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RAF to retire Tucano

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RAF to retire Tucano

Old 6th Sep 2019, 16:28
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RAF to retire Tucano

The BBC report that the Tucano is soon to be retired: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-y ... e-49579220

I'm sure there are still some people who will say "good" but I have a different view. I was on the MOD(PE) Tucano desk in 1988-91 and, for what was being paid (1.25M each IIRC, but it may have been less), the RAF got a bargain. The performance was excellent compared to the Jet Provost and from the safety point of view, while the JP fleet used to lose an aircraft or two each year in the 60s and 70s, the Tucano fleet lost only 5 aircraft (of 130) in 30 years service.

There were all sorts of PR issues with RAF people complaining about it before the first aircraft was delivered and inventing issues, such as the ejection system ("cut you to ribbons" - simply not true) and so on. We always took a positive view and worked to get the aircraft delivered and released to service. I recall attending the passing out of the first student course at Church Fenton - a JP did a display which consisted of rolling past and disappearing from sight, to reappear a minute later and do the same thing; the Tucano did aeros right in front of us without ever going out of sight! I only flew in one twice and can vouch for the rate of climb (which was a major specification point).

There was a saying within MOD(PE) that "Embraer designed a Skoda, the RAF are paying for a Ford, Shorts are making a Jaguar and the RAF expects a Rolls-Royce". (No disrespect to Skoda, but they weren't as good in the 80s as they are now.)
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 18:54
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Sadly, I saw the opposing side as groundcrew on both CFS and Rects at Scampton, throughout their introduction.
Absolute disaster in terms of interchangeability of parts and servicing.
it wasn't long before we had a number in the corner of the hangar awaiting panels and flying surfaces which (due to their manufacture and figment), just could not be swapped in the regular mode.
Always good to see them arrive on a Friday from Shorts and be parked for the weekend alone, on the far side of the airfield for 72hrs...
got to say, they did get better though...
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 19:06
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When I arrived at A&AEE the Tucano was there on its initial assessment and I remember one of the hangar personnel telling me it was the best aircraft they had ever had...…….for overtime.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 19:56
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I remember one parked in the Scampton CFS hangar. It had been there so long that at Christmas it was bedecked with fairy lights.
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 20:43
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Originally Posted by reds & greens View Post
Sadly, I saw the opposing side as groundcrew on both CFS and Rects at Scampton, throughout their introduction.
Absolute disaster in terms of interchangeability of parts and servicing.
it wasn't long before we had a number in the corner of the hangar awaiting panels and flying surfaces which (due to their manufacture and figment), just could not be swapped in the regular mode.
Always good to see them arrive on a Friday from Shorts and be parked for the weekend alone, on the far side of the airfield for 72hrs...
got to say, they did get better though...
No different to the Phantom in that respect, they were built in batches with no interchangeability of panels or flying controls surfaces.. . they were all 'fettled' to fit, certainly kept us riggers busy.

Ttfn
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Old 6th Sep 2019, 22:04
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Farewell to the ...wassisname?
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 00:02
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Originally Posted by VX275 View Post
When I arrived at A&AEE the Tucano was there on its initial assessment and I remember one of the hangar personnel telling me it was the best aircraft they had ever had....for overtime.
One of the funniest comments I have ever read on here!
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 05:32
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I seem to recall that the aircraft was 'marketed' as being essentially off the shelf. I then heard rumours that the RAF had spent something like IIRC 30+M, either in getting it into service or adding/changing bits and pieces.

Old Duffer
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 06:20
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At the time of their introduction into service, I was going out with the daughter of a WO engineer who worked with them at delivery; a woeful tale of ejection seats with hammer marks on the top where they had to hammer them onto the rails to get them to fit and large gaps between the bulkhead and the sides of the engine compartment. It may have been a Jag Shorts tried to deliver, but it was assembled by navvies.

I also heard that when they lined them up outside, they were of different lengths too.

Completed a stellar service though, so fair do's.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 06:32
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Any aircraft has it's teething issues. The fact Shorts opened a new production line with newly recruited labour more used to building ships didn't help. The first ten aircraft were fine as the airframes were built by Embraer in Brazil. The firs batch of Shorts built aircraft were woeful. By the end of the production, they were really good. As for the aircraft itself, it got lots of "it's not a jet" criticism. So what? It was streets ahead of the JP and an excellent training platform. The handling, rate of climb, endurance and flexibility meant we could get so much more out of the training sorties. I loved it and I suspect it will be missed by most who instructed on it.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 06:37
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At least the Tucano had ejector seats, unlike the Prefect... I gather that the RAF is the only air force which hasn't specified such life saving devices, which were available as an option. Should there ever be a Prefect fatal, I hope whoever made the daft decision will be required to face the relatives of the deceased to explain the decision... .

Anyway, rather than Prefect / Texan, the PC21 should have been acquired.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 07:12
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As has been covered repeatedly, the RAF / MoD did not select this current crop of training aircraft.

Regarding the Prefect, finding a seating position and posture where you can both move your head and achieve full left/right stick is a challenge as it is. Blessed with space it is not.

After decades of people moaning as to why Boscombe test pilots used to evaluate aircraft pre-service we are now trying it with accountants and shareholders instead.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 07:35
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BEagle

Im afraid I must disagree with you on one aspect of what you said.

Bearing in mind the Hawk T2 was already a done deal the PC-21 was not needed. The T6 is perfectly adequate for the job.

As for the Prefect I have no opinion. Its not my area of expertise.

BV
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 08:54
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Having seen videos of Martin-Baker's lightweight seat fitted to other Prefects, space was not a significant issue.

I note your point regarding the Texan, but wonder whether there was actually any real need for the Prefect at all?
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 09:13
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I flew all three contenders. The Tucano was not the best and required a more powerful engine before it could meet the required performance issues. Apart from that its handling charactistics were fine (but not quite up to those of the best). I was impressed by the handling in an inverted spin. (one of the requirements!).

Why did we not buy the best? Thats another story.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 09:15
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Regarding the Prefect, finding a seating position and posture where you can both move your head and achieve full left/right stick is a challenge as it is. Blessed with space it is not.
I was interviewed for the EFTS job. It was all going well until I sat in the aircraft. I'm quite tall, but not overly. However, I couldn't sit in the Prefect without the helmet touching the canopy. I never had an issue with the Chipmunk/Bulldog/G115/JP/Tucano/Hawk. This is a major limitation of this aircraft. I gather it's something to do with the vertical shock absorption of the seats for civil certification.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 11:31
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Originally Posted by reds & greens View Post
Sadly, I saw the opposing side as groundcrew on both CFS and Rects at Scampton, throughout their introduction.
Absolute disaster in terms of interchangeability of parts and servicing.
it wasn't long before we had a number in the corner of the hangar awaiting panels and flying surfaces which (due to their manufacture and figment), just could not be swapped in the regular mode.
Always good to see them arrive on a Friday from Shorts and be parked for the weekend alone, on the far side of the airfield for 72hrs...
got to say, they did get better though...
When the short lived Beagle Basset was introduced into service, a friend of mine who worked for Shorts at Bovingdon ( who supplied ground services there) told me each one had to have its prop blades shortened as it was found that under heavy braking, the prop tips hit the ground.
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 12:11
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I also heard that when they lined them up outside, they were of different lengths too
. Indeed so.

Apparently when the first tranche arrived, they were all lined up at Linton (?) for a publicity photo. Much to the photog's dismay (and I guess the engineers too, not to mention the pilots) you could line up the noses OR the tails, but not both!
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 13:05
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They should smelled a rat when Shorts put up scaffolding at the start of the build.....
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Old 7th Sep 2019, 13:41
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Tucano saw the end of the 300kts Navex that the JP5 could do with ease. Also, if you wanted 240-270kts in the Tucano on a sunny day you were going to get hot (as the cockpit conditioning needed to be turned off!). Another aircraft procurement thanks to political meddling for truly the wrong aircraft.
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