio silence we received over a period of years then the disbandment announcement.

Personally being a CI worked but the idea of being fake NCO aircrew in uniform doesn't do much for me - and I personally heard JM say he could recruit new staff from adverts in national papers. Not necessarily the calibre of people we HAD in the organisation of a known quantity then.

Simple things like the odd AEF day at a UAS or flight from say Brize on a Tanker sortie would've gone down well as it meant we were actually being thought about and I can't see why something simple like that never happened - Known, vetted staff with RAF or Class One medicals and flying kit should've been within someone's grasp - but hey ho then.

Really all my best for the guys and girls remaining, and lamenting the passing of such a jewel of an organisation that gave lots of us a leg up and belief we could make it in aviation without a spare 100k lying about.

all those little things were there and available the RAF, Navy and Army were more than willing to help retain volunteers interest even the US Navy and Air Force were willing to get in on the action. Just depended on who your boss was and if they realised they were part of the solution too.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 09:54
  #4622 (permalink)  
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Declaration of interest: veteran of many happy years instructing on T21/31, Venture & Vigilant - and as sad as anyone else to see the demise of Air Cadet Gliding - but......
If we look forward rather than hark back, just what sort of 'air minded' future should the Air Cadet movement aspire to inspire and prepare young people for in the future? Anything planned today will take a decade to get into full swing, and will have to be planned to meet the foreseeable needs of 30 years hence - and the likely direction of travel beyond that.
Is 'stick and rudder' flying to solo standard in basic aircraft a relevant stepping stone to a career in aviation - military or civil?
Personally, I suspect there is an even more exciting - and relevant - future for the Air Cadet organisation, its cadets and volunteer staff in planning and then delivering a new experience preparing 'air minded youth' for a world in which, in all probability, the only aircraft to have people aboard will be those whose purpose is to carry passengers.
And you know, on balance and given the chance, I think I'd prefer the challenge of being part of that than of trying to 're-launch' Air Cadet Gliding
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 20:43
  #4623 (permalink)  
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Is 'stick and rudder' flying to solo standard in basic aircraft a relevant stepping stone to a career in aviation - military or civil?

Why? It is still the basic element of any flying career and even for unmanned aviation - the Protector still has throttle, stick and rudder pedals. Further, the confidence it gives a youth to fly solo, and the huge responsibility earned through trust, cannot be understated. You cannot get that in a simulator or part-task trainer.
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Old 8th Nov 2018, 20:47
  #4624 (permalink)  
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F D L It matters not that the 'fretwork fighters' were old and simple; it is the 'purpose' they achieved that made the system so good.
The rapid requirement to 'make decisions' as you were going to be 'on your own' and the paperless teamwork is just as relevant NOW as then.
Some of our Cadets went on to Lightnings (first tour) so the MK3 must have sparked something there, and this early requirements to MAKE DECISIONS without a committee meeting or reams of bumf is a lesson that needs to be learnt again for the future. Synthetics have no equal when compared to that 'first solo' in a 3d environment. I firmly believe that todays so-called managers could also benefit from many of the facets of training that the ATC did as the NORM. At the time we did not know what a fantastic opportunity we had been given to develop some self capability in decision making (intermediate cable break on a small airfield comes to mind) but that process implanted a grain of self development for the future that was to serve us well. I will repeat my maxim again and stand to be challenged. An organisation that could train a Cadet to international (FAI) A&B standard in around a total of 60 + minutes (continuous course) and allow him 3 solo flights had to be a WORLD CLASS example of getting it right, and not getting side tracked into spurious add ons that loose sight of the objective. Give someone that chance to do something on their own early enough, and then they can teach themselves later, and not be frightened to MAKE DECISIONS. The Air Cadets lost its way once they started to 'tick boxes' and do too much dual; they had lost the lessons of history. Of course some LEADERSHIP at the top helps.
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Old 9th Nov 2018, 11:16
  #4625 (permalink)  

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I firmly believe that todays so-called managers could also benefit from many of the facets of training that the ATC did as the NORM.
Not many (any?) aviators in the ACO hierarchy these days I think. A few years ago ALL RCs were pilots. Any connection d'ye think.......?
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Old 9th Nov 2018, 13:48
  #4626 (permalink)  
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There are elements of what I see as " the truth" in many of the most recent posts. There is a need to look forward and not backwards, the way air cadet gliding was delivered was both effective and character building and yes the RC's these days are not usually pilots. In addition, there is much more form filling than there has ever been. However, the environment that the leadership of the Air Cadets finds itself operating has been shaped by others; the cessation of an RAF maintenance organisation for gliders which forced outsourcing, the "rationalisation" of the defence estate that has led to a rapid reduction of available airfields, the imposition of a safety regime designed for fast jet assets rather than far more simple aircraft and the legal sword of damocles that hovers above all those with responsibility, an overly bureaucratic Health and Safely regime.
What concerns me most is the delivery of effective experiences for cadets that build their knowledge, skills and resilience. It is the last of these that causes me real concern. When cadets of yesteryear spent whole days in an outdoor environment dealing with the practical issues of running an airfield it built the foundations of the resilience so necessary to deal with the many challenges that life would throw at them. While I see the current air cadet training system building knowledge and skills I see no evidence to date that the technology-based approach to flying will build the resilience that I believe will be more important than ever for our young people as they face a progressively more complex world. I would be delighted to be proved wrong.
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Old 9th Nov 2018, 14:58
  #4627 (permalink)  
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Current leadership only knows facebook and twatter

Bang on MULTI you have to have people at the top that know what is needed and the will to get on with it.
We did not have to create a Glider Operation from scratch only keep it going despite the 'glitches'.
There is plenty of MOD real estate out there still, but the crats in charge are clueless how to use it.
In fact the old RAF magazine AIR CLUES could be reborn for the ATC management as AIR CLUELESS.
It seems that there are some 40+ Vikings recovered and yet they sit in a hangar at Syerston rather than OUT THERE doing the job.
No excuse; the money has been paid and yet the system is dormant, time to hand the lot over to an organisation** that can actually deliver the goods for the Cadets; someone should talk to the GSA** and get some sense into the system, there is no expertise or capability in the higher echelons of the current Air Cadet movement.
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Old 9th Nov 2018, 15:31
  #4628 (permalink)  
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I'd like, if I may, to make a couple of observations here. Yes, the RAF organisation needs to look forward and change to meet new needs. It also needs to look back and make sure that what went wrong doesn't go wrong again. However, it needs to recognise what actually went wrong. It may not.

The RAF's maintenance organisation for gliders wasn't subject to 'cessation' - nor was outsourcing 'forced' - these were both deliberate decisions by the RAF and MoD departments all of which, by that time, were RAF led and manned. The main source of the ATC's problems was, in my view (opinion here but backed up by my FOI research) the mismanaged procurement and support of an extremely large fleet of composite gliders and powered aircraft. The RAF simply didn't properly execute the basic, simple, easy (I'm running out of synonyms here) steps that should have been second nature to any military aircraft procurement organisation. Once in service, they failed to properly execute the basic first and second line support and maintenance functions for which they were accountable.

As to the 'imposition of a safety regime designed for fast jets' - sorry, it would be nice if this were the cause, but in my view it wasn't. The MAA was designed and implemented in response to the Haddon-Cave inquiry's criticisms of their airworthiness regime. This effort was, in very large part, led by senior RAF officers, who designed and built the MAA regime the Services work under today. It's designed for all military aircraft, and while it is bureaucratic and overly proscriptive (in my view) complying with it it should be straightforward for any professional operating and support organisation. The fact that 2FTS was demonstrably neither of these when the MAA 'came calling' in 2012/13 was not the MAA's fault. It was the RAF's

The other aspect that the RAF badly needs to recognise is the utter shambles that followed the 'pause' (grounding). It took 2FTS and the MoD departments involved two years to get any sort of handle on the technical issues, risks, costs and timescales of recovering any part of the ATC fleet. To repeat a line I've often used - the RAF had been flying schoolchildren in its non-airworthy military aircraft. How much more of an emergency did it need to get the situation sorted out? It's only the indifference and ignorance of what passes for a 'defence press' in the UK that saved the RAF from a PR disaster. Oh, and a few judicious lies told to MPs and ministers.

Finally, as an ex Air Cadet I most strongly support those who point out the 'people skills' aspect of the ATC and the gliding organisation it ran. It gave callow teenagers like me an unforgettable set of lessons in independence, team working and decision making that was second to none. Flying a jobbed up Xbox flight sim programme around simply doesn't cut it in the least. In my view. That said, I'll end in the usual way:

Best Regards as ever to all those working to enthuse, inspire and lead today's Air Cadets. You are doing a great service to young people.

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Old 9th Nov 2018, 17:46
  #4629 (permalink)  
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Learning the Real Lessons

Amongst some of the (very) understandable emotion in this thread there is much sense and very many correct and wise words (not least in some of the more recent posts). Much of where we are today has to do with leadership. We now have a new Commandant 2 FTS. Painful as it might be, I hope that he takes a couple of days to read through the more than 4,600 posts on this thread (which have attracted more than 1.1 million views since April 2014): they will tell him almost everything he needs to know; some trusted individuals at Syerston and elsewhere will fill in the gaps. So, Euge, if you are reading this then please wade through this extended history lesson. We are grateful you are in charge: the organisation craves good leadership.
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Old 9th Nov 2018, 19:54
  #4630 (permalink)  
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Many thanks for your thoughts. As a non-engineer I have followed your comments on RAF engineering standards (or in your view, lack of them) with interest. Your obvious passion for getting things right should be shared by all who currently serve and by those who have had the opportunity to serve in the past.
As ATFQ says, the new Comdt 2FTS has an opportunity to take an objective view of history, look at the resources made available to him and recommend a way forward to those who hold the purse strings.
My view remains the same, most youth organisations impact skills and knowledge to their young people. The Air Cadets that I experienced provided opportunities to develop resilience with gliding and air experience at the centre of its offering. If it cannot do that into the future, our young people will be the poorer for it.

I share will Engines best wishes to all those who provide so many opportunities to today's RAF Air Cadets.
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Old 9th Nov 2018, 20:28
  #4631 (permalink)  
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I'd just like to come back to say that during my career I worked with many RAF engineers and organisations. I regularly encountered really excellent standards, and almost all of the time, I worked with dedicated and hugely professional engineers. I sincerely apologise if anyone thought I was making a blanket judgement about the RAF engineering branch - it certainly wasn't my intention.

However, as Haddon-Cave made clear, and many others can attest to, the RAF's organisation and execution of some of its core engineering tasks just haven't been as good as people thought they were. Most seriously, they weren't as good as many senior RAF people thought they were. The ATC gliders saga is the latest in a distressingly long line of similar scandals, where the common feature is the failure of commands and departments to properly monitor and examine what the h**l was going on. If I have a single serious concern over the Post-MAA airworthiness engineering landscape (in all three services) it's this: if you have elevated the level at which normal everyday engineering decisions are taken from Sqn Ldr to Gp Capt, who is going to be monitoring the Groupie? The Air Commodores may be a trifle too busy to do QA checks.

Best Regards as ever to all those in the ATC working the stuff out for real - not just droning on like me.

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Old 4th Dec 2018, 05:49
  #4632 (permalink)  
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Pilot magazine editorial

The latest edition of Pilot Magazine has an interesting editorial that comments on the issue of air cadet gliding.
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 08:48
  #4633 (permalink)  
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Pilot Magazine

Originally Posted by A and C View Post
The latest edition of Pilot Magazine has an interesting editorial that comments on the issue of air cadet gliding.
Any chance of a precis of the editorial? I assume not glowing with compliments but did it offer a way forward?
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 10:08
  #4634 (permalink)  
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I hope I'm not infringing Pilot Mag.s copyright:

The Great Grob Reprieve?

A welcome announcement on the day this issue of Pilot went to press: the Air Cadet Grob motorglider fleet. grounded since 2014 and scheduled to be scrapped. appears at the eleventh hour to have won a reprieve. The Air Cadets will not get them back, but a number of the aircraft at least are set to fly again - and be used to give young people in the UK and abroad air experience flights - in a joint enterprise by the Spitfire Heritage Trust and the Light Aviation Association.

This is a rather happier end, at least as far as the aircraft are concerned, to the sorry saga of Cadet flying being curtailed after The entire Air Cadet fleet of seventy Grob Viking gliders and sixty Vigilant motorgliders was 'paused' by the military duty holder, No.2 Flight Training School.

In fact the officer in command. Group Captain John Middleton didn't have much choice in 2014 but to ground the fleet after an RAF engineering audit of civilian company Serco, which had been contracted to maintain the aircraft, revealed fundamental airworthiness issues. These problems arose not because the Vikings and Vigilants were actually unfit to fly, but were related to the paperwork - poor administration and recording of maintenance tasks and repairs.

In an attempt to put right all this nonsense, a 'recovery programme' was established involving two outsourcing specialists, Serco (again) and Babcock. Both in turn subcontracted their work to what you might call proper aircraft maintenance companies (one wonders how much of the contract value was nevertheless trousered by the two service providers).

Serco subcontracted work to Marshall. They have not recovered any airframes and given up on that task. Babcock subcontracted the recovery of the gliders to Southern Sailplanes Ltd. Southern Sailplanes has so far delivered most of the total of 46 gliders expected to come back into service.

So something of a result there? Sadly not: Serco currently manages to keep available for flying around a dozen of those forty or so gliders. The BGA advises that its gliding clubs regularly achieve close to 100% glider fleet availability.

You have to ask why it is that the MoD and its contractors have failed to get the motorgliders, currently in storage at Little Rissington, back into the air. Although they are said to be facing some (surely arbitrary) airframe life limitation, the aircraft are reported to be in good condition. Would it have been such a problem for Grob to certify and re-life them as civilian aircraft? The differences between Vigilants and the certified 109 are minimal. It seems that the main issue was that the Grob/ Limbach engine is no longer supported, so the Vigilants would have needed to be re-engined, perhaps with Rotax nine-series engines. However, it is hard to see how this would have been much of a problem.

Well we know there is now an avenue open - provided that the LAA can negotiate successfully with the CAA to recognise the Vigilant as a non-EASA aircraft - but the fact remains that Air Cadets have lost their motorglider fleet and get their 'wings' today after merely flying a glider simulator and being taken on an air experience flight. And the MoD has blown 8m on a recovery plan that has put just a dozen Air Cadet gliders back into regular service and failed to return a single motorglider to the air.

Despite the aircraft being saved from the scrapman's axe. It is hard to see this entire affair as anything less than an absolute scandal. While Babcock seems to have done the right thing, the MoD, the RAF and Serco should not be allowed to get away with it!

Philip Whiteman, Editor

Last edited by Fitter2; 5th Dec 2018 at 10:43.
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 15:43
  #4635 (permalink)  
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Fitter and others:

Having followed this saga fairly closely, and having obtained a number of documents under FoI, I've learned to look hard at any public statements about it. For what they're worth, my observations on the 'Pilot' Magazine piece:

The 'Pilot' piece aligns with a (generally helpful to the RAF) view that the problem was caused by failures by civilian contractors, which were discovered by the RAF. Simply not true. The 'pause' followed a December 2013 MAA audit of 2FTS, not an 'RAF engineering audit of civilian company Serco". Indeed, the MAA audit noted that proper engineering audits hadn't been carried out by 2FTS and other Mod/RAF departments.

It also aligns with a view that the problems were 'paperwork' issues, and that 'the problem arose not because the Vikings ad Vigilants were actually unfit to fly". The piece describes the 2FTS driven recovery programme as 'an attempt to put right all this nonsense'. Again, not accurate. What happened with the ATC fleet was not paperwork 'nonsense' keeping serviceable aircraft grounded. At the risk of repetition, if the paperwork is not right, an aircraft is non-airworthy. It is unserviceable. You don't know what its material state is. For the ATC, this was the end result of a long period of bad execution of basic engineering and airworthiness management responsibilities.

The 'Pilot' piece asks why the MoD and its contractors have failed to get the Vigilants back in the air, mentioning a '(surely arbitrary) airframe life limitation'. It is, apparently, 'hard to see' how re-engining the fleet 'would have been much of a problem'. First, re-engining the Vigilants was not part of the 'innovative solution' announced just two years ago. Putting new engines into 15 aircraft with an OSD of November 2019 was always a financial impossibility. Second, airframe life limitations aren't usually 'arbitrary'. Of course, if you rushed the aircraft into service using an underspend without doing the proper technical work to substantiate the airframe in the first place it's possible that the airframe life limitation might be seen as 'arbitrary'. Then you start asking who signed off on the RTS.

However, the 'Pilot' gets it absolutely right is at the end - 'It is hard to see this entire affair as anything less than an absolute scandal. While Babcock seems to have done the right thing, the MoD, the RAF and Serco should not be allowed to get away with it!'. Amen to that. House off Commons Defence Committee investigation anyone?

Just a final observation. In November 2016, the RAF announced its 'innovative proposal' to recover 15 Vigilants to flight by giving away 65 aircraft to Grob. OSD was November 2019, just 36 months away. It apparently takes 2FTS 18 months (half of the expected remaining service life) to realise this is a non-starter, so it pulls the plug over a weekend. My opinion, and that's all it is, is that something safety related happened this May to force OC 2FTS to ground the Vigilants. Are there any PPruners out there in possession of any of the related instructions? Just asking....

Best regards as ever to all those dedicated people who worked, and those who still support the ATC cadets

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Old 5th Dec 2018, 16:23
  #4636 (permalink)  
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8m on a recovery plan that has put just a dozen Air Cadet gliders back into regular service and failed to return a single motorglider to the air
Well done MOD/RAF, medals all round.
What would 12 brand new Grob 103 cost?
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 17:18
  #4637 (permalink)  
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Engines, excellent post as always. Thank you. There is a common theme across all the PPRuNe Military Forum Airworthiness related threads (mercifully at least, this one is not also a Fatal Accident thread). Not only does every thread shine a light on the chronically dysfunctional UK Military Air Safety system, but also on the despicable moves by the MOD to offer scapegoats for its own incompetence. As a rule they go for the deceased aircrew, but failing that, as in this case, they have started electing Civilian Contractors. They chose that target by proxy in the case of Red Arrow Flt Lt Sean Cunningham's tragic death. The deed being done there on their behalf by HSE. Here they have gone for Serco, anything to obscure the gross lack of expertise and knowledge within the MOD and its subsidiary Services.

That is as a direct result of the illegal actions of RAF VSOs in the late 80s/early 90s and the cover up that has been maintained by their successors to the present day. What grounded the ACO gliders extends throughout the UK military airfleet and will continue until UK Military Air Safety is reformed. That means an independent Regulator and Investigator, both of the MOD and of each other. Anything less is mere fudge. Aviation deplores fudge and will kill if that is all it is offered.

Self Regulation Doesn't Work, and in Aviation it Kills!
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Old 5th Dec 2018, 21:42
  #4638 (permalink)  
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Just for the record, reengining the Vigilants with Rotax 912 and the installation of a 'glass cockpit' was being promised to the staff of the VGS's BEFORE the pause.
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 04:21
  #4639 (permalink)  
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The 'PILOT' editorial has hinted that the Vigilants 'may' rise again under a somewhat different guise. In fact this is an 'intention' but in practice is still in a sensitive negotiation phase albeit with a positive path.
The actual machine has given great service and confirmed that the 'self launching' facility was indeed a very practical way to operate especially when utilising normal airfields that had shared use.
The machine is well suited in its current config and certainly does not need a glass cockpit or the expense of a new engine with the added certification issues. The LAA are the ideal body to be involved as they have decades of real technical experience and design capability, and are the masters of practical aviation operation and cost effective 'power'.
The sad demise of ATC gliding 'as was' is a separate issue that has been well aired on this forum, and as we know there little comfort that the current leadership of the organisation has any idea of what they have lost, or a cogent plan for a 'hands on' future; the treatment of the capable volunteer staff was appalling. The suggestion that the introduction of a PTT was a serious upgrade of the operation merely shows the complete lack of a 'safe pair of hands' at the helm.
If the Vigilants can rise again and provide a service to the youth of this country then that has to be applauded and If the LAA are involved then this would be a very positive move for everyone.
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Old 6th Dec 2018, 06:45
  #4640 (permalink)  
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I think one of the things Engines was alluding to (correctly) is the requirement to show x years (usually five) useful life from an investment. Before the grounding, an upgrade would get through scrutiny. But not after announcing the OSD. Related to this, support funding gradually decreases over the last five years. Only safety related work is permitted, and often not even that. Thus, if a replacement programme is delayed, both need a hike.


At the risk of repetition, if the paperwork is not right, an aircraft is non-airworthy. It is unserviceable. You don't know what its material state is. For the ATC, this was the end result of a long period of bad execution of basic engineering and airworthiness management responsibilities.
Needs to be said more often, until someone listens. Excellent post. Interestingly, the MAA witness at the Cunningham/Red Arrows trial in February disagreed. A clue to MoD's woes.
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