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NH-90 problems

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NH-90 problems

Old 18th Oct 2023, 22:25
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Originally Posted by Lonewolf_50
A Service Life Extension Program ... without actually doing anything? That's an odd claim...
I did wonder how the original 30 year lifespan was arrived at and in turn, how NHI are now instead contemplating a 50 year lifespan. I think they might be saying no major re-working of the airframe would be needed?? They are also probably not saying any individual aircraft are necessarily expected to last 50 years of service, rather the basic design. That has certainly been the case for many other aircraft types, including some helicopters.

To put 50 years into perspective, consider the currently active thread "For Wessex fans". G-WSEX was built in October 1966 so is now 57 years old and still flying (though with some pauses through life by the look of it: https://www.helis.com/database/cn/792/ ). Not sure what forms of significant upgrades the Wessex had through its life. In the meantime it would simply be a case of managing to get hold of airworthy spare parts for the type to keep it flying!
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Old 18th Oct 2023, 23:09
  #322 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by ARRAKIS
A full list of FY 2023 reimbursement rates can be found below. Around 4 k$ for a UH-60M. Approximately 8 k$ for a CH-47F.

https://comptroller.defense.gov/Port...3/2023_b_c.pdf

EDIT
I'm just wondering, what would be, within the same organization, the rate for an AW101 comparing to a CH-47F?
Having studied the informative document at the link provided by ARRAKIS some weeks back, particularly the last two pages giving rates for rotary wing fleet, I have some questions regarding the rates listed as there are some curious features. Hopefully ARRAKIS or others might have some explanation:

(1) I assume O&M means "Operation and Maintenance" including fuel, parts and maintenance personnel costs but excluding aircrew costs?

(2) It looks like charge-out rates for "Other DoD components" waive the "MilPers" costs, however such costs are included when aircraft provided for other 'clients'. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) 'clients' are charged a somewhat higher rate for "MilPers" ranging between about 3-10% more than others, depending on the helicopter type. In any event, "MilPers" percentage of total rate for "All Other Users" remains as low as 0.7% to 10.7% so isn't particularly significant.

(3) I wasn't sure what "Asset Utl" account was about under the "All Other Users" category of 'client', but it turns out this is consistently about a 4% addition to the total charge-out rate beyond "O&M" + "MilPers".

(4) ARRAKIS noted the reimbursement rates for UH-60M was around 4 k$, or US$3,956 per hour to be precise. This is for the "O&M" component so excludes at least aircrew salaries. But looking across the range of UH-60 variants shown in the list, this "O&M" rate varies significantly from only US$2,697 for the Army MH-60K & L (special ops) variants to as much as US$6666 for the Air Force HH-60G (Pave Hawk) variant. That is almost a 4.3x difference. There is even a stark difference between the UH-60A (at US$6266) and the UH-60M (at US$3956). What could explain these significant differences? In contrast, there is no difference in reimbursable rate for CH-47D vs CH-47F versions of Chinook.

(5) How is it that reimbursable rate for HH-60G could be around 1.6x times that for the Chinook? Is it perhaps related to this being a limited fleet with a lack of 'economy of scale' for operation of the Air Force Pave Hawk?

I had originally intended to try to correlate costs against parameters such as installed power, MTOW etc, but given the broad spread of UH-60 variant rates there is obviously more to it than a narrow scatter about some basic cost trendlines!
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Old 19th Oct 2023, 07:44
  #323 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 212man
The dedicated thread had some rumours, that resulted in the posters being flamed! But, I suspect time will show them to be true.
Rumor is…..allegedly, possibly could be true, or could not be true, the current cheese of 16 Bde Svn has said that the investigation won’t be released and anybody who leaks info will have their careers ended.

One does wonder what was the cause of the accident. It would appear from the lack of Maintenance bulletins, restrictions etc on the global fleet, plus the rumored “shush” request, that the aircraft wasn’t the issue?

Last edited by Doors Off; 19th Oct 2023 at 10:19.
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Old 19th Oct 2023, 14:19
  #324 (permalink)  
 
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“There is even a stark difference between the UH-60A (at US$6266) and the UH-60M (at US$3956). What could explain these significant differences? In contrast, there is no difference in reimbursable rate for CH-47D vs CH-47F versions of Chinook.”

Those are indeed pretty significant differences, not sure why that would be, other than the UH-60A May have more significant costs associated with airframe condition due to age? Those numbers could be possibly be inflated depending on the timeframe that the information was gathered.

For example, the 9 aircraft (UH-60A) that were initially assigned to the Air Ambulance Detachment I worked at were pulled out of long term storage from bases in Germany, they were all veterans of multiple tours of duty (Iraq or Afghanistan) and required a significant amount of time and cost to bring them up to a reliable fleet.

This kind of effort was repeated across a number of bases State Side as all UH-72A were pulled out of Air Ambulance service and sent to Ft. Rucker to become part of the training fleet there, in around the 2015-17 timeframe.

I think we spent over $1.5 million USD on parts alone on those aircraft the first (partial) year we had them, If memory serves. I don’t know if maintenance man hours counts towards this cost per hour number but that would have been a significant cost in our case due to overtime pay.

At any rate, would be very interesting to know exactly how the cost is actually computed. Of course, there may be a significant amount of smoke and or mirrors involved in these calculations, as anyone dealing with any government entity for any amount of time would know….

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Old 19th Oct 2023, 23:22
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Originally Posted by 60FltMech
...not sure why that would be, other than the UH-60A May have more significant costs associated with airframe condition due to age?...

...At any rate, would be very interesting to know exactly how the cost is actually computed. Of course, there may be a significant amount of smoke and or mirrors involved in these calculations, as anyone dealing with any government entity for any amount of time would know….

FltMech
Thanks for your insights.

A summary of Black Hawk variants is provided by Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_UH-60_Black_Hawk

If I interpret it correctly, MH-60L is based on UH-60L which in turn seem to be upgraded UH-60A's with T700-GE-701C originally fitted (to the L's) in place of T700-GE-700 (for A's). Yet MH-60L, of which only 37 produced and with all its 'extras', is one of the pair with the lowest listed O&M rate of all the variants. So if they are built from refurbished UH-60A's, perhaps cost of refurbishment of the older airframes and renewal of engines was absorbed under a different (acquisition) budget and so became 'invisible'?

Yes, I always wonder about 'smoke and mirrors' or simply inconsistent cost accounting (such as 'acquisition costs' paid twice for one airframe) corrupting what might otherwise be a nice dataset.
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Old 20th Oct 2023, 13:57
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You are right, a sideways glance at the MH-60L numbers seem most warranted. Any aircraft with the MH designation will cost more due to the nature of the mission, those aircraft are worked very hard their whole lives and are equipped with a number of systems the standard versions aren’t, the numbers simply aren’t believable.

There has to be some context missing. Perhaps the numbers were compiled at a time of low utilization of the airframes, MH-60L have been replaced by the 60M variant, the variants are so dissimilar as far as cockpit layout and systems that it seems unlikely the 60L would still be used in a limited training role, but who knows?

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Old 20th Oct 2023, 19:49
  #327 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by helispotter
If I interpret it correctly, MH-60L is based on UH-60L which in turn seem to be upgraded UH-60A's with T700-GE-701C originally fitted (to the L's) in place of T700-GE-700 (for A's).
Not quite right.
A to L: Higher Gross Weight, Improved Durability Gear Box (didn't have the 3000 hour life limit like the A's) and a bunch of changes to the structure of the aircraft to handle the increased max gross. There was an an extensive A to L conversion program undertaken by the Army. Yes, engine upgrades were there also.
Yet MH-60L, of which only 37 produced and with all its 'extras', is one of the pair with the lowest listed O&M rate of all the variants.
Who do you think operated those variants? Won't further comment on MH-60L.

A to L is IIRC from the Maintenance / Overhaul budget, not the acquisition budget. I am a little bit familiar with the original MH-60R upgrade from the SH-60B and SH-60F. The only way that was possible was to get it from rework money, not new program money, because there was no new program money to fund it during the Clinton administration.
(That approach ended up being a bit of a bust, as the lot 13 base line had to deal with early lot aircraft that had been ridden hard and put away wet).
Built new was the ultimate path forward for that, once a new administration showed up with funds for acquisition, and it got them into the fleet.

Back to Blackhawk
Yes, there is a bit of smoke and mirrors involved in moving money around. It is an arcane art ...
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Old 21st Dec 2023, 21:49
  #328 (permalink)  
 
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I have already posted this link on the Queensland MRH90 crash specific thread (as reference is made to that crash) but also adding to this thread. It doesn't make for good reading, and comes across as being somewhat bloody minded:

https://asiapacificdefencereporter.c...n-helicopters/

While reliability and availability issue of NH90 / MRH90 didn't sound unique to Australia, some of what I have read did still give me a sense there was a 'camp' in the ADF who just wanted Blackhawk regardless. Also appears there are some in the ADF who can see that is the case and are speaking up, but can't do it officially (Kym Bergmann possibly being informed in that way).

ANAO has been critical of this acquisition project, but perhaps now they should revisit the subject and also look at the disposal decisions and the process for acquisition of the replacement Blackhawk instead.
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Old 26th Dec 2023, 17:49
  #329 (permalink)  
 
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I read the article linked, seems to me there are a couple of possibilities regarding what was reported:

1. The author is 100% correct and is reporting factually what is happening to the NH-90 fleet, and the events surrounding the replacement of the NH-90 in Australian service. Governments quite simply make the worst decisions regarding a lot of things, so parting out and disposing of otherwise useful (to someone) airframes wouldn’t be a uniquely stupid decision.

I look at what my government (USA) does regarding defense systems and shake my head fairly often. Just look at the debacle that all variants of the F-35 have turned out to be, as an example. The amount of $$$ burned on that system if maddening.

So to was the amount of equipment left in Afghanistan to be repurposed for Taliban use, its just too expensive to bring back home or take somewhere else.

So, would I be shocked at Australia giving away NH-90 parts and burying the stripped airframes? Nope. But there may be something else happening that is closer to the truth but not as wasteful?

2. Not all airframes are being stripped and buried. Maybe condition wise, there are issues with some airframes that render them not economically viable to retain or repair, for whatever reason, and those are indeed being stripped and buried? Maybe these were involved in previously unknown mishaps that didn’t cause death or bodily harm.

I can tell you from experience as it relates to the US Army, lots of things happen that don’t make it out into the news that are significant events damage wise. And the aircraft get repaired and put back into service(or sometimes not) and nobody but the service paying the bills and the people working on it know it ever happened.

As for the discussion of a nefarious cabal axing the NH-90 in favor of the Blackhawk, just because of some sort of nostalgia they have for it, I’ll agree that it’s just as possible as the reports surrounding the demise of the NH-90 aircraft themselves.

It could also be that those making this decision are correct and that the UH-60 is better for use in Australian service, and the nostalgia they are harkening back to was something that was more easily maintainable, available and fit for purpose for the missions that they find themselves doing.

Maybe Blackhawk is “like a farm tractor”, but not in the derogatory way the one anonymous ADF source in the article laments, because, let’s be real: the two machines are contemporaries in capability. They both have all the modern systems a frontline medium helicopter of today has to offer and fairly similar performance.

Just maybe it is “like a farm tractor” in the way that it stands up to the rigors of use in austere conditions that a frontline medium helicopter has to endure, in training or combat, and that’s what is driving this change?

The only other commentary from the article that I found interesting is the raising of the point, again, about Blackhawks lack of a float system. This seems an interesting point, and I honestly don’t know how many militaries have adopted such systems to their maritime helicopter fleets. A quick perusal of the internet did bring me up a link to a Taiwanese govt report, part of which I’ll quote below:

“Due to the history of the SH-60B/F and HH-60H floating systems, engine reliability improvements and MH-60R/S project upgrades, the floating system is not installed in the MH-60R and MH-60S. The integration of floating systems raises some safety risks, including the blocking of flight crews' emergency escape routes. Because of these risks, the MH-60R has never been designed to contain a floating system. The MH-60R is followed by the development of the MH-60S, and the floating system is not considered. The survival rate of the shipwreck was basically the same before and after the system was removed.”

At any rate, this has gone way long and honestly none of this really matters much in the long run. No aircraft is perfect for every situation and indeed some are running NH-90 with seemingly no issues, others aren’t and it appears ADF ran into something they couldn’t overcome.

FltMech
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Old 27th Dec 2023, 15:16
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Originally Posted by 60FltMech
I read the article linked, seems to me there are a couple of possibilities regarding what was reported:

1. The author is 100% correct and is reporting factually what is happening to the NH-90 fleet, and the events surrounding the replacement of the NH-90 in Australian service. Governments quite simply make the worst decisions regarding a lot of things, so parting out and disposing of otherwise useful (to someone) airframes wouldn’t be a uniquely stupid decision.

I look at what my government (USA) does regarding defense systems and shake my head fairly often. Just look at the debacle that all variants of the F-35 have turned out to be, as an example. The amount of $$$ burned on that system if maddening.

So to was the amount of equipment left in Afghanistan to be repurposed for Taliban use, its just too expensive to bring back home or take somewhere else.

So, would I be shocked at Australia giving away NH-90 parts and burying the stripped airframes? Nope. But there may be something else happening that is closer to the truth but not as wasteful?

2. Not all airframes are being stripped and buried. Maybe condition wise, there are issues with some airframes that render them not economically viable to retain or repair, for whatever reason, and those are indeed being stripped and buried? Maybe these were involved in previously unknown mishaps that didn’t cause death or bodily harm.

I can tell you from experience as it relates to the US Army, lots of things happen that don’t make it out into the news that are significant events damage wise. And the aircraft get repaired and put back into service(or sometimes not) and nobody but the service paying the bills and the people working on it know it ever happened.

As for the discussion of a nefarious cabal axing the NH-90 in favor of the Blackhawk, just because of some sort of nostalgia they have for it, I’ll agree that it’s just as possible as the reports surrounding the demise of the NH-90 aircraft themselves.

It could also be that those making this decision are correct and that the UH-60 is better for use in Australian service, and the nostalgia they are harkening back to was something that was more easily maintainable, available and fit for purpose for the missions that they find themselves doing.

Maybe Blackhawk is “like a farm tractor”, but not in the derogatory way the one anonymous ADF source in the article laments, because, let’s be real: the two machines are contemporaries in capability. They both have all the modern systems a frontline medium helicopter of today has to offer and fairly similar performance.

Just maybe it is “like a farm tractor” in the way that it stands up to the rigors of use in austere conditions that a frontline medium helicopter has to endure, in training or combat, and that’s what is driving this change?

The only other commentary from the article that I found interesting is the raising of the point, again, about Blackhawks lack of a float system. This seems an interesting point, and I honestly don’t know how many militaries have adopted such systems to their maritime helicopter fleets. A quick perusal of the internet did bring me up a link to a Taiwanese govt report, part of which I’ll quote below:

“Due to the history of the SH-60B/F and HH-60H floating systems, engine reliability improvements and MH-60R/S project upgrades, the floating system is not installed in the MH-60R and MH-60S. The integration of floating systems raises some safety risks, including the blocking of flight crews' emergency escape routes. Because of these risks, the MH-60R has never been designed to contain a floating system. The MH-60R is followed by the development of the MH-60S, and the floating system is not considered. The survival rate of the shipwreck was basically the same before and after the system was removed.”

At any rate, this has gone way long and honestly none of this really matters much in the long run. No aircraft is perfect for every situation and indeed some are running NH-90 with seemingly no issues, others aren’t and it appears ADF ran into something they couldn’t overcome.

FltMech
Spot on, there and i agree especially on your last couple of paragraphs as i have said exactly the same thing when peeps in the industry or enthusiasts ask me about the NH90, my response is "depending on who you talk to and who operates it". Mate of mine flew NH90 NFH in naval service of and did not have a bad word to say about flying it bar logistics and support system, which struggled. But again that has been an issue with a few operators, because going up from a Huey or Lynx to complex NH90, requires different mind set re the support and stuff.

AAAC issues with Tiger, I believe from what i hear and read, goes back to where they were finally assembled...

cheers
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Old 27th Dec 2023, 16:21
  #331 (permalink)  
 
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I guess the main thing that jumps out to me is how the implication, at least from this particular news source, is that ADF are so technically incompetent that they can’t maintain their aircraft while everyone else can(excepting of course the several other nations that have had enough of whatever is going on that they are replacing their NH90 fleets as well).

This is being directed at a service that seems to be able to operate and maintain CH-47F, which is not exactly easy and that has operated UH-60 previously, not to mention other types they have in service across all branches of Australia's military.

It’s curious to me that Italy appears to operate the largest NH90 fleet, without a lot of complaints. Could there be preferential treatment by the OEMs for their fleet? Or is it down to usage?

The European Security & Defense news site reported on 02 October of this year, on the occasion of the delivery of the 56th and final NH90 for Italian service:

The first Italian NH90 was delivered in 2011, since which time the Italian fleet has logged more than 35,000 flight hours in Italy and on international operations.”

35,000 hours in 11 years. I feel like a fleet used this gently would be easier to maintain but maybe I’m missing something?

Again, if it’s working for others, great. But the tone of reporting, at least for this article that was originally posted(and past articles from the same source), seems to take great offense to the ADF position and experience regarding this aircraft and spends a lot of time attributing dark motives to those in charge, instead of considering a more straightforward explanation as to why they are choosing a different platform.

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Old 27th Dec 2023, 17:39
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Who in his right mind would burry 40+ aircraft? The individuals responsible for that decision would not burry their car in their backyard just because the heater failed.

Somebody who wants a Ferrari and is used to a pickup truck (an ute if I remember right) cannot complain that it is more expensive to maintain. The NH90 is more complex than a UH-1.
Give the ships to Ukraine. They will show you how to operate them.
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 10:59
  #333 (permalink)  
 
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Bergman’s article highlights another truly sad chapter for the Aus Army Air Corps. Billions wasted. Lives wasted. People wasted.

The article eludes to some very, very accurate rumours about both “aircraft accidents”. Not to blame anybody on either aircraft, as all aircrew make mistakes every time they take to the skies. Shutting down the incorrect engine, is not an aircraft issue. Flying into the Ocean, is not an aircraft issue. I’ll emphasise again, everybody makes errors.

However, for an organisation to utilise those events to discard a platform and not get to the real causes of the events, means they are doomed to repeat the events again, this time in their shiny Blackhawks, just like the first time they had them. Sadly, the innocent will die and the hierarchy will abandon them and their maintainers and support staff.
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 15:09
  #334 (permalink)  
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Key Metrics?

​​
They outperform Blackhawk in all key metrics – speed, range, payload and cabin volume.


I think one of your key metrics is glaringly absent - availability!

While NH Industries pump out all kinds of ridiculous PR bumph about this platform and their commitment (inability) to support it, they must love this dude writing these articles as without a single identifiable reference, he produces stories like this which sound like the manufacturers crew down the pub, regaling the version they would like everyone to hear

As so much of what is reported in this article is either occuring secretly, anonymously, or at the behest of a secret and unidentifiable group of conspirators, can anyone shed some factual light on this?
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Old 28th Dec 2023, 18:22
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“The article eludes to some very, very accurate rumours about both “aircraft accidents”. Not to blame anybody on either aircraft, as all aircrew make mistakes every time they take to the skies. Shutting down the incorrect engine, is not an aircraft issue. Flying into the Ocean, is not an aircraft issue. I’ll emphasise again, everybody makes errors.”

Absolutely correct regarding crew errors and accidents, I don’t believe anyone would dispute this. However, I can’t find where the ADF have chosen to end their NH90 usage based solely on accidents.

“However , for an organisation to utilise those events to discard a platform and not get to the real causes of the events, means they are doomed to repeat the events again, this time in their shiny Blackhawks, just like the first time they had them. Sadly, the innocent will die and the hierarchy will abandon them and their maintainers and support staff.”

Again, I’ll agree with you here that blaming the aircraft would not serve to correct accident trends and those issues would still occur whatever aircraft was in service. But i also don’t think it could be argued that lack of availability of training time in the actual aircraft is also a big contributor to accidents


Since the accident report for the latest incident isn’t even out yet, how are we so sure that this is what is happening within the ADF? How do we know what measures are being taken within those organizations? Are we privy to what is being discussed by the crews and their commanders in their briefing rooms?

As I understand it, Australian Army aviation is a very close nit group, whose members were all likely to have been closely, even personally affected by the loss of life from the latest accident.

Once again, I may be proven wrong in the future, but there are a lot of allegations of cold, callous actions by ADF leadership that may be wholly unfounded.

FltMech


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Old 28th Dec 2023, 22:36
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I just returned from a reunion of my old Sqn mates , most of which went on to MRH and Tiger after BH, all said the MRH generally outperformed Black Hawk in all areas except tactical landings and the SF/CT role, the problem was there was never enough serviceable to do the roles, the ADF was about to buy 15 Bell 429 to supplement the MRH in the SF/CT role, when the MRH was dumped the 429 order never went ahead as they were not needed with the Black Hawk coming back into the role, those who had direct dealings with NH industries (WO's and Maj and above now retired) all said it was hard work, but the thing that got me was almost to a man when you ask them which machine would you operate in combat it was the BH over the MRH almost every time.
The guys who went Tigar said the same dealing with Airbus was a like constantly headbutting a wall, when the French took Tiger on ops they had a 30 man Airbus support team to keep 3-4 aircraft flying, so Airbus can say they have done operational flying and performed, you can't keep a fleet of A/C going with that level of support in real life. The Guys still in have said now dealing with Lockheed Martin(Sikorsky) and Boeing the stress levels have dropped considerably and a light can be seen at the end of the tunnel at last.
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Old 29th Dec 2023, 16:13
  #337 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 60FltMech

35,000 hours in 11 years. I feel like a fleet used this gently would be easier to maintain but maybe I’m missing something?
that works out to like only 56 hours a year per aircraft. Not exactly a ton of flying.
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Old 30th Dec 2023, 15:43
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Originally Posted by LTP90
that works out to like only 56 hours a year per aircraft. Not exactly a ton of flying.
maybe they were “gently” used, but the first was delivered in 2011, the last in 2023, so, your average does not mean much…
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Old 30th Dec 2023, 21:06
  #339 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by dascanio
maybe they were “gently” used, but the first was delivered in 2011, the last in 2023, so, your average does not mean much…
I'm not sure any adjusting of the metrics will turn that into a productive flying rate
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Old 31st Dec 2023, 01:46
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I feel like a fleet used this gently would be easier to maintain but maybe I’m missing something
Objects sitting idle tends to rust, requiring lots of maintenance.
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