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SAR: Search & Rescue Ops [Archive Copy]

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SAR: Search & Rescue Ops [Archive Copy]

Old 13th Feb 2006, 18:20
  #741 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 135
Saw the Portland(?) cab on "Beach Rescue" do a lovely boat txfr, LHS to, so impressed I mentioned it to my boys as an example of lovely flying - and I'm a military man. Likewise the S61 boys dealt with their fire very smoothly.

As stated, the "civs" doing SAR are ex-mil in the majority so we can expect a similar standard of ability/tenacity - however, it's hard to believe that the quality of a self-improver will ever be at the same level of a ex/mil-SAR boy.

The reason is simple - the Coasties just don't get the amount of jobs the mil boys do, Stornoway gets 50 - 75 jobs a year, the Lossie/Prestwick/Valley guys get >200. With the best will in the world, practice makes (closer to) perfect. Experience counts in this game.

That said, the Coasties have done some nasty boats, some more than many Mil SAR have - and it doesn't matter which side of the civvy fence you sit on - there'll be jobs which ended up a cluster.

The interesting issue will come when the civ's eventually end up taking the lion's share of overland SAR, there's plenty of threads which discuss yet another error of judgement. Less than 1% of jobs end with an incident/accident, but I bet that'll increase if/when the mil lose their grip on SAR and the ex-mil boys wither on the vine. I guess the flip side to my argument is that eventually the civvy side will grow the experience the military already have - but it seems a shame to this old beefer that HMG is happy to chuck the pool of excellence away for the cost of a few Tomahawks. (Time to give myself a painful slap and wake up to reality!)

I should add that I'm most certainly not anti-civ SAR at all, merely pro-military SAR, for lots of very good reasons, none of which are critical of the civs.
scottishbeefer is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 20:04
  #742 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 1998
Location: UK
Posts: 457
Crab, good to have you back.

If we are being honest, the RAF and RN have had their fair share of incidents, including injuring winchmen. It is the nature of the job that sometimes these things happen although thankfully these incidents are rare. Slagging off Bristows just opens up your precious employers to more scrutiny. I bet Sumburgh are on state this evening which is more than can be said for a certain Northern base. I doubt a commercial organisation such as CHC would take much advice from the RAF!

Back to your lilo rescues eh?
cyclic is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 20:08
  #743 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 80
[email protected] said:
I think I speak for crabette as well when I say that I hope that the CHC provision of SAR will be far better than Bristows, and if so could well be due to the amount of involvement the RAF had in the process. Hopefully CHC management will have a much more long-term view and not spend their time trying to squeeze the last pound of profit from the contract by wheedling around clauses and sub-clauses with their lawyers.

Well, all I can say is that both of you are very blinkered in your view. ALL commercial companies are in to make a profit. CHC management at the end of the day is no different to Bristow, or Bond come to that. They want the best return on their investments. CHC's only long term view at the moment is to be in with a chance of winning the contract in 2012. In fact they have said before that they want to be a "lo-cost operator" (smacks of Ryanair and easyJet there). They may be bringing in new equipment (good on them) but they have to pay the vast new costs for these machines and their infrastructures. That money has to come from somewhere, and if you think they will act in the same way that you have been used to in military SAR, then you are very much mistaken.

As for your comment about the Sumburgh incident, perhaps you have forgotten that the RAF has had similar incidents and even dropped winchmen on a couple of occasions. SAR is a risky business and incidents do happen. Don't try and come over all high and mighty as no-one is that squeaky clean!

Maybe one of these days you will wake up and smell the coffee!
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Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:03
  #744 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: uk
Posts: 119
[email protected]

Ref the MV Ece incident. You obviously have English as a second language because if you read the SAR reports you would see that the Lee aircraft lifted 12 persons from the vessel. Also the crew of IJ showed exemplary judgement by calling in the St Peter Port lifeboat to assist crew evacuation, because of the deterioration of the vessel's condition.

No AFC's for the Chivenor boys I'm afraid.
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Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:15
  #745 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2000
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Jknife - if your attitude is that profit is all that matters and that therefore all civ companies will operate in the same cut-throat manner then it is hardly an advert for civvy SAR. Capability comes at a cost and if you are not prepared to spend that money then your true capability (rather than what you claim to have) will suffer. Now, in the big picture (which I am clearly incapable of seeing as I am in the military) does this matter? Well try telling a sailor on a sinking boat you can't pick him up because you don't train enough to keep your crew skills up to the mark - or worse, you injure him badly taking him off the deck because of the same reasons.
I am not saying we are perfect in RAF SAR but we do a sh*tload of training every day and night to keep our skills honed (usually 4 hrs per day) which, fortunately is paid for by the Queen. Who is being arrogant to suggest that an hour a day is quite enough to maintain the same level of capability? Maybe civvy SAR crews are that much better than us that they don't need all the training.
As for the serviceability issue - I have never pretended that the Sea King fleet is super serviceable but I can guarantee that when we declare an aircraft 'on state' that it really is there, ready to go and fully serviceable - can Bristows always say the same?
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:18
  #746 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Up north
Posts: 687
As usual this tends to develop into a them and us scenario

As someone who has operated both sides of the divide perhaps I can bring the thread back on track.

As I see it both sides have their advantages and disadvantages.

The military have the following:-

1. An excellent training and selection system for their crews as they can pick and chose due to SAR being a popular posting. The civil world has to rely on its crews wanting to go where the jobs are and as far as I can see the S coast is popular and the 2 Northern bases are not. (I have declined the offer of S92 SAR )

2. Training on the job. The military allocates more training hours than the civil companies do. This is fair enough if the civil training is enough but I can think of 2 occurrences where disorientation has led to civil incidents and one helicopter was lost ( Stornoway 1989ish). I rescued that crew and it wasn't easy to do the night hover due to turbulence off the hills on the coast but having done maybe excessive night training with auto-pilot in and out it was not beyond my experience.

3. The military can afford to have 2 machines and crews on standby at each base.

The civil SAR has the following:-

1. New machines. The S92 and A139 should be head and shoulders over the S61 and Seaking in both performance and reliability. However, the A139 still has a perceived question mark over its suitability. I hope that they have better radar than the wx radar we have at present.

2. It is easier and quicker to get new kit into the civil world eg FLIR. I will not bore you with the effort to get a suitable winchman's radio that the civilians would have gone out and bought on the high street.

3. The ability to hire ready trained and experienced crews from the military though this source may dry up in the future and the cost of a training school may have to be factored into the costings.

4. Civilian a/c are not over serviced and tend to be serviceable for longer periods though in my experience carrying snags that may well have been fixed sooner in the military.

Therefore, who is best. Neither but taking the best of both would produce an excellent SAR service. This would be IMHO.

The new a/c the civilians are getting but 2 at each base with the training hours that the military do and the procurement methods of the civilians.

Hummingfrog is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:19
  #747 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
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Figure a one and one roster Crab...that is about 750 flight hours of training per year per aircraft.....where do you find time for real missions?

Matter of fact Crab...how many real missions do you fly a year on average...lay out some data for us. Whats the life of an RAF SAR pilot like these days?
SASless is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:20
  #748 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Scotland
Posts: 262

Extremely well said!!!!!

bondu is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:29
  #749 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 1998
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Crab, I can't believe you are still banging on about Bristow's declaring u/s aircraft. Where is your evidence? It is one of the oldest myths around and gets told again and again by RAF SAR boys many of whom haven't been around long enough to know one end of a SAR job from another. Oh and the bit about weather radar made me laugh - because the Sea King fleet has had a modern, processed radar for years! The weather radar in one of it search modes is just as capable as the Sea Kings and it also gives a weather radar to the pilots directly. When was the last time that the S61 could't find a target or bumped into something? How are the homers these days? You need four hours a day just to sort out two PLBs - disgraceful.
cyclic is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:43
  #750 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Up north
Posts: 687

I promised myself that I wouldn't get into the us and them banter but I must correct you on the radar issue. The 360deg (minus a few degrees front and back) is far superior to the wx radar we have. As to your dig at processed radar they were going to fit the processed radar from the MK5 but found it eliminated too many targets that the raw radar showed so it was binned.

The MK3 radar with the coastal overlay is far superior for getting in close to a cliff on a dark foggy night when you have to move sideways because of the wind and obstacles. It is also safer as it is operated by the rearcrew allowing the 2 in the front to concentrate on flying. In my day it was PNF on instruments ready to fly away if it all went wrong and PF looking out for the lumpy bits that the rad op was directing you towards.

Hummingfrog is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 21:53
  #751 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 1998
Location: UK
Posts: 457

Like yourself, I have been on both sides of the fence (a good deal more recently than yourself!) and know exactly how the system operates. Surely you are not telling me that a modern processed radar is not as good as the vintage raw picture from the lold lightweight set where the operator is looking through a prism to see the picture? Anyway, if it is, why have the RAF just refitted there a/c with a processed unit?

I wasn't going to enter the them and us debate as it is irrelevant to the thread but the patronising attitude of some military SAR boys does them no favours.
cyclic is offline  
Old 13th Feb 2006, 22:05
  #752 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2002
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Posts: 687
They have probably replaced them because there are no spares now

The problem with processed radar is that it is processed and it removes targets it thinks you don't want

The 360 degree picture is still far better than the forward looking 140ish deg on the wx radar.

I am not that old

Hummingfrog is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 06:12
  #753 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2000
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The radar is the same radar it has always been, the difference is that all the fleet has been brought up to Mk3A standard with processed radar on a TV screen with proper digital overlays and interface with the nav kit. The upgrade was forced in part by the FLIR MSS mod and the radops shack now has 2 TV screens on which he can view any combination of radar, daylight TV or FLIR or all 3 using picture in picture. All the FLIR/MSS footage can be recorded on DV tape.
Cyclic, if you want to see what our capabilities are then pm me and I will arange a visit.

Sasless - off on a tangent again mate. I assume by one on one roster you are describing a day on day off routine with no leave or other time off - is there anyone who operates SAR like that? Generally speaking a RAF SAR pilot will have 8 - 10 first standby shifts (in at work for 24 hours) a month, with each being followed by a day of second standby (tasking, airtests etc whilst on 1 hour readiness). If that doesn't seem a lot then consider all the military duties required on top then filling the Falklands Island roster once a year for 6 weeks and being available for short notice Out of Area detachments (4 - 6 months in Bosnia or Iraq). I can't be arsed to dig out all the stats regarding which flight is the busiest but from memory the top 3 are all military.

Oh yes back to Bristows and the 'they were going to upgrade the aircraft if the contract was renewed' boll8cks. I have it on good authority that they offered the same S61 but with a 360 degree radar....mounted by the tail wheel (a mod that does not exist anywhere in the world and that would have made landing on anything other than a snooker table very interesting. For all the protestations of innocence, they didn't get the contract...anyone suggest why if the service provided has been so satisfactory?
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 08:22
  #754 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Posts: 58
Crab, This is not the first time you have mentioned the 360 degree radar.

On the 6th Oct on the Military Forum you said…

”The interim contract for 2007 (for the 4 flights that MCA run using Bristows helis) is under negotiation at the moment and the clever money is on it to provide the blueprint for a full UK SAR contract in 2012.
The main bidders, to my knowledge are CHC who are offering a full package of different aircraft to meet the differing area requirements and have thought through the need to train pilots if the military stops doing SAR and Bristows who have offered more of what they already provide - S61s on which they claim they can fit a 360 degree radar by the tailwheel”.

The MCA tender was still under discussion at that point and the details should have been confidential, clearly there must have been some leaking going on, perhaps from Crabette, or should we use her initials NS ?
Dillon the dog is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 08:29
  #755 (permalink)  
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Dillon - yes and I got a bollocking for releasing what I did not know to be commercial in confidence info (at the time) - but if crabette is who you think, it did not come from her as she was one of those queueing up to kick my butt.
Now the contract is let I presume the info is less sensitive and provides a counterpoint to the assertion that the 'contractor who shall not be named for fear of offending' was offering some realistic improvement in capability.
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 08:39
  #756 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 1998
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Crab, it's ok to release commercial data if you then get a bollocking - that just shows the cosy world you live in. Surely, when you were given this information it may have been wise just to gossip with the SAR girls in the crewroom and not broadcast to the net?

Thanks for your offer of a visit to see the Mk3/3a wonder machine but I have seen it very recently. It is no doubt a great improvement operated by very professional crews and will probably continue to do so, but it isn't really a quantum leap over Bristow's S61s. You haven't answered my query with regards to homers and while we are at it, the capability of the Mk3 autopilot. Can you do a coupled search or full let-down? You wouldn't need four hours per day if the aircraft is as capable as the S92 will be!
cyclic is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 09:58
  #757 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
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Posts: 58
Crab and Crabette,

As you are clearly better informed (especially Crabette!!) than us mere civilan mortals, perhaps you would like to explain what will make the AB 139 a good SAR helicopter.

Where will your beloved 360 radar go?
Where will the twin hoist fit?
When will the SAR autopilot be ready?
Where can a FLIR be fitted that won't get knocked off on rough ground?
Where will all the SAR kit go?
With all the above fitted, how far will it go?

I saw the AB139 at Helitech and the Agusta salesman seemed less sure on these points than you both seem to be.
Dillon the dog is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 14:02
  #758 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Up North
Posts: 153
Angel UK Coastgaurd SAR - Bristow Out


And since when have SAR been out in Bosnia and Iraq. Did not realise there were a lot of fishing boats and climbers out there.

As for Angel on the wire's escepade, at least he walked away from it albeit with a few bruises. What about the vValley winchman last year where the second aircraft had to come and rescue him after he was very badly damaged on a deck during training.

And I have done SAR on both sides of the fence especially at the premier Northern RAF SAR flight and not the the pre madonna world of Chivenor!
Wiretensioner is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 15:21
  #759 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Ireland
Posts: 70

Might I suggest everyone take a look at themselves. Some of the posts are coming thru a little distorted as my phone line doesnt have the capacity for all this ego and drivel. Lets seriously hope none of this ends up in a cartoon with 360 degree nvg capable handbags being rained in on the SAR bases!!!!!!!!

I do SAR....I am a civvie. I never flew in the mil as I never applied and I doubt I would be much better if I had. But maybe I would... who knows...more importantly who gives a b*ll*x???
Should I ever ditch please come pick me up. If you ditch I will do the same.

And as Gump would say "Thats all I have to say about that".
Decks is offline  
Old 14th Feb 2006, 16:38
  #760 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Posts: 80
[email protected] said:
Jknife - if your attitude is that profit is all that matters and that therefore all civ companies will operate in the same cut-throat manner then it is hardly an advert for civvy SAR. Capability comes at a cost and if you are not prepared to spend that money then your true capability (rather than what you claim to have) will suffer.
Actually I am saying that to an extent. Unless you know of some other source, the MCA will be paying for the 5-year contract. Based on your 4hrs per shift, that works out to approximately 120 hours per month (assuming a 30-day month) for a RAF SAR unit. I bet all of the MCA units would love those hours to play with, because the MCA only pay for 45 hours per month - about one third of what you claim to get!

Now, I agree with HF that it would be nice for the company to provide all that he as suggested, but someone has to pay for it all. The MCA will not pay for that much (unless they have changed their policy for this new contract, and no doubt you can ask crabette about that!); therefore hours are cut back. This is so the provider can at the very least break even, but preferably make a small profit. It is a commercial world and despite what you would like to see, it ain't going to happen. Why do think the military are trying to civilianise lots of their work? It's because they can get companies to bid for the work, and the bids will be at a considerably lower cost than the RAF (or other service) can do that work at. In addition, the civil companies will do it with a leaner support system, which includes less manpower and spares support to suggest just a couple of items. Unfortunately, one fault of military life is that it protects you from the real world of commercialism.

If you leave and work for CHC SAR (or someone else), be prepared for an almighty shock based on what you think at the moment. Mind you, you can expect an easier life style, about 8 shifts per month, no seconds, maximum 2000hours duty per year to comply with the Working Time Directive - oh and not much flying, about 15-20 hours per month including jobs I would guess! So over 8 shifts per month you are probably looking at about 1.5 hours per shift for training. That's what the MCA units have to put up with now, and they would love more. Problem is, where is the money going to come from? It wont be the provider nor the contractor, therefore no more hours.

Perhaps you should ask crabette what extra money the MOD/Government are going to put towards the SAR contract? That's if she knows. No doubt all those civil servants in the MOD are keeping those figures very quiet!

I hope you will reflect on the comments posted by many on here when you get to civvy life. Many of the names here have done both military and civil SAR for many more years than you probably have total in the military !
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