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UK SAR 2013 privatisation: the new thread

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UK SAR 2013 privatisation: the new thread

Old 9th Jul 2015, 23:50
  #2081 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Inverness-shire, Ross-shire
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None of this flying is a secret. All the aircraft involved are on ADS-B and the tracks are there in publicly available internet databases with a full record of times and day-twilight-night conditions. One of them may still be out over the Channel in the dark as I type this.

They are contracted to provide crews who operate in all light conditions down to 2 mlux, so what would make us think that a training and certification delay specific to NVG also has a bearing on operations in 1 lux?

As for who is paying for what, I am sure that a few complicated sums have recently been done by various bean counters. And fourteen shillings and sixpence ha'penny here, and two guineas there (trying to make it easy for Albert to follow ). You know what? It probably adds up to the square root of the cube of bu99er all in the big picture. Nobody is going to be left lying in the snow or floating in the water because of those calculations so unless it's part of the course work for their OU degree in contract law it's not a burning issue for most folk.

Maybe get on the blower to Inverness or Humberside or Caernarfon Crab and remind your former colleagues that without their favourite QHI around their skill fade will catch up with them. Or is it that it's difficult to stay on-the-ball without the smell of leaking AVTUR and burning wiring in the background to keep you alert?

One day it will have to be faced that modern powerful and well-equipped civilian aircraft are doing UK SAR and the sky has not fallen in.

There are a few wrinkles in the plan and searching questions have been asked of principal players. Frank answers have been forthcoming. Those who refuse to recognise the commercial landscape do not get to hear the frank answers because they do not provide room for the contractor to obey Rule 1 and Rule 2. Rule 1: Do not p155 off the regulator. Rule 2: Do not p155 off the customer. (Or is it the other way round?) Maneouvring toward the frank answers is no more or less difficult overall than with the Royal Air Force or Fleet Air Arm (NVG, paramedics, FLIR, ...).


In the Highlands, we are expecting the full contracted capability for aeronautical support to mountain rescue from Inverness with a Sikorsky S-92A during winter 2015/16. We are expecting the full contracted capability for aeronautical support to mountain rescue from Inverness with an AgustaWestland AW189 during winter 2016/17. We are hopeful of low-light capability being added to the capability of GAP SAR aircraft operating from Sumburgh and Stornoway soon after the extra training loads are lifted from the MAIN contract.


Recent article in Casbag ends as follows.
"Importantly, we have a role in providing opportunities, in both training and operations, for this service to develop to its full capability and maturity."


One day soon Crab the press and public will be cutting Bristow as much slack as they once cut you. I expect to be still asking searching questions and maneouvring for frank answers.

(Still more questions about the rear than up the front.)
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 05:53
  #2082 (permalink)  
 
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Nobody is going to be left lying in the snow or floating in the water
So night wets is a currency requirement now is it?

One day it will have to be faced that modern powerful and well-equipped civilian aircraft are doing UK SAR and the sky has not fallen in
Progress is undoubtedly being made in some areas but not training for night wets will result in a major drop in capability as those aircrew that have left the military suffer skill fade in that discipline. Unfortunately, as has been said before, this deficiency will only rear its head at the most inconvenient of moments.
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 06:46
  #2083 (permalink)  
 
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In your self-appointed role as expert in aircrew training Jim, you don't know as much as you believe - I am very well aware that the aircraft is extremely capable.

But - and it is a big but - this service was supposed to be at least as good as what it replaced, )which it probably will be in a year or so's time when the ex-mil have got comfortable with the new aircraft and the civ guys used to the NVD) = but is it going to be as good right from the start? Very unlikely and anyone who believes so is kidding themselves.

There has been much made about how this service is cheaper than what it replaced and when the questions were asked it seemed that training was the area the company felt could be trimmed down without impact. When that proves not to be the case and more training hours are needed, who will absorb the cost? The company, who are in this for financial game and to prove a model works for future contracts, or the taxpayer who will be held over a barrel when there is no alternative service provider?

Night training in all disciplines is essential for safe and efficient SARops - that is the bottom line and all the clever technology doesn't take that away.
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 09:09
  #2084 (permalink)  
 
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One day soon Crab the press and public will be cutting Bristow as much slack as they once cut you.
Not unless it's in a parallel universe though.
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 12:40
  #2085 (permalink)  
 
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CONCERNS

My principal ongoing concerns relate to rear crew.

Managed Transition is bringing 42 military rearcrew to the new service who are overwhelmingly RAF. In spite of the pay cut in relation to PA Scales, these include Sqn Leader, MAC and RN WO as well as greater numbers of PO and Sergeant. That has to rank as a success.

Other rearcrew are from a variety of provenance that includes a former life in British military SAR, CivSAR or air ambulance.

There appears to be a trend for Managed Transition winchmen to select a seat inside nearer the heater. That leaves a smaller proportion of highly experienced personnel on the end of the wire. We have discussed rearcrew and airmanship previously.

At the same time, the regulator, who "has never regulated operations like these before", chooses not to license SAR rearcrew but regulates these tasks in a manner similar to air transport cabin crew.

Overall, this leaves the impression that rearcrew are regulated and paid as though they were 'trolley dollies in dry-suits' as I posted previously.

Understanding helicopter airmanship of this particularly challenging variety, the working practices of mariners and the working practices of climbers and mountain rescuers can be important for those in the back at both ends of the wire. In the weeks just prior to award of this contract even the attendance of one of the craft's most experienced practitioners could not prevent a tragedy.

As things currently stand, there is some remaining talent to be harvested from the military but we will soon move toward majority 'ab initio' CivSAR rearcrew training. Elsewhere in Europe, and the wider world, Human External Cargo (HEC) accounts for a worrying accident toll. In the UK, close attention to high standards led by military operators has kept accident rates very low. If the regulator is not there forcing the correct standard then risks can easily multiply.

Fortunately, there are small hints of growing awareness for some in Bristow management of the risk to which this exposes them. Hopefully that seed will continue to grow. Appropriate reform at the regulator may be a challenge.



HEC
(EASA PCDS memo 2014)
HEC is transport of individuals external to the rotorcraft with simple and / or complex PCDS connected to the cargo hook / hoist.
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 18:17
  #2086 (permalink)  
 
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And the cracks are starting to show - some very high quality ex-mil rear crew have chosen to move to different contracts and I believe they are struggling massively to find a rearcrew leader for Inverness.

Just pay them properly Bristow!
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 21:48
  #2087 (permalink)  
 
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I think their pay scale should be higher too but regulation and training have to be at the root of any changes.
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Old 10th Jul 2015, 22:43
  #2088 (permalink)  
 
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That the regulator may not have the experience of regulating Technical Crew (EASA Definition for SAR rearcrew) does not absolve the individual Responsible Manager and AOC Holder from ensuring the correct standards and training schedule.
Until such time that the Regulators both in the UK and EU employ suitable staff with experience of AW SAR in both maritime and Mountainous environments we should be wary of any regulation.

With regard to pay levels it is a matter of supply and demand but I dont see pay rates increasing soon. Once the contracts are up and running and the supply of qualified ex military guys dwindles to nothing opportunities will open for those with paramedic and/or MR experience to enter SAR training programs as abinitio Technical Crew at lower starting pay levels.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 08:31
  #2089 (permalink)  
 
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That sounds like a race to the bottom as far as quality is concerned - these guys are fully participating members of the crew, not trolley dollies, with great responsibility for the safe operation of the aircraft.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 10:07
  #2090 (permalink)  
 
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Crab, you are very correct however pay is not an indicator of quality. It is an indicator of supply and demand. There was a time when Trolley Dollies were relatively well paid but the advent of the low cost carriers has changed that. The Trolley Dollies on Sleazy Jet and Lying Air have exactly the same responsibilities for passenger safety as those flying for BA, Quantas etc etc, they just get paid less and work longer but it is a stepping stone to the bigger airlines or a step down for those who want less route work or don't fit the image/age criteria any more.

It is a step forward that EASA have designated SAR Rearcrew as 'Technical Aircrew' but in the future there needs to be a route into SAR for those Technical Aircrew. There are many qualified (non SAR) Military Rearcrew who might make the transition (some not as we know from Mil Experience) however the AT pay rates for 'Loadmaster Crewmen' are even lower. The DfT has insisted on a Paramedic qualification - there are many Ambulance Paramedics with Airmanship experience who may cross over, the pay rates for NHS Ambulance staff is much lower.

The DfT service in the UK can have quality rearcrew going forward but the mark of that quality will be the training programs put in place by the existing and future contractor not the pay rates.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 10:39
  #2091 (permalink)  
 
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And fourteen shillings and sixpence ha'penny here, and two guineas there (trying to make it easy for Albert to follow )
thank you Jim, but like you Jocks we still trade in sheep down ere bye! Now Rudolph!
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 16:09
  #2092 (permalink)  
 
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Older and Wiser - I think the company took advantage (and the p*ss) offering such low pay rates because they knew that the mil guys had little alternative since SAR was folding within the mil and saw the job as a vocation rather than just employment.

It doesn't say much for the value they place on well trained and experienced SAR rearcrew who are essential to the success of the service especially when compared to the pop-star wages paid to the front-enders.

I have yet to be convinced that taking ambulance crews and turning them into SAR rearcrew is viable or cost effective - ISTR that CHC tried it and it didn't work - paramedic skills are one thing but delivering them on the side of a mountain or on a pitching trawler in the dark is something completely different and the success of the military SAR rearcrewman is due to their robustness and ethos. Can those qualities be identified during a selection process? Yes, of course, but it will always be easier (and cheaper) to teach a competent helicopter crewman paramedic skills in a classroom than it will be to create a competence in operating a helicopter and being a critical part of the crew whcih can only really be done in the air.

It all comes down to the new SAR service being built down to a price rather than up to a standard.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 17:01
  #2093 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
And the cracks are starting to show - some very high quality ex-mil rear crew have chosen to move to different contracts and I believe they are struggling massively to find a rearcrew leader for Inverness.

Just pay them properly Bristow!
WTF is a Rearcrew leader? There are three 'management' jobs on each base, Chief pilot, Chief Crewman and Chief Engineer. In an ideal world these would be filled with personnel who had previous experience of civ aviation preferably with mil aviation before that. If you take someone straight from from the mil there is a great tendency for them to adopt the 'we used to do it this way in the RAF/RN etc', a most undesirable outcome.

I agree that the rear crew should be better remunerated, but I also think that some of the very senior crewman types were being way above the going rate due to PAS etc. The need for a paramedic is also questionable; the amount of ground training dedicated to maintaining these skills versus the benefit to the punters in the back of an a/c is debatable. An enhanced medical qualification for sure, but paramedic?, especially with the proliferation of Air Ambulance with their massively qualified trauma doctors. I understand they may not pitch up on the side of a hill in the Cuillins, but how often do our rear crew 'stay and play' in that environment?
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 17:03
  #2094 (permalink)  
 
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ethos
Good to see Royal Air Force brain washing still works.

Are you saying that unless you are military you can't possibly be up to the job?

Really .........

I'm guessing in your well washed mind that goes for every profession in the land.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 19:59
  #2095 (permalink)  
 
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The need for a paramedic is also questionable; the amount of ground training dedicated to maintaining these skills versus the benefit to the punters in the back of an a/c is debatable. An enhanced medical qualification for sure, but paramedic?
Agree 100% Norfolk before HCPC registration we had a high level of Paramedical Training for RAF & RN Winchmen but it was focused on the role and not on how to be an Ambulance Paramedic. With the advent of HCPC registration no body in the Military stood up against being driven down a pointless and burdensome route; neither did the Rig Medic fraternity.

It seems that it is only the UK that is insisting on this level because the requirements authors copied what the military were doing without looking at broader aspects of the job and how it is done worldwide.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 07:35
  #2096 (permalink)  
 
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Are you saying that unless you are military you can't possibly be up to the job?
Not at all but you must acknowledge that the training and experience gained from military service would cost a small fortune to replicate in the civilian environment - therefore any civilian training establishment would either cost a great deal to run or have to accept a far lower ability and experience level onto the front line than the military did.

Most winchmen/women and winchops I know keep themselves very physically fit - including a lot of gym work - because they understand how demanding the role can be, especially dealing with casualties in the water. How many ambulance paramedics do the same? Not many judging by the ones I have seen in the last 15 years - that is the suggested pool from which to select future winchmen............

Norfolk
If you take someone straight from from the mil there is a great tendency for them to adopt the 'we used to do it this way in the RAF/RN etc', a most undesirable outcome
yet that is exactly what has happened in civsar for so many years except that it was dominated by the RN who couldn't see the difference in training and skills the RAF brought to the party. Strangely enough, there were two very good guys who joined civsar straight from the mil (RAF) and quickly ended up as training officers.

PAS was all about retention of good quality and experienced people and that is where the low pay rates from Bristow will have an effect - if there are any better offers or contracts then people will vote with their feet and it will just accelerate the need to train in-house with an inevitable reduction in capability/experience on the SAR flights
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 08:20
  #2097 (permalink)  
 
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Highest PAS rate for a FS NCA is 58k and for MAcr 63k; are BHL paying significantly lower than this to Winchman Paramedics?

I understand that the base rate is probably significantly lower but when additional pay for Paramedic, instructor Q's, remote locations etc are added & Pension contributions?
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 09:35
  #2098 (permalink)  
 
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This might well be a silly question but as there are people making points about training, pay and competency, e.t.c. on this thread, have any of you written to Bristows, HM Coastguard or other authorities who actually make the decisions about all of this or is it a case of bumping gums on an anonymous internet forum in true Daily Mail letters page fashion? (i.e. It makes you feel better but can't make a scrap of difference in the real world).

If anyone has written to them, I apologise, but bearing in mind what the last few pages are like, there's no way I'm going to trawl through over a hundred more page of that!
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 09:45
  #2099 (permalink)  
 
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Just seen the pay rate offered for the MCA National Aeronautical Commander - seems pretty meagre for the level and breadth of responsibility, and I am not a "rotorhead" - just for comparison allowing for inflation it is broadly similar to what I got when I finished as Secretary of a large "Royal" yacht club. The rate offered seems to assume a military pension to top it up.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 11:21
  #2100 (permalink)  
 
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Highest PAS rate for a FS NCA is 58k and for MAcr 63k; are BHL paying significantly lower than this to Winchman Paramedics?
Yes! ISTR the starting pay was between 30K and 35K with an allowance of 7K for paramedic quals but I stand to be corrected on the finer details. I think the best paid will still see a good bit less than 50K.

The rearcrew leader - sorry, Chief Crewman - job is a measly 3K extra.

P6 - all that has been discussed on these pages is to do with a contract for service provision which was approved, after competition, by the DfT so writing to complain will have no effect. Those within the system have their union to assist with pay negotiations but as far has the training is concerned, that is simply up to the contractor.
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