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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 21st Mar 2016, 10:13
  #1941 (permalink)  
 
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Message from Honorary President of 2 FTS

"You will be aware of the recent decisions on the future of Air Cadet Gliding, which will see the demise of most of the Vigilant fleet, leaving only circa 15 for the next few years, and a significant reduction in gliding locations. There is no way I can dress all this up as good news. However, much media coverage has been ill-informed, mischievous and selective with the facts. As your President, and also Hon President of 2 FTS, I wanted to give you all my view of the background, the decisions and the future.

In terms of my own role in all this, you will be aware that I could exert influence, but the final decisions were taken by the senior executive of the RAF, taking into account affordability, the needs of the ACO and a vision of the future. It was especially necessary to consider the cost-effectiveness of a lengthy recovery programme for the Vigilant fleet, alongside the requirement to re-engine the motor gliders in the 2020 timeframe.

I have briefed you before on the reasons behind the current grounding of the VGS fleet, which is now approaching two years. In essence, the root causes were a stiffening of flight safety regulations post the scathing Nimrod accident review by Haddon-Cave QC, and the subsequent discovery of significant shortcomings in engineering governance in the VGS fleet. With cadet safety paramount, especially after the tragic Tutor accidents of recent years, I believe the ACO authorities had no choice but to initiate the pause to flying.

There has been understandable criticism of how the decisions were announced. However, government rules emphatically prohibit any advanced notice of sensitive decisions until Ministers have made formal announcements. Informal briefings invariably leak, with consequent embarrassment. Moreover, there have been extensive discussions and consultations between senior officers and the VGS community; I attended on several occasions. Of course, in the end a decision was taken at Air Force Board level, but no one can fairly claim that they were in the dark on the dire state of the fleet, the costs involved to mount a full recovery, and the difficult decisions which had to be made. I might add that the Commandant Air Cadets personally wrote to all members of the ACO as soon as protocol allowed, with a full explanation, expression of deep regret, especially for those displaced instructors, and a clear message about future aviation opportunities. In addition, John Middleton will visit every affected VGS; he has been to 10 already.

On the plans themselves, whilst there will be far fewer gliding locations,there will be more fully refurbished Vikings at more sites, new high speed winches are being procured, the training package will be better and will include excellent STE, and the remaining centres of excellence will boast vastly improved infrastructure, including bespoke accommodation. Indeed, with a rationalised fleet of purely conventional gliders, I would argue that the true gliding experience should be enhanced. Taken alongside significantly increased powered air experience flying (AEF), with plans for two more Flights, using aircraft currently in reserve, the ACO has no reason to fear that flying opportunities are under threat. The 'Air' element will remain at the heart of the Organisation.

Of course, much of the VGS package represents bad news, notably for so many dedicated instructors; my heart goes out to them. However, some will be able to convert to AEF on the Tutor; others will be offered a crossover to the Viking. Sadly, many will not be able to continue serving the ACO, and their feelings of being let down are entirely understandable.

So, very challenging days for the VGS community, ourselves included, but in the end the decisions are logical, were as well managed as protocol allows, and we must now move forward. I will do my best to ensure that current plans are progressed as quickly as possible, that appropriate deals are made available to the Vigilant instructors, and that you are all kept informed of progress. In the future, I will be looking with John Middleton at ways of increasing conventional gliding opportunities, especially as the remaining Vigilants are phased out. Clear possibilities include RAFGSA, Civilian Clubs for bespoke scholarship courses, and perhaps the addition of another glider type to the current Viking fleet. Your views at Linton will be much appreciated. I shall be wearing my flack jacket!

Warm Regards
Chris

Sir Christopher Coville

President FOGIES

Hon President 2 FTS
Supplementary Notes:

- The decisions on future Air Cadet gliding were taken in the best interests of cadet flying opportunities, not to make savings.
- The motor glider sorties are largely being replaced by more capable, interesting and varied Tutor sorties, which unlike the Vigilant can include aerobatics.
- Conventional Viking gliding opportunities will increase threefold, as a result of fleet size enhancement and acquisition of additional modern winches.
- Number of flying sites (AEF and VGS) remains about the same.
- Number of flying opportunities largely unaffected, but could actually increase as new winches, increased Viking numbers and additional AEF role out.
- New, modern simulators will add value to airborne time.
- The whole training package is being improved, along with far better infrastructure.
- The final distribution of gliders and AEF will maximise flying opportunities for cadets, taking into account travel distances and regional needs.
- When recovery is complete, the UK ACO will have the largest youth flying enterprise in the world, and the largest single fleet of conventional gliders in any similar organisation."
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 10:59
  #1942 (permalink)  
 
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The final supplementary note may be true; but the fleet will be far smaller than it was.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 11:16
  #1943 (permalink)  
 
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iRaven
Like Coffman, I play the facts, not the person. But this was uploaded 3 years ago to YouTube and it shows OC2FTS' "personal" views, when he was a Regional Commandant, on the use of technology and 'quality over quantity'. This would chime with my previous conspiracy theory that today's position has been a long time coming:



I have not posted on this thread for some time,surely there cannot be many people now who believe this was just an airworthiness issue - I am not a 'conspiracy theorist' at heart but I believe this situation has been handled in at best an amateur way by the brass and at worst in a very devious way by the brass .
I certainly do not blame one man but I would still question who and why gave him that particular job at such a crucial time,his 'personality' is well known in the RAF - especially since he was overage for the post anyway.
The Haddon Cave report was a long time ago and it cannot really be blamed for something that was 'found' only 2 years ago,I have seen many machinations in my aviation career and this one is up there with the best (worst) of them
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 11:17
  #1944 (permalink)  
 
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There is no way I can dress all this up as good news.
When I first read this I thought it was not going to do exactly that. Then I read the supplementary notes and saw 'window dressing' yet again. I wonder if the supplementary notes were from Sir Chris?

On the messaging of VGS OCs and Stn Cdrs about the decision. This is a modern age, and so as soon as the Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) came out around 1230hrs on 10 Mar 16, then all OCs should have been texted and emailled a link ASAP; better to find out this way from an official source rather than Facebook and text message notes of condolence. The previous 2 videos keep talking about 'use of technology' in the Air Cadets - then use it! Writing letters to Stn Cdrs dated 1 day after the announcement and speaking to the staff 3 hours after the announcement is very bad form in my humble opinion. I believe it could have been done so much better:

1. Text link of Ministerial Statement to all VGS OCs with a note stating "HQ 2FTS will call you as soon as we can".
2. Follow up call needs to be brief - "Hello Sqn Ldr X, I'm dreadfully sorry to tell you....etc...I have 13 other Sqn Cdrs to call right now, but I wanted you all to know at the very earliest opportunity. I must go but one of my staff will call you straight back with further details."
3. The follow up staff probably won't know much more than the VGS OC but at least they have someone to chat with and start to help sort out the jumbled, and sometimes irrational, thoughts that a Sqn disbandment announcement can bring.

Why would this have been so very difficult? Many knew for weeks that an announcement was expected and so putting a plan in place like the one above was quite simple. Defence WMS normally come out on a Thursday and so you could even plan the right day of the week!!!

CPL Clott

PS. "Clear possibilities include RAFGSA, Civilian Clubs for bespoke scholarship courses, and perhaps the addition of another glider type to the current Viking fleet" - Hallelujah, Sir Chris
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 11:29
  #1945 (permalink)  
 
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Sir Christopher Coville (c/o ATFQ) :-
In essence, the root causes were a stiffening of flight safety regulations post the scathing Nimrod accident review by Haddon-Cave QC,
The root cause was the deliberate and malevolent actions of a few RAF VSO's in the late 80's and early 90's. They sabotaged UK Military Air Safety for short term financial gain (to compensate for the incompetent policies of AMSO), subverting Military Airworthiness by ordering subordinates to suborn the regulations but to sign them off as complied with anyway or face disciplinary action. Pretty soon there were no experienced engineers left who knew the regulations, let alone were prepared to enforce them against such pressures. They were replaced by inexperienced untrained non-engineers who would do as they were told. The regulations themselves were scrapped so that they could not be quoted. The Airworthiness of all UK military aircraft and systems thus took a hit from which it has never recovered. All of this was covered up by subsequent serving VSOs, the MOD, Haddon-Cave, and Lord Phillip, and was only exposed in the long running campaign in this forum to reverse the infamous finding of the Mull of Kintyre BoI ROs, Messrs Wratten and Day.

It is thus not only the Air Cadets that have fallen foul of that sabotage but UK Military Aviation as a whole, particularly the Royal Air Force. The only way to start the 1000 mile march to reinstate UK Military Airworthiness provision and maintenance is to make the MAA and the MilAAIB independent of the MOD and of each other, and time is of the essence...
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 11:34
  #1946 (permalink)  
 
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LJ - not sure if I'm missing something on your map of AEFs. The map shows roughly where their associated UASs may be, but not AEFs; thats unless they plan to move the Tutor fleet around again.

For example, CUAS is in Cambridge and LUAS in London, but both flying from RAF Wittering; home of 5 AEF. Same with EMUAS, based in Nottingham, but flies from Cranwell; home of 7 AEF.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 11:49
  #1947 (permalink)  
 
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RB

Sorry it was an old map. However, I understand there will be a 13 AEF and a 14 AEF stood up. One of which is supposedly expected in Northern Ireland to replace the Newtonards VGS. Looking at the other AEF location, it surely must go to Wales?

Don't get me wrong, I don't think AEF is a good replacement for VGS gliding. But then again I don't think motorgliders are good for keeping the Cadets amused all day either - conventional gliding is the best by far in my opinion.

LJ
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 11:56
  #1948 (permalink)  
 
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Conspiracy Theory!!!

Thanks to iRaven for posting this earlier.

If you want a conspiracy theory, the 2016 decision was stitched together as early as 2012:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...0Study%20O.pdf
At the time of this report (Dec 2012) there were 27 VGS establishments with 146 aircraft (65 Vigilants and 81 Vikings)

How is it possible for the paperwork on 146 airframes to go missing? One or two perhaps under very special circumstances, but 146!! Knowing how these things should work (even with a contractor working for MoD) someone must have asked someone for permission to destroy (what would have been a mountain) of this very valuable paperwork. Someone put a signature to a document allowing this to happen, but surely they will have ensured that there was a copy or at least the info should have been transferred to digital media?? Perhaps things have changed since I was involved with Air Cadet gliding some 40 years ago, but even then the paperwork required was becoming unbearable.

The more I think about it and having re-read iRaven's document the more I agree with many of the posters that this was a plan put in place long before the "pause". Losing the paperwork was just an excuse to sit on hands doing nothing and have yet another review of Air Cadet gliding.

Perhaps we could invite Haddon-Cave to investigate and uncover who was responsible for authorising the destruction of the paperwork leading to this debacle.

Yes, conspiracy does spring to mind
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 14:11
  #1949 (permalink)  
 
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Freda Checks

I'll redirect you to my post #1837.

Direct fron the RA
Maintenance records should be retained until the work it records has been
invalidated by documented work carried out subsequently (for example, Scheduled
Base Maintenance (SBM), Major maintenance, or equivalent); RA4311 and MAP-01
Chapter 7.6 provides further regulation and guidance in this respect.

No where does it say keep until the world ends
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 14:30
  #1950 (permalink)  
 
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What documentation exists?

So there must be some documentation then??

Maintenance records should be retained until the work it records has been
invalidated by documented work carried out subsequently
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 14:33
  #1951 (permalink)  
 
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The obvious solution was really for the system to repair the Vikings and replace the Vigilants with another Motorglider. Possibly the Ximango.............

While that was going on, place a long term order for Viking replacement.

Problem solved..............

Arc

WRT to JM I have not met the man, I don't know him from Adam, but the 'Interview' on You Tube (URL higher up this thread) left me feeling that he was a 'Cold Fish', with no personality and an inability to connect with his audience, as well as appearing to have no sincerity at all..............on that basis totally the correct man for this job.<<Politician>>
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 14:58
  #1952 (permalink)  
 
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Freda Checks

With regards to your statement/statements. I'll repeat myself.


Maintenance records should be retained until the work it records has been
invalidated by documented work carried out subsequently (for example, Scheduled
Base Maintenance (SBM), Major maintenance, or equivalent); RA4311 and MAP-01
Chapter 7.6 provides further regulation and guidance in this respect.



i dont think that anyone,(well apart from the biggest buffon) thinks that ALL the paperwork for specific aircraft is AWOL

Further to my even earlier post, on the Viking at my VGS (with a 3 year interval between majors) with a current major , there would be no requirement to hold any MWO past that 36 month timescale, for minor repetive tasks, that duration can be as short as 28 days. MAA rules.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 15:13
  #1953 (permalink)  
 
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How is it possible for the paperwork on 146 airframes to go missing? One or two perhaps under very special circumstances, but 146!!
Did it ever exist in an acceptable format and level of detail?
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 15:44
  #1954 (permalink)  

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Did it ever exist in an acceptable format and level of detail?
That's probably the key [my bold]
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 15:48
  #1955 (permalink)  
 
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No where does it say keep until the world ends
Your quote is correct for Cat B paperwork but Cat A is required to be kept for 5 years after an aircraft is taken out of service. If its the Cat A paperwork that has gone missing there needs to be questions asked. If it hasn't, the argument for the loss of airworthiness loses some of its strength.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 16:08
  #1956 (permalink)  
 
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Since when did a Flying Training School need an Honorary President? It's supposed to be a operational organisation for f***s sake, not some sort of Service club that needs a long retired VSO as a figurehead.
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 16:12
  #1957 (permalink)  
 
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But if it is to have a President I can think of none better than CCCC. He has experience of volunteers as President of RAFA Europe, and of the ACO as an AEF pilot. He is also a current glider pilot. He seems, IMHO anyway, to tick all the boxes.

Last edited by Wander00; 21st Mar 2016 at 16:46. Reason: @Cos TTH is always correct! Thanks
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 16:24
  #1958 (permalink)  

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Absolutely agree Wander00. CCCC ( 4 x Cs surely?) is indeed a top bloke under whom I have served with pleasure - IIRC - three times.

Shame he's an Evertonian really ............. (only joking Sir!)
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 16:46
  #1959 (permalink)  
 
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I have nothing but respect for CCC

I liked his post. He's the first VSO to declare his hand and involvement.

The only thing I can say is that I'd rather he had spoken to people at the VGS's than the the Ivory Tower people at 2FTS and HQAC they would have got a more balanced view (if they had wanted it of course............) and some more options.............

I think he is right in his assumptions and I do feel that it's unlikely we will see a reverse of the decision now. However 'it's not over until it's over' and you never know what is around the corner. My thoughts are that unfortunately ACO Gliding (like most other 'facilities') would be incredibly expensive to restart once it's decommissioned (model holds good for a range of industries - shipbuilding, coal, steel, aerospace etc) as the capital required just isn't there, and UK Plc wants everything 'now' rather than thinking about '5 years time'. 6 months after this announcement there will be no 'seedcorn' to plant from.......................

'I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith'

Arc
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Old 21st Mar 2016, 18:43
  #1960 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Leon Jabachjabicz View Post
RB

Sorry it was an old map. However, I understand there will be a 13 AEF and a 14 AEF stood up. One of which is supposedly expected in Northern Ireland to replace the Newtonards VGS. Looking at the other AEF location, it surely must go to Wales?

Don't get me wrong, I don't think AEF is a good replacement for VGS gliding. But then again I don't think motorgliders are good for keeping the Cadets amused all day either - conventional gliding is the best by far in my opinion.

LJ
Oh LJ, you fell for it and applied logic!

I'm reliably informed that the current candidate for the other new AEF is at Odiham.

The Vigilant never was great for hands on but it was a more productive machine for the input, even when the hourly costings ( 250?!) were applied with all the costs of the 'professionals'... who led us to this mess.

To me the most important product of the VGS system is (was) the ability to send kids solo. No matter how this is dressed up there will be less solo even with the new system at full capacity (unless the VGSs start flying full time!).

Air experience at all levels before that point was (is) pretty unengaging and poorly structured so I welcome some of the new ideas that have emerged from the debacle. The quality of the synthetics is questionable but as part of a broader package may well retain interest.

A single fleet is flawed. But then if there are going to be two conventional types why not return to the 'old' system?
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