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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 8th Dec 2018, 16:36
  #4641 (permalink)  
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The MAA were then invited to review their work given the severity of the findings.
Ah, a maiden post, welcome!" Apologies if that's a sexist comment, so easy to fall into the pit these days...

Who, might I ask, is ever going to be invited to review the MAA's work given the severity of its effects on UK Military Air Safety?
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Old 8th Dec 2018, 21:37
  #4642 (permalink)  
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Thank you for responding, and adding another piece of the story - I suspected that 2FTS had carried out some form of audit in early 2014, your confirmation helps complete the picture. In the interests of clarity, which we all desire, the story of the start of this scandal now reads as follows: (This is as I understand it, please feel free to correct me)

1. 16 Dec 2013 - the MAA carries out an audit of the Vigilant and Viking organisation. The areas audited appear to have been 22Gp's CAMO organisation, Serco and a number of other posts.
2. MAA issues its audit report late December (Reference for the audit report was CAMO/CERT/2012/051). It's a pretty comprehensive 'fail', and 22 Gp CAMO are told they won't be approved by MAA. They're given 28 days to respond with a Corrective Action Plan
3. Early in 2014, 2FTS carry out an audit of all 2FTS glider engineering operations
4. DHAN 86 is issued by 2FTS on 17 Apr 14, then re-issued on 28 Jan 14 at Update 1. (The detailed Annexes setting out the airworthiness issues were not released in response to FoI request)

My take (and that's all it is) is that the starting gun for this debacle (and debacle it undoubtedly has been) was the MAA CAMO audit in December 13. 2FTS undoubtedly did the right thing in early 2014, but here's a key point - 3FTS and 22Gp should already have been doing 'audits' of glider engineering operations for years. In fact, on their formation 2FTS should have been supplied with the reports from recent QA and other inspections to guide their 'stand up' activities.

I absolutely agree that 2FTS were handed a big problem on their formation. It was a problem that had been building up from at least the year 2000, and was entirely due to serious and systemic failures in the RAF's execution, supervision and oversight of glider engineering activities. Examination of subsequent events shows that 2FTS (and very probably 22Gp) had absolutely no grasp of the scale of the problems facing them in April 2014. It took a searing letter from MAA to OC 2FTS in September 2015, and intervention by CAS the following month, to get some element of realism into the recovery plan. And that plan failed anyway.

I've often and regularly posted about my direct experience of simply excellent RAF engineering personnel, and I stand by those comments. But the bald facts are that, in this case, the RAF seriously dropped the airworthiness ball - which led to children being flown in non-airworthy aircraft. Why go on about this? Because I've seen absolutely nothing in public that indicates that the RAF understand and accept that they fouled up. Their public statements (e.g. from AVM Colville) has been designed to cover the problem up. Ministers have been led to make statements that come damn close to outright lies to help the cover up.

I'd be happier if more people were properly and blazingly upset over this. Sadly (so far) they're not.

Best Regards as ever to all those who have worked so hard to try to get Air Cadets back in the air.

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Old 8th Dec 2018, 23:11
  #4643 (permalink)  
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Pass The Parcel !!!

Engines When this whole 'episode' kicked off in 2014 I thought it was all rather strange that this was so soon after the handover to a reformed 2 FTS. (From 3 FTS)
It also coincided with JM making it clear that the Civilian Volunteer element of this wonderful capable organisation (the flying side as was) was going to be reduced and decades of experience discarded. It was almost as if the full time RAF was trying put the blame on the volunteers (rewrite history) and hope the bad taste faded away. It may well have done if not for PPRuNe and the fury that previous ATC Cadets/Instructors felt about the way that their proud organisation with decades of capable operations was being treated. The main steam MOD/RAF have not come out at all well in all this, and have let the Cadets down in extreme; but they were never let down by those at the 'coal face' who had to endure years of poor back up from those paid to give it. If the Vigilants rise again it will be because we refuse to have history rewritten, and that the true spirit and legacy of the ATC Gliding has not been lost or sacrificed on the alter of incompetence. Best wishes and thanks for all those that have exposed this sorry story and lets us hope that we have shown what a fantastic organisation we had, and that it refuses to be destroyed.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 00:15
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My take (and that's all it is) is that the starting gun for this debacle (and debacle it undoubtedly has been) was the MAA CAMO audit in December 13.
Engines When this whole 'episode' kicked off in 2014...
While your time lines are in keeping with the 'episode', ie the OP (the grounding of the ACO Gliders), that is exactly the way that the MOD wants it to be seen. That is how it wanted the Mull Chinook, the Iraq C-130, Tornado, and 2 RN Sea Kings, the Afghanistan Nimrod, and the Red5 ejection tragedies to be seen, ie as separate and unconnected accidents. The default presentation is to stovepipe them, and we oblige by treating each airworthiness related fatal accident to a separate thread. Thank God this one isn't a fatal accident as well, and 2FTS got that bit right at least, if nothing else. We have to take in the wood rather than concentrate solely on each individual tree, for there is no end of those potential fatal accidents waiting to happen if that is our approach.

This episode didn't start in 2013 or 2014, it started when all the others started, and where the next UK Military Airworthiness Related Fatal Air Accident will have started, with an AMSO policy change in 1986. Its gross ineptitude set the MOD looking for a source of short term financial gain to plug the breach in its budgetary dam. It homed in on the only ring fenced finance left, the Air Safety Budget. After it was finished plundering the damage was devastating and permanent. This was Haddon-Cave's so called 'Golden Period'! Thus the very report that the MAA was founded upon was a lie. The MAA is as culpable as the RAF VSOs who carried out the plunder and those who have covered it up since.

What happened here is terrible. A wonderful organisation that inspired new generations of young people into air mindedness has been cut off at the knees. I would remind everyone though that real tragedy has befallen the families and loved ones of those who died in the fatal accidents I have listed, and whose threads exist here as witness to the terrible cost of the illegal actions perpetrated.

Engines, you say:-
I'd be happier if more people were properly and blazingly upset over this. Sadly (so far) they're not.
Well, amen to that. But be very clear. This is much bigger than the ACO scandal, it is much bigger than RAF Engineering, which you seem focussed upon. This is a scandal that has been covered up by the MOD, the MAA, the Civil and RAF Police, the HSE, and HMG. That is the extent of this wood, so standing around and barking at one particular tree alone will serve their purposes well.

Nothing short of a completely separate and independent Military Air Regulator and Military Air Accident Investigator, of the MOD and of each other, can hope to put this genie back in its bottle. I'd be happier if more people were properly and blazingly upset over that!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 9th Dec 2018 at 00:41.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 08:51
  #4645 (permalink)  
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I'm not going to go over old posts, but merely point people to the 'Review of ACO Flying and Gliding' report of 1 December 2012. Do a simple word search for 'safety'. 21 references, most suggesting 'safety enhancements'. Specifically (given a recent post) it recommends these be progressed quite separately from the planned engine replacement. If one is to compartmentalise this case, then that report is a good starting point.

I feel there is sometimes a tendency to go after a certain individual, at the expense of the historical facts and wider picture. I don't know the man concerned and cannot comment. But I do know a few of the 2 Stars who were personally warned as to the impact of ignoring mandated airworthiness regulations, and making draconian cuts to the implementation budget. As Engines has often said, few if any set out to deliberately cause harm. But if someone is warned by experts in the field that their actions will cause harm (to persons or, in this case, fleets of aircraft), and they continue with their actions, there is a conscious element to that decision. If they plead ignorance, then they are in the wrong job - which I accept is prevalent in MoD. These sometimes malicious acts go back a very long way, and there is little separation between the aircraft affected at the time and gliders. If you want to go back just one step from gliders, look at the serious offences committed in the Hawk XX177 case, which shares (shared?) the same Type Airworthiness Authority as gliders. That's the date pushed back to 2010. And so on, through an unbroken line of maladministration going back to June 1987. There I stop, because before that date, while there were problems, they were mostly dealt with properly. There may not have been all the funding necessary, but there was acceptance of the problem, proper risk assessment, and considered acceptance of risk. June 1987 is when the policy to save money at the expense of safety commenced.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 09:02
  #4646 (permalink)  
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From a letter at the time, written by a VSO:

I should mention that some believe we should all close ranks, allocate blame for the engineering governance issues, and try to reverse the decision taken by the AFB and endorsed by Ministers. This is unrealistic, and diverts us away from what we should be doing: ‘Aye’ Aye, Sir; get on with it; lead our people through this challenging transition; and do our best to add value iteratively to the package we have been handed. This will require leadership, vision, determination and understanding. The time for retrospection and garment renting is over; we now need to move forward.
In other words, "Shut up, stop moaning, do as I say and get on with it....??"
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 09:12
  #4647 (permalink)  
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..and as you would put it Beags : expressed in typical "wanque speke".
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 14:45
  #4648 (permalink)  
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And of course the outcome of 'Shut up....do as I say...' was a series of easily avoidable deaths.

To my dying day I will never forget the complete and utter c*** of a civilian 2-Star who laughed in my face when I told him his decision, and that of another 2 Star (Nimrod, Chinook) and 4 Star (CDP), was in all likelihood going to kill Tornado aircrew. I was pulled away by two Colonels and a Brigadier. The latter gave me a right bollocking for being aggressive towards a 2 Star.

When ZG710 was shot down the following year, and the Senior Reviewing Officer (unwittingly) repeated my words, the Brigadier remembered and came to my house and apologised. The utter c***? Onwards and upwards. You never forget. Same people. Same decisions.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 15:24
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civilian 2-Star
this always makes me laugh

There is of course no such thing. The whole alignment of Civil Service grades was done for allowance and pay purposes - the funniest thing is that the notional “2-star equivalent” earns about 30,000 less even before you take the non-contributory pension of the Service person into account. An SCS2 earns between 85k and 100k whereas an Air Vice Marshal earns between 115k and 125k. So really there is no equivalency at all.

To quote this website: https://www.civilservant.org.uk/info..._services.html

”The following list compares old and new civil service grades with their equivalents in the armed services. But it shouldn't be taken too seriously. Ken Graham pointed out that the list was prepared mainly for arranging travel, accommodation and messing (e.g. whether a chap was likely to know which fork to use!).”

There is no doubt that the senior civil servant has the responsibility but “2-star” they are not...
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 18:11
  #4650 (permalink)  
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Great that you can laugh at such a serious matter. Anything to divert attention from serial offences and resultant deaths.

Perhaps I should have listed the AVMs and above who supported these decisions while trousering more pay.
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Old 9th Dec 2018, 23:59
  #4651 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by tucumseh View Post

Great that you can laugh at such a serious matter. Anything to divert attention from serial offences and resultant deaths.

Perhaps I should have listed the AVMs and above who supported these decisions while trousering more pay.
I've said it before, and I'll no doubt say it again.

You really should name and shame, not just in the books, but on here as well.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 06:38
  #4652 (permalink)  
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Thank you. My point, and that made by chugalug, is that these accidents/events share common root causes. Thus, most have already been named on, for example, the Chinook ZD576, Nimrod XV230, Hercules XV179 (etc.) threads. In many cases, they placed themselves in the public domain by writing to the press.

As you say, they have also been named in books, each of which passed MoD scrutiny. Perhaps surprisingly, but truth is the ultimate defence and when you can produce written, photographic and recorded evidence of events MoD deny even occurred, then it tends to back down (while maintaining its denial).

For the record, the staff who ruled that a false declaration could be made that IFF failure warning integration could be ignored, but a false declaration made in airworthiness documentation that it had been effected and passed, were; Ian Fauset, Director General Air Systems 2, then Executive Director 1 (Chinook, Nimrod, etc) and the 4 Star I mentioned, recently retired Vice Admiral Sir Robert Walmsley, Chief of Defence Procurement. (Which is probably why he liked being termed a 4 Star).

The former was asked, in writing, what was the greater offence - refusing to make false record (fraud by misrepresentation) or the order to commit it. He ruled, in writing, that the only offence was the refusal. Issuing the order was not an offence, nor was taking disciplinary action for refusing to obey. Walmsley upheld this in writing, twice; as have successive Cabinet Secretaries and Heads of the Civil Service - latterly supported by the Military Aviation Authority.

The altercation I mentioned was on the same subject (specifically, Tornado IFF failure warnings), with Stan Porter, Executive Director 5. He made no formal ruling, simply laughing at immediate risk to life and walking away. I feel confident repeating this, as I know the retired SF Brigadier I mentioned will stand witness. He lost friends on ZD576, and takes a very close interest. His 2i/c would have been pax #26 had he not been called away on a job.

Now, go buy the books!
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 09:50
  #4653 (permalink)  
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Tuc, Chug and others,

My final post here for some time - Christmas coming and all that.

I certainly don't dispute that there has been long-term mismanagement and very probably malfeasance in the upper levels of the MoD around airworthiness. However, this thread is about the grounding of the ATC glider fleet, and that's what I've attempted to keep my focus on. I've tried to do that so that the many people who gave so much of their own time to get cadets into the air can better understand how this particular scandal came about, and to help those at the sharp end today.

I share Tuc and Chug's frustration that the VSOs who started all these balls rolling in the late 80s have never been held to account. But the ATC glider scandal shows that the RAF (not the MoD) still has serious issues with how it actually practices airworthiness management at the 'sharp end'. My aim in posting here is to encourage all those good and professional aircrew and engineers in the RAF (and I know quite a few of them) to learn from what's happened here, and stop it happening in their patch today. Right now. If you're on a squadron, get the overalls on, get out in the hangars and on to the flight line, and cast a really sharp eye on what is actually being done by your crews, and your contractors. Check your paperwork. Check your aircraft. And if you don't like what you see, or are unsure, stop it, fix it and stop it happening again. Don't wait for the MAA to issue a new RA - you are the ones who will actually make the biggest difference. If you're aircrew, don't wait for an MAA course - get alongside your engineers and get acquainted with maintaining airworthiness and how it affects you, and what part you play in keeping it sound.

Things will only get better if the people actually doing the job today make it better. As ever, my warmest regards to all of them.

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Old 10th Dec 2018, 10:46
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Engines, how would you have advised the Reds' engineers and pilots to react to an RTI that instructed that the seat should be serviced in situ, and that the scissor shackle nut and bolt be undone and then done up again with no means of testing if the shackle would then release in an ensuing ejection (only possible if the procedure was carried out in the now non-existent bay)? With such illegal orders from above no amount of running around at Squadron level will repair this broken system. I take your point that the ACO thread is about the ACO scandal, and fully empathise with those who have had their years giving of their skills and time thrown back in their faces. I think that putting the scandal in perspective, alongside Mull, Baggers, ESF, Iraq Blue on Blue, Afghanistan Nimrod, Reds, etc, reinforces the issue. Just treating each one on its own simply serves the MOD's (not the RAF's alone!) agenda.

The problem is at the top rather than the bottom (though training, or lack of it, has certainly left its mark there). The MOD (where aviation is largely in the hands of RAF VSOs I'll admit) is where it started and where it still lurks, in particular with its dysfunctional subsidiary the 'independent' MAA and its vassal, the MAAIB (or whatever it's called this week). To zero in on one particular Service as the problem area is to dangerously distort the extent of the problem. ALL UK Military Aviation is affected, all of it!
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 13:14
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The point I try to make, unsuccessfully it seems, is that the root causes from the 80s still persist. Yes, the decision to waste money and make savings at the expense of safety was made by AMSO (RAF), at a time before he had control over practical airworthiness money or the civilian staff who were MoD's corporate knowledge and expertise. Things got far worse when that changed in 1991.

MoD, not just the RAF, has never recovered. Yes, senior RAF officers in AMSO railed against those who complained, threatening dismissal (Dec 1992). But just as many, if not more, senior staff in MoD(PE), then DPA, DLO and now DE&S followed suit. Few actually knew the subject; something that is evident on PPRuNe - which is not a criticism, because very few servicemen are expected to ever work in this area. That was ok until the aforementioned CDP ruled neither should civilians. (July 1996). He wasn't RAF - he was a submariner, which tends to be an RN job. The civilians I mentioned supported him. Not because they agreed, but because he was their boss. Common enough, but they went too far when declaring airworthiness optional, and false declarations could be made. Those who have the papers relating to this glider case should study them with that thought in mind. Have false declarations been made? Oh yes, by both the RAF and DE&S. Perhaps inadvertently, but that would again highlight they are in the wrong job. As Engines said some time ago, they are signing something way below their paygrade, that they know SFA about.

I fully understand the ACO experts here focusing on gliders. What has happened is appalling. I merely ask you to analyse the root causes. You will find they were reported to ACAS and the RAF Chief Engineer in 1992-98 by RAF Directors of Flight Safety. (Why did CAS ignore his personal appointee?) To PUS in 1996 by the Director of Internal Audit. And to around two dozen senior civilian staff in MoD(PE), and a raft of Ministers. Not one lifted a finger.

Always remember, gliders were the easy target, to deflect from the real problem. Also remember, the same part of DE&S could not find a valid safety case in 2012, after the XX177 accident. That, as Chug says, it didn't know the basic regulations and issued a rogue technical instruction. That, maintainers were instructed not to implement mandated servicing instructions on a safety critical escape system. Killing Flt Lt Cunningham. To the best of my knowledge, it wasn't an RAF signature on that bit of paper. (It's redacted). But the MAA, DE&S, RAF and RN attended the meeting that made the decision. These are, or were, the people in charge of gliders. Yer man JM doesn't feature.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 14:04
  #4656 (permalink)  
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When I did my law degree I learned that obeying an illegal order was an offence in itself. The Nuremburg trials surely placed this beyond dispute. So my query is, when did the law change ?
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 15:57
  #4657 (permalink)  
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That's an excellent question. An illegal order can and should always be disobeyed or ignored, on the simple grounds that it is an illegal order.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 17:49
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Illegal orders are not to be obeyed, end of! That was what I was taught at Sleaford Tech early 60's in Air Force Law lectures. I doubt very much if that has changed since, despite the subsequent change to Military Law. Catch-22 is of course that not only are they not to be obeyed but they must also be reported! Hence the extraordinary official MOD position as stated by tucumseh above (#4655), whereby refusing to make false record is an offence whereas ordering it to be done is not!

That is front and centre of this scandal and why Regulation and Investigation has to be removed from MOD interference and made independent of it and each other.
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Old 10th Dec 2018, 20:51
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ancient & thud

There have been many such rulings, but in my own experience the first was by Director General Support Management (an AVM) in December 1992. He threatened those who refused to make false record with dismissal. An Internal Audit report was sent to PUS (Sir Richard Mottram) on 26 June 1996 supporting those who had 'offended', but he didn't act.

The RN likewise on 2 October 1999; but it only regarded it as insubordination, issuing formal written warnings. (Not all the RN - a Senior Captain and Commodore). That was an interesting case, as a Rear Admiral in OR stepped in and supported civilian 'offenders' against the Capt and Cdre. Written became verbal, but the offence itself was confirmed. Who can shoot down a Rear Admiral?..........

The Chief of Defence Procurement placed it in writing on 19 November and 13 December 2001. On 18 September 2002, after unsuccessful appeals, our Trades Union wrote to members advising them of the ruling. (I can't say how widely this was circulated, but I have my copy).

On 23 April 2003, the head of Personnel advised the Asst Under-Secy of State to uphold the rulings, which he did to an MP.

More recently, on 28 October 2014 the Cabinet Secy, the late Sir Jeremy Heywood, formally declined a request that he rescind the ruling. His reply was copied to a Minister through whom the request had been made.

You'll perhaps appreciate I have copies of all this correspondence, courtesy of DE&S Secretariat who were quite happy to provide it under FoI. To read about the inevitable outcome, go to the old Nimrod, C-130, Chinook, Tornado, Sea King threads. Well over 60 deaths.

I should add that on 6 February 2010 Sir Gerald Howarth, former Defence Minister, agreed with you both. It was illegal, and he would have expected his staff to disobey. I was there, in his house, with another ppruner - a retired Sqn Ldr.
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Old 11th Dec 2018, 03:12
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Got a lot of time for Sir Gerald; every time he vistied Farnborough Radar and I was on duty, he would come over, address me by name and have a chat.
When I told him about the fiasco of the PAR 2000 (being restricted to VMC only use for a long time) he was very interested.

Last edited by chevvron; 12th Dec 2018 at 14:11.
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