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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 2nd May 2014, 17:36
  #61 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2000
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Ok, I'll spill the beans on some goings on within VGS over the past couple of years that I've seen (and, no, I won't name the VGS, but they may recognise who they are):

- Flying when the wind is gusting out of limits. (Using hand held anemometer to measure wind without applying the correction)
- Landing an aircraft in an area of rough ground following a rough running engine. Doing a non-engineering qualified inspection on the aircraft to release it for flight following the rough landing and a couple of engine ground runs before flying the aircraft again. (Apparently within the allowable regulation for suspected carb icing)
- Flying in flying suits that have not been accepted by a SE fitter.
- Stitching their own badges on their flying suits with non-approved thread and no inspection by an SE fitter.
- Flying after SS+15 (which is night time in air cadet orders, which is prohibited). (An error in time keeping)
- Breaching the flying order book on opening hours.
- Having out of servicing headsets.
- Anomalies in the parachute paperwork.
- An out of date extinguisher on the fire trailer. (Issue technically belongs to the fire section)
- An out of date fire extinguisher in their caravan. (Likewise above)
- Anomalies in the F700 paperwork.
- Caught speeding in the yellow landrovers on several occasions.

As I said before, the VGS organisation need to get sorted out before someone gets hurt. Maybe they've been lucky over the past 30 years?

-[added as afterthought] I think the issue is that many VGS operate at remote sites or on stations with very few full-time staff at the weekends. They are normally not full time aviators and so do not 'live and breath' the military flying orders/regulations. Hence, I suspect, they have not yet been indoctrinated like the rest of us into the new safety regime that the rest of us have endured over the past 6 years. That is what is changing - the engineering oversight has changed and there are/have been far more assurance visits in recent years. Apart from the speeding, the rest were likely errors (some more serious than others) or maybe a regulation that is too liberal in my opinion. [I hope that adds a bit more balance to the examples above? However, I deny they are defamatory as I've had 1st hand knowledge of them over several years]

Finally, please don't take the above as a dig at the organisation - I think its great, but it must do its great work safely and beyond reproach.


PS. Edited to put context in brackets

Last edited by Lima Juliet; 3rd May 2014 at 10:01.
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Old 2nd May 2014, 18:31
  #62 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
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Defamatory comments


Members of the VGS community have been specifically told not to post on PPRuNe. As such a right of reply is difficult to your defamatory remarks.

However, I will report your comments via the appropriate channels.


Edited to add: the order regarding PPRuNe is specifically regarding the current grounding not a general prohibition which is just as well as the Air Cadet organisation does a fantastic job IMHO.
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Old 2nd May 2014, 19:57
  #63 (permalink)  
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Why, what's the problem? Some people asked for evidence and I've quoted what I've seen over my many years. No different to problems I've seen on front-line units, training units and UAS/VGS. I don't have any problem with the VGS and I believe that JM and his new FTS are doing a fantastically proactive job.

I agree that some things shouldn't be posted (commercial/personal sensitivity) but the 'VGS-is-holier-than-thou over the past 30 years' mantra described by some here deserves to be taken to task. The VGS suffers from the same problem as any flying unit - too many humans and their factors! As others have posted on here, and I'm not alone, it's time for the VGS to catch up with the rest of us - this is exactly why 2FTS was formed having lived in the Air Cadet Organisation for many years. None of the things I've quoted are out-and-out killers but indicate an organisation that needs to play catch up with the rest of us after Haddon-Cave. All of these examples were caught before they became a problem and shouldn't happen again.

Report all you like old fruit, but I would far rather see an open and pro-active discussion on stuff like this than trying to bury it. Who knows how many people knew that all was not right on AEFs and we know how that ended before something was done? Let's be wise before an event this time.

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Old 2nd May 2014, 20:09
  #64 (permalink)  
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Tutors now grounded as well, no reason yet given.

As I'm easily identified I'm not going to add to LJ's list...
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Old 2nd May 2014, 20:11
  #65 (permalink)  
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Here is what I was answering, in case you got the wrong end of the stick...

However, perhaps you can explain to me how it is more likely that we will have an accident now after thirty years of safe operation just because a new broom has decided that the engineering paperwork needs to be improved. Your belief that this affair is all that different from real life shows how little you understand about life in industry.
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Old 2nd May 2014, 20:25
  #66 (permalink)  
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I am truly appalled at your list. I do not identify my own VGS with that sort of thing. I do think you have gone over the top with the flying suit issue. My own VGS was on an Army Garrison and at least an hours drive from our parent station and the squippers were not available at the weekends.

Having said all that I can see where you are coming from. However, I think a derogation (or concession) could have been sought from the MAA to keep the aircraft flying in the short term.

I am not a "holier than thou" VGS member but I hope a professional aviator reflecting the wider Air Force.

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Old 2nd May 2014, 20:50
  #67 (permalink)  
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Fair enough mate. As I've been trying to say, I'm not anti VGS and my experience of military aviation over a quarter of a century has seen us all become far more accountable for what we do; I shudder to think of what I used to get up to 20-odd years ago!

Yes, SE and AEA are a challenge for units away from a main operating base, but the rules are set out and you can't just ignore them; well you can, but it's not advisable!

I think that the VGS and the ACO are a national treasure and so we should all support them 100% to get them compliant like the rest of us. The past 6 years of post Haddon-Cave have been an immense struggle for most of us, so let's get the VGS in the 'new club' of risk-based safety management systems and embrace the enhanced level of safety they can bring.

Finally, I stress that these other things I bring up have nothing to do with the current pause in flying, but only act as examples to show that the VGS need to raise their games with the rest of us.

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Old 2nd May 2014, 22:23
  #68 (permalink)  
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It does seem from reading this thread that there is a perception that the VGS were just going along doing there own in until 2FTS was formed. They have very much been "in the flight safety club" since going into 1EFTS then 3FTS and weren't too bad even under the old ACO the current ASAR officer is doing a great job, even a couple of the MAA groupies fly on VGS

The whole there is a new Sheriff in town line is a bit much its not a new Sheriff just a different one! good, bad or in different, better or worse than the last sheriff remains to be seen.
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Old 3rd May 2014, 07:27
  #69 (permalink)  
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Hope the guys and gals get sorted soon gorgeous weather here in east Mids today so sure they will all be chomping at bit to get winch back out soon! Perhaps they need to get some full time bods in as it's all too much for just VGS volunteers now? In my time the boss and CFI would always be on the airfield wielding stick at everyone not doing admin!

Ps what's wrong with sewing your badges on? We always did it (well my mum!)
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Old 3rd May 2014, 08:26
  #70 (permalink)  
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Sorry for the brief reply. Busy day ahead. Few questions for you.

Are you qualified on the type this VGS operate?
Are you an experienced instructor ie QFI/QGI?
Did you, in the first instance, raise your concerns with the OC of the unit?
Are you qualified to inspect the VGS ie are you a CGS instructor or CFS examiner?

I ask as the CFS reports for said unit in 2011 and 2012 were "excellent" and one grade below in 2013 - I think that was a "very good" report and apparently was only just below "excellent" that year too.

Therefore the flying staff (CFS/CGS) whose job it is to assess this unit give it a glowing report for 3 years in a row but they appear to have got it wrong in your considered opinion. Believe me, these chaps don't miss a thing!

In your list of alleged offences I think ppruners will see the trivial ones for what they are but I will address the serious ones.

Flying out of limits. The DI was monitoring the wind using the official calibrated anemometer.

The rough running incident. The Duty Eng was consulted fully and his procedures followed in full. Are you an engineer as well??

Flying out of hours. I presume you are talking about the lunchtime circuit ban which is purely for political reasons and not a flight safety issue. Yes it has happened, in error, and normally the has DI reminded the offending pilot to make a full stop or vacate the circuit.

This VGS has had a very good safety record and I can assure you that all four of the VGS OCs I have served under have taken flight safety extremely seriously. Not that any of us are complacent and we all need to strive to maintain the required standard. If the VGSs have an unacceptable safety record then I would advocate a shake up bit it doesn't so what it does need is to fully comply with the new regulations and, quite frankly, enjoy better support in some areas.

Sadly the Air Cadets lost three cadets and three pilots in recent years as a result of mid air collisions. All three pilots were, I believe, serving or retired RAF pilots. Should I jump to conclusions about the AEFs in general. Actually I won't but the point is that some types of accident can occur even to the most experienced aviator.

Lastly, I would happily let my own children fly with anyone on this unit as I know they are "professional" in their approach to flying. As someone who is a professional I feel I'm entitled to make that judgement.

Last edited by BBK; 3rd May 2014 at 08:28. Reason: Spelling
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Old 3rd May 2014, 09:58
  #71 (permalink)  
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I would offer that you don't need to be qualified on type to see issues. In fact, often the 'new boys', cross-overs and foreign exchange officers see something that, in hindsight, was glaringly onvipus in my experience - making those that have flown a type for so many years (especially from the same station) think why they hadn't spotted it before. Furthermore, in recent times, Service Inquiries and Boards of Inquiry have been made up of people not 100% ensconced in the accident aircraft type - they see things that others much closer can't see. There are many, including myself, that think its 'unhealthy' to spend more than 10-15 years on the same type. Plenty of the new blood in 2FTS don't have long backgrounds in VGS activity, but they bring a wealth of different experience. I also hope that we have left the days of "you've got no experience of this, so you have no voice" scenarios.

I don't want to go too far into specifics as I don't want to identify the exact nature of the examples - I'm trying to keep this anonymous! However, if I may come back on one?

Did you know that hand-held anenometers are very inaccurate and the position that you stand in, the height that you hold it above the ground and the proximity of obstructions will have a drastic effect on the measured wind-speed? I didn't until I spoke to the Met Officer. Wind observations are made at 10 metres above the ground and out of the lee of any obstacles. So if you use a handheld anenometer by holding it 2 metres above the ground, then you have to add 30% to the anenometer's reading to get the observed wind? There are also rules for obstacles, such as standing below the adjacent horizon and near to trees/caravans. I didn't until I looked into things after that event. In fact, there is whole book on Met Observation that I was unaware of - I am now much wiser having read it!

Here is the book - Observer's Handbook (M.O.1028) - Met Office

Please, don't think I am trying to preach or score points - I'm not. As I have said before, the VGS do a wonderful job, giving up their weekends and introducing youths to flying for the first time. All I want is for the VGS, as part of the RAF, to learn from the lessons of others and not sit entrenched in a view of "we've been doing this for years and haven't killed anyone yet, so it must be alright'. All of the examples above could be the slices of swiss cheese about to line up that are the causal factors of serious injury. Anyone may not be significant enough to be the sole cause, but linked together they make the opportunity for a mishap.

I also know that many in the VGS feel frustrated about this temporary pause; especially given the poor winter we have had accross the country. However, seeking a derogation from the MAA when anomolies are found because 'the chaps want to go flying' isn't really going to cut it (yes, there is an amount of flippancy in that comment).

Finally, on reports/audits. These are spot-light views over 1-2 days over a year or two - there can be serious lapses inbetween these audits and no-one would ever know. Expiry dates and paperwork can be in order on the day of audit/inspection but by next weekend they can be out of date. That is the nature of not having constant supervision. The examples I've highlighted come about from having people watching day to day, that is how you pick up errors and make the system better. The same can be said of STANEVAL checks - you can have a really bad day or a really good day, but is it indicative of your day to day performance?

Here's hoping that you guys get back flying soon, we can move forward and continue to run with the gradual improvement program that appears to be coming from 2FTS.


PS. Please accept my apology if you believed that I was being defamatory - that was not my intent. I simply wanted to highlight that VGS make mistakes/errors like any other human factors related activity.
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Old 3rd May 2014, 10:12
  #72 (permalink)  

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Due respect to Sir Chris.
Should he be wearing VR (or VR(T) ) tags? - or has this now been discontinued?
... er - yes he should have been and now is! (VR(T)).

This was an early appearance in uniform and ..... er ...... nobody told him.
Now rectified, and some publicity photos (clearly not that one!) have been retrospectively Photoshopped into compliance!
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Old 3rd May 2014, 10:14
  #73 (permalink)  
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I know that VGS has been tacked onto various FTS in the past. However, due to the FTS's existing portfolio of aircraft types (eg. 3FTS has King Air and Grob, so they've had their own problems of late!). I'm reasonably confident that the new 2FTS was formed to further improve having recognised that a seperate DDH was needed to drive the required level of assurance/ensurance that a youth flying-training activity is deemed to require. This won't have come cheap, introducing new staff to assure the AOC that everything that needs to be done is being done.

I remember when the Safety, Training and Regulation (STAR) teams arrived with significant numbers of personnel to sort out 1 and 2 Group. Very unpopular at the time with their new assurance/ensurance methods. However, now in hindsight a very necessary process to keep us safe by understanding the risks of what we do properly - rather than where we were prior to the tragic loss of the Nimrod. Believe me, I was a sceptic and now I'm a convert despite the exponential increase in my own paperwork and workload.

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Old 3rd May 2014, 10:21
  #74 (permalink)  
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I hope that the sewing of badges was tongue in cheek?

Anyway, the reasons why SE Fitts are to be used for sewing badges on flying suits are as follows:

1. Makes sure they don't come off and fall into control runs and snag emergency egresses or other safety equipment. IE. They are fit for purpose.
2. Flame resistant stitching used to aid identification following an accident.
3. Ensures that the badges are put in the approved location as laid down by the Air Publications.

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Old 3rd May 2014, 10:23
  #75 (permalink)  

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I'm reasonably confident that the new 2FTS was formed to further improve having recognised that a seperate DDH was needed to drive the required level of assurance/ensurance that a youth flying-training activity is deemed to require.
Exactly so. Moreover, it brought Gliding back under the full C2 of the ACO - OC 2FTS's 1st RO is Comdt Air Cadets.

And as neither she nor her predecessor were SQE to be a DDH (sorry for TLAs!) - and had lots more to think about - an "in house" stand alone OC 2FTS fitted the bill exactly!

And JM's doing so well (IMHO) that I'll even forgive him being an air defender ....... well - nearly ........!
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Old 3rd May 2014, 11:25
  #76 (permalink)  
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Concur, from an Air Defender who had a mixed opinion of him from his time at Leeming (mostly hearsay from mates, I hasten to add). He is the right person for this job (thank God, that makes a change!) - just like Timmo was the right man to kick off the MAA.


Last edited by Lima Juliet; 3rd May 2014 at 11:28. Reason: Added content
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Old 3rd May 2014, 14:03
  #77 (permalink)  
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Might I ask what the definition of an 'Air Defender' might be? I honestly don't have a clue!
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Old 3rd May 2014, 14:22
  #78 (permalink)  
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Leon’s observations of a VGS probably didn't help the debate and no doubt would be contested. I hope he is genuine in his desire to see continued improvement of flight safety for all users at that airfield. The significant number of errors, mistakes and violations committed by some of the other users at the same airfield make the alleged incidents by the VGS look very trivial.

The VGS have an enviable safety record that has received much praise from both within the RAF aviation community and civil world. Do they always get it right - no. Is there room for continuous improvement - better be, or many who volunteer their time will stop flying.

The VGS, like the rest of the RAF have significantly improved since Haddon Cave, but both are appreciably behind commercial aviation in terms of safety culture and understanding of human performance.

The issue of flying suits, headsets, equipment and maintenance are problems where all VGS's have just had to accept that RAF parenting is inadequate. Sqn’s have adapted and improvised to continue to operate. This has to stop and whilst some progress was made under 1EFTS and 3FTS, there is pleasing evidence that 2FTS is making substantial inroads to address problems. The fact that it may stop flying is frustrating, but the benefits in flight safety and solving some of the historical lack of funding is the right way to progress.

Last edited by Snapyou; 3rd May 2014 at 22:43.
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Old 3rd May 2014, 14:40
  #79 (permalink)  
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TheChitterneFlyer ...

Mil Aircrew that undertake Air Defence operations ... for example QRA. So think EE Lightning, Phantom F4, Tornado F3, Typhoon F2 crews ...

Last edited by CoffmanStarter; 4th May 2014 at 09:21.
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Old 3rd May 2014, 16:58
  #80 (permalink)  
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Tutor Grounded

any info since the grounding yesterday?
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