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Who Speaks for the Dead ?

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Who Speaks for the Dead ?

Old 27th Apr 2019, 20:13
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Who Speaks for the Dead ?

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“Cost cutting by MoD is blamed for 100 deaths.” Headline for ten column inches on page 3 of last Tuesday’s Times (23 April 2019) by Lucy Fisher.

A new book by David Hill. “Breaking the Military Covenant: .why British servicemen are dying unnecessarily” is to be published in mid May, available from the usual watery souq.

This dire subject will go on being ‘done to death’ on PPRuNe until the MoD wakes up. Numerous threads about usually fatal but mostly avoidable accidents that result from unreasonable or irresponsible decisions made, not in the haste of operational necessity, but in the calm protection of the office. For such decisions, probably the most immediate threat is of an adverse report or a backwater posting, if one doesn’t toe the line.

Cost cutting is only half the problem. It is a simplistic convenience, because it avoids the dirty complicated side of this long-standing problem. The other half is comprised of dodgy airworthiness, unfitness for purpose, inadequate regulation and restricted investigation. There is regrettably, no evidence that any lessons (especially those relating to honesty) have yet been learned by the powers responsible for or complicit in the resulting accidents and deaths. Worse, no lessons seem to have been preserved, to provide guidance to previously uninvolved participants who find themselves presiding in good faith, over the subsequent soviet-style suppression of the truths of each successive case or fatality.

Nearly twenty years passed before the MoD was forced to admit the truth about Chinook ZD576, as chronicled in “Their Greatest Disgrace” by the same author. It seems even now, that this miserable culture remains unchanged at the upper levels of MoD. It is still going on because the flawed system still depends on self-regulation, denial, covert influence and oppression, and the improper assignment of blame to lower levels or other agencies.

The author should be applauded and publicly commended for his determination to bring to light the otherwise hidden truths of these unnecessary deaths. There are others, less well known, who also fight against the MoD’s shamefully routine and repeated efforts to conceal the real causes and guilt from the public and from the grieving families.

An MoD spokesman kinda gave the game away, again -

“…we put safety right at the heart of our procurement activities and in the event of a fatality or major loss of equipment a thorough independent investigation is undertaken by the Defence Safety Authority.”

LFH

.......
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 21:11
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LFH.

The 'soviet style suppression' of which you talk is not confined to the aforementioned disgraceful goings on.

Witness the 20,000 vets on bikes that DIDN'T close down London on the 19th or the similar number of 'foot soldiers' who DIDN'T march on parliament, Didn't halt in front of the House of Clowns, didn't react to the command to 'about turn', turning their backs on politicians who have turned their backs on them, didn't march down the Mall, didn't halt in front Buck House and didn't sing the national anthem to the "Boss". (I gather nothing will be happening at Media city next month either).

Apparently, There was a pink boat and some people using superglue ...but nothing of the above demonstrations. Or, if something did happen but was not reported, was it a case of 'soviet style suppression' by the politicians and/or corporate censorship by the complicit but allegedly independent 'meejah' ? You may think so, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Geobbels would be proud.

Best of luck with your latest book, David. I rather feel you will need it...again.
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Old 27th Apr 2019, 23:04
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The Times article 23 April

.....
Here's the full article referred to above -
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"Cost cutting by MoD is blamed for 100 deaths -
The Times, 23 April 2019, by Lucy Fisher

A hundred British military personnel have died in the past 35 years because of “avoidable” accidents linked to government maladministration, a new book claims.

David Hill, a former avionics project manager at the Ministry of Defence, has accused it of repeatedly cutting costs at the expense of safety, which he said had contributed to fatal aircraft crashes. He said that he had witnessed in Whitehall how bungled departmental procurement decisions had entailed cash being wasted on obsolete items, prompting a squeeze in the budget for crucial safety training and equipment.

Mr Hill, who retired in 2004, sets out his argument in Breaking the Military Covenant: why British servicemen are dying unnecessarily, to be published next month.

Among the 11 military accidents he examined was the collision of two Sea King Mk7 helicopters in the Gulf in 2003 in which six British personnel and one US crew member were killed. The programme to upgrade the helicopters to the Mk7 had been compromised two years earlier, he said, “allowing known risks to manifest themselves” on the day of the crash. Among the factors he highlights was the failure to provide night vision goggles for the pilots.

Mr Hill also criticised the MoD’s “failure to maintain airworthiness” of an RAF Nimrod surveillance aircraft that crashed in Afghanistan in 2006 after a fire. All 14 crew died. An independent review’s recommendations are yet to be implemented, he said.

Mr Hill told The Times that accidents were “going to happen again because the MoD are not learning lessons. The MoD now understand that something has to be done, but they don’t have the resources in terms of money. Neither do they have experienced staff because of rampant privatisation. People aren’t trained any more. They don’t recognise what’s not being done.”

An MoD spokesman said the department “takes the safety of all personnel extremely seriously. To ensure that our equipment operates at the highest standards we put safety right at the heart of our procurement activities and in the event of a fatality or major loss of equipment a thorough independent investigation is undertaken by the Defence Safety Authority.”

In 2011 Nick Harvey, then the armed forces minister, met Mr Hill to discuss the issues he had raised."
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Comments(50)

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/c...aths-vj5fvrp09

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Old 28th Apr 2019, 10:07
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Of course we donít learn lessons. And we almost take a bizarre level of pride in that fact. As I discovered during my time in purgatory, sorry, posting to JHC HQ where I was asked to design and implement an operational lessons system.

When I asked about resources I was told well at the moment itís just you, so youíll have to split your time between your Ops role and this Lessons Identified position. There might be a Clerk somewhere in the system to manage the database once you get it set up. When I asked about the gapped Lessons Learned post who was supposed to work alongside me implementing what I had uncovered, they said they couldnít resource it, but it probably wouldnít matter as we never learn lessons anyway, just as long as we identify then.

The worrying thing is that I donít think this was in anyway unusual. But I donít think it was necessarily an approach born of negligence. Resourcing and prioritisition to get Ops done is obviously.part of this, but it is also symptomatic of the very linear and unidirectional approach we take, marching onwards to the next thing without ever stopping to think and reflect on what we have just done. Until that unidirectional mindset is broken, this will continue. And I suspect to break that mindset and introduce the capacity for reflection will mean more resource, more time and fewer knee-jerk reactions that Ďsomething must be done and done nowí. And that comes directly in the direction from the top of the shop. We say all the right things but thatís where it ends.
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Old 29th Apr 2019, 07:56
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Apparently, There was a pink boat and some people using superglue ...but nothing of the above demonstrations. Or, if something did happen but was not reported, was it a case of 'soviet style suppression' by the politicians and/or corporate censorship by the complicit but allegedly independent 'meejah' ? You may think so, but I couldn't possibly comment.
So how do you know about it?
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Old 29th Apr 2019, 11:37
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I remember the cynical chuckling when I was last in the Ministry when we changed "Lessons Learned" to "Lessons Identified" ....

..... spot the difference! Answers on a postcard please.....
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Old 29th Apr 2019, 16:33
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Originally Posted by teeteringhead View Post
I remember the cynical chuckling when I was last in the Ministry when we changed "Lessons Learned" to "Lessons Identified" ....

..... spot the difference! Answers on a postcard please.....
Lessons learned actually requires you to do something rather than just talk about it!
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Old 29th Apr 2019, 17:49
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
So how do you know about it?
If I told you,........etc
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Old 29th Apr 2019, 18:49
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Good spot, LFH, thank you. Lest anyone console themselves with the thought that these 100 deaths while regrettable are essentially historic, think again! The attack on UK Military Airworthiness commenced in the late 1980's. It has spread throughout the fleets like a canker because once you subvert the system, once you order the Regulations to be suborned, once you rid the system of the experience and expertise of those who will not comply, then the continuous process of safety auditing which is the very foundation of airworthiness is lost. The only way then to regain that lost airworthiness is to face up to what has happened, why it has happened, and to reform the system so that it cannot happen again.


What happened? Short term savings were made at the expense of safety. Who ordered that? RAF VSOs. Why did they do that? Because they could, and because they desperately needed the previously ring fenced Air Safety funds to counter Supply based financial losses caused by the ineptness of a certain RAF VSO. Why hasn't the system been reformed yet? Because it would reveal that ineptness and the illegal orders of RAF VSOs who are now protected by a continuous cover up since by succeeding RAF VSOs.


The RAF remains dishonoured and compromised until and unless these issues are faced up to and proper reform instituted. The gross lack of airworthiness in the UK Military Airfleets will go on claiming victims until that happens. And all for protecting the reputations of a handful of old men!


Self Regulation Doesn't Work and in Aviation It Kills!

Last edited by Chugalug2; 29th Apr 2019 at 19:22. Reason: Words, dear boy.
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Old 29th Apr 2019, 21:49
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High Spirits, I understand your anger. I don't like having to write posts as above. I may not have any connection with the modern day RAF other than to want to see it flourish and succeed in every way. I'm certain that those who work in Air Safety these days take Airworthiness seriously and don't go to work to suborn it (that was done long ago).

The fact remains though that a safety system design that has remained in service since before I joined the RAF let alone left it had been compromised to the extent that it took life instead of preserving it. Why? Because the RAF's corporate memory had forgotten how to do up a nut! That same loss of memory accounts for so many of the other tragedies that are subject threads in this forum. That memory loss is because of the actions of certain VSOs, which were to UK Military Airworthiness what Pol Pot was to the people of Cambodia. Both shared a Year Zero. Neither turned out well!
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 04:54
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HS

Well said, but you are wasting your time.
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 06:45
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High Spirits & TOFO

I think you have to read the book to understand Chug's comments. (Many here have, as it was available last year). It doesn't make unfounded accusations against MoD staff at any level. It collates a series of MoD reports into fatal accidents, and places in them in context alongside the Nimrod Review and personal experiences. In these reports, MoD admitted most of the failings mentioned. Haddon-Cave reiterated the rest, based on warnings by the RAF Director of Flight Safety. You will also read (HS) that the book is kind to the MoD staff you mention, and agrees with what you say. It only takes a few bad eggs. They are well-known and knew exactly what the outcome of their actions would be. And it cites the correspondence telling them, which was largely provided by MoD under FOI. And MoD cleared the book for publication. Trying to prevent unnecessary deaths can never be a waste of time. Or, at least, not in my book.
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 08:41
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I think this extract from the book illustrates well where the likes of Chug and I are coming from. Look at the dates and ask yourself who briefed Adam Ingram and Bob Ainsworth. Precisely the same prior direct warnings (i.e. face to face, at 2 Star level) were provided that could have prevented (e.g.) Tornado ZG710, Sea Kings XV650 & 704, Kajaki Dam (it isn't just about aircraft) and many others. The point is, it's still happening. As an aside, this makes a nonsense of the claim 'We've asked some difficult questions. That's why we were created' (MAA Technical Director, 13 July 2014). No you didn't. Junior staff in MoD pointed out the failings and provided the answers - from 1988 (the point at which I believe the failings became systemic). DFS listed the same failings from 1992-98. Haddon-Cave in 2009. Lord Philip in 2011, although obliquely. A succession of Coroners. Internal MoD auditors. Members of the public. This isn't just a couple of old hands shouting from the sidelines on an internet forum. The book tries to make sense of voluminous data already in the public domain, supplemented by what was omitted in official reports. And money isn't an issue. In each case it was faster, cheaper and better to do the right thing in the first place.

I recall saying in an old thread that it would take the MAA 10 years to implement Haddon-Cave's recommendations. It's almost 10 years now..... And then everything regressed 20 years after the Cunningham case last year. (But that's another book).


In my submission to the (Nimrod) Review, I stated:‘The causes of this accident are rooted in MoD’s systematic failure to implement the regulations designed to ensure airworthiness, despite many warnings of the consequences over a long period.

On 15 September 2005 I wrote to my MP, who passed the letter to Adam Ingram, Minister for the Armed Forces: “In my experience, this ambivalent attitude towards safety is compelling evidence of a lack of robustness in the application of procedures within the MoD, which I have known to result in critical safety problems”.

On 17 May 2007 Mr Ingram replied: “Mr Hill has stated that although the MoD has a robust airworthiness regulatory framework it is not applied robustly. I contend that the framework is applied robustly”. (His emphasis). Please note the delay between my letter and Ingram's reply. Nimrod XV230 crashed on 2 September 2006.

I tried again, to his successor Bob Ainsworth MP. “I contend that cultural traits and organisational practices which are contrary to sound engineering practice and detrimental to safety have been allowed to develop. Effective communication of critical safety information, and intelligent debate, is stifled. There is a lack of integrated management and oversight across programs and often an informal and uninformed chain of command and decision-making process exists outside the formal airworthiness and safety delegations”. On 2 August 2008, Minister repeated his position’.

Messrs Ingram and Ainsworth were, tragically, proved wrong. Neither has apologised, and no action has been taken against those who misled them.
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 18:47
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tuc, well said. You are not wasting your time!
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 19:55
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HS. The seat that killed Sean Cunningham lacked a Safety Case. It was unairworthy, hence his aircraft was too. Just how up to date an example of lack of airworthiness do you want? The ACO gliding fleet was grounded because such basic and simple aircraft were unairworthy. Other than a few exceptions (total rebuilds?) that remains the case today. This is a direct result of ignoring the specific warnings and predictions itemised by tucumseh.

I stand by what I say. The RAF is dishonoured by the cover up perpetrated by its High Command of illegal and reckless acts by certain of their predecessors. It is compromised by the lack of airworthiness infecting its fleets. No matter how dedicated and resolute the present generation of those mandated to provide for and maintain UK Military Airworthiness are, they have been handed a poison chalice. Any system or aircraft has to have an unbroken verified audit trail to justify a claim of airworthiness. The examples I give failed that test. What else is waiting to reveal the same?

Airworthiness not only has to be done, it has to be seen to be done. When Regulator and Operator become one then that is no longer the same. Regulator, Investigator, and Operator have to be separate and independent of each other to ensure both confidence and transparency. Until that happens no amount of hard work and dedication will suffice. Those who manned your desks in the late 80s were just as dedicated. They were simply replaced by those who did as they were bid. If it happened then it can happen again. There is nothing special about today, it is simply tomorrow's yesterday.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 30th Apr 2019 at 20:09.
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Old 30th Apr 2019, 20:54
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Originally Posted by high spirits View Post
Sorry, but I call BS. This isnít the organisation that I recognise or work for. One that takes airworthiness extremely seriously and whose personnel donít walk into work of a morning to suborn regulation. And no, Iím not senior.

Please stop trashing those who are doing their best. You clearly donít have any connection with the modern day RAF.
Well that is NOT the impression I gained from ALL ranks.

The biggest complaint by far was... self aggrandisement has left the RAF lower and middle management comprised of yes men who WILL throw anyone under the bus to improve their personal outlook...
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Old 1st May 2019, 06:21
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I accept your claims on what might have happened.
Facts, accepted by legal reviews, Government and (most of) MoD.

Your opinion on the present day is grossly out.
I guess it's time, then, to write to the new Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service, to ask if he agrees with his last 4 or 5 predecessors that refusing to obey an order to make a false declaration about airworthiness is an offence, and issuing the order is not. The last confirmation was on 28 October 2014, from the late Sir Jeremy Heywood, upholding a 22-year old ruling. Not a one-off aberation then. One briefed to him by MoD's DE&S Secretariat at AbbeyWood.
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Old 1st May 2019, 06:42
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Hi Chug, Tuc,

I lost mates in the 849 crash - but I do wonder (if Iíve got this right) whether a 22 year old ruling is relevant to the everyday activities within the UK Air Forces?
Is the MAA really that bad? Does the system actually lead to more fatals than any other?
Can you point at one risk today (prob of x impact of) that is greater because of Ďthe systemí or any system...just to help me out and contextualise the point?
Are the accusations (backed by facts or otherwise) about RAF officers analogous to similar situations in the RN and AAC?
Iím coming at this from a (probably historically inaccurate) perspective of there once being a time where aircraft seemed to be raining to the ground and I canít think of a Typhoon accident as a case study, or a C-17...or a non camera related Voyager...you get the point.
I can assure you (FWIW and without being able to prove it) that I am one of few who have read every single syllable of the Nimrod Review - as opposed to being one of those that trots out the Ďpost Haddon-Caveí war cry as part of any sentence to do with risk.
Just want to understand the issue wrt everyday, modern day, ops of the RAF, FAA and AAC.

Many thanks.

Orca.
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Old 1st May 2019, 08:23
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I think the only real bone of contention here arises due to the extremely broad and sweeping language being used to suggest, basically, that the entirety of the RAF and MoD are complicit in rendering everything un-airworthy in every respect. I don't see anyone disputing that there were, and no doubt still are, issues, some of them serious, nor disputing the gravity of the findings in the particular cases highlighted.
IMHO, it does not follow that everything is bad, and in so far as something was bad, it could have changed by now.
The reality is, in any large organisation, that rules are followed to differing degrees and discretion is used in day to day operations to "keep the show on the road". Some managers are able to make good choices, and some get caught out. Where aircraft are involved, the consequences can be fatal, but if it is perfection we want, then we shouldn't expect there to be terribly much flying going on.
I do not wish to seem in any way complacent, but a slightly more forensic approach is required, as a sledgehammer will not crack the nut of organisational safety culture.
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Old 1st May 2019, 11:28
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Orca, falcon, I'll try to field a response. Firstly, my posts may be sweeping, if so I apologise. I am trying to summarise a very complex, arcane, and long drawn out affair that has resulted in the present day state of UK Military Air Safety. They rather assume that others have read the various airworthiness related fatal accident threads in this Forum. They also refer to the contents of David Hill's various books relating to the consequences of the late80s/early 90s subversion of UK Military Air Safety by certain RAF VSOs.


I would recommend reading those books (rather more than reading the entire Haddon-Cave report, Orca!) They are the personal testimony of someone who refused to suborn the regs when so ordered, and has attempted to expose the quite deliberate subversion of Air Safety for short term financial saving. The results are still with us and will remain with us until real reform is carried out.

The MAA as presently constituted does not do that. On the contrary it is based on a lie, that the early 90's were a 'Golden Period' of UK Military Air Safety (recognise the phrase, Orca? You should it is from Haddon-Cave and illustrates how the official record is distorted and altered to throw focus away from that original subversion of UK Military Air Safety). I assume that you both know how airworthiness works, that every aircraft and every aircraft system has to be fully audited continuously throughout its existence, from start to finish. No matter how assiduously today's personnel go about doing that, if their predecessors didn't, then that aircraft, that system, is unairworthy (witness the loss of Sean Cunningham). Rather like pregnancy you can't be half airworthy. You are or you are not. I contend that the latter is the case in the main today.

I regret if I have not answered your questions and points satisfactorily, especially your list of specific ones, Orca. No doubt tuc will do much better. My point is that UK Military Air Safety has a big problem which can only be satisfactorily addressed if past events are honestly addressed. If they are then the way ahead is to prevent such things happening again. That requires real independence of the MAA and the MilAAIB (or whatever its latest incarnation) both of the MOD and of each other. Then and only then can the long and painful path back to attaining full airworthiness of the UK Military Airfleet begin.
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