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SAR: Search & Rescue Ops [Archive Copy]

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SAR: Search & Rescue Ops [Archive Copy]

Old 1st Feb 2006, 19:57
  #681 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Norwich
Posts: 239
Thank you AngelonaWire for your georgraphy lesson - I admit, I was totally caught out on that one, but still can't believe that the BBC would use such an insignificant, unknown location, with so many better known towns in that area. I stand corrected, and thank you for your wisdom. I assume from your title, that you are a winchman, and if so, you have my every respect, and of course, eternal admiration at your geography knowledge - I will fall on my sword in due course !!

Back to the subject .... What are the typical statistics for the Northern Coastguard SAR bases - Surely they typically only lift one or two casualities at a time. Sumburgh, the odd fisherman caught up in some machinery, and the same for Stornoway, with the occasional pair of mountain climbers, yet they will get the benefit of the S92. Is this due to the increased range of operation, or are they deemed to require more lifting capacity ??

I agree with JKnife, you can't base the requirement on a typical useage, you have to look at the maximum expected requirement. Lee covers pretty much the whole of the English Channel including most of the primary ferry routes (I'm not sure of the coverage provided by mainland Europe), so I would hope that the 'Disaster Scenario' planners must have had some input into the descision to downsize the helicopter requirement ?? But then when has common sense played any part ...... 1987 - 190 people die in the Zeebrugge ferry disaster, ........ 1994 - RAF Manston SAR base closed and relocated about 75miles further north !!!
Special 25 is offline  
Old 1st Feb 2006, 21:14
  #682 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Oop North
Posts: 42
special 25

Hat off to you for taking my little dig as it was meant...a bit of a laugh, however Jknife doesn't seem to appreciate humour, he must be ex RAF, (OR IS HE)??? I just had a quick look through your previous posts, are you making it up as you go along??? check the dates, they don't quite tie in... QUOTE...
28th March 2003, 17:50
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 12
I have read this topic with interest. I am ex-military and work for a large civil company.
16th May 2004, 20:39
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 12
As someone still in UK military SAR I would like to ask Mountainman why he says "Ex military pilots are generally very good, but it takes time to get them up to speed".

Sorry if you find me rude, just an ex sailors humour, I shall get back in my box now as pruning gets me into trouble!!!

S92 & AB139 sound great good luck CHC!!
angelonawire is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 07:32
  #683 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 58
Angelonawire said "S92 & AB139 sound great good luck CHC!!"

As an experienced SAR crewmen, could you tell us what you like about the AB139?
Dillon the dog is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 07:39
  #684 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 25
Some interesting times ahead for the new Scotia Chief Pilot
Deux Cent Vingt Cinq is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 12:12
  #685 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2004
Location: UK
Posts: 109

Are there any commercial operations using A139s in Europe yet? If not whats the delay, as I thought CHC had a couple in Holland?
running in is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 13:00
  #686 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
CHC Netherlands (their new trading name) have had one AB139 delivered and another due soon. AFAIK it is not yet in commercial operation but heavily involved in training up crews.
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 16:23
  #687 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: PLANET ZOG
Posts: 309
Now that this thread has stopped being a p.....g contest between Sikorsky and Eurocopter, I feel it is time to throw in my two shillings worth.
Dillon, the Whirlwind had long gone by the time of the Fastnet incident, the Wessex was the major SAR asset at that time but your point is still valid. In this game size does matter. However, the argument goes back to the early 70's. Two incidents off Cornwall, the Lovat and the Merc Enterprise made the SAR 'higher ups' realise that the Whirlwind had passed it's sell by date. It was replaced by the Wessex which in time gave way to the Sea King and S61. Sorry for the history lesson but it is important, given that the MCA do not seem to remember it. For the Whirlwind read the AB139 for today.
Special 25, you are 100% correct in saying that this requirement should always use the worst case scenario. The chosen aircraft has to be able to not just lift the "bent diver" and his buddy to "the pot" but also evacuate as many people as possible in one sortie, from a damaged/sinking Ro/Ro ferry, at maximum range. Could the 139 have carried out the job of two days ago in the Channel? Ably performed by the Lee S61 and filmed by Chivenors' Sea King. ( I knew they were there for something! Sorry lads, just jesting.)
The MCA appear to have gone for the "shiny new helicopter" rather than thinking of what is realy needed on the south coast. The S92 should be used at all MCA bases. That would make the crewing so much easier and cut down on the spares supply requirement. But then that may be too logical.
Neither the S92 nor the Ab139 are actually flying in the SAR role yet so 2007 seems a trifle optimistic as a start date for this contract.
There is still no real data about the AB139 on this thread yet so one can only assume that it is not up to much. Or have CHC Netherlands been sworn to secrecy in case the cat gets out of the bag too soon?
One final point.
Portland is not daylight only. It is on call, at 15 minutes readiness the same as all other units, from 0900 until 2100, 365 days a year. It was also one of the busiest units in the UK until our friends in Light Blue at ARCC got involved last year. (But that is another story, Jobs for the boys??)
There, I feel better now that is off my chest.
3D CAM is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 16:44
  #688 (permalink)  
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No callouts after 2100 until 0900? I reckon one must be careful to schedule your emergency for working hours or something.
SASless is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 17:49
  #689 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Callouts outwith these hours are handled by the 24hr unit at Lee or Chivenor or Culdrose depending on the location of the incident. If Portland was a 24hr unit, (which the MCA will not fund) then it would have been them involved in the incident in the Channel on Tuesday. ALL uinits should be 24hr but unfortunately we are not in an ideal world.
3D CAM is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 18:00
  #690 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 510

I don't think the MCA have had much to do with this contract tender and bid process. It seems to me that the DfT and the MOD want to evaluate a different contractor and two different aircraft. I hope to goodness that CHC are not blamed for a drop in service (I am thinking about the capability or otherwise of the 139 here) leading to the MOD (RAF) shutting the door on harmonisation and civillian SAR.
Droopystop is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 18:19
  #691 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: uk
Posts: 119
I've read the report on the MV Ece incident. If you include the crew, Rescue IJ had 17 POB on its return. Try fitting them into an AB139.
SARowl is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 18:44
  #692 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 58
3D Cam, thanks for the history lesson , I bow to your superior knowledge.

I agree with you that the type selected should be based on the worst case, within reason, not the average.

Basically you will need two AB139s to do the job that one S61/S92 could do if a big incident occurs, so effectively the SAR coverage over the S Coast will be halved (in capacity terms) from 2007 and that is if the rumours bubbling under about the 139 are not true - it could be worse!
Dillon the dog is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 19:06
  #693 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Okrika
Posts: 83
Looking at all the posts on this thread it strikes me that almost all the posts running down the AB139 are from people who admit to knowing nothing about it. Yes in an ideal world we all want the biggest, best, toys, but in the real world economics also plays a role. Maybe when you were a kid you wanted a PS2 but your father could only afford a Nintendo Gameboy. The only thing you knew was that all the boys whose dad's had money bought them PS2s, so they must be better. There's so much garbage being spouted about how CHC has the aircraft but has not come up to defend it so it must be rubbish. Maybe they just feel it's not worth replying to uninformed gossip - which is about what most of it amounts to. Let's wait and see what actually happens in light of the facts and real figures. In the meantime, good luck to CHC and I hope the transition to the new types goes smoothly
etienne t boy is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 19:18
  #694 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Up north
Posts: 687
3DCAM your recollection is not quite right viz
"the Whirlwind had long gone by the time of the Fastnet incident, the Wessex was the major SAR asset at that time"

The Whirlwind was still going at the time of the Fastnet incident Chivenor didn't change to Wessex until 1982 so the mix was Seaking/Whirlwind.

I was duty pilot on 72Sqn at Odiham when the call went out for helicopter support for the Fastnet incident and was briefing a crew ready to respond when as usual when something interesting came up the "wheels" appeared and decided they would provide the crew In the end we were not needed as there were enough helicopter assets allocated.

The SAR assests for the country have to be looked at as a whole. While yes it would be nice to have the most capable helicopter at every base on the off chance of its maximum capacity been required it is perhaps not economic.

In my time it would have be daft to have a Seaking at Brawdy as well as one at Chivenor the Wessex at Chivenor was ideal for most of our callouts which were generally local holiday makers as cliff fallers/cut off by the tide/blown out to sea on inflatables or windsurfers. I was never maxed out on capacity.

When I was at Brawdy on the Seaking we did the night/ long range/big ship rescues backed up by Chivenor if required.

Another major incident I was involved in was the Air India 747 blown up west of Cork. Although we were the 1st there that night we were soon followed by 2 more Seakings from Brawdy (one OCU a/c), 2 Navy Seakings at least one Chinook and a US Jolly Green CH53.

Helicopters are very mobile assets so I wouldn't get too worked up by having a mix of types so long as both types are capable of meeting their design requirements. (The 139 being the unknown quantity)

Hummingfrog is offline  
Old 2nd Feb 2006, 20:06
  #695 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hummingfrog, I stand corrected and offer humble apologies. I didn't realise the RAF were that far behind the FAA in replacing the Whirlwind.
etiene t boy, I for one am not rubbishing the AB139, I don't know enough about it to do that. What I am asking for, is information on its' capabilities so I can make an informed opinion. There are plenty of rumours but no actual facts! No one should be asked to go out in an untested, unproven machine to help someone in distress. This is a very good looking machine but that does not mean it can do the job it will be asked to do! A dark and stormy night is not the time to find out you have been sold a pup. It needs a proper trial, as does the S92, before it goes into SAR. How long was the current machine,the S61 trialed for with the autohover before it was cleared for operations? I believe it was over a year. However, as you say, good luck to CHC and the crews who will have to make it work. The Sticky Bun is a hard act to follow!!
3D CAM is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2006, 10:52
  #696 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Scotch Land
Posts: 35
‘Antiquated Fuel control mechanism’

A dark and stormy night is not the time to find out you have been sold a pup. It needs a proper trial, as does the S92, before it goes into SAR. How long was the current machine, the S61 trialed for with the auto hover before it was cleared for operations? I believe it was over a year.

I am told the current UK SAR 61’s were ‘rushed’ into service with an inadequate Doppler as part of the Auto hover and so to this day they throw a wobbly now and then when it’s not needed (the dark stormy night being just that time). The cockpit was standard 61 and not optimized for low level over water I.F flying. I believe those trialing the aircraft included a couple of ex-army pilots? So Fleet Air Arm experience and lessons learnt was not used, then there was no doubt the cost to change the cockpits…..overheads not needed in a commercial company. So much for the proper trial bunk!

Apathy within the present operator’s management towards proactive development and upgrading of their kit has largely led to the current 61 just hanging in there long enough to be ousted. Let’s face it the S92 & the 139 are helicopters, they aren’t going to be perfect (not designed by pilots with unlimited budgets) Even so, it will be the crews using them that will just get on and get the job done as best they can, as indeed they have for the past couple of decades. Brilliant work by CHC and good luck to the present crews in taking the next steps forward with the next generation cabs. At least they aren’t Eurocrapter machines…. Money for old rope?
Seems to be a few present BHL staff, or SAR crew members crying foul on this forum, bemoaning the aircraft choices to come. Well if you don’t like it then don’t go over to the new exciting jobs (leave them for us), stay with Bristow or go to the S61 fleet in Ireland.
Crabette is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2006, 11:41
  #697 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 58
Lets not degenerate into a slanging match again Crabette "At least they aren’t Eurocrapter machines…"

The question asked was could the AB139 have done the job that the S61 did the other night? Unless Agusta have help from Doctor Who and make the AB 139 into a Tardis, then the answer is NO!
Dillon the dog is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2006, 15:06
  #698 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Up north
Posts: 687

The answer to your question "could the 139 have done the job" is in fact yes - not No. It would have done it a different way but that is the nature of SAROPs. In this case it would have taken some of the crew members off and transferred them to the lifeboat before going back for the rest - a standard SOP for a well trained SAR crew and used many times in the past.

Hummingfrog is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2006, 15:24
  #699 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 219
Big Machines Always Beat Little Machine, especially to your bank account

I love it when the debate settles on how bad a smaller machine is when compared with a bigger one - to everybody but those who pay for them.

For the record, let's all agree, bigger checks are better than smaller ones, more bullets are better than fewer bullets, and so on.

The question is NOT "is a big cabin S-61/S-92 better than a smaller cabin 412/139?" That answer is obvious. The question is "How can I best spend the limited money I have to save the most people?" In that case, it is quite probable that more people will die if a small fleet of big helicopters is spread around a country, as opposed to a larger mixed fleet where the size of the machines are matched to the missions, but machines are more plentiful, and distributed closer to potential disasters.

As a reminder, the US has NO big cabin rescue machines, at all. We use various models of the Black Hawk/Sea Hawk to do the job, and they work just fine. In one rescue 2 years ago, an HH-60J USCG helo took 26 crewmen off a ship, just stacked then like cordwood. Word was, they didn't complain!

Regarding rescue crewmen with bad backs, that is the silliest thing I have ever heard. Typical socialist attitude, build a mulitmillion dollar helicopter with a basketball lounge in it because the crewman's union wants one. How about we warm up the sea, so those poor guys don't get hypothermia when they jump into the water? How about we make the sea denser so they can walk on it, instead of needing those uncomfortable flotation vests? Give us all a big fat break!
rjsquirrel is offline  
Old 3rd Feb 2006, 16:18
  #700 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
Age: 72
Posts: 16,981

Walk on water....why drag the Marines into this?

Also...you forget the mini's running around...called Dolphins (Dough Fiends by the Tea Drinkers). The USCG seems to do quite well with those for some reason and their mission is very similar to that being discussed for the 139 it would appear.

Of course what does the USCG know of rescue flying or the US Navy for that matter. Afterall...they use Rescue Swimmers and Baskets of all things.

I wonder if a concept called "thinking outside the box" has been tried in this discussion?

The crux of the argument as I read it....The SeaKing/S-61....regardless of the cabin size is the SAR bird of choice. Never mind it does not have the Carson blades, Carson Tail rotor,or other performance enhancements.....cannot do AAR (air to air refuel)...but afterall...change is never good.
SASless is offline  

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