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The future of UK SAR, post SAR-H

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The future of UK SAR, post SAR-H

Old 28th Jan 2013, 10:31
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AW are in bed with the M0D, therefore the UK government. Every stop will be pulled out to establish Yeovil as the production line for the 189. It is estimated that there will be atleast 15yrs work if this 'perceived' demand comes off. Therefore it is essential that the 189 is selected. The government have already poured money into AW, 46 million about 6 weeks ago to 'stop' them leaving Yeovil because of a lull in activity and recently another 256 million to continue with the SeaKing maintenance scheme.
Now if that isn't enough emotional blackmail, I don't know what is.
There is no conflict of interest viz a vie Long SAR because BOTH applicants are advocating the 189 for short range SAR.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 10:43
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I am 90% convinced that 189 is what we will get for Lot 2. That also means 80+% of Scottish MR. I joke about how many paramedic-qualified midgets there are out there so I know how easy it is to snipe and get a cheap laugh. What else is there out there anyway that's better from an SAR standpoint. However, even if it costs every MRT in Britain 30 sets of knee pads and we can't lean over the co-pilot's shoulder to help him nav, there is also good news.

4000shp and resulting modern performance keeps our guys a lot safer when being flown in to those interesting tight spots. Hoping for greater agility than from the S-92 (92 not bad, just BIG).

I am looking forward to helping develop 2 door working. Twin hoist to modern standards. Big sensor/nav display right next to us in the back. Possibly more floor space than min for Lot 2 so more use for deploying and recovering search teams than might have been expected. Decent comms and full nvg.

21st century SK? Close. At least 21st century Wessex with bells on.

Last edited by jimf671; 28th Jan 2013 at 10:47.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 10:53
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Wasn't the S-92 unproven in the SAR role until CHC got their hands on it for the interim deal? Seems to have worked out pretty well, ...
By the time everything is fully rolled out in 2017, the S-92 will have 10 years of UK SAR flying behind it.

Worth something.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 11:10
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Apparently the bidders have been told to consider 'UK industrial dynamics' when choosing their platforms, worth bearing in mind that choice of aircraft is still really actually down to the bidders, Bond or Bristow. Potentially hundreds of jobs hang on their shoulders.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 11:42
  #1005 (permalink)  
 
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The AW press release says assembled not built so the important jobs will still be in Europe.

The 139 wasn't proven in SAR before it made it to gap-SAR - it was poorly introduced with inadequate FCS modes and lighting and the cabin is too small for a great many UK SAR tasks (not to mention needing the rearcew to be on their knees all the time - and there was no icing clearance either.

The 139 hasn't been a success in UKSAR but, because it was showcased as such, it has persuaded other buyers to take it on - what they subsequently think of it I don't know but for this country it is not suitable.

The 189 is the same aircraft with a plug in the fuselage to make the cabin longer, not higher or wider, so any limitations will be the same.

It might just save the rearcrew having to stow all the SAR role kit down the tail boom but that is it.

MRTs will struggle, stretcher entries will be difficult, 2 stretchers will be very tight, ECMO and babyvac incubators won't fit, it still won't have decent ground clearance for sloping or rough ground landings - the list goes on but we won't have a choice.

It is not a 21st century Sea King or Wessex - it is an executive transport aircraft with a SAR role bodged into and onto it - at least the Sikorsky products have decent sized cabin where the real work of SAR is done.

The S-92 isn't too big for the mountains - it's dimesions are not dissimilar to the SK/S61 which have proved themselves over many years in the harshest of environments.

I am under no illusions that it is what we will get and that we will get on with it regardless but let's not pretend it is either the best choice or the saviour of AW at Yeovil.

Last edited by [email protected]; 28th Jan 2013 at 11:44.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 12:08
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Crab,

I am sure I am not the only one who has noticed and rejoice at your change of tack from bashing the civilian SAR operators. Why the sudden change?

Possibly you have considered that however well intentioned your comments maybe they are often taken as derision of anything non-military!
Maybe someone in the military has expressed concerns that the same comments could be painting the rest of the military in a bad light and potentially hampering their future prospects in the civilian market?

Whatever the reason switching to bashing the aircraft manufactures instead just proves how so many years of life blinkered in the military can give some people a very negative outlook. Everyone in the military has had reason to moan at poor kit quality but rarely does the fault lie any further than MOD procurement. You are of course entitled to your opinion but anyone expressing their views in public should be prepared for the law of unintended consequences. That could be as simple as depressing a workforce (at Yeovil) who have actually got something to look forward to in the downturn, something we should all be happy for and applaud! Remember that if itís the choice of redundancy or more work, the workforce at Yeovil will very happy about the potential of the AW189 assembly line and not telling AW to get stuffed because its not forever! The fragility of employment is difficult to fully express to someone still in the mob.

Regardless of your experience on the AW139, there are many crews, who actually operate it, that have found it a very good SAR aircraft. Does it have limitations? Of course! But it met the requirements of the contract (yes we all know there were some teething problems, not all of AWs making, please lets not do that again) and continues to do so.
So if the AW189 is chosen it too will have to meet the requirements of the contract let by our government! Will it have limitations when set against a bigger aircraft? OF COURSE! But I think itís logical to assume that the government does not require a larger aircraft in lot 2, and therefore whether or not it would be better or nicer to have a bigger aircraft that is not what is required. Will there be teething problems if it is the AW189? Definitely, because thatís normal in a new aircraft type but itís also the only economical way to achieve progress.
In addition, any aircraft that is chosen will have to meet the exacting specifications of the technical requirements of the contract, set originally with the help of SARF military SMEs! In other words the aircraft are, straight from OEM, going to be able to do everything that has been asked for. Almost designed for the job you could say! What other SAR aircraft can claim that? All military SAR aircraft were adapted for the task after becoming surplus to operational requirements.

So IMHO without an embarrassing U-turn from the government, which would leave the country with no SAR cover at the military bases in a few years (there is no military plan B, there is no MOD money for a plan B, there is no military appetite, albeit at senior level, for a plan B) UK SAR is going to happen! Are there some potential down sides to UK SAR? Sure, but there are loads of positives too so just think of them and smile, or worry yourself to an early grave! The fact is that the whole of the UK is going to be covered by a fleet or 2 of new helicopters to keep us all safe for the next 10 years ☺

My own philosophy is that you cannot make a difference by complaining, but you might make a positive contribution if you get stuck in and help out.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 12:22
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So Bristow replied to your application then Crab? When you moving to St Mawgan?

92 is good and it is big. Its power is reassuring (more so when in it rather than underneath it).

There will be no all-92 contract and the 189 is what is out there. Compared to squeezing guys into a 350 or 135 it's a dream and it has loads of power.

I tried to raise the incubator point with an SAS guy last spring but I am not sure if that has been acted upon.

Last edited by jimf671; 28th Jan 2013 at 16:50. Reason: Add comment in parentheses.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 13:24
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Snakepit - well that's all OK then, sunshine and roses for UKSAR forever and jobs for life at AW - how fantastic.

Yes we will just get on with it but - why spend billions of taxpayers pounds on something that is not as capable as it should be?

Despite your assertion that the 189 will have been rigorously assessed, it will only meet the terms of the contract that have been stipulated - that is a very different thing from being selected on its suitability.

If the contract doesn't specify cabin size, ability to fulfill ALL current UK SAR tasks or a multitude of other factors, the aircraft will be chosen because of the contract spec (potentially poorly written and also modified by political pressure). That is NOT the same as being chosen because it is a good SAR aircraft.

It always amuses me that so many here think that a life in uniform means comprehensive institutialisation which removes the ability to think, read, understand or be otherwise cognisant of how the 'real' world works.

I can't possibly know how industry works (I clearly don't have any friends or family in industry because I am in the military), I can't possibly understand the fragility of employment outside our cossetted little military world (just remind me how many industries have lost the numbers to redundancy of the armed forces over the last 20 years of peace dividend) and I can't possibly empathise with those working at Yeovil because I don't work there.

All fundamentally fatuous and flawed viewpoints but, because I dare to question if SARH, in both its previous and now new guises, are the right way forward for UK plc and don't accept at face value what is being forced onto the country at a time of economic hardship - I am the one at fault because I have worked for the same employer (and served the UK taxpayer) for over 30 years. Dear oh dear

Govt spending on infrastruture to create NEW jobs is a good way to drag ourselves out of recession - Govt spending to replace something old but of top quality with something new of lesser capability (except that it goes a bit faster) that actually reduces the number of jobs in that sector, is not.

Fewer SAR flights, far fewer engineers and management - no new aircrew jobs as they will be filled from existing mil and civ posts - and a temporary reprieve for a few people at Yeovil. This conjoined with fewer coastguards (to improve efficiency!!!) is a retrograde step for air, land and sea safety in the UK.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 14:36
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Oh, C'mon Crab, you've heard this before and you'll hear it again:

There isn't a SAR designed helicopter anywhere in the world - why not? Because there isn't the demand for it. The closest anyone has ever got with it is the DoD, Canada who are (and have been for what seems to be an eternity) still struggling with trying to modify an off the line production model to fit (more closely) their SAR needs.
Unless someone can go to an OEM and ask for AND PAY for hundreds of SAR airframes, no-one is going to build one.
So (and this is where your lack of commercial experience shows a little) the manufacturers make what they think they can sell the most of: A generic airframe with limited future proofing capabilities. Make it too future proof and they won't have future customers!
It is simply the most sustainable route to profit. Like it or lump it, profitability is the ONLY way to go in civvy street, there are NO other mandates.
Now let's try to understand why the 139's and 189's and S-60's of this world are so damn successful. Yes you've guessed right: they can be modified cheaply and quickly to "best" fit (not replace) the design you are after.

The AW139 order book is....wait for it.... 30 months long Now why is that?

So can everyone move on with the right or wrong a/c. Whatever is chosen - will NOT be a SAR designed OEM model...the end!

Secondly, we all agree (don't we???) that whoever staffs the new a/c - are perfectly capable and competent - we've thrashed that to bits - yes? Good.

MRT's remain the same exceptional standard - no questions there - good.

What's left to discuss?
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 15:29
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What's left to discuss?
The capability of the customer?
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 16:16
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... why spend billions of taxpayers pounds on something that is not as capable as it should be?
Well, first of all there is "The Abbey Wood effect". The other AW.
I defined this elsewhere with the following example: "infantry clothing and equipment is purchased by people who haven't been out in the rain for over a decade."

Best know for the effect on defence procurement but the MoD is not the only department at AW and the same effect exists elsewhere and in other departments.

Secondly, when we look at the alternatives, they tend to be unworkable.
- All S-92 fleet: too expensive, otherwise it would be offered and nobody thinks that has happened.
- NH90 with High Cabin Variant: only joking!
- MI-17: ... NEXT!
- S-61T: no, because AW will tell HM Gov they can do it better, which they can't.
- EC175: smaller than 189 and bidders appear to have examined and rejected it.
- Bell 525: too late, too unproven.

----------------------------

Better order 5 x AW189 then, plus between 2 and 4 spare aircraft depending upon how confident you are in a new design.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 16:18
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Devil

A government minister was quoted as saying that only those who bid with the AW189 for lot 2 would have any chance of success, ties in really. Not sure was the cabin of the EC175 going to be much bigger? Ground clearance on both is an issue no doubt. Once introduced the new type will be adapted, or procedures will be so the task will be completed by smart thinking and innovation on the part of the crews, CRT or MRT members. May take some time though. Hopefully those involved will get together and endeavour to make a success of it despite the likelihood of government penny pinching possibly ruling the selection process....
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 16:44
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Once introduced the new type will be adapted, or procedures will be so the task will be completed by smart thinking and innovation on the part of the crews, CRT or MRT members.
'Once introduced' is a bit late.

Bristow's S-92 have started arriving. As soon as they are ready to fly we need to get Aux CG , MRT and RNLI crawling all over them and talking to the contractor about developing the procedures for operating with 'Ground/Maritime Emergency Service Personnel'.

When the first SAR AW189 is delivered to the contractor, maybe next year sometime, the same thing needs to happen. Sooner, if possible. If AW want that aircraft to be a success then they need the service using it to be fully ready on DAY ONE with everyone ready to work together. The way to achieve that would be to have the 189 touring lifeboat stations, MR bases and Aux CG stations as soon as the flag drops at the end of April.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 16:48
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TC - well you tell me why AW can extend the length of the cabin to produce a 'new' helicopter but not the height?

If you want a 'family' of helicopters with different but complementary capabilities, then surely that is the way to get more custom rather than less. Just making each one slightly longer so you can wedge a couple more seats in is just lazy (and obviously cheap).

Do all those VIPs want to sit in low-slung seats with minimal headroom or would some of them prefer a better option? 1.4 m cabin height is too small and smacks of a lack of imagination amongst the manufacturers and their designers.

As I said before, AW had the perfect opportunity to create something that would not only satisfy the corporate customer but also become the de facto medium SAR helicopter. all they had to do was make it taller - please don't tell me that is rocket science in the world of helicopter design since others seem to have managed it quite easily.

Perhaps it is because the Italian part of the company won't listen to the UK part where design is concerned.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 17:20
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Crab,

How tall a cabin is your requirement? If you want something where all rear-crew can stand without stooping you are talking about a very big cabin therefore a very big aircraft. We don't need a fleet of very big SAR aircraft; you might argue that the two-type solution offers greater flexibility. How much first-aid/winch operating demands the need to be stood at full height? The AW189's spec will (if selected) bring a lot to the party, unfortunately doing star-jumps in the cabin won't be one of them. And no, I don't work for AW, just a realist.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 17:42
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Thumbs down

And no, I don't work for AW, just a realist.
And definitely not a crewman.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 18:00
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llamaman - presumably you have had some H and S advice about lifting - the old 'lift with your legs not your back' sort of thing?

Now try lifting even a 12 stone patient on a stretcher (let alone a bariatric casualty of 20 plus stone) whilst kneeling down. Does that explain the issue with cabin height?

It just wouldn't be allowed in a land ambulance yet, despite aircraft of the size of the SK/S61/S92 being available and eminently suitable for ALL UK SAR tasks, you and others see it as the right way forward for SARH.

They have to buy ambulances of the right size to do the job, why not select the helicopter in the same way? When we are already talking billions of taxpayers money, why are we quibbling about a few million to go for an all - S92 fleet?

Politicians have been fawning and fighting over Westlands for many years but they are making a mistake if they influence the SARH process just to gain political kudos.

Last edited by [email protected]; 28th Jan 2013 at 18:02.
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 18:14
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SAR aircraft.. Go to scene, save life, now not ancient military aircraft.... Who cares what shape as long as it carries out primary task. Simples....
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 18:16
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Crab,

Thanks for the condescension.
It's a proven method to lift fairly heavy weights with bent legs and a straight back; every weight-lifter I've ever seen ends their routine in that manner not stood up straight. By the way, I thought you deemed the S92 unsuitable due to a radar not fit for purpose? Or are you finally learning that EVERY aircraft demands some form of compromise?
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Old 28th Jan 2013, 19:44
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Jim671: presumably u r ARCC? Doing what you suggest by sending reps from ground teams to size the operation up is totally unworkable: Irish parliament comes to mind! RNLI??? Give me a break guvnor - we'll end up with hot water dispensers in them all cor blimey! MRT's: since when did they get a look in? Volunteers mainly! Leave airborne SAR to the world of aviation.
PS: There will be 2 types of aircraft: long haul and short haul [S92 and AW189] Trust me - look into my eyes

Crab: You're being facetious now! All S92 fleet??? Massive overkill. Just like the military EH101. Too big to do the small jobs and too damn expensive. In addition what happens if they experience the 225 effect or closer to home perhaps, one of them has a dicky fit with its OSTG?? Fleet grounded because they are all the same?? Best bit of common sense that Son of SARH allowed for was two types.
And you are clutching at straws when you think corporate clients want to be driven around in white vans! Compact, slippery, cheap to run and sleek is what the elite require, not a bread van.
Give the helicopter designers some credibility, they are quite clever chappies after all: They do sit down and design the most optimised airframe that they think the market is after, you know.......or they'd be outta business. The problem for them is that SAR aint sexy
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