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-   -   Whatever happened to the Chinook HC 3s? (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/109805-whatever-happened-chinook-hc-3s.html)

Safeware 19th Mar 2005 10:06



I don't think people are making excuses here - at the end of the day the MOD has a duty of care to perform and the required level was not met. The fact that it could not have been met from the outset (IMHO) isn't being presented as an excuse here. The fault lies within DPA on this one, no excuses fit.


553 and 318 limts are the same, 882 also doesn't set targets, only gives examples as 00-56 used to. Not sure about any US equivalent of 553.


Twinact 19th Mar 2005 12:15

I have to agree with FJ2ME, the main source of the cock up was the incremental, cost-cutting attempt at procurement. Originally the 8 Mk3's were part of the 14 Mk 2a's being bought to boost the UKs lift capability, but every year a 'little' pot of money (probably from some other badly needed Chinook mod) was found to change the spec to produce an SF aircraft. This constantly changing spec, with insufficient cash to integrate the new sensors properly, has led us to today's debarcle.

What I can't understand is, as those who would ultimately test the hybrid aircraft were involved in the development of the cockpit at every stage, they didn't pick up that they would fail it?

Or is the engineers defence that they weren't involved in the development process?

Safeware 19th Mar 2005 14:49

I could be wrong, cos I wasn't involved in that side of life, but I don't believe the 'right' people were bought in from the outset. Seemed from where I sat that it was a case of 'Here's a good idea, let's buy it now, then figure out everything else later' ...... (later) ..... 'oh fcuk'.


tucumseh 19th Mar 2005 15:40

Engineer said,

“American safety standards are often an order of magnitude lower than ours, that is one of the reasons that why we cannot buy straight off the shelf (other than domestic industry interests). If you buy their kit and assess it against our safety critical standards it will often fail”.

A simple statement of fact. No British manufacturer (eg WHL) could build a Chinook to print, as it wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) get through MoD safety or quality systems. The last new (RAF) Chinook I inspected (and I am fully qualified to do so) was a dog, and would have taken months to repair, never mind raise to our standards. Jungly, you’re an AEO and believe me you would have sent it back, on a low loader. But then, you’re probably a SK4 man, and spoilt with quality! We buy COTS/MOTS, but in doing so relinquish a lot of safeguards and the ability to control or maintain the build standard.

Recent postings refer to the Chinook IPT, and that the IPTL should carry the blame. The Chinook IPT did not exist when this requirement was formulated, or contract negotiated. The MoD(PE) department was Directorate Helicopter Projects, which was responsible for Sea King, Wessex, Lynx, Apache, Chinook, HUMS at the time. (Note – not Merlin, although that was under the same Director General).

We read this week of the criticism about this being the worst MoD procurement ever. (I’d argue, but we all have our preferences. I’d say SA80 – why buy something that failed miserably in the 50s when first trialled, when it was found wanting in heat, cold, sand and had poor ergonomics. Familiar?). They express concern that no identifiable individual was to blame. Get out the files and look at the Directorate Management Plan and cross refer it to the staff list. That will narrow it down to about six. Then study the decision making hierarchy. That gets it down to four (all now retired). Then, look at the prevailing management ethos and directives of the day (and remaining to this day). For example:

1. Projects staffed against cost, not content. A simple conversion to say, 100 aircraft, costing £3M each, would attract far more staff than an enormously complex £150M Development / Production / Conversion to ten, requiring experience in every electrical, avionic and mechanical discipline. The former is far less demanding as most of the cost is in the mod set and conversion labour which is often managed with little or no project input, having been transferred to DLO.

2. What else was happening at the time (1995 >>) in that area? Mull of Kintyre. Did that impinge on routine work, divert labour or take priority?

3. CDP’s policy in 96 was to rid PE of experienced engineering project managers, en masse. No sooner had they been moved to Bristol from London (1995 – 96) when he announced he didn’t want such people and would retire early/make redundant around 500. (That’s a huge percentage). One reason was to lower the average age, another to build up a staff of direct entrant graduates. The latter have their place, but it is not being thrown in at the deep end to manage a relatively high profile project when they have zero experience, and have yet to catch up on the knowledge non-direct entrants gain through the 5 or so previous grades they must serve in (including Requirements Management, which the press say is part of the Mk3 problem). I think I said before – would you want a 21 year old non-pilot appointed as your squadron’s senior pilot? No. So why do it in technical project management when £100Ms of taxpayers’ money is at stake? The result is that such a direct entrant gets a minimal workload because of his learning curve (and remember, there’s very few left to teach him), and the remaining experienced staffs are told to work unpaid overtime, evenings, at home, at week-ends etc to compensate. And you wonder why detailed technical issues are overlooked? Like Engineer said, most of you wouldn’t get out of bed for what they’re paid. Oh, and the 21 year old is fast-tracked and never manages another project in his life, so permits the same mistakes when managing PMs. Am I alone thinking this is a no-brainer?

I have said it before – instead of simply bleating about poor procurement, why not ask why, at exactly the same time, were other far more difficult projects in the same Directorate managed and delivered with effortless competence, by fewer staff? I suspect that, to protect the guilty, the various committees don’t want to know the answer. CDP didn't.

In truth there is no deception.

Safety_Helmut 20th Mar 2005 20:17


Interesting comments about HC Mk 3 supportability study, if it's the one i'm thinking of, it was the second in a programme to look at all RAF aircraft under development, the first being the C-130J. The programme was stopped after reaction from Chinook IPT. Similar results in C-130J study, lessons now being learnt the hard way.

The lack of informed comment on the latter parts of this thread are quite telling.

As an aside, does anyone have any thoughts on the 553 targets, for example same safety target (in principle) for the C17 as a Hawk ?


Safeware 20th Mar 2005 22:20


"The lack of informed comment" will always appear telling on a rumour based network when those who are informed take a wry look :)

I think the idea of a common baseline, like 553, is a good idea - it gives the IPTs somewhere to start, rather than come out with some way-off target. IMHO, the better way is to focus on the ALARP side of 553 - here's a baseline, aim to do better. Given the risks involved, I would expect multis to be able to do better than FJ eg vis a viz the effects of an uncontained engine, Aircraft Self Damage, loss of control etc etc.

Starting point for most problems, as for all areas, is likely to be getting a contract that has appropriate targets.

How are J lessons mainfesting themselves?


Safety_Helmut 20th Mar 2005 22:41


Agree fully about the need for setting a common baseline. The concept of aiming to do better is also quite correct, but one not often seen in practice. As for ALARP, again a fine concept, in fact one based on case law. It would be easy to say ALARP is abused, but that implies some level of understanding of the principle, in reality, it is very badly misunderstood within MoD.


Safeware 20th Mar 2005 23:24


I agree that it is mis-understood, which is surprising for such a simple concept. Maybe that's what needs to be explored?

And I have seen it abused.


NickLappos 21st Mar 2005 03:54

engineer(retard) said:
"American safety standards are often an order of magnitude lower than ours, that is one of the reasons that why we cannot buy straight off the shelf (other than domestic industry interests). If you buy their kit and assess it against our safety critical standards it will often fail.

We have to build in additional redundancy and safety measures to integrate their weapons becasue they will accept a higher level of loss due to self-damage. "

This statement is without merit, in every way. I have detailed knowledge of the standards of military helicopters, and can assure you that the latest British helicopter, the EH-101, falls far short of current US military practice, in almost every way. The purchase of the EH by the USMC will involve a full redesign of its major systems, and its entire structure to meet US standards, especially crashworthiness/crew protection.

The self-serving idea that US standards are less than those of the UK is simply silly. In short time, I will post the shortfalls of the EH-101 as compared to the Apache, Black Hawk and other 20 year old US machines.

IMHO, it will take European helos another generation to catch up with US standards.

SASless 21st Mar 2005 05:09

Now Now Nick....lets not confuse the issue with facts. We manufactured a construct and we must stick to it here....never mind reality. Any simpleton knows it is easier to scrap eight helicopters than to admit a mistake.....well it is cheaper any way. Besides....it was only tax money. What with the promise of 300 Billion Pounds for new helicopters....what do you reckon that means in fleet size....6-12 depending upon mix?

Jackonicko 21st Mar 2005 09:00

£300 Bn?

That'll be six aircraft for every rotary pilot, I suspect.

It's £3 Bn of course, down from the £4.2 Bn originally planned.

engineer(retard) 22nd Mar 2005 10:03


Undoubtedly you are right, but if you reaqd the thread, the aircraft self damage standard is about how often a weapon failure will take out the launch aircraft, not about crash worthiness. Unless we are starting the kamikaze trend all over again.

I'm interested in your EH101 comments, have you bought an aircraft off the shelf that does not meet your airworthiness requirements. I thought that level of incompetence was reserved for us

PS Are you a Sikorsky PM?


NickLappos 22nd Mar 2005 15:23


I will more carefully read the beginning posts, thanks! Weapons failure (self shootdown?) is not a prime design requirement in the US, we try our best to make the weapon more dangerous for the enemy, thank you very much! Generally, weapons blast considerations (not warhead but rocket/missile motor) are considered, as well as burn considerations. One could argue the rigor of US vs British standards, but it is far too sweeping to simply say that US standards are less safe. I would offer that the average US military aircraft has a 10 to 15 year technology/safety/operational capability advantage against the average such aircraft in any other military service in the world, with few exceptions, and I have the tax bills to prove it!

The EH-101 that the USMC has bought will be substantially redesigned prior to delivery (I am told every cabin frame will be strengthened) because it was designed to 8 g's forward and 15 g's downward, vice the US Mil need for 20 and 20, respectively. This 250% shortfall for the front-line British helo hardly allows one to say that US standards are lower! The cost of those mods will be bourne by the US taxpayer, of course.

Regarding my employment, I was a Sikorsky PM (and a test pilot prior to that) but have just left Sikorsky for Gulfstream Aircraft, to try my hand at airplane building!

SASless 22nd Mar 2005 16:01


I owe you an apology.

A while back I made the statement to the effect that the S-92 had a spacious cockpit due to certain ergonomic considerations for you to fly the thing.

I have read very recently an interview of a PHI pilot who suggests the cockpit on the S-92 is not as roomy as it first appears thereby challenging my hasty suggestion about its design being based upon your entrance.

I admit the folly of my statement.

Unless.....ol' Bubba down there has been wandering and loitering in the kitchen too long and has taken to heart the need for a minimum crew weight while forgetting to divide by two, it being a crew served aircraft and all.

engineer(retard) 23rd Mar 2005 10:22


Not a problem , I was trying to be brief and was too loose with my english. I noticed this when the world tried to strangle me.

For weapons, we look at launch, fly out and autopilots, in addition to blast and this causes great difficulties. Particularly, as our you do not cover this, and our software standards do not match up. Given the proliferation of software throughout new generation aircraft, I was trying to point out at that buying off the shelf from outside the UK is not the easy option that everyone thinks. You are left with 2 options:

1. Relax your standards - if you have the balls, stand by for litigation if it goes wrong.

2. Modify the aircraft to meet your standards - given the level of integration these days changes in one block of firmware will break out in mods all over the place. Kills the cheap option.

You appear to have made a better stab at this than we have on occassions, at leas you have an idea of the mismatches and potential costs. We have an aircraft that has not yet flown. And before everyone jumps down my throat about COTS, the analogue boxes that were put in were not specifically designed for the UK Mk3, they were already there.


Safeware 25th Mar 2005 11:38


Relax your standards - if you have the balls, stand by for litigation if it goes wrong.
It isn't that the standards get relaxed, it's how people convince themselves that something sub-standard is acceptable that is the problem. At least in this case it has been accepted that the required standard has not been met. Although wasteful, better to do that than suffer the consequences of a fatal crash.


tucumseh 26th Mar 2005 13:08

In discussing standards, I think we may be at cross purposes here. I concur with all that is said, but in agreeing with Engineer’s original statement, I was considering the following:

The MoD (not DPA) mandates that the Order of Preference or Hierarchy for the selection of standards is:

1. European
2. International (British Standards implementing European ones)
3. National (BS)
4. Commercial standards recognised by industry
6. UK MoD Defence Standards
7. UK MoD Departmental Standards and Specifications
8. Other Nations’ military standards e.g. USA DoD Mil Specs
9. Recognised company/partnership/consortium standards e.g. AIRBUS, PANAVIA

These mandated instructions specifically include this note/warning to all staffs;

“The USA has no direct equivalent of the UK BSI which acts as (their) National Standards Body…………… There are around 600 US based private sector standards organisations…….... They are NOT to be treated as International Standards”.

So, if you choose one of these “odd” standards or a US Mil Spec in preference to an equivalent higher spec, be prepared to answer why if something goes wrong. While such US based standards may be (and often are) more rigorous than UK equivalents, the point is that there is no visible control to the degree exercised in the UK and required by the MoD. Therefore, UK standards are “higher”. In the context of this thread, perhaps some Chinook standards selection deviated from these rules and may explain, in part, why other similar, concurrent projects were wholly successful? Perhaps the standards were correct but not implemented properly? Perhaps management of the process was compromised by lack of resources?

Another point often missed is that, in formulating the requirement and attaining Initial Gate, DEC must have a Standardisation Strategy Implementation Plan (what a mouthful). I have alluded to experienced engineering staff being ditched by DPA. Well, it is ALWAYS the Engineering Manager who sets the standards, and the Quality Assurance Officer (engineer) who ensures they are met. If the MoD insists on getting rid of the former, depleting all but the biggest projects of specialist QAOs and appointing non-technical project managers, then what chance has a non-technical DEC officer of getting it right? If he doesn’t, and the chosen contractor then insists on changing to higher standards, or implementing some that the MoD never thought of, then you can see that costs escalate.

Safeware is also correct that people delude themselves that a lower standard or the incorrect implementation of the correct standard is acceptable. That they are allowed to delude themselves, and in fact benefit from what is abrogation of the worst kind, is a management failure – and systematic. Once, on a major aircraft project, I (as was my right as senior engineer) raised the bar on a certain safety standard. I was very publicly castigated by a non-engineer boss for wasting time and money. I pointed out it was a safety issue and could not be ignored. Not interested. I asked him what lower standard he would find acceptable. Silence. It hadn’t crossed his mind that an alternative would be required, and setting a lower standard now would lead to inevitable delays and regression testing when Westland later refused to sign the 59C. I told him to ###### off and leave the job to people who wanted to deliver a safe aircraft on time; leaving him to concentrate on his career. Didn’t do me much good, but the aircraft is safe. That his bullying attitude, borne of ignorance, is ever more prevalent, and encouraged, perhaps explains a widespread reluctance to stick one’s head above the parapet.

MarkD 26th Mar 2005 14:28

found NL's comment on weapon design interesting. I would amend it to "US weapons hit what they are aimed at".

Now if the US mil to train people not to fire those weapons on, oh let's say, Canadian soldiers in the 'stan, RAF Tornados, Iranian Airbuses etc. etc.

VP959 26th Mar 2005 21:23

Unless someone has changed them recently, then the current UK forward crash case loads are 26G, whereas the US uses 20G. Even UK microlights (ultralights in US speak) are required to meet a 15G forward crash case load for the engine.

The major difference though is in software certification standards, which has been the Achilles heel of the Chinook HC3. The US standards can be much less rigorous than ours, although I'm not going to get into a p*ss*ng contest as to which is actually the most appropriate.

Engine qualification is another big difference. The UK demands that military aircraft engines shall not be less safe than civil certified engines. The US apply whatever standard they see fit, and it rarely demands the same lavel of certification proof as the UK.

I know you're still sore at losing out over the US101 deal Nick, but slagging off the 101 doesn't actually win brownie points in this argument. I don't disagree with you, but would point out that 101 is an old design, which would need a lot of work to meet current UK safety standards as well. FWIW I'm pretty sure that old Sikorsky product of yours would also need a fair bit of work to comply with Def Stan 00-970 as well.

SASless 29th Mar 2005 00:59

The Commonwealth Shares a lot of things....
This was posted in the OZ part of pprune....

Reckon these procrurement wallahs are cousins?

Navy Lemon Can't Fly in IMC
March 19, 2005

Serious flaws have been uncovered in Australia's $1.1 billion squadron of Seasprite naval helicopters, rendering them unable to fly crucial missions.

Costing $100 million each - more than the latest stealth fighter - and arriving more than three years late, the helicopters cannot be used in murky weather when the pilots' external vision is impaired, the Herald has learnt.

They have been restricted to simple tasks, such as delivering stores and transporting passengers, and only when the weather is good. Military missions such as search and rescue and training simulations of difficult combat scenarios cannot be undertaken. Up to 40 deficiencies were exposed during testing.

The navy bluntly told the Defence Minister, Robert Hill, in formal advice late last year that the Seasprites failed crucial tests and did not meet navy requirements.

The Defence Department's $50 billion hardware purchasing plan has suffered serious delays and cost blow-outs in many areas, among the worst being the Seasprite. So bad are the problems, the Australian Defence College will use the Seasprite as a cautionary case study in its leadership and ethics course next year.

When the Seasprites were unveiled in 2003 Senator Hill hailed them as "arguably the most advanced maritime aircraft in the world" but the Nowra-based squadron is in tatters.

In response to written questions, the Defence Department told the Herald the Seasprites had not achieved certification for flight in conditions where the pilot's visual cues were reduced, technically called instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
The Seasprite started life as Vietnam War-era airframes mothballed by the US Navy. The Government bought them to turn into super helicopters, gutting the insides and fitting them with high-tech electronic weapon systems.

Last year it emerged that the US had tried to give the aircraft away to Greece, Turkey and Thailand as part of their aid program, only to be rebuffed.

Installing high-tech hardware in an old airframe and developing the right software has been fraught with difficulty and is responsible for the blow-outs.

Aviation and defence insiders said senior defence figures had ignored these risks and that technical deficiencies with the flight systems meant full air worthiness could not be met.

One insider familiar with the Seasprite tests said: "A military aircraft that is not able to operate IMC is a fascinating proposition. Just imagine if you are a downed pilot or a sailor washed overboard or on board a vessel in distress, hoping to be picked up by a search and rescue helicopter but you find out the aircraft can't take off because the weather is claggy. Next to useless would be one of the more moderate terms you would use."


Is the 60s-era helicopter The Navy bought to operate of the Offshore Patrol Vessels they never ended up acquiring after someone changed their mind?

Supposedy the SH-60s were too big for the ship that never ended up appearing in the fleet anyway.

The cost should come out of the Federal pollies super-fund.

Ian Corrigible 18th Jul 2005 19:59

Defense News reports that the IAB has finally approved the necessary mods to the special ops wokkas to bring them into service. Future Lynx and MCSP also reportedly approved.

(No specific mention of whether the approval is dependant on QinetiQ keeping a distance of at least 250 feet from the aircraft at all times...)



crabbbo 19th Jul 2005 10:16

Glad to hear that after 3 years a final (in-)decision has been made. Let's hope it actually is the final decision and the aircraft can eventually get sorted. A shame though that the RAF will still end up with a bespoke fleet within a fleet.

I hope that the modifications fully take into account what has already been learnt about the systems and the good that is there is kept and not replaced with just more inappropriate displays generically designed for a passive flying environment.

Jackonicko 19th Jul 2005 11:33

Ian C,

I couldn't get your link to work. Can you cut and paste?

Ian Corrigible 19th Jul 2005 16:23

The relevant bits © Defense News.

U.K. Helicopter Acquisition Strategy Clears Hurdle
Defense News 07/18/05

The British MoD’s powerful Investment Approvals Board (IAB) has green-lighted the development of a new generation of Lynx helicopters, upgrades to naval EH101s, and steps to finally bring into service eight much-needed Chinooks sidelined since their 2001 delivery.

The chiefs of defense procurement and logistics and the vice chief of the Defence Staff are among those on the five-person IAB — the senior committee at the MoD responsible for investment decisions that includes the ministry’s chief scientific adviser.

Recommendations coming out of the July 6 IAB talks would set in motion a process of governmental approval that, if things go according to plan, could culminate in the fourth quarter of this year with an MoD procurement announcement on a number of programs. For now, though, the outcome of the deliberations remains under wraps. An MoD spokesman even declined to confirm the July 6 meeting took place.

“The Merlin update [Merlin Capability Sustainment Plus] got through, although with question marks over whether the entire fleet would be upgraded,” one industry source said. “Future Lynx development for the Army and Navy was approved, subject to various conditions, particularly whether AgustaWestland can demonstrate value for money; and the Chinook modification work looks like it won the IAB’s approval.”

The statement was echoed by several others in industry. All cautioned, though, that the IAB was only the first of several significant hurdles the projects would have to overcome before gaining government approval, and are therefore subject to change.

It also seems as though the eight Chinook HC3s marooned for several years at the MoD airfield at Boscombe Down will be modified for service. Although the delivered helicopters met the contract specifications, the British were unable to demonstrate that the avionics software met local standards.


maxburner 21st Jul 2005 13:26

U.K. helicopter acquisition strategy clears hurdle
The British Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) powerful Investment Approvals Board (IAB) has green-lighted the development of a new generation of Lynx helicopters, upgrades to naval EH101s, and steps to finally bring into
service eight much-needed Chinooks sidelined since their 2001 delivery
Source: Flight International, 19 July 2005

crabbbo 14th Nov 2005 09:20

It is very disappointing to notice that in last weeks Flight Intl an In Brief comment noted that the UK MoD is still only'continuing discussions' of whether to conduct the 'fix to field' on the Mk3s. Will the MoD ever make its mind up over these 8 aircraft (one of which by May 05 had still never made it back from the factory)? It is over 3 years since the MoD woke up to the problems which it had been trying to ignore and yet there is still no solution on the horizon.

And have any of them flown since the last currency trip in January?

tucumseh 14th Nov 2005 11:28

“It is over 3 years since the MoD woke up to the problems which it had been trying to ignore and yet there is still no solution on the horizon”.

I’m not sure the MoD has entirely woken up, as there have been no obvious changes to personnel, recruitment and project resourcing policies; which are some of the main underlying factors. However, the new CDP has refreshingly different views to that of his predecessor on this score, which should reduce the chances of it happening again in the future. Bear in mind the main players are now long gone, and their successors are probably struggling manfully to find a fix, but have other more pressing problems.

Brian Dixon 15th Nov 2005 17:13

Sorry for the delay in posting. I had to find the piece of paper!

1 Nov 05
Parliamentary Question:
Mr Arbuthnot : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he expects the Chinook Mark 3 helicopter, including the six aircraft delivered to the UK during 2001–02, to enter service before the planned phasing out of the Mark 2 and Mark 2a Chinooks.

Mr Ingram : The Ministry of Defence is working towards resolving the problems of the eight Chinook Mk 3s. A study last year recommended a 'Fix to Field' solution as the probable best value for money solution. We are working with Boeing to ensure the proposed solution is mature and robust before taking the final decision on whether to proceed. If we do decide to proceed with the 'Fix to Field' solution I anticipate that the aircraft would be in service well before the Chinook Mk 2/2a fleet reaches its out of service date.

So there you have it. It's a definite maybe!


crabbbo 16th Nov 2005 09:09

Thanks Brian, a travesty that even the acceptance air tests have never been completed for all of the machines. As for entering service within the lifespan of the 2/2A fleet that is an unbelievable statement as these aircraft were meant to augment the 2/2A fleet by freeing up aircraft back to the Op Sqns. Perhaps if the aircraft are ignored for long enough the problem will go away or at least in to someone elses time in government.

crabbbo 16th Nov 2005 14:42

Yes, straight after the incident.

MG 16th Nov 2005 22:46

It was Bristol docks.

Jackonicko 11th Oct 2006 23:39

Another year on, and nothing.

Are all eight really still sitting in a hangar at Boscombe (as 'File on Four' alleged on Monday)?

Are any of them regularly flying?

And more importantly, if the problem is UK MoD validation of software, does this imply that Boeing and the US DoD would have passed them 'fit to fly'?

If not, then they're plainly unfit for purpose, and Boeing should be punished (not awarded new Chinook support contracts, for example).

If they are, however, then is there even a possibility that our own validation standards are too high?

Is anyone suggesting that Boeing or the US Forces would have flown them happily.

I'm a huge admirer of Boscombe Down, but even I have to ask a difficult question.

There was a lot of talk about not clearing the Jag upgrade at one stage, with Boscombe Down expressing concerns over 'issues' that the frontline were 'easy' with.

Is there any possibility that frontline Chinook aircrew would be similarly relaxed about flying these aircraft?

Saintsman 12th Oct 2006 08:09

The aircraft are due to be rewired and a new Thales avionics suite installed. The work will be carried out at Fleetlands with the 'bent' one done back at Boeing (TI).

nigegilb 12th Oct 2006 08:25

Do you have a source? Drayson was talking about a possible Boeing fix over the weekend. He wants helos in place in Helmand for the start of the fighting season next year. Would the HC3s be fixed by then?

In answer to JNs question I understand that the Chinners are flown regularly by test pilots.

crabbbo 12th Oct 2006 09:44

I think you will find that the Mk3s were being flown reqularly on trials flights, air tests and occassional limited currency trips but (checking my log book) i believe the last flight was 19 Jan 05.

nigegilb 12th Oct 2006 10:03

Thanks crabbo. Can you explain why the flights stopped? I listened carefully to Drayson on the File on 4 prog the other day. He stated that the reason why the Chinners have not been fixed to date is because the MoD were not convinced that the fix on offer would actually work. I don't understand this statement at all. Can you enlighten us, please?

Jackonicko 12th Oct 2006 15:57

"It may be that the aircraft don't actually NEED fixing per se.

I believe that the actual technical problems found with the aircraft are remarkably trivial, and could (should?) be worked around, improved, or even quietly acccepted.

The core, underlying problem is more serious and is related to clearance policy and to the 'philosophy' of flight safetly criticality.

The bespoke cockpit software can not be proven to the level currently required because it was written before the current Class 1 safety critical software assessment requirements came into force.

It would be fascinating to know when the new standard was introduced, and thus how much the HC3 'missed' the old standard by......

It is not that the unvalidated software doesn't work, nor has the software been shown to have particular problems. It's just that it can't be proven to the standards required.

Presumably (and I'd welcome confirmation of this) the software did meet (or would have met) the previous standard required - or that it was (or could have been) validated to those standards. Certainly some of the supposedly 'problem' displays are used without drama on other users' Chinooks and on commercial airliners. Boeing were entirely happy with the aircraft, and I'm informed (fairly reliably, I think!) that the Boscombe TPs were broadly satisfied - apart from the software validation issue.

Though the US Army did not take the aircraft back, as was once expected, this had nothing to do with any reservations about the software.

But with current requirements the flight safety critical cockpit and display software simply cannot be proven to the level which Boscombe Down are required to prove, and thus Boscombe Down will never be able to issue a recommendation for a Military Aircraft Release. Judged by the current standard, this software will always be 'unacceptable' by definition because it cannot be validated to the right level. But don't blame the TPs, Boscombe are just doing exactly what they are there to do.

A Military Aircraft Release could still be signed, of course (there are plenty of examples of senior officers going against Boscombe Down's advice - isn't that what happened when the TPs seemed to be a little over-cautious about a very remote risk of what the papers called 'catastrophic failure' on Typhoon?).

If the decision was taken to accept the hypothetical software risk then an MAR could have been signed (against recommendation) and the aircraft could have been in squadron service three years ago. But after the Mull of Kintyre, no-one is going to accept any risk on a Chinook (of all aircraft types) no matter how hypothetical or improbable that risk may be.

It's hard to see that changing.

You then have the problem that these aircraft lack much of the vital kit that all current frontline Chinooks enjoy as a result of five or so years of intensive UOR activity - a decent DAS, Cockpit Voice and Flight Data Recorder, HUMS, cockpit armour, etc.

When he opined that the a reason that the aircraft "have not been fixed to date is because the MoD were not convinced that the fix on offer would actually work", perhaps Drayson merely meant that if all of this kit were to be procured and installed (in a more permanent and robust fashion than via UOR/STF/SEM) then the underlying problem would still remain?

As to why they haven't flown? I believe that many of the HC3 qualified TPs have moved on, leaving only two at Boscombe, neither of whom are current, and leaving the aircraft unflown.

I remain uncertain as to where the aircraft are, physically - some suggest that all eight are at Boscombe (a view I incline towards), while others say that one is still in the USA.

Jackonicko 12th Oct 2006 20:08

I wish Saintsman would give us a bit more detail about this, it's new to me.

I'd assumed that there were REAL problems beyond merely validating software, but I'm beginning to wonder. Could this be a case of the aircraft being grounded more by red tape and over-caution than by real technical problems?

I'm a HUGE fan of Boscombe, but I remember the fuss surrounding Typhoon's clearance - where there were risks, but these were deemed acceptable by the user. One wonders whether the Mull of Kintyre crash hasn't led to much more risk aversion where the platform is a Chinook?

nigegilb 12th Oct 2006 20:11

Certainly the word that I had heard was that the Chinners could be signed off tomorrow, someone with large cojones required.

Saintsman 12th Oct 2006 20:46


The company I work for put in a bid to do the work earlier this year (we didn't get it). We would have been sub-contracted from Boeing.

With Tone's pledge to give the Forces 'whatever they need', I'm sure this will be happening.

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