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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 17th Sep 2015, 11:35
  #501 (permalink)  
 
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Cats Five

I believe Schleicher were not willing to give up their entire production run for 1 customer for a long period of time and thereby jeopardise their other customer base (civvy world) who would buy something else maybe. Also I believe at that time they already had a waiting list (still do). Questions were asked about licence production (see my previous post) but never came to anything............

The K21 was more labour intensive to produce than the Grob 103 due to Production techniques and sandwich construction - ergo slower to produce in volume.

The Vanguards we operated were bog standard off the shelf items.

Whether Schleicher also were not willing to deal with a pernickity customer I really don't know...............

I think they may have missed the long view though. The sales is a small bit, the ongoing support and spares would have been huge. The Vikings have been in service now for nearly 30 years..................... it would have been a long term profitable deal.

Which raises another issue in my head............. Why we keep this 'relatively' cheap kit for such a long time. In industry many businesses replace their kit on a 3 - 5 year cycle to accommodate new technology, realise the maximum value of asset resale and to avoid issues around major services and fatigue life. The Air Cadet operation would really be a good candidate for this. One of the few PFI initiatives that might work - if kit replacement & servicing contracts were bundled together..............

And since the Landrovers are on leasing arrangements as part of the 'white fleet' why are we not doing the same for the winches ??, it's just a finance arrangement after all............

Discuss...................

Arc
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 12:13
  #502 (permalink)  
 
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Many years ago, as a corporate planner in local government (there's an oxymoron) I worked on vehicle replacement policy - depreciation curve plotted against maintenance cost - where they crossed was replacement point, ISTR 4-5 years. Arclite, IMHO you make a good point
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 13:20
  #503 (permalink)  
 
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..............and actually I smile to myself when I always refer to them as 'the new glass gliders' in conversations :-)

I am an officially an 'old git'

Arc
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 13:42
  #504 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Arclite01 View Post
Cats Five

I believe Schleicher were not willing to give up their entire production run for 1 customer for a long period of time and thereby jeopardise their other customer base (civvy world) who would buy something else maybe.
<snip>
And possibly the ATC weren't willing to accept a delivery schedule that would see them getting 1 in 2 or 3 of Scheicher's output.
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 14:25
  #505 (permalink)  
 
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Which raises another issue in my head............. Why we keep this 'relatively' cheap kit for such a long time. In industry many businesses replace their kit on a 3 - 5 year cycle to accommodate new technology, realise the maximum value of asset resale and to avoid issues around major services and fatigue life. The Air Cadet operation would really be a good candidate for this. One of the few PFI initiatives that might work - if kit replacement & servicing contracts were bundled together..............
Had there been a bit more competition in the training glider market, this would have been a great idea. Modern two seaters tend to hold their value, and if by buying a job lot a significant discount had been possible, then the high resale value would have meant minimal depreciation.

As it turned out, if Schleicher didn't want to play, so Grob were the only contender and probably knew it, so why would they discount?

Had the original purchase of these gliders not been largely driven by having to spend a 'use it or lose it' tranche of money, things may have been so different.
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 14:48
  #506 (permalink)  
 
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Cats Five

That is also a valid point - a re-equipment plan though, means larger numbers in the military world and they place an order and want it as soon as possible, a trickle feed is not ideal for them. And based on 24 a year = 2 per month for an average the re-equipment programme takes approx 5 years for 100 aircraft.

This means on a leaseback the oldest ones would just be getting replaced as the last new ones arrive. All OK once you are into a cycle of continuous rolling replacement but bad news if you are the back of the queue first time round.

Additionally the real issue is Schleicher only build about 30 a year (since they have other models in production and only limited factory floor space) so you would be lucky to get 10 of those so the refresh would take 10 years and not 5. I am assuming that Scheicher have done this for years and are happily profitable and efficient to the levels they are pleased with.

Finally, the upside is that the K21 has just been lifed to 18000 hours so at current average use rates they would last until the end of this century at least !! (if we were crazy and wanted to buy them to keep ad infinitum).

The powers that be need to realise that they are not in a flooded market and are not ordering or operating A400M or C-130J, but a simple sailplane with a potential simple procurement lifecycle. The Motorglider replacement programme could also follow a similar profile but with a slightly higher hours profile.

The Canadian Air Cadets appear to operate on CF plates - why not put ours on G plates ? - bring them under EASA and off we go..............

I believe that there may be slightly more of a political issue now though as I often see Vikings and Vigilants included in overall RAF Aircraft numbers - is this part of the game to make the RAF look larger on paper than it really is ??

Arc

Another thought. Why bother with the winch launch fleet at all. There are less and less stations willing to accept a Winch Operation (FOD risk, cables etc). Why not just standardise on one type (Motorglider) and put them out on detachments to local airfields for weekends so that units don't have to travel too far for BGT and AEG ??

Last edited by Arclite01; 17th Sep 2015 at 14:49. Reason: Spelling
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 15:27
  #507 (permalink)  
 
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Another thought. Why bother with the winch launch fleet at all. There are less and less stations willing to accept a Winch Operation (FOD risk, cables etc). Why not just standardise on one type (Motorglider) and put them out on detachments to local airfields for weekends so that units don't have to travel too far for BGT and AEG ??
  1. Sites such as Kenley don't allow power flying.
  2. Gliding allows cadets to hear and feel what the air is doing around the airframe without the distraction of an engine.
  3. Pushing gliders around keeps cadets warm and busy when not flying.
  4. A winch is a lot cheaper to operate and maintain than an aero engine. Fuel cost per launch is typically less than 0.50
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 17:14
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Hi Mechta

Not included in that cost figure of 0.50p is the cost of the airfield and associated infrastructure. I am aware of the benefits of the Winch type operation to the Air Cadets and used to fly at Kenley

However since a lot of this thread talks about root and branch reform I thought I'd ask the question......, float the idea..........., run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it etc............... (Management speak)

Potentially you could base 3 x Motorgliders at Redhill and achieve the flying task more efficiently. The following week/month do it at Manston (errr sorry) Headcorn or Lydd and the following week/month at White Waltham (say). Maintenance could be a la MGSP with routine servicing done at a central regional area (say Halton or Abingdon). With some thought it could really fly...............

Cost benefits from reduced travel and using someone else's airfield infrastructure to operate could really bring the costs down......................... 4 regionalised flights maybe for ownership and maintenance - say:

Abingdon or Halton (S&E)
St Athan (S & W)
Syerston (Midland & North & CGS)
Lossiemouth or Condor (Scotland & NI)


Arc

Last edited by Arclite01; 17th Sep 2015 at 17:20. Reason: For cost benefits
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Old 17th Sep 2015, 23:40
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One thing not mentioned in the recent posts, but which is very applicable here is that there aren't really many new training gliders on the market these days.

As the Chairman & Director of a civvie gliding club (on an RAF airfield!) we have the dilemma of wanting to replace our aged K13s (the best training glider) but with what? The only real options are the K21 (aged and not that great for training in that it can't easily be spun without the removable spin kit added), the Grob Twin II & Twin III (can't be spun or aerobated without mods due to various ADs and a limited cockpit weight) and the new DG1001 Club (expensive and long delivery as the USAF & Aussies are buying up most of the production run). Outside of these you have the PW6, Puchatz (limited airframe life and a tendency to spin off a failed winch launch) or its new successor the as yet unproven Perchoz.

Having trawled Aero this year I think the glider manufacturers are missing a trick, we desperately need a new affordable modern trainer glider as without this where will the next generation of Ventus 3, EB28 or JS1 pilots come from? The sport is polarising - manufacturers will tell you that it takes almost as much time, materials and effort to build an ASG29 as it does a K21 so why not concentrate on building the one that you can sell for more than twice the price of the other!

Sadly one day they'll realise that as us glider pilots get older and fall off the perch, there wont be the aircraft clubs like ours need to train the next generation of pilots. So really, if the ATC want to get back into gliding, overhauling their fleet is the only realistic way forward if you rule out just flying the Vikings as they are under the BGA CAMO.
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 08:52
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The only fault with the K21 is that it won't spin with most crews without tail weights. Otherwise it flies well, it's easy to handle on the ground, it's robust, and at 12,000 hours it can be relifed to get another 6,000. You can't buy a new Grob these days an as you say the PW6 & Perkoz don't have the track record at present.

I have had a flight in a Perkoz, it flies beautifully but in my view had plenty of ergonomic issues. People who looked at it while it was at our club thought it looked fragile in key areas, and it wasn't as easy to handle on the ground. OTOH with the 20m wingtips it has an excellent best L/D.
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 09:13
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The Perkoz looks like a slightly refined Puchacz. And not particularly asthetically pleasing.

I agree with all the comments from Flying_Anorak.

Lets hope the ACO get the Vikings back up and running quickly then.

Arc
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 10:28
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Originally Posted by Arclite01 View Post
The Perkoz looks like a slightly refined Puchacz. And not particularly asthetically pleasing.
<snip>
In my view both the Perkoz and Puchaz fail the 'if it looks right it is right' test. Of course that's not the be-all and end-all of design, but IMHO they are ugly gliders.
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 10:44
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The Puchaz and Perkoz are too short coupled for me to ever look elegant.

For the Air Cadet fleet spinning is not taught routinely beyond the incipient stage anyway (it is at the centre to instructors)

So K21 spin performance is not an issue there.

Anyway all hypothetical - they will never have them. Lets get the Vikings up and running again. I am now thinking of the organisational and staff challenges the VGS is going to face to deliver the Flying Taskings when the Aircraft do come back on line Nightmare is one word..............

Arc

Last edited by Arclite01; 18th Sep 2015 at 10:45. Reason: Nightmare
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 10:46
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I see no reason whatsoever why the UK tax payer should pick up the bill for a new fleet of gliders when it has a fleet of gliders that can do the task.

The problem is that the MoD took their eye of the ball and let a company fail to maintain the fleet and keep records to show the compliance of their maintenance and repair.

The result is that some how compliance with proper maintenance practices has to be demonstrated before these gliders can take to the air, some of this can be done by inspection but some repairs will have to be re-repaired if they don't come up to standard.

The assumption that at one moment these aircraft were servicable and as soon as the MAA stepped is they instantly became unserviceable is a distortion of the facts, I have no doubt that most of the gliders were not unsafe to fly in the short term however their was no way that the maintenance oversight was up to the standard required by the RAF to fly air cadets. This fact left the MAA with no alternative but to stop the fleet from flying.

There is little doubt that the RAF have been slow to get on top of this problem ( air cadet gliding being not the top priority in the nations defense ) but now they have a team in place who are dedicated to this task, for most of them it is their first experience of aircraft of this sort of construction and so they are on a cautious learning curve and wisely not rushing into things and making ill considered decisions.

It is easy to be critical of the speed of progress of the re- activation team but the real criticism should be directed to those who's maintenance practice fell well short of that required and precipitated this situation in the first place.
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 11:10
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But surely not all aircraft showed evidence of damage and repair (whether or not correctly carried out and recorded). Surely therefore a percentage of the fleet remained airworthy and could have continued flying, albeit meeting only part of the task. As it has turned out the baby seems to have followed the bathwater down the plug hole and no-one is flying, and apart from disappointed cadets we seem now to be bereft of instructors. Could make a "Fawlty Towers" programme on that basis. From the outside could make the basis of an interesting IOT exercise - far too simple for staff college
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 11:18
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@Wander

I think the real thing was 'they didn't know what they didn't know' hence the blanket grounding while they baselined the situation. That meant a survey of each airframe - no small task.

You can kind of understand that.

I was concerned about the supposed lack of documentation of the repairs and the poor quality of some repairs (just paraphrasing some comments on this thread). Weren't the repairs all done 'in house' by the GRP bay at Syerston ?

Arc
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 12:19
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Originally Posted by Wander00 View Post
Surely therefore a percentage of the fleet remained airworthy and could have continued flying, albeit meeting only part of the task. As it has turned out the baby seems to have followed the bathwater down the plug hole and no-one is flying
Wander, would you commit aviation in an aircraft where you couldn't be sure of its Rectification/Modification state? Because I certainly wouldn't!

More pertinently, would you allow your child to be a passenger in such an aircraft?

One accident, just one, and that would be the end of Air Cadet gliding forever.



As an ATC Sqn Cdr it is extremely frustrating that I can't get my lads and lasses airborne. However this is compounded by the move of 5 AEF from Wyton to Wittering and the stupidity of not having Air Traffickers at the W/E which is generally when ATC Cdts (as opposed to CCF RAF Cdts) can go flying.

As a result, not only have we had no Gliding for 18 months, we have had no Powered Flying for in excess of a year. It's a bloody shambles, the result being that Cdt retention becomes extremely problematic.
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 13:09
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I take it the documentation and maybe the maintenance also isn't up to BGA standards... I've only realised from reading this thread that the gliders weren't on the G register, despite having seen some of them in action...
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Old 18th Sep 2015, 13:27
  #519 (permalink)  

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The problem is that the MoD took their eye off the ball and let a company fail to maintain the fleet and keep records to show the compliance of their maintenance and repair.
To be fair (ish) to the contractors, my understanding is that some of the iffy engineering practices date back to "blue suited" days.
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Old 21st Sep 2015, 14:00
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"That meant a survey of each airframe - no small task".

But, individually - not that big a task either. Remember, the Viking T.1 is not a Hawk T.1. It's a sailplane that doesn't even have flaps, and the U/C is fixed. Was it really that difficult to look at the records of each aircraft, and starting with the ones that had never been pranged de-rig each one, take a really good look at it and then release it to service? Surely after 18 months that would've provided the ATC with at least some serviceable aircraft?
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