/ Helicopters: Civilian versus MOD
MOD Sea-kings: RAF/RN 'SAR helicopters are equipped for full day/night all weather operations over land and sea (some limitations exist with regard to freezing conditions, but in general terms the helicopters are all weather capable) and have a full night vision goggle (NVG), search radar and thermal imaging capability. Crews are well practised in NVG operations which, in itself, is a major enhancement to search capability'.
Coastguard helicopters: 'a limited night overland capability'.
(Source: http://www.dft.gov.uk/mca/uksar.pdf) - Dated 2008
Note that the coastguard summary makes no mention of having NVG, staff being trained/current with NVG and critically currently have 'limited night overland capability'. Furthermore on at least one of the recent 'TV documentries' coastguard pilots have mentioned thier lack of NVG.
While many coastgard SAR-H bases don't do mountain flying, Stornoway does, commonly responding to Skye, N.W Highlands and on rare occasions as far south as the Ben.
Does anyone know why the coastguard don't, and if the new set up will also be similiarly lacking.....
Any other things I might be interested to know?
i dont know about the system for privatising rescue in the UK (just the helis, or across the responder services?).
does it simply mean de-MODing it? or are they opening up to private investment (like australia and several other countries does?), in which case a world of possibilities opens up.
also, that link leads to a blank splash. tho it may be because im outside of the uk.
Should be able to access from here:
See Search and rescue framework
Privitise, rather than de-MOD
You don't realy want joe bloggs pilot in his little cessna ziping around in the dark using NVG's bought from ebay do you?
If (probably when) the contract is set up and replacement SAR cabs are bought and a company gets the operational contract, they may enable them to use NVG's, the MoT is responsible for all as, they write the rules through the CAA, they can put in exceptions and new changes.
Not sure objecting to to a military issue will work, or even if you can object. we've no money and no aircraft once the Sea Kings run out of hours.
again, im not really up to speed on the UK version, but elsewhere privatization has often lead to a streamlining of responder services but an increase in capacity (NV, IR etc) of whats left.
the companies that usually buy in to such scenarios tend to have as their focus the increse of technology and its probable the contractual obligation is based on this.
its fuzzy what the definition of 'privatized' will mean there - the coastguard always does have its own position in the govt/private system. in the US for example, the CG is almost paramilitary (part of homeland security) but has a large sector of private contracts (just like the US military does).
this may or may not be a parallel process. if it is similar, expect to see NV etc installed rapidly.
in australia a few of the banks took on the private funding of some of the rescue services (mostly the heli stuff, with private pilots, govt responders and paramedic staff) and overnight they doubled their capability. so it can work well.
its possible that even with the MOD helis the tech (NV etc) is a private contract.
Thanks, the government changing rules and regs in a timely fashion.....h'mmm
So currently the coast guard pilot is having the information relayed to him verbally, from the cab. When for the want of a couple of sentance changes, he could be flying to his own visual frame of reference (albeit via NVG)and could have done so for the last few years. Allowing the cab to search for the caz, with the IR.
Agree with you the Sea Kings are beyond the end of thier useable lives. As for out of money.....
I just want to know when we start getting charged to be rescued off a mountain and if we'll need to have insurance in the near future....
Indeed and given that over a period of time most night vision devices cause a loss in depth of perception, poor Joe wouldn't know if he was flying towards a mountain or a valley... Not to mention the additional effects of fog and rain (Which I imagine are the more common(?) weather types encountered during mountain rescue scenarios).
My guess would be that for most coastguard helicopters, their normal working environment makes IR more useful than NV and so they don't carry the NV kit for the odd occasion it is needed. Just a guess though.
Over land and mountainous terrain, I'd have though NV kit more useful as there's an awful lot of objects to avoid. Though it would be interesting to know how often its used - could be that the seakings have it as being useful in military rather than civilian context perhaps?
Anyway, its hard to know whether to object or not until the details of the proposed private deals are made public - could be we end up with an excellent service with modern kit which with the best will the MoD simply can't afford right now. Alternatively we could end up with a bunch of clapped out ex bond CHKs painted yellow.........
The devil is always in the detail, though with the tories and their loyal yesmen in charge I know which end of the spectrum I suspect it'll end up.
I'd hope we'll end up with something resembling the public/private services from France and Italy, and it'll be interesting to see if the relationship between the rescue teams on the ground and the new private operators changes.
Anyway, the way the weathers looking West of Shetland this week I might be able to ask the coastguard in person!
Agree with you it's hard to know at this stage if it will be an improvement. New machines are very needed.
The SAR document above indicates that NVG is very useful.
The kit is only the size of a small pair of bino's, so other practical reasons why the coastguard doesn't carry it?
Sounds that it is in part regulation driven, as mentioned above. But the issue is we have civilian assests now with less capability than the MOD.....which is not a good omen. (For the record I don't think that is a reflection in any way on the coastguard crews)
Another poor omen is our friend whom has commented on the 'can do' attitude of the Lossiemouth boys versus the civilian air ambulance......
Right I'm off down the wall, then down the pub to see if your young lady will let me at that bottle of whisky you've left unattended while WoS.
What this space -
CHC contract using S92's, based in Scotland at Inverness and Prestwick airports........
One of the above airports have already been approached about SAR 24hr usage.
I was of the belief that the MOD SAR pilots could fly anywhere, anytime... basically do anything that they deemed necessary and that the pilot was capable of.
The Coastguard SAR pilots, i think, are governed by Civil Aviation flying restrictions, i don't know the precise details but there are limitations to where, when and what the pilot is allowed to do even if they are capable of doing it.
Will we see and end to risky hovering/winching close to a cliff face in darkness, cloud and a blizzard as the new SAR pilots are governed by Civil Aviation Regs... maybe even more call outs for MR teams on foot? it maybe a long cold wait to be rescued, so pack your thermos :)
More importantly, there is a myth that military forces can live in combat without respite and retraining. S&R provides the opportunity for air crew to fly demanding missions without being shot at. Training can never replace the real thing an S&R provides a vital opportunity for crew to maintain their skill set without bespoke and expensive training.
Shame, really, but that's the way it is all going.
> Another poor omen is our friend whom has commented on the 'can do' attitude of the Lossiemouth boys versus the civilian air ambulance......
Why is that a poor omen?
OK guys, hold it there. Don't go off at half cock without the facts or you'll read like this week's Press and Journal. If you want the facts on anything important, ask your Uncle Jim.
The following is a link to the Ministerial statement from Justine Greening.
The following is a link to the DfT Press Release
The following link is the source of the contract letting documents.
The following are important aspects of the Contract Notice and PQQ preamble.
- The contract start date is in January 2015 with an operation start date of January 2018 continuing for 10 years thereafter.
- Lot 1 of the contract is for larger aircraft with considerable range. These will be stationed "at, or in the vicinity of Sumburgh, Stornoway, Culdrose, Leconfield and Valley with a minimum rescue capacity per aircraft of 8 casualties/survivors (2 of which are stretchered) and a minimum radius of action of 200nm (250nm at Stornoway)".
- Lot 2 of the contract is for smaller aircraft with less range. These will be stationed "at, or in the vicinity of Lee-on-the-Solent, Chivenor, Prestwick, Lossiemouth and Wattisham with a minimum rescue capacity per aircraft of 4 casualties/survivors (2 of which are stretchered) and a minimum radius of action of 170nm".
- Lot 3 of the contract delivers the service requirements of both Lot 1 and Lot 2.
- Lot 1: Estimated value excluding VAT: Range between: 1,200,000,000 and 1,800,000,000 GBP
- Lot 2: Estimated value excluding VAT: Range between: 800,000,000 and 1,300,000,000 GBP
- Lot 3: Estimated value excluding VAT: Range between: 2,000,000,000 and 3, 100,000,000 GBP
For comparison, the Irish Coastguard contract with CHC is for 4 bases for 10 years and has a value of 500,000,000 EUR.
This will be implemented with used Sikorsky S-92 aircraft: the ones on our Coastguard contract at the moment.
"Privatised" services need not be shoddy and need not involve the user paying.
After all, neither the lifeboat service nor mountain rescue teams are state enterprises. Are the CT and MRI scanners in your local hospital maintained by private companies or directly by the NHS?
I am more concerned about training, management, maintenance and funding than I am about whether it is private or public.
Of course, there is a view widely promulgated by some high profile figures that private sector management is better than public sector management by definition. To which I say - what about the financial services sector? And I wonder what the personal agenda is of the people advocating privatisation. Again, details matter.
Ta Jim. A 2001 summary indicates that the civilian crews are NVG capable and trained. So it appears the SAR framework document was an old case of 'absence of evidence, is not evidence of absence'.
Unless you know differently.
P.S I stopped reading the P&J years ago, went from being comic to crap.
Yes. It's not quite that straight-forward though. For UK Land SAR, the way it has recently been explained is as follows.
Existing MCA contract: no NVG.
Interim MCA contract: no NVG.
MCA SAR-H 10 year contract: NVG capability.
CAP 999 - Helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR) in the UK
National Approval Guidance --- May 2010
Appendix 1 Exemptions from Regulations
This part of the CAP contains 23 exemptions. These allow many of the types of operation, and training, that occur as part of the current contract.
CAP 999 makes a number of references to NVIS (Night Vision Imaging Systems) operations, including the need for specific approval and for procedures.
However, CAP 999 makes several references to JAR-OPS 3. This is a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) document.
Joint Aviation Requirements
Commercial Air Transportation
The following applicability statement appears on JAR-OPS 3.
"JAR-OPS [Part] 3 does not apply:
[(1)] To helicopters when used in military, customs, police services [and SAR; ..."
If I find that we have folk with broken bones lying in the snow for hours because the Campaign Against Aviation hasn't bothered to fill in a form then I shall probably not be best pleased.
Oops. Did I kill another thread?
Anyway, I found some of the documents for the Interim SAR contract today. I wasn't able to track down all the up-to-date stuff. I shall get back to you.
(Anyone know their way round the OJEC/OJEU website?)
Extracts from CONTRACT NOTICE
Gap Search and Rescue Helicopter Service
"This service will require an all-weather SAR Helicopter Service able to operate throughout the UK in the maritime environment and with limited overland capability. The Helicopter Service must be responsive, able to search a wide area of interest, locate and recover personnel and stabilize casualties from all risk areas including mountainous terrain and the maritime environment. The Helicopter Service is currently based at Portland, Lee-on-the-Solent, Sumburgh and Stornoway. The Service currently operates 365 days a year on a 24hr basis (apart from Portland which operates on a 12hr basis (daytime operation)). Service delivery shall continue from Lee-on-the-Solent and Portland.Bidders can consider alternative locations for service delivery on the Isle of Lewis and The Shetland Islands."
"The contract will be for 6 years, with the option to extend a further 12 months. Payment will be triggered once the SAR service enters the operational delivery phase, this is expected to start after the implementation phase, which could last up to two years."
Written earlier in 2011 for a contract from 2012 to 2018: and the two years is possible, how?
"Potential Bidders who have successfully selected to go forward to the tendering stage will be offered a range of options to tender. Bidders will be requested to indicate which combination of the following options they are interested in. They can supply up to a maximum of three bids; a limit of one proposal per option for the following:
a) a bid which delivers the service in the north of Scotland, based on the Isle of Lewis and The Shetland Islands - Northern Base Option;
b) a bid which delivers the service on the south coast from existing sites at Lee-on-the-Solent and Portland- Southern Base Option;
c) a bid which delivers both the Northern and Southern Base Options.
The total estimated value of the North and South options together is between 200 000 000 GBP and 235 000 000 GBP."
"The Department may require an option for the assets under this contract to be transferred to the resulting contract of a further long term SAR competition in due course. The assets would be expected to be transferred at current market value at the time of transfer."
Does this mean that we could end up entering the main SARH contract, possibly with single aircraft stations, with secondhand aircraft?
The contract processes should now be quite advanced for this one but I don't seem to be able to find any information about them. Is it possible that the great open government principal of 'transparency' has escaped these processes?
I for one would feel much safer with MOD airmen, wouldn't it be much ceaper if our government gave up vanity wars!
I know what i would be doing.
They have the best job in the world and the MoD lets them do it until they are 40 (or a bit longer in some cases). The MCA's contractor(s) will let them do it until they are 60.
That's fine for the next few years but what happens in 2028? Where are the next generation of SAR pilots coming from? China? Bangladesh? Don't laugh, it could happen. Some guy from Dhaka with 9000 hours but never seen mountains and never seen snow.
The military was never intended to be sidelined into rescuing civilians who need rescuing from our hills & mountains.
So, you wouldn't like being rescued by civilians eh? Who do you think operates RNLI craft in rescues? And before you say ex-military or navy I'm afraid you are likely to be wrong. All are voluntary civilians and unpaid a great majority have no connection with the sea in the first place. I'm sure a civilian rescue service can perform just as well here as it does in other countries.
The level of inter-service (not solely UK services) banter and mickey-taking amongst a typical Stornoway crew doesn't seem to support that theory. However, crews from other stations might be different but I can't think why such a difference might exist.
'Si vis pacem, para bellum'
I'm sure there are other ways into a heli pilot career and maybe if this civi ops goes all the way - it may produce more.
It only seems a few years ago that it was being reported that Prince William was about to train as a helicopter pilot. Now we hear of him being a crew member/pilot on many of the rescue incident reports coming from Anglesey.
Over here (Switzerland) there are three main rescue organisations with REGA being the Swiss equivalent of the RNLI but for helicopters and the other two being commercial entities who earn most of their money by doing the normal helicopter stuff (lifting cargo, moving people) but who also have a contract to provide rescue services in the Valais.
Apart from some equipment differences I don't see why PDG couldn't provide a rescue service as good as or better than that of the UK armed forces. Perhaps it's just the case that here the normal line of work provides better training?
However, there are a few factors to take into account when comparing the UK situation with the Alpine situation.
It is rarely appreciated how near the Arctic Circle we are and how much difference that makes. Then there is the area of sea we are responsible for. This is still largely about the sea: you will never see a maritime helicopter service separate from a land service in the UK. Then we must consider where we are starting from now, in regard to manning and organisation, across all agencies, rather than where we were in 1955.
(Recently been flown around Kintail mountainsides by an Austrian in a SA351. Very impressive. Like a BMX as opposed to a bus. It would struggle to deploy 2 teams of searchers in a snow-storm in the dark though. And it wouldn't it lift a trawler crew from half way to Rockall and have them in the pub in Stornoway inside 2 hours.)
Maybes aye maybes naw. Big changes for all concerned including non climbing
remote/island communities that require medevac in gash weather.
Hope we get a good solution, I know the BMX vs Bus well !
Why has no one asked the really important question; what will Prince William do?
It's also important to note that with the "cracking" decision to cut up all of the Nimrod MR4a's the UK no longer has a long range SAR capability. The nimrod had a huge range, long loiter time and surface radar facility that could detect a coke can floating in the sea.
So given that we are primarily a martime nation, any SAR facility will be baised towards SAR at sea, with Mountain flying ability coming in lower down the pecking order.
But its ok, we're covered by 2 Cessna's and a Hercules! Nat
And that works the other way, too.
For most of my life I lived just a few miles from an RAF SAR helicopter base, and two of my friends were pilots. I know, from the difficulties we had trying to arrange get-togethers, about the gruelling duty shifts, interspersed with shifts when they were on standby in case the second heli needed to go out. The endless training exercises, engine tests, patrols around the area's tourist beaches (SW England, an area packed with holidaymakers, surfers, fishermen, sailors, hang-gliders, microlights, light aircraft etc etc etc). The callouts to ships in distress mid-Atlantic, right at the edge of their refuelling range, night missions searching for people feared drowned, SOS flights from road traffic accidents to hospitals, back-up for police operations when specialist night vision/heat-seeking equipment was needed in tricky terrain (including a number of terrorist incidents). Walkers in trouble on the moors, climbers with broken spines at the foot of crags or cliffs, people with mental health issues wandering alone and unequipped in the Welsh mountains. The occasional natural disaster - remember Boscastle 2004?
Put the profit motive into that equation, and you're asking for trouble. One of the things about the services is that they're there, on duty, ready to roll, equipped and trained, familiar with every kind of terrain, every kind of mission, and nobody has to stop and ask whether it's cost-effective before they go out to save lives, because they're already being paid as part of the nation's defence.
why not keep the same guys doing it BUT (of course there's one) make people pay or make sure they've got insurance.
It's interesting that for a country obsessed with insurance (believe me the UK is fanatical about it compared to France) you do not have all hill users insured.
That way, the service will not cost as much for the tax payer?
I don't know an awful lot about all the details, but i sure feel it is not right to ask a garden obsessed surrey grand-mother to pay for my frolicking in the hills.
I payed Club Alpin Francais a ridiculously low sum from the age of 13. Used it once and the bill was very substantial but we never had to give a penny. Insurance...check, compass...check, jacket...check was my attitude.
You strike me as a sensible bloke, but it's interesting that you post that immediately after another poster has listed the very wide range of things the RAF contribute to in britain. You surely cannot expect a chap wandering down the street in Boscastle to have insurance, for example, so where do you draw the line. Regardless of whether one agrees with the concept of insurance or not, is the difference not that the alps are very well defined and not-to-be-messed-with, while Britain largely consists of relatively tame countryside which nevertheless attracts a lot of visitors and accompanying emergencies.
So, a constructive question after that that I'm genuinely curious about - what happens in France if, let's say, somebody suffers a heart attack on a hill in the Parc Naturel de Chartreuse (just picking somewhere suitable off a map here). They are probably within flying range of Alps-based helicopters, but they have no insurance (it's a pensioner out for a stroll). Are they screwed?
Actually that was an unnecessarily contrived question on my part. Instead, how about - what happens to a tourist who is taking a short wander to admire the view from a cable car station and has an unlucky fall resulting in serious head injuries. Such a person presumably does not have insurance; can they hope for any helicopter assistance and on what terms?
Well, in these cases they're still in the hills aren't they? if you take a cable car, you're likely to be on a ski resort domain... which usually gives you the choice between ticket with or without insurance.
I guess if you chose without then you're indeed screwed.
My limited understanding, I thankfully only had to use those services the once (BTW the worse case scenario: offpiste skiing), is that you will get rescued but that you will recieve the bill thereafter... I presume most folks would rather pay than snuff it? In my case, I paid the yearly £40 quid and paid no bills (the chopper cost something like a grand per half hour from and to rescue place).
As mentioned in my previous post, I think that a responsible hill user (even the once) should be insured... same as being well shod and clad. Inevitably some will not and they will pay (both sense of the word) the consequences. It is my personal opinion and I will stick to it but I do respect yours whatever it is.
An interesting point raised by Jim, is the nature of sea and mountain rescue... I have no opinion on that.
Just thinking, in general, that I cannot expect others to pay for my hobbies and their consequences.
You have a long tradition of free rescue here, but it is threatened like many other things by lack of funds and I'm just trying to suggest something.
I would very much like someone that knows real costs to tell me if by making it not free, rescue would still be running as a deficit by a lot.
Ta for both scenari Jonny
(*) Unless you're in a ski resort in winter in which case there is a table of rescue fees on display where you buy the ticket. Your hypothetical victim would therefore need to choose their season carefully should the cable car be at a ski resort....
(**) Obviously lots of French people go to the Swiss and Italian alps where rescue is a more costly affair.
H'mmm ..........you heard it on UKC first:
The next question is if its just a matter of applying, why hasn't the current MCA contractor applied?
Will the winning bidder apply?
> But its ok, we're covered by 2 Cessna's and a Hercules! Nat
And the Cessnas are flown by fighter pilots on their days off.
You all probably think we're kidding.
Thanks for answering. By the way I'm not necessarily saying I entirely disagree with you. In principle I think a pay-for-rescue model could have advantages over a fixed-price contract in that the latter means that every helicopter flight the private company makes is effectively reducing that year's "profit", which can't be a good mentality to be in. It's not obvious to me, though, how in a pay-for-rescue model you could maintain the full *variety* of the service that the RAF currently provide.
Opinions will vary on whether people approve of "hillgoer's insurance" like, as you say, is the case in the alps - and I take your point about others paying for your hobbies. Personally though I'd be happier knowing that the jeans-clad chap who keels over on scafell, or a victim of the grayrigg train crash, or a resident of boscastle/cockermouth, etc, didn't have to work out whether they had to pay the bill themselves or could get their "hillgoer's insurance", train company, home insurance or whatever to cover it.
An interesting alternative model is the regional air ambulances which are (I believe) entirely funded by donations. They are not as capable as the RAF in many different ways, but after writing my earlier hypothetical scenarios it did occur to me that at least ~some~ of those scenarios would be covered by the capabilities of the air ambulances. (Don't have a particular point to make with that one, but just thought I'd throw it out there).
> The next question is if its just a matter of applying, why hasn't the current MCA contractor applied?
> Will the winning bidder apply?
That depends upon what is in the contract.
Why would they push for this when it would mean they take on a large extra training and operational commitment unless it's in the contract.
Why would it be in the contract when the government has given it to the MCA to do? The clue is in the name: MARITIME & COASTguard Agency.
Are there the land-based resources available to get people off the hill or out of other wild places at night if there is no helicopter?
... with help from their mates at Lossiemouth.
I know the RAF have leased planes before - the C17 fleet was leased before being bought at the end of the contract.
Looks like some teams will be needing to buy several thousand more feet of rope, and start some dummy run's of tyrolean streatcher evacuations on likely bits of terrain that thier areas encompass.
Blimey we could be going back to the caz evacuation dark ages.......
> The next question is if its just a matter of applying, why hasn't the current MCA contractor applied?
> Will the winning bidder apply?
In answer to the first question, as far as I know the cockpit instruments on the current Coastguard S92s are incompatible with NVGs and it would probably involve a costly refit to replace them.
I think there are several ex-military pilots at Stornoway who are frustrated they cannot use NVGs and I would be very surprised indeed if the replacement aircraft -- whatever type they may be -- did not have NVG capability.
The primary task of the military SAR helicopters is to assist military personnel eg downed aircrew, although the large majority of their taskings are civilian rescues. Nevertheless, I imagine the military rescue function will have to remain as part of the new contract given the military helicopters will be no more, so I would think the ability to perform night-time overland ops using NVGs will be essential for most if not all the aircraft bases.
What we might like to happen, might be different to what will happen.
i sure feel it is not right to ask a garden obsessed surrey grand-mother to pay for my frolicking in the hills.
Why not? I'm probably paying for her hip replacement.
> The primary task of the military SAR helicopters is to assist military personnel eg downed aircrew, although the large majority of their taskings are civilian rescues. Nevertheless, I imagine the military rescue function will have to remain as part of the new contract given the military helicopters will be no more, so I would think the ability to perform night-time overland ops using NVGs will be essential for most if not all the aircraft bases.
I believe that the DfT were recently asked about whether the civilian contractor would have responsibility for dealing with crashed military aircraft.
They replied that this is the case currently and will continue to be so under the new arrangements.
> Why not? I'm probably paying for her hip replacement.
And another thing, if the garden obsessed Surrey grandmother is out walking her dog on Abinger Common, gets lost in fading light and breaks her ankle, then it is possible that the Surrey police helicopter could find her with it's thermal kit. Unfortunately, time is then wasted directing ground units to the scene and the ambulance service are not equipped for the terrain. However, a helicopter from the MCA's contractor from Lee-on-Solent with all the FLIR and NVG, will find her quickly, hoist a paramedic down to her, hoist her up, and have in her hospital a few minutes after being found.
Not only is this not only about the sea, it's not only about the sea and the mountains.
New info at the DfT site.
Check out the presentation for a good overview.
"- Low level over land at night
- Operate from unprepared surfaces"
Commencement 1 April 2015.
End 1 April 2026.
More is due to happen this week I think.
Read the relevant chapters in "Cairngorm John" about search and rescue and the inquiry which took place in 1996 (if I remember correctly) about privatisation and mandatory insurance.
Also the issues which they had when they did at one point interact with an air-ambulance - which had to perform an engine shutdown on landing, was unable to fly in poor weather, etc. etc.
I fail to believe that any military rescue operation is going to have to rely upon a private civilian company for the resources to carry out a rescue in the event of an incident involving a downed aircraft/ship/etc. Which means that it'll fall back to the
And how is a privatised SAR service going to interact with the MR teams anyway? I fall off a route and break my leg - so we call MRT who decide they could do with a SARH ... where some manager decides that it's a borderline budget for that month so makes the executive decision to push back on the request. The MRT has already deployed and end up having to carry me off the hill instead of an airlift; at which point I end up with hypothermia and further complications; am hospitalised for several weeks costing the tax-payer even more money.
Dont just read a book and take whats in it as gospel truth.
What do you know of engine shut down ?
MOD can be unavailable due to bad weather also!
SAR is not the role of air ambulance but there are occassions when the 2 cross over. I dont need to read a book about that. If you have any relevant points to make regarding air ambulances and SAR make them and leave the rest out.
Read up on it first though........
>"seem very reliant on other people for your info"
>"Dont just read a book and take whats in it as gospel truth."
>"Read up on it first though."
Can we assume your info comes straight from God? :¬)
You call the police.
The police call MRT if necessary.
The police, before of after consulting MRT, call ARCC for aeronautical support or RAF MRS.
In any UK jurisdiction, ARCC manage all aeronautical search and rescue assets, regardless of funding, badging or paint job, as stated in several of the SARH and UK SAR documents.
> ... "work in progress".
One of the refreshing things about all of this is that that phrase sums it all up. It barely stays still for a second and people, whether police, ambulance, fire, volunteers, HMCG, RAF, RN, contractors or whatever, are never done of finding better ways to help those who are in danger. Yesterday it was interesting to see how much has moved forward at the ARCC in just the last 18 months.
I hope Justine Greening and Mike Penning understand what they have become a part of.
Where is THAT coming from?
Resources are assigned by the co-ordinating authority, that being the police on land, coastguard on or by the water, and assisted by the ARCC for aeronautical assets.
It came from my head. It is called a question (see that little thing called a question mark). I am genuinly interested in the answer. If private companies are going to be profiting out of rescues then surely MRT should be be getting more? Again - this is a question - not a statement.
I think this is a major worry for a lot of people. Fortunately, this is a lot to do with individuals and not so much to do with the type of organisation they work for.
For any particular helicopter type, the performance charts are going to be the same no matter who owns or flies it. "Push the envelope" is what the CAP 999 and JAR-OPS 3 exemptions provide for in civilian rules SAR flying. In a public sector organisation, you will get those who joined for the pension and are just ticking the minimum number of boxes on the way there. Likewise, in a private sector organisation, you will get those who are just passing through on their way to a some less demanding cushy number elsewhere (North Sea bus drivers in this case).
Contrary to popular belief, old bold pilots do exist. Some of them draw salary from the MoD and some from CHC.
There are no old bold thick lazy pilots.
There are no old bold thick lazy pilots.
I work with some.
Interesting times ahead for we as mountaineers and MRT. I suspect we will see the same guys in differing uniforms when it goes private and the same can do attitude will prevail.
> It came from my head. It is called a question (see that little thing called a question mark). I am genuinly interested in the answer. If private companies are going to be profiting out of rescues then surely MRT should be be getting more? Again - this is a question - not a statement.
What would drive this to change?
A financial relationship between a SAR helicopter contractor and MRT is inappropriate: now, 1990, 2007, 2012 or 2026.
However, SAR has never existed in a commerce-free bubble. Coastguard, police, fire, ambulance, MRT, Cave Rescue, Mine Rescue and MoD all spend money on commercially available kit, some of which is ridiculously expensive. When the ScotGov was spending £9 million on radios a year or so ago, nobody was saying "oh well, it's for firemen, so have them for nothing". I am completely certain that Agusta Westland has been making a good few pennies from selling bits for Wessexes and Sea Kings over the last 40+ years, and this continues.
Expecting to be able to give an outline of the Gap timetable soon.
In case you've missed it, see below.
In short Government envisages it is likely that the bidder will utilise NVG, but have not specifically stipulated that they have-to-have-it
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 8 December 2011, c422W)
'Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the invitation to tender for search and rescue helicopters includes a requirement that helicopters be equipped with night vision goggles.
Michael Penning (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Roads and Motoring), Transport; Hemel Hempstead, Conservative)
The UK Search and Rescue Helicopters project has an output based requirement including the requirement to operate aircraft safely at low level at night and in low light conditions in both the maritime and overland environments. The contractor must also enable the aircrew (pilots and rear-crew) to conduct aided visual searches. It is for the contractor to develop solutions to meet these requirements. However, it is highly unlikely that the contractor could meet these requirements without the use of night vision aids. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) already permits the use of night vision devices in civilian registered aircraft subject to the demonstration of adequate training processes and safe operating procedures.'
and another one. Sticking to the same line, that of entirely up-to-the-contractor.
Is there any formal defination for low-light conditions in flying terms?
Angus Robertson (Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the (a) Maritime Coastguard Agency and (b) Secretary of State for Transport on the provision of night vision goggles to civilian search and rescue helicopter crews from 2016.
Peter Luff (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence Equipment, Support and Technology), Defence; Mid Worcestershire, Conservative)
The competition for the future UK Search and Rescue Helicopter service announced on 28 November 2011, Hansard, columns 52-53WS, by the Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend Justine Greening, will require industry to provide a capability, both aircraft and aircrew, that meets the requirement to operate aircraft safely at low level at night and in low light conditions in both the maritime and overland environments. It is likely that the contractor will need to provide night vision aids, e.g. goggles, to meet this requirement, but it is for them to develop appropriate solutions. These requirements have been developed through detailed work by officials from the Ministry of Defence, Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. It has not been necessary for the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend Mr Hammond, to be involved in these discussions.
See post 8th December.
On the pointless tack 'sea kings to go', here is a snippet about what's happening on the other side of the world.
> In short, Government envisages it is likely that the bidder will utilise NVG, but have not specifically stipulated that they have-to-have-it
Yes. That is essentially what is stated in the Key Requirements for the main SAR-H contract. They are not tying the contractor to technology that might be out-dated by 2026.
That has all been worked up in proper time and the contract will be awarded in February 2013. Implementation will start in April 2015. An open process is in progress. Should there be problems then there is plenty of time to sort things out. There are indications that most of the major concerns have already been addressed.
The big worry for the moment is the GAP. Until main contract implementation occurs in the period April 2015 to July 2017, the Gap contract will be in place for much of the intervening period at four MCA sites. One of those sites does both long range maritime work and mountain work. This is a rushed affair and it cannot be otherwise. That circumstance occurs because of the inappropriate conduct that led to the abandoning of the original SAR-H contract process earlier this year.
Gap Search and Rescue Helicopter Service
Contract Award: January 2012.
End of current (2007) contract: 30 July 2013.
Commencement of Gap contract: 1 July 2013.
Duration of Gap contract: up to 4 years (last MAIN contract Lot 1 transition-in: July 2017).
We have between now and some undisclosed date next month to influence the Gap Search and Rescue Helicopter contract.
Because this is an 'accelerated' process as a result of an 'emergency need', it's still not too late.
The ability to provide aeronautical support to mountain rescue and other services during land operations in darkness in the NW Highland between 2013 and 2017 depends upon the Maritime and Coastguard Agency puting specific requirements in that contract. This may also affect night operations in other circumstances and in other regions served by MCA aircraft.
Make sure your MP doesn't get bored over the holiday. Write to them now and tell them that the Gap contract needs to have a requirement for operating in the light levels of "a near moonless clear night without cultural lighting" and with the objective of operating in 0mlux (zero milli-lux). [These are the requirements for the main UK SAR Helicopter contract: all 10 bases, until 2026.]
Currently, between Ben Nevis and the Butt of Lewis, the aeronautical SAR service that is now normal in all other mountainous parts of the UK, is not available because of the inability to operate in darkness. This situation needs to change. Let's get it changed.
"Currently, between Ben Nevis and the Butt of Lewis, the aeronautical SAR service that is now normal in all other mountainous parts of the UK, is not available because of the inability to operate in darkness."
Jim, could you expand on that ?
"Inability to operate in darkness" is a pretty surprising blanket statement. What, they're grounded from end of civil twilight to start of civil dawn ? That's quite a lot different from "can't operate on moonless nights beyond range of cultural lighting."
What exactly is the equipment level and desired equipment level ? FLIR isn't a panacea, NVG certainly isn't a panacea, and as a firstish-world country it would be nice to think we could have both. Plus folk with experience and training to use them well together.
Any disagreements with the following ROM costs ?
FLIR ball £0.5-1.5M plus integration plus training plus sustainment.
NVG £15K per crew (two sets) plus ~£50-100K training (per crew) plus cockpit conversion (wildly variable between ~£20K and £2M depending whether you drop a couple of NVG compatible floodlights in or do the whole job properly !) plus continuation training plus not a lot for sustainment.
It can add up.
> "Currently, between Ben Nevis and the Butt of Lewis, the aeronautical SAR service that is now normal in all other mountainous parts of the UK, is not available because of the inability to operate in darkness."
> Jim, could you expand on that ?
"The aeronautical SAR service that is now normal in all other mountainous parts of the UK" is one that can operate at low level in mountainous country with full state-of-the art flying NVG, and a other NVG for the rear crew, down to starlight levels and worse. In the NW Highlands, that service is available only from the second choice SAR base.
To some extent, I'm trying to avoid writing an essay on this. Let's call it inability to operate in darkness that matters. Essentially, things rarely go wrong in the best conditions. When we need these guys most is during overcast evenings in December.
The DfT have asked for operation in particular light conditions. This avoids tying them to technology that may be old hat by 2026. NVG can't help in total blackness. The training load is a key issue. None of this is cheap. However, you are right to point out that as a technology-leading highly-developed first world country, this is the standard that is reasonable to expect of us.
No idea. Maybe you can suggest a reason. Think of all the decisions that aren't 'right first time' with the kit for your job!
Maybe some wet cabbie can jump in here if I've got this wrong but it's kind of flat out there. When they are on-scene, there is either ship's lighting or an unmistakable IR signature. You can go onto white light with impunity because all you need for safe fly-away is your radio altimeter.
> ... Legalities pish perhaps? ...
See above. Search on 'CAP 999'.
It's important to remember that it's not the fault of the CAA if the operator does not apply. Also, that it's not the fault of the operator if the customer does not define the task in the order or contract.
CAP 999 is at Edition 1, dated May 2010, so obviously it is very new in its present form. I have not looked to see what the procedure for an appropriate AOC would have been before that.
JAR OPS 3 is at Amendment 5, dated 1 July 2007, so obviously it has been around for a while. Whether the specific exemption related to SAR was there in previous versions I do not know.
"CHC will utilize four additional S-92 SAR aircraft which will become operational out of Sligo, Waterford and Dublin airports over time."
Oxford aviation academy (who train many airline pilots) do a course for civilians.
In a few days (Tues 10th January), the DfT will know who is going to be bidding for the main search and rescue helicopter contract from 2015 to 2026.
At some undisclosed and probably undefined date in January, the Gap contract (2013 TO 2017) is due to be awarded. It's not too late to get your MP on the case, to press for the right contract requirements relating to operation in low light conditions over land.
Unashamed bump of a public safety matter with key events during the next week.
Today, the DfT will know who is bidding for the Main SAR Heleicopter Service contract.
Soon, as the contract process unrolls, we will all know.
Some time during the next two or three weeks we should expect the Gap Search and Rescue Helicopter Service contract to be awarded. That is the one where there is doubt about the capability for night flying a low level over land.
Trying to look on the bright side, so just had a thought. :-)
Hogmanay 2016: the world's two biggest ever hangar parties!
> CAP 999 is at Edition 1, dated May 2010, so obviously it is very new in its present form. I have not looked to see what the procedure for an appropriate AOC would have been before that.
> JAR OPS 3 is at Amendment 5, dated 1 July 2007, so obviously it has been around for a while. Whether the specific exemption related to SAR was there in previous versions I do not know.
CAP 999 is listed as a 'Current' document and TSO entry states that 'this CAP has been published to assist organisations in determining procedures and Operations Manual guidance to operate civil search and rescue helicopters in the UK'. Terms like guidance and consultation are much in evidence around this document. This makes me think that 39 years after the first civilian helicopter SAR in the UK, it is still in the process of turning from a black art into a legally mature and properly managed activity.
JAR OPS 3 is expected to be superseded by EASA OPS in April 2012.
I just love this from the 22 Squadron history webpage.
"... D Flight 72 Squadron was to replace the Bristow Helicopters Ltd Whirlwind Series 3 aircraft contracted to the Coastguard at Manston. The local population was again concerned at the change from Bristow Helicopters Ltd to the RAF ..."
A well known aviation rumour-generating facility has come up with the following for the 'Gap' or 'Interim' SAR Helicopter Service, 1st July 2013 to 30th June 2017.
- Northern bases: Bristow, using S-92.
- Southern bases: CHC, continuing with AW139.
It may be complete rubbish but it is certainly a credible scenario. Enquiries are ongoing for corroborative material.
Whether true of not, the DfT should be making an official announcement in the next week or two.
Posted elsewhere about the MAIN/LONG SAR contract process:
8th Feb Notify shortlisted bidders.
13th Feb Issue of ITPD.
8th May Return of outline bids.
11th - 17th May Bidder presentations.
29th June Notify shortlisted bidders.
27th Aug Issue ITT.
24th Sept Return of final tenders.
21 Jan 2013 Notice of intention to award contract
5th Feb 2013 Sign Contract.
The rollout of all the gucci kit wasn't uniform across either providers or fleets.
It's looking as though there will be 2 announcements from the DfT next week about search and rescue helicopters.
There is some chance of confusion with 2 similar announcement so close together. Here is what to expect.
MAIN/LONG CONTRACT - 2015 to 2026
This is expected on Wednesday 8th February. The qualified BIDDERS for the main contract will be announced. This concerns all parts of the UK and the UK SRR. In February 2013, either one or two of these bidders will be chosen to operate the SAR Helicopter Service during the period 2015 to 2026. During the greater part of that period they will be responsible for all UK SAR helicopter provision. This service is expected to be implemented with advanced equipment, including that for low light operations.
GAP/INTERIM CONTRACT - 2013 to 2017
This announcement is also expected during next week but the timing is not known. The contractor, or contractors, who have been AWARDED the gap contract will be announced. For mountaineers, this will normally affect only the NW Highlands but the Radius of Action of the Stornoway aircraft is much greater when required. This service is expected to be implemented with technical requirement similar to the existing MCA contract. The DfT/MCA are believed not to have asked for full low light capability. The Stornoway aircraft is not due for replacement by a fully-equipped main contract aircraft until 2017.
None of this affects the job of aeronautical SAR tasking. This is provided by the Royal Air Force at the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), Kinloss. These are the guys n gals who take PC Plod's phone call and decide which helicopter is going come and pick you from your craggy resting place with your broken leg. (Sorry, your medals got lost in the post folks.)
We may know something tomorrow morning.
DfT statement. Gap contract.
North to Bristow, south to CHC.
Had a SAR winchman flying with us for 2 days this week and chats with him about this didnt make things that much clearer to be honest.
3 more weeks then I am back to a flat planet and the wail of a siren, no more views from above :(
Views of empty buckie bottles and vomit stained streets are very much underrated. I look forward to farting in your immediate vicinity again;)
Gannet will transition-out on one of the 4 transition points in 2015 for the 'Lot 2' MoD SAR bases. These are as follows.
- 31 Mar 2015
- 30 Jun 2015
- 30 Sep 2015
- 31 Dec 2015
As I understand it, there should be a MoD Board meeting about now that will assign MoD SAR bases to transition dates. So within the corridors of Whitehall this should be known already or shortly. I have no date for when real people get to know about such things.
Gannet may yet become a hot issue for other reasons.
During the evolution of SARH25, there was discussion about CHC moving to Glasgow Abbotsinch. Allegedly, this idea was driven by rental levels at Prestwick. My question would be 'how much are perfect aeronautical conditions worth?' There have been all manner of rumours about bases moving here, there, and everywhere. Regardless of the current 'business case' for certain locations, many of these bases are in current locations because they provide some of the finest aeronautical conditions in the country and therefore they provide excellent availability. If we are paying billions for a 365/24 service, hiding an aircraft under a cloud, and in amongst dozens of charter aircraft to Tenerife, doesn't seem like a good plan to me.
Some news on this is running a little late. Now expecting to hear about the first shortlisting for the main contract perhaps in early March.
It would appear that there have been changes in the contract process for the main contract. Eight bidders are doing additional work for a new stage of the process.
The effect of this might be that some aspects of planning will be more rushed than had been expected. This may provide advantage to those who already have a footing in UK SAR work.
Decisions critical to the future of aeronautical support for mountain rescue across the UK may be receiving less attention than we would wish.
It was only a matter of time before NH90 entered the frame.
So something's going happening. Nothing on the DfT website and well, the DfT have stopped talking to lots of people recently. Not sure the P&J is a likely source of the correct information though. Anyone subscribed to the digital edition?
(Big spec. Sumburgh, Stornoway, Culdrose, Leconfield and Valley.)
Bond Offshore Helicopters
Evergreen International Aviation
Osprey Consortium (Babcock Aerospace Ltd, ERA Helicopters & British International Helicopters Ltd).
(Smaller spec. Lee-on-the-Solent, Chivenor, Prestwick, Lossiemouth and Wattisham.)
Bond Offshore Helicopters
Evergreen International Aviation
Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen
Bond Offshore Helicopters
Evergreen International Aviation
Lockheed Martin UK
Essentially, everyone gets to stay in the game, even if they turn out to be 2 teenagers with a laptop and a copy of Open Office working from a table at Starbucks.
This means that there are some serious shortcomings in the DfT's process. Because of this, bidders are now subjected to an additional stage in the process and have to produce additional work for the end of this month (March 2012).
Cat ... pigeons.
Eh ... well ... em ... Yes.
However, let's not lose sight of the good things.
1. There is a some really excellent SAR flying already happening, week in, week out, at 4 MCA bases around the country.
2. The same guys and girls who are doing this stuff now will inevitably form the greater part of the CHC and Bristow crews during the Gap contract from 2013 to 2017.
3. The same guys and girls who are doing this stuff now will inevitably form the core of the training staff and crews on the main (long SAR) contract from 2015 to 2026.
4. The DfT, and MCA aviation, appear to have all the right basic capability requirements defined as part of the main contract process.
5. The CAA has a documented procedure in place to control and indeed encourage the right flying activity to make civilian SAR helicopter flying in the UK world-class. Though there may be some fiddling with the details as the years go by, the main job on these documents and procedures appears to be complete.
6. The Gap contractor for Stornoway is an experienced SAR contractor with over 10000 missions under their belt on jobs back as far as 1971 and including mountain flying and limited night vision capability.
7. One is many times safer while being flown around a windy gully at 950m in a storm in a Sikorsky S-92 with an SAR fit than one could ever be in a Westland Sea King. (Same would be true for EC225 or NH-90.)
8. All may not be lost on the night vision issue for the Gap contract. Contracts can be amended and added. When the DfT has the essentials of the main contract off their desk it will be time for those of us who care about this to make sure they have a bad day every day until they do something about it. For night vision to be a full capability on start-up of the main contract, we need a significant portion of the flight crews on the Gap contract trained and using at least some form of night vision fit by 2015. (Make sure you have your MP's address handy.)
9. From 2015, the country's military airfields will be awash with top quality powerful helicopters, most of which have a winch fit, and the crews to man them, all willing and able to try anything we ask of them.
10. ... and I'm sure there's more ...
The outcome of a contract process gone a little wrong won't necessarily change the outcome for the poor sod lying in a stretcher on a wet hillside. For some of the reasons pointed out in my above post, all the commercial w1lly-wav1ng really has little effect on who does what according to what flying procedures. The fairness of the competition and the taxpayer's value for money can be seriously affected though. The manner of operation of government department in the commercial sphere is certainly brought into question and not for the first time. Their attempt to improve performance in this area bring them into contact with, and reliance upon, consultants and, for the commercially inept, this is hardly likely to improve matters.
What we could do without is for a court to decide half way through the contract that it was awarded in an inappropriate way and operations have to cease.
As things currently appear, the results from the additional stage of the contract process will probably be known during the week commencing 16th April. It could be a few days either side of that.
It may be that there will be no public announcement and that information about the short-list will go first to short-listed bidders and then leak out in various directions. I suppose this what a public body embarrassed by recent short-comings and rushed off its feet trying to complete extra work would tend to do. So long as it's all legal and it doesn't degrade the outcome for the poor sod lying in the snow with the broken leg, I think I can forgive them.
After that, the contract process SHOULD be back on track. If Open Government doesn't re-emerge at that stage then it'll be a poor show.
This is an interesting one. A Sheriff's determination in an FAI, though overtaken by events in relation to operational control of helicopters, recommends that air rescues be co-ordinated by the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre at Kinloss and not individual coastguard stations.
This has been the case since 1st April 2010.
How relevant this is to the future of the SAR Helicopter Service is yet to be known. ARCC currently remains at Kinloss which is closed as a flying station and will transfer to the army.
ARCC isn't plug-n-play so it can't be moved overnight. However, as with any such facility, there are backups and those backups, at Kinloss and another elsewhere, can be used to allow a move.
What we could do with now is a clear indication from the government that aeronautical rescue coordination is to stay in the hands of people who know about aeronautical resources, know about rescue and know about coordination.
UK SAR Helicopter Service,
Main Contract Transition-in Dates
MOD - RAF
Lossiemouth (Lot 2) & Leconfield (Lot 1) - 01 April 2015
Valley (Lot 1) & Wattisham (Lot 2) - 01 July 2015
Chivenor (Lot 2) - 01 Oct 2015
MOD - RN
Prestwick (Lot 2) & Culdrose (Lot 1) - 01 Jan 2016
Sumburgh (Lot 1) & Lee-on-Solent (Lot 2) - 01 April 2017
Stornoway (Lot 1) - 01 July 2017
Boulmer - MOD service planned to conclude 30th Sept 2015
Portland - MCA service planned to conclude 30th June 2017
I am quite close to this situation and I shall try to keep posting about the basics of what is going on. This thread has had several hundred views in the period that I have done the last couple of posts so obviously quite a few folk maintain an interest.
The bidders have had until today to make submissions for the extra stage put in the contract process. The 'Invitations to Participate in Dialogue documents for shortlisted Bidders' have been added to the DfT page showing the publications related to the main contract.
These documents are the basis for the outline they must submit by TODAY. It must be stressed that these appear to be the originals and that several aspects of the documents may have changed during the dialogue between department and bidders. This means that if you find a decimal point in the wrong place, it's probably already been sorted.
Expect that by the end of next month there will be a short-list of bidders chosen from the ones making submissions today. There is no guarantee that we'll be told the results at the same time as the bidders. I'd hope that the open government principles and good communications that this process started with will be back on track by then.
A well-known consulting company is believed to have been appointed by the DfT to provide technical advice and assessment services in relation to the main/long contract for the SAR Helicopter Service. I have not seen an official announcement of this and I don't really expect one. Hopefully, that approach does not have the purpose of protecting the guilty and punishing the innocent.
The Royal United Services Institute has written a report about Blue Light Helicopter Assets.
They will run a conference on the subject the week after next.
> As things currently appear, the results from the additional stage of the contract process will probably be known during the week commencing 16th April. It could be a few days either side of that.
It could be a few days ...
Alternatively, it is possible I suppose that the DfT will be immensely proud to announce its list of the same competitors that anyone with even a small amount of knowledge of UK helicopter operations could have pointed the finger at on the 28th November when this all started.
I will be surprised if I am surprised.
So who are all these guys?
BP's SAR contractor.
Scottish Ambulance Service contractor.
Already well represented on the ARCC state board.
Now part of INEAR (who have a complementary small and medium a/c fleet).
Super Puma fleet: AS332L2 & EC225 including SAR. Sixteen S-92 on order.
Owned by Air Logistics, now renamed Bristow Group Inc.
The BIG player, mainly because of proven capability through over 10000 SAR missions and about 40 years of relationship with the Coastguard. Inevitably seen as a safe pair of hands. Recently awarded the (2) northern bases in the MCA's Gap contract.
Already operating S-92, EC225 & AS332L2 including SAR.
"But what is the black spot, captain?"
Should be a big player but falters here and there.
Their commercial behaviour brought down the original contract process.
The current contractor at the four MCA helicopter SAR bases.
Recently awarded the (2) southern bases in the MCA's Gap contract. There isn't enough evidence to kick them off the pitch.
Already operating S-92, EC225 & AS332L2. World's first and biggest operator of EC225 but in 2007 still chose S-92 for SAR in the UK.
Joint Venture: Bristow and Cobham.
Small/medium helicopters training and operations, including training the military's SAR crews. An establish government contractor with many of the right pieces of the jigsaw already in place and further corporate mass behind them.
Belgian offshore, industrial and HEMS (incl Ardennes) contractor operating small and medium helicopters. In the UK, already operating out of Norwich.
Operating MD Explorer through to Dauphin (EC155).
(Winching with a Dauphin? B1g b4lls!)
Consortium of British International Helicopters, ERA and Babcock.
BIH have been around for a long time operating large passenger aircraft on a public route and doing government contracts across the UK. ERA are a major southern US player from Lake Charles, Louisiana, and does SAR. Babcock are big news in defence.
A bit of a jigsaw but I can't see any pieces missing, so difficult to dismiss.
Already operate S-61N, EC225, AW139 including SAR.
and also, some big bruisers on thin ice
Major defence contractor with a turnover like a small country. LM say jump and governments ask 'how high?'. Just a name and an office as far as this competition is concerned since, as far as I can tell, they have no experience in helicopter SAR or as any kind of helicopter operator. If they got the contract they'd probably have to shout at somebody very loudly whilst waving a fistful of dollars in order to make things happen.
Major cargo operator and significant helo ops. These guys operate a Aerospatiale Lama for rescues from Denali.
Already operate SA330 Puma, S-61, Lama and others, including SAR.
Not really expecting to hear of them again in this competition though.
Military avionics maker and trainer. Military logistics contractor in some territories.
Not a helicopter operator.
Not expecting to hear more about them in this competition.
The world's biggest helicopter manufacturer.
Like Elbit, not a helicopter operator, but manufacturing, logistics and training resources coming out their ears.
Perhaps, like Elbit, they just turned up to meet the boys and sell kit.
Don't give up your day job.
If I got any of this wrong, usual routine: click on my name to send an email.
Bristow Group Inc was previously Offshore Logistics Inc. Air Logistics is another operating arm of the same group.
as an interesting note with regards to the recent cargo vessel sinking/grounding next to the A55 - all FIVE of RAF Valleys SAR Sea Kings were unservicable that night...
helicopters cost money to run, old helicopters that have had the shit bashed out of them saving lives over the North Atlantic cost lots of money to run - can anyone else see the phrase 'shrinking defence budget' racing towards a coroners inquest?
In reply to ballsac:
> ... all FIVE of RAF Valleys SAR Sea Kings were unservicable that night ...
Not the best thing to happen. However, the system works: two aircraft on-scene. A gold star for ARCC, Prestwick and Leconfield.
(And the Black Spot for the Sky News reporter who referred only to a RAF helicopter.)
Pusser's pirates are milking this for all they are worth though! The story was fronting up the Navy website for a couple of days.
On Tuesday, there is a conference at RUSI in London about helicopters.
How much this will have to do with the SAR Helicopter Service that we are concerned about is as yet unclear. However, the associated report seeks to concern itself with SAR helicopters though it leaves me wondering which planet they are writing about.
Planet NPAS perhaps. I heard the CAA might send a rocket there shortly.
It's always interesting to visit developing countries.
This week, the DfT are due to conclude the extra stage of the contract process. Bidders now know who is through and who is out. Open government has not returned to the table. Skill, clarity and organisation appear to be absent without leave.
Make sure you have the email or postal address of your MP ready.
New information has been published on the DfT website. So far it's only the short-list. There are other documents in the pot, some new and some from March, but links are not provided on the main page.
Here are the short-listed bidders who are invited to participate in Phase 1 Stage 2.
(Larger spec. Sumburgh, Stornoway, Culdrose, Leconfield and Valley)
1. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
2. Bristow Helicopters Ltd
3. CHC Scotia Ltd
(Smaller spec. Lee-on-the-Solent, Chivenor, Prestwick, Lossiemouth and Wattisham)
1. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
2. Bristow Helicopters Ltd
3. CHC Scotia Ltd
4. Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen N.V
5. Osprey Consortium (Babcock, ERA, BIH)
(Service requirements of both Lot 1 and Lot 2)
1. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
2. Bristow Helicopters Ltd
3. CHC Scotia Ltd
4. Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems Ltd
5. Osprey Consortium
Trade Day Presentation from 5th March.
This one is old. It's from the start of the stage that produced the above short-list. However, a link to it makes it clear that the procurement timetable at page 24 is still the current one.
Missed this one earlier.
Interesting last sentence.
The events that brought down the contract process for SARH-25 last year are throttling ideas of open government. Everyone is signed up to agreements contraining their communications and there is widespread sensitivity about answering questions or passing on the most innocent pieces of information.
One effect is the complete absence of information about the Gap contract. Neither the DfT, Coastguard nor Bristow have been out there telling us how wonderful it is going to be. Yes, they're all pretty busy right now with Main contract stuff but the way that 30 to 40% of the provision is conducted between 2013 and 2017 is quite important. The way things are panning out, I would be surprised to see more details this year.
It's possible we may see more publications relating to the main contract process on the DfT website this week. I'd expect basic information about the recent stage but possibly only financially-oriented items about raising finance, procuring aircraft and insurance.
One of the things that could upset a lot of people is the location of the bases. There are hints of the currency of this issue in the March 5th presentation. A few dozen men and women will be in a tight huddles across 'equatorial' Britain this month working out more details of where they are going to operate from. I fully expect that the decisions that they will have to make will make front page headline news in regional papers all over Britain during the next 3 years.
It's best to open our minds to the realistic possibilities at an early stage. This will save the NHS a fortune in Valium. All the bases are subject to the 'in the vicinity of' qualifier. Remember that this is the first time that an entire system has been planned rather evolved.
If we start at the top and take SUMBURGH as a first example? Surely the only alternative would be Scarsta and then not really worth the effort? Well, what about Kirkwall. You get hugely improved logistics because it's only a short sea trip from Scrabster to Stromness and there's a regular and reliable London - Inverness - Kirkwall air service. With a 200nm radius from Kirkwall you get to the Faroes, very near to Norway, almost to Boulmer (oops, the B word again!) and a little further west into the Atlantic.
What about STORNOWAY? To Balavanich? No, because if you make the move onto the mainland instead then you only lose 30nm range out into the Atlantic but you make enormous logistical gains. If Sumburgh moved to Kirkwall then Stornoway moving to Plockton or Broadford would make even more sense. Plockton is next to a railway station, is an established helicopter base and not far from a trunk road. Stick a broken aircraft on a truck and it's in Dyce by the end of the day. Broadford is a regular stop for SAR helos anyway and is next to a trunk road. Rubbish weather though. (How much would we at Kintail MRT like these alternative sites? Do you have to ask? ;-) )
LOSSIEMOUTH? It has an established air and helicopter infrastructure, is near a mainland trunk road and railway station, and generally has good aeronautical conditions. The established base is on MoD land but it's location lends itself to independent access through an existing gate. If the MoD charge a reasonable rate then it might seem like a goer. Well, no. Only a few minutes flying time from there is the largest helicopter base in Britain, where the usual suspects are all well established: Dyce. And there will be no Boulmer. It's a no-brainer. Expect Dyce.
PRESTWICK? Reports suggest that the Navy's arrangements at Prestwick are until only 2019. It has been widely discussed that the base could move to Glasgow Airport (Abbotsinch)(showing my age) including this being in the Soteria (CHC) plan for SARH-25. Then there's also an established helicopter base at Cumbernauld. Abbotsinch is full of charters to Teneriffe or wherever and you also have to ask why it makes sense to have Helimed 5 and the copper chopper at the SECC instead. Moving North would not make sense in relation to moving Stornoway and Sumburgh, or closing Boulmer. If you go to Turnhouse you have too many aircraft again, perhaps too much of a shift to the east, and hard work getting past foggy Harthill to all those Clyde jobs. I suspect that the Lakes MR guys will not be happy if they lose Boulmer AND there's a move North from Prestwick. Dancing in the streets in Ballachulish though. Then there's Castle Kennedy. Where? Stranraer. Next to a trunk road, but no fuel, radio, or much in the way of fixed airfield infrastructure. Really handy for the Clyde, NI and the Lakes though. (Of course, you also have to ask yourself whether aircraft carriers ever operate without SAR helicopters and where the resulting naval carrier SAR land bases will be in ... em ... eh ... 2015.)
Feel free to extrapolate these thoughts out across the southern parts of our happy little island.
DASA, Feb 2012:
MoD SAR helo callouts
MCA 43, unknown split
DASA, Mar 2012
MoD SAR helo callouts
MCA 42, unknown split
(Includes small numbers of Cyprus and Falklands.)
In reply to MG:
Aye, well, UKC usefully records 9175 views.
Thanks are due to DfT project team members, the Coastguard, CHC Scotia, the Royal Air Force, ACPO(S), the Civil Aviation Authority and a number of experienced flyers around the country who have helped to improve understanding of the new provision.
Thanks are also due to the Scottish Government Justice Department and the two MPs for the Kintail MRT area who have consistently taken an interest in this subject and continue to support efforts to create a world class service that is ready for all the challenges that the UK SRR can provide.
All of that is tiny and insignificant compared to the efforts of those who have kept pathetically inadequate aircraft in the air hovering over the lost and the broken in the mountainous regions of the UK over the last several decades.
"Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now."
Information that has just emerged on an aviation website points to a reduced field of bidders.
LOT 1 (5 bases, big spec)
1. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
2. Bristow Helicopters Ltd
3. CHC Scotia Ltd
LOT 2 (5 bases, smaller spec)
1. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
2. Bristow Helicopters Ltd
3. CHC Scotia Ltd
4. Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen N.V
LOT 3 (1 + 2)
1. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
2. Bristow Helicopters Ltd
3. CHC Scotia Ltd
4. Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems Ltd
The Contract Notice states that the:
"Envisaged minimum number for final Invitation To Tender ( ITT): 2 and a maximum of 3 per option."
Another couple of hiccups in the process and a final ITT group will have emerged without a requirement for selection.
Whats that thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and round, it needs a big sounding name like...ow...ound....round...ground! Thats it.
I wonder if it will be friends with me?
And the rest after a sudden wet thud, was silence.
These are the last publicly known timings. All pretty quiet just now while heads are down preparing submissions for 14th June.
Contract Timeline (at 5th March 2012):
14 June 2012 - Return of High Level Proposals (Phase 1 Stage 2)
( TBC ) - Bidder presentations
24 July 2012 - Notify shortlisted bidders
27 July - 7 Sept 2012 - Dialogue meetings (Phase 2 – Boot Camp)
17 Oct 2012 - Return of Revised Proposals (Phase 3)
23 Nov 2012 - Issue Invitation to Submit Final Tenders (ISFT)
14 Dec 2012 - Return of final tenders (Phase 4)
11 March 2013 - Notification of intention to award contract (Phase 5)
22 March 2013 - Sign contract
Operational Transition Timeline:
01 April 2015 - Lossiemouth (Lot 2) & Leconfield (Lot 1)
01 July 2015 - Valley (Lot 1) & Wattisham (Lot 2)
01 Oct 2015 - Chivenor (Lot 2) & Boulmer discontinued
01 Jan 2016 - Prestwick (Lot 2) & Culdrose (Lot 1)
01 April 2017 - Sumburgh (Lot 1) & Lee-on-Solent (Lot 2)
01 July 2017 - Stornoway (Lot 1) & Portland discontinued
Your new best friend.
Bond is taking a bit of a kicking.
It's best to reserve judgement on this until more is known. It would be easy to assume this is related to the recent ditching episode but the reasons could be completely different. Others have ditched Pumas in the North Sea, including Bristow, the company that is expected to benefit from Shell's decision.
Return of High Level Proposals (Phase 1 Stage 2) are due toworrow, Thursday 14th June.
Notifications to shortlisted bidders are due 24th July.
Available until 8:59PM Tue, 26 Jun 2012
This may be no bad thing... old aircraft which I know the air crew have concerns about. Something had to change and with an essentially bankrupt country this was pretty obvious..
Things could improve.
It is now nearly 2 weeks since bidders submitted their latest proposals. Everyone will be gearing up to make detailed presentations to the DfT and next month the dept is due to create another short-list. There is very little to do regarding short-listing. Natural attrition has been doing most of the job for them.
I am not expecting to see anything from the DfT or the bidders in the next month or so. Even the short-listing may go largely unannounced.
In the mean time, the House of Commons Select Committee for Transport are not happy with CHC and it is still possible that may affect the later stages.
Edition 28: helicopter articles.
Note the TIMELINE post above from 26th May: "24 July 2012 - Notify shortlisted bidders"
So they should know now whether they are in or out. Whether we plebians get to know what's going on remains in question. Hopefully, open government and transparent process will return and in the next few days there will be an announcement.
The shortlisting has been announced at the following address.
The essentials of the document are as follows.
"The companies shortlisted to participate in competitive dialogue are:
1. Bond Offshore Helicopters Ltd
2. Bristow Helicopters Ltd
3. CHC Scotia Ltd
Each of these companies has submitted bids for each of the three Lots."
No surprises. This is a list of what many observers have been referring to as "the usual suspects" since this process began.
BBC has got there in the end
A number of people in some branches of British aviation are not answering their phones. So maybe Phase 2 is called Boot Camp for a reason!
It is still not clear, beyond the rather first-draught efforts that appear in the Technical Requirements Matrix ( http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/uk-sar-helicopters-services/annexe-a-technical-requirement-mat... ) on the DfT site, how strongly the Land SAR case is being presented during the process. The clue being in the name (COAST guard), it's not difficult to get concerned about this and time for adjustments is running out.
However, it is reasonable to assume that the starting point in the published Technical Requirements Matrix has been built upon in recent months. It is also the case that all of the three players who are still in the game have experience of UK SAR and experience of flying around in UK mountain areas. Flying around in mountain areas is not the same thing as full-on SAR flying under the new CAP 999 regime but it's a higher branch of the knowledge tree than some others are perched on.
Also SARF is acting in an advisory capacity to the DfT in the next part of the process, and I think it's fair to say that Frazer Nicholson's team understands a bit about Search and Rescue. I'm sure it will all be fine.
SARF? DfT? Consultants?
All with glorious careers and most with public pensions to protect.
None of these people will be out on the ground, in full winter conditions, miles from anywhere, taking turns to carry a casualty in a stretcher, with the Entenox run out, and the morphine in short supply, voluntarily, unpaid, on any occasion that the SAR Helicopter Service is unavailable or not capable.
Maybe; but I have it on very good authority that at least one fully-paid-up MR expert with over 30(?) years' hands-on experience of mountain crises is making it his business to disseminate his very thoroughly-researched information to everyone involved in the process who is prepared to listen - and probably those who aren't prepared to listen too. He is not the only one who is determined not to let the cruising-to-their-pension-nest-featherers mess up something so important, either. Between them, he and the other good people on the case are likely to make it work. Having listened myself to what some of them have to say, I'd lay good money on it.
While it is encouraging to hear that appropriately experienced people are lobbying the right civil servants, I don't see success as a forgone conclusion. Governments (particularly Tory ones) are prone to ignoring representations no matter how well structured or valid, for either no good reason, or just because they can to make a point of who is in charge.
The decison to cut nimrod up into very small pieces is a recent case in point.
Of course you're right: success is never a foregone conclusion in life. A healthy scepticism is an essential tool in dealing with public bodies (especially Tory ones) making decisions in boardrooms rather than on the coal-face, and thank God there are crusaders like our Mr Fraser to do their damnedest to make it come out right (I hope you decided to take up cudgels yourself ScraggyGoat?). However, a glass-half-full attitude goes a long way in times of economic crisis, when compromises are going to have to happen. Let's not expect SAR-H to be perfect: let's just make sure it does the job we need it to do.
Coal-face? Is that like tin-face except oop north?
More like peat hags, really, but dahn sarf.
Is silence golden?
Not a squeak leaking out anywhere as the 'Boot Camp' dialogues continue. Lots of good questions will be asked of the bidders by CG, RAF and others speaking up for the status quo. However, whether men and women of imagination with a full grasp of the nature of the most challenging SAR jobs, the commercial imperatives, and the operational character of the three stooges, will be present to carve this opportunity into a world class public service remains to be seen.
Hopeful bordering on optimistic.
Will Justine Greening go? Looking very like it at 1126h. If so, would it make any difference?
Well, Theresa Villiers goes to NI, which may shift the balance of power at the DfT which had been firmly in the south of England and focussed on its role as the successor to British Rail and mainly concerned with running the railways.
If we get real people at Transport, instead of SE-rail-season-ticket-clones, then there is time for it to make some detailed differences to the SAR Helicopter Service contract.
By this evening we will probably know what's coming. The danger is that the SE-rail-season-ticket-clones wil be replaced by Heathrow obsessives. Oops: concrete layers. At least they would have some aviation focus but it's not the same as understanding wider aspects of public safety in marine and rural environments.
The new Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, represents Derbyshire Dales, an upland rural constituency where mountain rescue is, of necessity, well established and very active.
If you are from Derbyshire Dales, please tell us all about Mr McLoughlin and what we might expect from him.
The dialogue phase must be over for a couple of weeks now and still it's stunningly quiet and nobody is answering their phone. This must mean they have a mountain (!) of work to do to get their revised submissions sorted out for 15th October.
By now nearly everything will be worked out: aircraft type (how does that work for new types??), base location, number of aircraft, comms kit, training plans, insurance and so on.
Joe Public isn't getting to know whether his two or three billion will be spent on anything worthwhile until March by the look of things.
[Weather deteriorating in the Tatra. Another cup of coffee should fix it. Per Ardua. http://www.ikar-cisa2012.pl ]
Well it's pretty much set in stone now. The DfT will now have the revised submissions.
In a perfect world, these would all be competent and compliant submissions and it would now be all down to price.
Of course, a 41 year history with the Coastguard counts for nothing. Just the same as wrecking a £6bn government contract counts for nothing. Just the same as holding a long list of emergency service & SAR helicopter contracts counts for nothing.
It's not over until it's over.
So, while we're waiting, what else is happening in the world?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDzEa9R9H-E 24000 hrs 5000 rescued
With the EC225 on the theoretical list of list of aircraft for Lot 1, the events of last few months appear a little concerning. A ditching occurred in UK waters in May and another one on Monday afternoon.
We now know from the AAIB report of the 17th that the ditching in May shouldn't have been necessary. The main fault was a gearbox shaft failure but the ditching occurred as a result of the pilots being given a false warning of a second fault in the emergency lubrication system.
RECENT INCIDENT - AAIB SPECIAL BULLETIN S6/2012- TODAY
"The crew of the helicopter carried out a controlled ditching following indications of a failure of the main gearbox (MGB) lubrication system and, subsequently, a warning indicating failure of the emergency lubrication system. All passengers and crew evacuated the helicopter and were subsequently rescued without injury."
OTHER AIRCRAFT TYPES FOR SAR
The S-92 is the other leading contender for Lot 1 and seems more likely to be a future UK SAR aircraft. It too has a history of gearbox problems. The Airworthiness Directive records at EASA show a number of transmission problems for each of these aircraft types.
Your true in what you say though, that the S-92 is not without incident. I believe its been involved in some pretty serious issues in Canada etc.
There is, at least, some clarity emerging about the problems with the EC225 now that we have two incidents with identical scenarios. And, very fortunately, nobody has had to pay with their life for us to get to that point.
Eurocopter identified a change in manufacturing of the main gearbox shaft that was thought to be responsible for the shaft failure that led to the incident in May but the latest from the AAIB (S6/2012), based on this repeat event, indicates that they have more work to do on that.
In the May incident, the actual ditching was not necessary. What appears to be a tolerance build-up problem has caused false alarming of emergency lubrication failure. With emlube on and working, the aircraft should have had half an hour of flying time and been able to return to Aberdeen. On Monday, indications were the same but the AAIB has not indicated in the report that it was a false alarm. They may yet do so but the shaft flaw is likely to be the priority.
So Super Puma is in a bit of trouble at the moment. Looking on the bright side, with everyone safe and two aircraft recovered, there appears to be a clear path for resolution, though it may not feel like that right now if you are an operator.
The floats work great, so does the tail rotor and emlube seems to work in spite of the alarm problem. Based on Cougar 91, it's more difficult to say the same about the S-92.
[TSB, Cougar 91: http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/aviation/2009/a09a0016/a09a0016.pdf ]
Neither of those OEMs are going to let the big long-range helicopter market slip away from them; Sikorsky put the S92 together specifically to tackle this area, and EC225 was something like the response. This is too prestigious and too high-value a sector to lose.
AW would have been in like Flynn if they could have done it, but AW189 is supposedly just too pricey. Nonetheless, there's a battle royal going on for the next sector down, EC175, Bell529 being the new contenders.
Oil is getting further from shore and into nastier environments - and that drives technological development that's only to the benefit of the SAR business. Anyone who seriously comes out and suggests that either aircraft is "dangerous" or either manufacturer is playing fast and loose needs to go get some education. And needs to consider what alternative approaches they might like to suggest to what are aircraft with outstanding credentials.
Damn, I sound like I'm an "interested party." Not the case.
As things stand at present, Bristow will be glad that the SAR aircraft they will take delivery of in the next few weeks will be Sikorsky S-92 and not Eurocopter EC225.
I don't know which way it has swung with the AW189 though I think it will be in the proposals somewhere. I have seen different photographs of a 189 with 2 stretchers and some seating in the back. As a Lot 2 aircraft it is convincing (2 stretchered, 2 seated), as is the EC175. It's not hard to imagine 6 seats in there as well as the 2 stretchers but that doesn't mean it is a credible Lot 1 aircraft. There is no point in having 2 stretcher cases 250nm out in the Atlantic and no space to work on them and the MERT experience tells us (well, Lt Col 'MERT' anyway) that space to work is everything. Even 1 stratcher case in a 139 on short jobs on the south coast is said to be to tight a squeeze. 250nm Radius Of Action is also a tall order for a 189.
Bell 525 is not there. We don't even know how far it will be into the certification programme by contract start.
The EASA AD identifies a range of Super Pumas and says that you will not fly them over water unless they have the vibration monitoring equipment and that equipment is used in a certain way.
The CAA Safety Directive
takes the same applicability as the AD and says that they shall not be operated over Hostile Environment, except for SAR missions (no training ops in Hostile).
Hostile Environment (JAR-OPS 3) means
- A forced landing cannot be made because the surface is inadequate
- The occupants cannot be adequately protected from the elements
- SAR response/capability is not consistent with anticipated exposure
- Unacceptable risk of endangering people or property on the ground
These areas are ALWAYS hostile:
- For overwater operations, the open sea North of 45N and South of 45S, as designated by the authority of the State
- Congested areas without adequate safe forced landing areas
Para 2.2 of the CAA SD uses the word 'applies' in reference to the EASA AD. The applicability section of the AD includes ALL Super Pumas with the range of shaft serial numbers that are now suspect. The SD therefore appears to mean all, or nearly all, Super Pumas and does not give any allowances related to monitoring systems.
I'm hearing that AW would love a bite of the big long-range helo market, but just can't quite get there at the price point - too much military engineering in the AW101, not enough quite aeroplane (read: range/payload) in the AW189.
The Lot 2 market is where the firms are really starting to scratch each other's eyes out: AW139's eaten everyone else's lunch, and 175/525 are the (late ?) responses. If we could have AW technology, EC prices and Bell customer support, then we'd be somewhere !
MERT - you raise an interesting point, but you need to persuade me. With MERT, the task is pretty active: to get fluids into, and remaining inside, a leaky casualty and keep the heart running for the rest of the golden hour. Lots of gear and arm-waving. I don't think that's the task for the majority of offshore SAR: anyone who's that badly off is marginal anyway. I'm not being unwontedly callous. My understanding is that those cases are a vanishingly small proportion of the work, and you're looking more at fisherman who've fed their hands into winches, had first aid but hope to retain their fingers, individuals with chest pain or appendicitis, or (best-case fast jet mid-air) four guys to be brought in on spinal boards, in two trips.
My point being, if you use MERT to specify offshore SAR, you're going to load a lot of cost into something that'll get used less than once a year.
Regarding the MERT comparison, I have been at presentations and briefing on MERT and know one or two of their customers. The people who work with it say Chinook is the mobile A&E writ large and preferred for all jobs where massive wounds or resus or multiple casualties are involved, Merlin is good for moderate level battlefield injury or a number of lesser cases, and Hawk is for awake and still bawling. SPace, space, space.
Where we can compare this to SAR most readily is the fisherman 10nm out with a severed limb. However, also routine land stuff when nearly 2 hours are spent dodging snow showers across 100km of wild country to get an expectant mother to Raigmore on a winters day, or a similar journey with a deeply hypothermic climber.
I am aware in some detail that MERT techniques do not transfer to SAR wholesale but it is also true we need to learn as much as we can from such professional and successful work in an allied field.
Friday, the week after next (23 Nov) is the date published for Issue Invitation to Submit Final Tenders (ISFT).
Bristow, Bond and CHC are believed to have submitted revised proposals last month and there have been no indications of withdrawal by any bidder. One might expect that such an invitation would be selective. However, the contract notice does state "Envisaged minimum number for final Invitation To Tender: 2 and a maximum of 3 per option". This leaves open selection down to two or no selection.
All these guys know what they're doing, all are part of larger organisations with sound resources and all of them currently have SAR contracts in UK or adjoining territory. Why select?
Well, now's the last chance to hand CHC the Black Spot over their behaviour during the ill-fated previous process but in this contract process 'professional conduct' means getting things in on time and getting your spelling right.
One might think that a bidder with a Super Puma solution might be at a disadvantage considering the events of the last fortnight. However, the Super Puma ditching was preceded by a S-92 top deck cracking incident 3 days earlier and a shadow appears to still hang over S-92 certification for emergency gearbox lubrication. A number of detailed problems have emerged with in-service S92 in recent months. Some of these problems do not affect new aircraft and therefore one might expect that the new S92s Bristow are about to receive for Gap SAR are not affected.
AS332L2 to the rescue.
Expect more of this elsewhere.
So where are we now?
Here's a quick recap of the contract timetable.
High Level Proposals submitted in the spring completed Phase 1 then six weeks of Dialogue meetings (Boot Camp) were Phase 2. Revised Proposals were submitted in mid-October which completed Phase 3.
23 Nov 2012 - Issue Invitation to Submit Final Tenders (ISFT)
14 Dec 2012 - Return of final tenders (Phase 4)
11 March 2013 - Notification of intention to award contract (Phase 5)
22 March 2013 - Sign contract
01 April 2015 - First Lot 1 base and first Lot 2 base becomes operational.
01 July 2017 - Last Lot 1 becomes operational and the service at Portland is discontinued. Transition-in complete.
In amongst all that, the Gap contract (Bristow north & CHC south) becomes operational on 1 July 2013.
So what's going to happen?
Well, for a number of reasons, a two contractor solution (Lot 1 & Lot 2) cannot be ruled out. Some might say it is likely. A single contractor (Lot 3) may give gains through economies of scale and aspects of logistics and co-ordination. However, Lot 3 has the following problems.
i) Large financial load during a period of economic uncertainty and lending contraint.
ii) Resilience: there is a risk involved in having the service reliant on a single contractor.
iii) A two-contractor solution is in place for the Gap contract (ops from July 2013).
Bristow, Bond and CHC are the bidders still in the process. All of these are substantial companies with operations, including SAR operations, in several territories. Bristow's position as a long-time Coastguard contractor, with a Coastguard SAR history back as far as 1971, may still be most people's favourite for the top spot. As part of Avincis, who have a major SAR & HEMS pedigree around the world, and as the largest air ambulance contractor in the UK, Bond come with appropriate credentials. CHC is currently the only Coastguard SAR helicopter contractor operating in the UK and Eire, and have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to undertake challenging SAR missions.
So can this all go wrong with any of these guys? Well, in Sweden it went wrong because the government had to step in and take over the contractor's SAR operation. That was a single-contractor contract at several bases. Key to the Swedish situation appears to be the lack of a substantial domestic helicopter market, thus making it somewhat different from the UK situation. However, it's a reminder that privatisation isn't a magic solution.
Financing a two or three billion pound contract during a period of financial turmoil and lending restraint cannot be easy. Procuring insurance for SAR operation is not likely to be a walk in the park at the best of times but when all of the proposed aircraft are either untried new designs or have suffered recent ongoing technical problems then it must be a nightmare.
Everyone wants the work. Everyone likes to be a winner. In the hard light of day though, do these bidders really want it all? If you're extremely good or extremely foolish then you are going to want it all. In the middle, there could be wiser options.
Is what they bid for the same as what they want? (There are some parties you just need to be seen at aren't there?)
If anyone is wondering what to give Jeremy Rolstone for christmas then a crystal ball has got to be top of the list.
If anyone is wondering what to give Jeremy Rolstone for christmas then a crystal ball.............with a Main rotor gear box vibration sensor installed.............. has got to be top of the list.
Just don't ask about his emergency lubrication system!
UK CAA SafetyDirective2012001
It's recent and out there in pdf format.
The Sikorsky S-70 family is now old technology dating back to 1974. There were murmurs some years ago that some RAF SAR pilots wanted Hawks.
However, things have moved on and fortunately there is a new version of the Sikorsky Hawk family which seems fairly capable.
Reason I ask is I was watching some documentary about the US Coastguard. Seems a pretty capable bit of kit (Good range etc) and they are in the process of upgrading to digital glass cockpits etc.
The clue's in the name. For Sikorsky helos, the S-XX designation denotes the year of design initiation, more-or-less. So, S61, S70, S76, S92 - you get the picture.
Not a lot of people know that - and probably a good thing too, as it's a mixed blessing in marketing terms.
The variant of blackhawk I was suggesting is a far modified and would be brand new airframes.
The oldest RAF seaking airframes entered service in 1978! Before I was born!
Just interested as to whether the improved blackhawk airframe was ever considered (Along the spec of US Coastguard)
How is this thread still going?
Jim gives us a breathless update once in a while.
Public Procurement takes a very long time indeed, and there's many an exciting twist and turn on the way.
The S92 is, in fact, an improved Blackhawk airframe. Possibly a bit further improved than you had in mind, but there's the rub - what is the key defining part of a helicopter ? The engine/rotor/transmission combination, in effect, and even the engine is somewhat changeable.
I'm not aware if the HH60 was ever considered or not. As I understand, it was something of a one-off anyway; as a big fleet operator, the USCG could afford a fairly bespoke aircraft, which might well not have been suited to other global operators. And then US public procurement rules would have meant that Sikorsky would not be allowed to sell overseas for less than the US Government had paid...
This is why AW101 does badly (too much military specification puts the price up) leaving a nice niche for S92 (private venture.)
The nice shiny new Coastguard spec is fine, if the underlying airframe has the basic payload/range performance and the design can be shown to meet the modern safety cert standards. Ditching in Sea State 6, anyone ?
And Sikorsky is somewhat hampered in offering mission system upgrades, because they've never had the full avionics/integration capability. That is done by Lockheed Martin. The other helo OEMs have rather better understanding of their missions and offers.
Hasnt stopped Lockheed Martin selling us F-35 though.
Will no doubt come down to cost, as AFAIK, none of the contenders for SAR-H are built in UK. Eurocopter maybe have facilities in the UK, I'd imagine they might have support facilities in Yeovilton etc..
Vector Aerospace, which was of course Fleetlands plus all sorts of other shattered relics of the UK support organisation.
Plus a training organisation near Oxford.
I'm not sure what Sikorsky's got, but the US OEMs have a better customer support rep than the Euros. So far at least.
> How is this thread still going?
It's good, eh? If you had waited until the 28th it would have been the OP anniversary.
As Yanchic states these decisions don't happen quickly.
This is probably one of the most relevant threads on this site. Look at the viewing stats.
It's not over 'til it's over.
Which may well be about 2359h on 31st December 2015 when the RN Seakings at Prestwick and Culdrose, the last military bases, are scheduled to stand down.
(Hoping for the world's biggest hangar party that hogmanay.)
> Reason I ask is I was watching some documentary about the US Coastguard. Seems a pretty capable bit of kit (Good range etc) and they are in the process of upgrading to digital glass cockpits etc.
Yes. Quite a few things are changing on Hawks.
The J has been tweaked like the SAR S-92 to produce a long range for maritime SAR. The main things that make the J's from the USCG so good though are not the metal and plastic toys but the carbon-based lifeforms.
What is the most important thing about Night Vision Goggles?
You're thinking "That you can see in the dark!" Right?
Well, no. The most important thing about Night Vision Goggles is that the Taleban don't get them. For that reason there is an organisation that is part of the US Department of State (their foreign ministry) called the Directorate for Defence Trade Controls (DDTC). The DDTC sometimes get unhappy about the the way some people around the world manage NVG supply. There are documents about this on the DoS website for all to see (last time I looked anyway). There are also clauses in the ITT Conditions of Sale that refer to similar matters.
In addition to all this defence trade stuff, there are some interesting substances used to produce these image intensifying system. I have not been able to establish with certainty whether these EU and other laws affect the supply, maintenance and disposal of NVG. However, there are a few people around the world who have blamed problems with NVG supply and deployment on this matter.
What I am certain of is that these matters (both defence trade and material controls) were at their peak in 2006 and 2007. It so happens that this was the same time that a new Coastguard search and rescue helicopter contract was being processed and implemented in the UK. There is such a thing as a coincidence and it is perfectly possible that this is one of those.
Luftambulansetjenesten (Air Ambulance Service in Norway) have been using NVG for a while. The SAS air wing and at least two english air ambulance providers are planning NVG operations. The paperwork for some of that is already stamped. These will be in place before long before we have a contract for SAR helicopters in the UK that requires a low light capability (full NVG fit?) in the aircraft at all SAR bases.
Expect new providers to have access to newer and better kit than the RAF and RN are using in the UK at the moment. However, the situation is volatile. If something bad happens between now and 2015, whether is be warlike operations or illegal trading, the yanks could batten down the hatches and nobody will get NVG. The only way ahead then will be to use the kit that is coming back from Afghan in ... eh ... 2015.
The DfT is about to invite final tenders. Interesting times.
> The DfT is about to invite final tenders. Interesting times.
Or perhaps not.
Awfully quiet. No DfT or contractor fanfare.
Jim, this is a red herring. There was deep interest in export control in 06/07 because (I presume) the Taliban were coming back on to the front foot having changed tactics and because (I know, from public domain conversation) ITT were going as hard as they could manufacturing NVG sets to change the US Army equipment level from one per platoon to one per soldier: something of a big job. So there were a lot of high-standard kits to keep track of.
The apposite question would seem to me to be, if our SAR were to want US NVG, would they let us have it, if it needed to be top end (better than Gen III autogating ?)
Personally, I think the key question will remain the incremental utility of the kit, balanced against the substantial training/skills upkeep burden. As noted above, parapublic operators who've tried NVG ops have often killed people. We would need to do better.
I await tender results....
I think the current 'best' night vision gear is British made (although I don't think the MOD actually buys any of it).
> The apposite question would seem to me to be, if our SAR were to want US NVG, would they let us have it, if it needed to be top end (better than Gen III autogating ?)
As in many other fields of endeavor, I am not one for conspiracy theories and prefer to consider the widespread occurence of coincidences of incompetence.
While our private contractor has been stumbling around in the dark, operators in other nearby European NATO countries have been conducting NVG ops. In spite of the demonstrable gulf in capability, the government department responsible for private SAR helicopter provision has seen fit to issue a contract without a requirement for low light capability for SAR provision at four bases from 2013 to 2017 (Gap contract). This means that from 2014 to 2017 the night capability of the SAS Air Wing could be greater than that of the SAR aircraft in the north and north-west. The contractor is, of course, free to adopt a capability in excess of contract requirements.
Excellent point. The training load is a key aspect of the upcoming changes.
At the IKAR Air Commission last month, there were no accident reports involving NVIS flying. There was a presentation about a rescue at 4000m using NVIS (Gendarmerie) and another about NVIS use by Sécurité Civile. The commission has asked for reports from members about NVIS use in their territories, so basically these guys are on top of their game when it comes to air support to mountain rescue using NVIS.
Issue of Invitations to Submit Final Tenders is expected before Christmas.
im trying to understand how this will pan out operationally with air ambulance ops...we now have nwaas landing on the fell regularly...how is dispatching going to be managed so there isnt a bun fight for any shout and both teams wanting to get it? esp since the new system is really a franchise. It was that culture that led to the problems in north america and stuffing a helio in on mt. hood during a rescue...it was out of remit and is essence was trying to beat the competition.
> im trying to understand how this will pan out operationally with air ambulance ops...we now have nwaas landing on the fell regularly...how is dispatching going to be managed so there isnt a bun fight for any shout and both teams wanting to get it? esp since the new system is really a franchise. It was that culture that led to the problems in north america and stuffing a helio in on mt. hood during a rescue...it was out of remit and is essence was trying to beat the competition.
This is the way that I understand it.
In Scotland, there is complete clarity in the field of ambulance tasking since it is done by the SAS Ambulance Control Centres at Inverness, South Queensferry and Cardonald. That applies whether the ambulance is a land vehicle, helicopter or fixed wing aircraft.
In England, as I am sure you know, there is much less clarity regarding aircraft. A disgraceful crowd of self-promoting, over-resourced and poorly integrated charity-funded air ambulances cover most of the country. (Can I substantiate that? Yes. The evidence is overwhelming.)
The Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre (ARCC) at Kinloss "does exactly what it says on the tin". They are responsible for the tasking of all Search And Rescue aircraft and the co-located Mission Control Centre (MCC) is responsible for co-ordinating the response to satellite beacons activated in the UK SRR and enabling response to UK-registered beacons around the world. Potential search and rescue air assets, including air ambulances, the Jigsaw private SAR aircraft and several fixed wing assets, appear on the ARCC state board and may be tracked by them. [The ARCC provides a world-class service in a low-key manner that disguises the hundreds of good quality SAR decisions that are made there most weeks by a mix of ordinary airmen/women, helicopter aircrew, fixed wing aircrew, signallers and mountain rescue. Most will only understand its value when it is gone.]
There are two statutory Co-ordinating Authorities for Search And Rescue in the UK. Below the High Water Mark it is the Coastguard. Above the High Water Mark it is the police.
Several things bend the boundaries or muddy the waters regarding SAR Co-ordinating Authorities.
- Decades of obscuration of the true land SAR work load by the Coastguard through poor reporting
- Police deference to the Coastguard skill set on major inland waterways
- Police deference to the Coastguard skill set on coastal, particularly cliff, incidents
- Coastguard tasking of SAR helicopters engaged under DfT/MCA contract
- Significant numbers of charity air ambulances that are not properly integrated with NHS resources
- Air ambulance mission creep involving terrain and weather beyond their certified capability
- With charity air ambulance organisations, unless integration and co-ordination with other parts of the health service are good, missions can turn into publicity stunts
What might be useful is for an air ambulance crew and related managers/dispatchers who inappropriately respond to a SAR mission involving terrain and weather beyond their certified capability to be prosecuted for obstructing police and have their Air Operating Certificate withdrawn. I guarantee that would result in improvements in co-ordination and integration of services, and in public safety.
The NVIS problem is sorted. I just got this week's LiDL catalogue through the door and they do a Night Vision Scope for £99. ;-)
You may laugh, but you've put your finger on the point. The kit is not expensive.
10K USD per set for kit that doesn't need to be top-end, doesn't matter whether it's ITTs or European, or whether it's what they use in Hereford. For the sums of money that we're talking about for this contract, it's peanuts.
How many hours a year do you need to train to be able to aviate safely ? Now how many more do you need to train to be able to operate effectively ? Now multiply that up by the cost per flying hour, and by the number of crews to give the required availability. Guess what, we're into the millions.
Is that sum of money in proportion to the money that needs to be spent to do all the other things SAR needs to do ? I've no idea personally, but I'd rather they didn't skimp on training if they do decide for night ops - rotary wing airworthiness is getting quite enough publicity for now.
Good to hear that others are doing it successfully, but I don't know how representative the French would be of anything. Not to belittle the operators in the slightest, but I bet the money gets spent on them in a way that wouldn't happen over here.
It was England and Wales I was referring to you are right. Your proposal is sound (i think logistically) but would be the political firecracker in the bottle in the yes of the public (spin doctors)...'so you privatise the free at point of use SAR service and then force it upon us...' (by beating up the good guys. Establishing clear licensing guidelines and then seeing who responds to it seems the safest way?
If someone in on a hill (in Scotland, I dont know about England) phones 999 and ask for the Police they will get a response from MRT and perhaps a SAR aircraft if needed. If they ask for the Ambulance Service, then they will get an ambulance as the Scottish Ambulance Service has a statutory responsibility to send a vehicle, and yes this has been through the courts. The Ambulance Control Centre will send the vehicle that they deem to be most suitable for the task, be it a land ambulance or an air ambulance. The Paramedic that is dispatched will request the assistance of MRT of a SAR aircraft if needed. In Scotland Air Ambulance aircraft do not fly outwith their capabilities, be they manufacturers limits or limits set down by the CAA/JAR. And lets not forget that most of the Air Ambulance pilots are ex military with a few coming from SAR. When an Air Ambulance is dispatched the injured party is guaranteed to get a Paramedic response, can the same be said for SAR? NO!! If MRT and SAR are asked to respond to a tasking but they know an Air Ambulance is closer, can deliver a higher level of care and is appropriate for the task do they ask the Air Ambulance to respond? Again a big NO!! What about prosecution for MRT and SAR for causing harm or injury through inaction? This is not a a path that I would want to see anyone going down, I think the current system is broken and needs to be fixed, as a SAR winchman (who is now on a Coastguard aircraft said to me "this is not a willy waving competition". When someone phones 999 to seek medical assistance, an assessment of their medical and rescue situation needs to be carried out and the most appropriate response then sent, no matter which organisation its from. We need a fully integrated system that has the ability to cope with whatever can be thrown at it. We need inter-agency respect with the core drive being towards improving patient/casualty care and outcomes, inter-agency bickering will only lead to stagnation and extinction.
I agree with what you say regarding the fully integrated system.
Exactly. Refer to the RUSI/AW report of earlier this year making the same point very clearly, but in the broader context: there is a very strong case for centralising and rationalising parapublic helo assets, but a lot of recent political doctrine has tended to fragment things down to the local level.
Apologies if I posted this before. Not that we're covering the same ground here, how could that ever happen ?!
My understanding was all RAF winchmen were qualified paramedics? Am I wrong? Or maybe I am misunderstanding you somehow. Given air ambulances (always?) carry a doctor, the spirit of what you're staying still stands though.
It sounds like you have a specific incident in mind where you felt things weren't handled right. I can only speak for England, specifically the lakes, but air ambulances are regularly asked by MRTs to attend in situations where they are a more appropriate asset than a sea king or will be on scene sooner. Maybe things tend to work differently in scotland...
Roger. Wait Out.
I have a lot of jobs in mind where there has been a delay in an appropriate tasking, this is either due to control centre staff who are poorly trained or the "it's my ball and you're not playing" attitude. I have passed a SAR asset as we headed south to a job on a hill whilst it headed north to a person on a hill. I was aware of both jobs and suggested to our control that perhaps each asset should be sent to the job it was closest to. I was told that as the job we were closest to did not come in via my control I could not attend, this is sheer madness and if this attitude remains, then people will die.
There are Russian and Chinese tubes out there and most of them seem to be desribed as Generation 2+. This is supposed to be a higher sensitivity and lower noise version of Gen 2 and is thought to be the peak of non-US image intensifier technology.
If US tubes are used there are Defence Trade Controls that restrict Generation 2 and above and these (2, 2+, 3, 3+). The UK and Canada have specific defence trade agreements with the USA and therefore well-defined exemptions to ITAR (CFR22 Parts 120 to 130).
One of the big questions for me is when we have special treatment under US law in these matters, how does it come about that we are significantly behind neighbouring nations (Norway, France, ...)? Is our government run by idiots?
Sure - my assumption is that minimum standard for SAR has got to be autogating 3+, beyond which the "generation" system breaks down anyway. I'm not aware that technology at that level is exclusive to the USA: Thales, Sagem, Elbit, OIP to name a few suppliers. And they'll certainly have an "ITAR free" product line among them.
Anyway, NVG is nice, but I'm not hearing anyone say that for SAR it's obvious which way to choose between NVG and a good FLIR ball - tends to depend on the scenario you expect to be in. Conclusion: a second-rate NVG would be a very dumb choice.
Is our government run by idiots ? Well, you started the thread - wasn't that exactly what you had in mind ?
PS. Word on a street is that the tender's going to AW.
I am aware that there has been some work to improve air aspects of ambulance control. Also that there is ongoing work to improve collaboration with ARCC.
[Hello ARCC. Everybody wave!]
Even people whose postcode is over 10km across need ambulances or equivalent care and transport. Some work may be necessary on a multi-agency basis to work out who should get the authority to say "this is an SAR job". Since the police are the statutory Co-ordinating Authority for SAR, I think the outcome is not a mystery.
There are currently several rescue disciplines that need special attention because of confliction. Legislation that was meant to clarify, has in some cases done so only for urban areas. In the UK, the folks at the sharp end can be excellent at joint working but organisations are often rubbish at planning for it (lots of 'willy waving'). Some neighbouring territories do a really good job of this. We need to fix it in the UK. I certainly know of a number of initiatives involving MR, police, RAF, Ambulance, Fire and others, that aim to improve things. I have done my best to draw some of the parties together and I hope that in the next few months we will see some excellent new work in this area.
> Exactly. Refer to the RUSI/AW report of earlier this year making the same point very clearly, but in the broader context: there is a very strong case for centralising and rationalising parapublic helo assets, but a lot of recent political doctrine has tended to fragment things down to the local level.
I was at the RUSI Conference on this in April. That report takes an over- simplistic view of the rationalisation of helicopter assets. However, there is good work there and at the conference.
What we probably need in the UK is the large SAR aircraft for long-range maritime, land search, emergency medical retrieval service and fire team deployment, a planned and co-ordinated police fleet(s) in the manner of NPAS, a planned and co-ordinated ambulance fleet(s) across all jurisdictions (planned England, Wales, NI fleet suggested by one party at RUSI), and an authority with the skills to make it happen when these all need to work together.
The only way that last point happens is by preserving and reinforcing the ARCC under RAF control instead of diluting it by giving it to the weakest link.
> PS. Word on a street is that the tender's going to AW.
What is going to AW?
> ... ... I have done my best to draw some of the parties together and I hope ...
'You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink.'
"...what is expected to be a contract award to Agusta Westland for the SAR Helicopter programme"
From a private circulation newsletter, well-respected defence journalist.
Made little sense to me either.
> "...what is expected to be a contract award to Agusta Westland for the SAR Helicopter programme"
Well, nobody will be buying Merlins for this, and the 139 can't meet the spec, so it could mean that the 189 has a chance of being seen 'in the vicinity of Lee-on-the-Solent, Chivenor, Prestwick, Lossiemouth and Wattisham' from 2015/2017 onwards.
I expect that all three will have looked at the 189 as a Lot 2 aircraft. I read in a news report that Bond held FIVE options in addition to orders, which sound like the right number (apart from spare aircraft??). The possible clue of 5 options is about as much as you'll find.
What is also going on of course is NAWSARH from the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Safety. AW are a bidder with the Merlin. Tender submissions are due on the 18th December.
> ... my assumption is that minimum standard for SAR has got to be autogating 3+ ...
ITAR lock-down in progress.
I am hearing several people state the way ahead: G3 NVG - AND - a good FLIR ball. Expect a free laminated copy of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR, 22 CFR, Parts 120-130) to be given away free with a copy of Country Walking or TGO sometime soon.
Not sure you're fully on top of the way of the world in respect of ITAR.
Numerous firms, notably French ones including Thales, go to some lengths to produce product lines that are explicitly and demonstrably free of technologies regulated under ITAR.
NVGs are certainly amongst them: Thales's jv with Samtel for helicopter Helmet Mounted Displays is another pertinent example.
There is demand for products that are good and useful but not state of the art, and I suspect SAR helos are very much in this area although I don't necessarily know specifics. These products are not sanction-busting: that would be sales to Syria, China or suchlike.
Either that or we're misunderstanding each other somewhere.
FLIR & NVG & training and a lot of space down the back ?
Lovely, but costly.
> Lovely, but costly.
I haven't seen any figures for the actual contracts but the total north and south estimate in the original contract notice was £200 to £235 million.
Small change compared to £2 to £3.1 billion in the notice for the main contract.
> ... a lot of space down the back ?
For the main contract the 139 is history due to the 4 survivors, 2 on stretcher spec, and this is reinforced by the 'MRT Standard Load' spec. I think the only reason that CHC are still at the southern bases with their 139 for the GAP contract is because they are cheap. They have Culdrose, Chivenor and Wattisham bringing up the rear.
I am suspecting 189 and S-92 for the MAIN contract. The 189 is short, wide and low whereas the Sea King is long and narrow. Competitor aircraft are little different. It remains to be seen how many paramedic-qualified hobbits are available for employment in a 1.4m high cabin and whether £3.1 billion is enough to cover all the knee and back operations.
Brave days for AW, if they can pull it off with 189. I'm sceptical that an expensive helicopter with an expensive mission system is what we can afford. No matter, AW've got their hands full with 139 selling like hot cakes.
There's a bunch of Harrier aircrew going begging, if you're in the market for opinionated short people who don't mind risking back injuries.
There's a bunch of Harrier aircrew going begging, if you're in the market for opinionated short people who don't mind risking back injuries..................
But the're not used to hovering for more than about 10 seconds. I foresee problems
H'mmm laws of supply and demand, along with a value proposition. Multi-million pound helicopter, unable to operate without qualified hobbit..............
It appears you get to name your price and base location. I suggest Stornoway, that way you'll get to boss Jim around in the back of your cab from time to time.
> ... NAWSARH from the Norwegian Ministry of Justice and Public Safety. AW are a bidder with the Merlin. Tender submissions are due on the 18th December.
This is how it's done.
(A/C Tech Spec at Annex2A)
On the DfT website, with all the clarity that we have come to expect from our government, is a recently-published zip file containing a package of ITT documents, all dated in September. I haven't been through these in detail yet but they appear to be an update of the ITPD documents from March.
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/28615/UK-SAR-ITT.ZIP [!!! 5Mb !!!]
Whether these are the documents that the bidders are expected to bid against this week or they are documents from a slightly earlier stage is not clear.
Yes. You're right. In fact, it's a monochrome copy of the picture of a 145 at Marignane that is on the English version of the Wikipedia page for Sécurité Civile.
You have mail, but it's on OoO.
I haven't established the aircraft registration letter or the name of the pilot. I should be ashamed of myself.
(Why am I posting all this stuff?)
If our Government is about to pay between £2 billion and £3.1 billion for a world-class Search And Rescue Helicopter Service then the right thing to do is to make every effort possible to get the decision makers the correct information and to lobby for the finest equipment and working practices that the available budget can provide.
Collaborative joint working is the way that Search And Rescue succeeds. No limitation on that approach is acceptable.
One and half horse race.
> 'One and half horse race' (above).
I think this might be a cloaked allusion to the seemingly well-founded speculation this week that CHC's bid for the long-term SAR contract is no longer under consideration. I was talking to a lifeboatman from Galway who was full of praise for the SAR service provided by CHC in Ireland; but apparently another contractor has submitted a bid substantially lower than theirs in the scramble to be the provider over here in mainland Britain.
I know from my own days in public finance that any government invitation to tender is open to cynical exploitation by greedy contractors, and of course we want our government bodies to exclude unnecessary expenditure when they're spending our taxes; but I also know that financial regulations require a public body to seek the best value for money, which isn't always the lowest tender. I like to hope that for any service with life-and-death implications our public budget-holders will take everything into consideration, not just the number after the £ sign.
> ... but I also know that financial regulations require a public body to seek the best value for money, which isn't always the lowest tender. ...
The Swedish Maritime Administration's situation is instructive here. The contractor had financial dificulties and had to be nationalised. The lack of a sufficient indigenous market appears to be the root cause. One might say the same about the UK in spite of the apparent number of contractors at the start. Who didn't know that it was going to come down to Bristow and Bond, with Bristow likely to take the biggest prize?
The GAP (2013-2017) contract notice had the following financial information.
"The total estimated value of the North and South options together is between 200 000 000 GBP and 235 000 000 GBP ... Excluding VAT"
The GAP award notice had the following financial information.
"Total final value of contract(s) Value: 158 433 543 GBP Excluding VAT"
"NRP10043Lot1 ... Value: 106 570 559 GBP Excluding VAT"
"NRP10043Lot2 ... Value: 51 862 984 GBP Excluding VAT"
Finnish BG goes for 2 x AS332 L1e
FLIR, but no NVG mentioned. Not too mountainous where they'll be.
> FLIR, but no NVG mentioned. Not too mountainous where they'll be.
AS332L1e helikopterin perustiedot: ... ... Pimeänäkölaitteet
There is an article in the FT entitled 'Helicopter rescue bidders cut to two'.
Viewing online normally requires an FT subscription.
"The Department for Transport told British Columbia-based CHC Helicopter last month that it was no longer in the running.
The company was underbid by 20 per cent by one of its shortlisted rivals – Bond Offshore Helicopters, based in the UK, or New York-listed Bristow Group. According to a provision in the invitation to tender, this big a difference triggers dismissal.
One person close to the process said he was surprised by the size of the difference, given that all the operators should be able to secure financing for a similar cost, and that the prices of the helicopters were also unlikely to vary significantly between groups.
However, equipment usually represents just 20-30 per cent of search and rescue (SAR) costs, meaning bidders have scope to undercut one another in other areas. They will be looking for savings in the way they run bases, for example, or on whether training is conducted in or out of house and in the way pilots’ employment contracts are structured.
Moreover, because the DfT did not specify how many aircraft it would require to replace the Sea King fleet retiring in 2016, some operators may have submitted plans that use fewer helicopters, bringing down annual costs.
Louise Ellman, chair of the transport select committee, has previously questioned the lack of public consultation, asking whether the privatisation plans could lead to more deaths at sea. On Monday, she said those fears had not yet been allayed by ministers. “I am concerned about how the service might be affected,” she said."
Defense Industry Daily
Britain’s Next Search-and-Rescue Helicopters: Civilian Contractors
2319h, Stornoway SAR a/c overhead (G-SARB?), heading 048 degrees, landed Raigmore, previously in the vicinity of the small isles. Now 305 degrees, west of Ben Wyvis, rtn Stornoway.
Looks like somebody is not having a good evening.
This is what it's about.
(Thank you AIS.)
Not currently on my ToDo list.
A significant number of the speakers will be talking our language. I am thinking particularly of Stuart Johnston, Jonathan Heald, Colin Souter and Gerold Biner. I don't know any of the Norwegians but I am rarely disapointed by their approach.
(Part of me would love to be the proverbial fly on the wall during the SAR, Police, Air Ambulance and land interoperability discussion. If anyone has a spare thousand or so pounds looking for a home then I am open to nominations as the UKC rep!)
Oh, and the Dutch are presenting on the NH90. Interesting.
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for Busby from the "Rescue in SCNL this morning" thread:
There has been a lot of confused thinking in the UK during the last ten years about new SAR heliopter provision. I would have preferred if that had been avoided. However, we are where we are.
What is about to emerge from all of that is a solution that will be world class. In spite of political ignorance, the public in love with yellow helicopters for 60 years, DfT/MCA distractions both rail and maritime, MoD distractions in the Middle East, flawed commercial processes, bad contract writing and a lttle corruption, the contractors who submitted their final bids this week are ones who know what they are doing. The CAA know what they are doing and have stated clearly that whatever is necessary to operate this service will be permitted.
The boys and girls holding the two levers will be the best. A majority of them will be the same people who are doing the job now, except that they will have 4000 or 5000 shaft horsepower and top class avionics at their disposal.
This summer we will see the forerunner to this service when Bristow take over at Sumburgh and Stornoway. It is expected that the four Sikorsky S-92 that Bristow will operate will be another step beyond the capability of the current aircraft at those bases.
One of the key areas of concern about civilian SAR, particularly in mountain flying, has been the restrictions to flying rules in training. Such restrictions also exist in the RAF and the RN. What we are about to witness is that those restrictions will be different from what we are used to seeing in SAR training. Not only that, but new aircraft mean there is a need to build up a new well of experience: true for military or civilian pilots. However, by the time the new service is fully operational at ten bases, on 30th June 2017, the S-92 will have been in SAR service in the UK for 10 years. Those ten years will be worth something and we will see that on the hill and we will see it at sea.
The contract will be with the DfT. The aircraft will be in HM Coastguard livery and my understanding is that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will deal with day-to-day operational matters. Therein lies a problem. The clue is in the name. The focus is clearly with aspects that are maritime and coastal which form only a minority of UK SAR aeronautical jobs. The ability of MCA staff, at all levels, to adapt to this new world that they are entering, is important to the success of the new service.
Due to keep happening.
> What is about to emerge from all of that is a solution that will be world class.
Who told you that? It sounds a lot like what was being spouted by the cr@p talkers when the rail industry was privatised and what is being spouted about the privatisation of the NHS that is going on at the moment.
Either: You are massively naive and you believe what you say, so we can hold you accountable when the next privatisation contract is abused (and goes so tits up that "mountain insurance," is needed to sort the mess), or you are quoting from somewhere. Which is it?
Military SAR evolved for a reason. Some of that story is told in the 'History & Background' section on page six of Casbag edition 28, listed at the following web address under 'Back Copies' near the bottom of the page.
In the late 90s, the MoD formed Joint Helicopter Command. SAR Force and the RN Flights were never absorbed into JHC like the rest. If the commander of JHC had taken a different decision then the situation might be different. The SAR units are sorry little orphans in the cash-strapped military world and they are going to die because of that. JHC and the helicopter situation in Iraq and Afghanistan are the reasons that the MoD are now out of the game. If you don't like it, just as I don't like it, then write to your MP about it. I certainly wrote to mine some time ago.
During the last 18 months, I must have spent more than 20 times more time on SAR helicopter issues than doing proper MR stuff on the hill. I have spoken to MPs, MoD and DfT civil servants, CAA flight inspectors, Coastguards, dozens of MR guys and gals from more than a dozen countries, and military and civilian pilots from the UK, Ireland, Norway, Poland, France, Switzerland and Austria. I have scrutinised Civil Air Publications, AAIB reports, overseas accident reports, EU and UK legislation, contract notices and conditions, and specifications for services and aircraft and equipment. I write the key aspects of what I find out here on UKC so that those who are interested in the facts can examine them.
The only regrettable aspect to the whole thing is reading or listening to endless drivel from a small number of mindless clowns for whom the facts are of no interest.
> Not currently on my ToDo list.
> > >
> (Part of me would love to be the proverbial fly on the wall during the SAR, Police, Air Ambulance and land interoperability discussion. If anyone has a spare thousand or so pounds looking for a home then I am open to nominations as the UKC rep!)
It would certainly be worth having a UKC rep to represent the climbing community ....how about crowd-funding it .. £1/ head from each user should easily do it ?
> I just can't see how they can take on the role of the ARCC given that background.
Co-ordinating aeronautical rescue remains with the ARCC.
Day to day aspects of the contract appear likely to be a task for MCA management. Tasking of HM Coastguard helicopters by Coastguard Stations stopped on 31st March 2010 and passed to the ARCC.
Thanks....have removed my previous 'drivel'!!
Please carry on doing so Jim, because it sounds like you certainly know what you are talking about. The aspect of mindless clowns is unfortunately typical of UKC, given that some idiot posters jam the airwaves with rants and there is no obvious way of stopping them (other than trying to have them banned, if, for example, they become persistently personally abusive).
The upside is that you sometimes get people who clearly know what they are talking about, especially on technical issues. The only thing is that I am sometimes not clear what you are advocating, though that may be because the more you know about a subject, the harder it normally is to give a clear simple prescription for what to do. As the old saw has it, for every complex problem, their is a solution that is simple, elegant - and wrong.
> Thanks....have removed ...
Which means you are interested in the facts, so ...
I know dozens of military helicopter pilots and the ones flying SAR are doing it because they want to fly SAR. They don't give a damn who pays them, what aircraft they are flying or what logo is painted on the outside. They just aspire to be the best pilots in the world and save peoples lives.
The same goes for winchmen and all the ground crew and technicians. They are proud of what they do and will do the best possible job, pretty much regardless of which company signs their pay check.
As with Jim, I think the risks associated with the private sector contractors are actually fairly low. The biggest risks will lie with the (100% public sector) tasking system.
The first new Bristow S-92 SAR aircraft has arrived.
No external diferences visible apart from FLIR-ball and searchlight unmounted for transit. Internally, the kit-list and aircraft specification are known to be significantly advanced in relation to the current aircraft.
If it had happened 10 years ago, this thread wouldn't exist.
'Per Ardua Ad Astra'
> If it had happened 10 years ago, this thread wouldn't exist.
Opinions vary apparently!
This competition is now between Bristow and Bond, with a strong likelihood of them getting one Lot each. Circumstances are likely to push both companies to make the same decisions on location of most of the bases.
Starting at the top, Sumburgh and Stornoway are dead certs. Then Lossie moves to Dyce: why would Dyce-based operators NOT do this?
Prestwick probably doesn't move. I have seen no evidence for location at any other place. It's not welcome at Glasgow Abbotsinch, ATC would hate it there, and you have to ask why SAS Air Wing are at the SECC now. If you know different then tell us about it.
Crossing the border, Leconfield not known, but I would rate as a 'must move', and more likely to move North than South. Valley was to be moved to Caernafon Airport by CHC and the remaining contractors may also be considering it. Wattisham I have no idea about and it doesn't affect MR but another lonely little shed in the corner of a disused airfield: well, no prizes for guessing. Chivenor not known, but I rate it as another 'must move'. Culdrose may move to Newquay Airport/St Mawgan.
Some of these appear in online records of planning applications.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out where Leconfield and Chivenor are moving to.
Many of you know these areas a lot better than I do. Some of you may work for, or alongside, the relevant planning authorities. This is public information: no laws need be broken. Start by drawing a 30 miles circle around those bases to determine which planing authorities may be involved. For Leconfield, modify this to a 60 mile semi-circle north-orientated. For Chivenor, modify this to a 60 mile semi-circle northeast-orientated.
"Search and rescue helicopter facility, associated with air sea rescue operations, comprising a hangar, workshops and ancillary space within a prefabricated two-storey building, plus associated hardstanding".
Example of Known Applicants.
Deloitte LLP, trading as Drivers Jonas Deloitte, 66 Shoe Lane London EC4A 3BQ. Gareth Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org , 020 7303 4166.
Example, CHC (no longer bid)
Or, we can just chill out and wait until the end of April.
Oops. This is the 4th or 5th attempt. No matter how much I wish some of this could have been done differently, unfortunately, stopping now and having another attempt is riskier than any other option because of the number of rivets that will fail in the meantime. Allons y.
More Grauniad. A little more balance. Not far enough north for the full story.
Check out the Kit List.
So - an S-92 with NVG and a few other useful-sounding gizmos and gadgets. Is it going to do what we might need it to do in the mountains? What about the size of the cabin?
Presumably how well it performs in the GAP contract won't make a scrap of difference either way to the provision of the long-term SAR that comes after the GAP? - I guess that will be too far underway for any of the contract specifications to be adapted according to what's learned during the interim period?
"On the January 31 1953, 12 Dragonfly HR1/HR3 helicopters from 705 Naval Air Squadron based at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Gosport/HMS Siskin responded to urgent requests for help following extensive flooding in East Anglia and The Netherlands.
In the course of seven hours’ flying, more than 840 people were rescued – one single pilot accounted for 111 of those rescues, while another carried out 102."
> So - an S-92 with NVG and a few other useful-sounding gizmos and gadgets. Is it going to do what we might need it to do in the mountains? What about the size of the cabin?
This is essentially the same as CHC already operate but with the right kit list and 5 years technological progress.
Loads of space, loads of power, loads of speed. The Bristow ones will do two important things that the current CHC ones do not do. They will hear us, on the right radio kit, and they will see us, in the dark with their NVG. (AIS recently tracked CG100 at 200mph ground speed, headed for Raigmore on a following wind. Not much chance of that in a Sea King.)
If Bristow get Lot 1 then we might expect these aircraft to be used on the MAIN contract from 2017. As for one affecting the other, we might find it has been working both ways already.
Perhaps a poor choice of wording on my part.
The point is that Helimed 5 is not at the airport mixing it with flights of 200 people off to Teneriffe or New York. Likewise, it might not be clever to put a SAR helicopter in amongst the airport traffic.
I expect that is the ATC viewpoint also.
Somebody definitely thinks it's going to be AW189 for Lot 2.
NVG is not just for SAR.
And Ray Edwards BAFTA got lost in the post!
They may have missed a trick though? Bond and Bristows both have S-92's on order.
At the moment EVERYBODY has S-92s on order. The EC225 effect.
OK guys, here's what you are getting at Stornoway and Sumburgh from this summer until 2017. As per the Bristow news piece at the following address
the equipment is as follows.
- Night vision capabilities, ...
Specification not yet confirmed. Believed to be Gen 3 tubes but because of a US DoD ITAR clamp down on exports due to their current demand, without full latest goodies. However, still very high spec NVIS. Probably similar to the following.
Note references to ITAR.
- L3 Wescam MX-15iHD FLIR/TV camera turret ...
- Honeywell Skyforce Observer 2000 mapping system in the rear crew mission station ...
- Multiple communications systems, including high frequency, VHF AM/FM radio, UHF radio, satellite communications, satellite tracking of the helicopter, marine vessel transponder, secure communications capabilities and wireless intercoms.
Includes HF - http://www51.honeywell.com/aero/common/documents/Primus-HF-1050-Product-Description.pdf
Also note the AIS and wireless intercom in addition to the HF and the usual suspects. Not know if maritime MF (2182 ...) is included as is the case in the spec for the later Main contract.
- Multiple casualty-stretcher arrangement in the cabin.
The later Main contract Lot 1 spec is 8 survivors, 2 of whom are on stretchers. It is not known whether this extends the stretcher count beyod that standard or whether this is driven by the Gap contract or contractor intelligence.
- Long-range fuel tank to increase operating range.
The planned Stornoway RoA (radius of action) for the later Main contract is 250Nm, as opposed to 200Nm for other Lot 1 bases. I larger RoA has been the norm for Stornoway for a long time. Perhaps the EC225 would have given this off-the-shelf but the S-61 and S-92 have always have special tanks.
- Dual Goodrich rescue hoist installation.
Almost certainly two fo these beauties.
- Nightsun XP steerable searchlight
[ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alan-Bristow-Helicopter-Pioneer-Autobiography/dp/1848842082 ]
One thing I can comment on with certainty is that Wescam MX15 is an utterly awesome bit of kit. I am both pleased and surprised it has been included.
These have been fitted to frontline Army, Navy and RAF aircraft, especially those supporting UK Special Forces for well over 10 years and will provide a massive increase in long-range surveillance capability.
Read the word "secure".
(TETRA is a specific requirement in the MAIN contract, as shown in the September 2012 version of the ITT Schedule 2.1 - Specification, in Section 1.2.11. Potentially, it could also qualifying as the BLOS Redundancy under 1.2.6 and Intercommunication with Mobile Phones under 1.2.7.)
TETRA capability! Well, that's one of the best kept secrets in Britain today. Wonderful when the sun is shining on the city streets and it's all going swimmingly well and the greatest load on the network is reporting speeders on the M25 and bringing in shoplifters from the Arndale Centre.
Out in the sticks, it's super to be able to call anyone you need to speak to during an exercise when there is a plan and everyone is calm. If the HF and satcom give trouble on a SAR aircraft and you are within sight of habitation or a main road on land then it will provide BLOS comms backup.
However, when a train or air crash occurs in a rural location that has typical trunk radio network capacity, for a maximum of one fire engine, one ambulance and one police car speaking at once, the system cannot cope with the activity levels from large numbers of people under pressure who are all trying to do their best.
Airwave provides flexible and secure comms with durable and easy to use equipment 99% of the time and that's great.
The problem is that the 1% of the time that it's useless and an embarrassing failure is actually what most people would think we are paying the big bucks for.
It's a big, old-fashioned, out-of-date, tiny bandwidth, moderately secure, limited network capacity, cellular phone on 400MHz. (Moderately secure cellular phone? The expression Better-Off-With-Map-And-Nokia may spring to the military mind at this point!) Around Europe, there are people presenting on the subject of trunked radio who describe the UK's Airwave as how not to implement trunked radio in your emergency network. The poor British taxpayer is ripped off again.
Across Europe, even in more mountainous and sparsely populated regions, similar systems are still being rolled out. Several have notably improved capability, especially for data. It is important to realise that the reasons for doing this are not necessarily that it is the best system in an emergency. One important reason for doing it is that this will often be the cheapest or quickest way to introduce a nationwide system that achieves secure encrypted communications for crime and medical information (fire service usually last to join!).
The Chief Constable cannot legally transmit your name and date-of-birth on an insecure channel after you have been pulled over for doing 45 in a 30 zone. It is yet to be tested whether he is allowed to let you die, injured, cold and alone, beside a remote railway track, because of the lack of a resilient telecommunications network.
In case anyone is wondering, Massey is the Chief Executive of the MCA and not the Chief Coastguard. The contract process is in the hands of the MCA's masters at the DfT, thus the Minister's position. MCA Aviation is believed to be one of the advising bodies working with the DfT project team.
As for Richard Drax's position, folk can have helicopters on every street corner and still it wouldn't work if people don't work together properly. SAR is a team game. Some of the key players are just players and are not interested in joining or enhancing the team.
The Sea King: Britain's Flying Past
"John Sergeant presents a TV love letter to one of Britain's most iconic aircraft, the Sea King helicopter. An unsung hero of Britain's flying past, vital in wartime and yet essential to the search and rescue work of the Royal Navy. This is a craft with a true royal seal of approval, piloted as it is by HRH Prince William. Uncovering the stories of the people who owe their lives to this great bird, John salutes its service to the nation."
59 minutes of John Sergeant trying to learn how to pronounce Culdrose.
Bring your own sick bag and tissues.
This week would have brought the 'Notice of Intention to Award Contract (Phase 5)' on the 8th. However, it is believed that the delay of 5 weeks that occurred at 'Return of Final Tenders' phase will be carried forwards. That would make the Notice date the 12th April. This presumably means that an award notice will appear on the Office of the Journal of the European Union website on that date.
Nor did he do well with the OEM - "Augusta Westland", anyone ?
It's only literacy, luvvie.
Maybe it's just the difference between Lombardy and Rome? :-)
Best get Luca along here to answer that !
But in any case, I'm sure Jon Sargeant (sic) has nothing of value to add to the matter....
> But in any case, I'm sure Jon Sargeant (sic) has nothing of value to add to the matter....
And there are Yellow Cab drivers all over Britain spitting feathers about another PR coups for Pusser's Pirates!
> ... That would make the Notice date the 12th April. ...
Oops. Parliamentary Easter recess!
What does that do to the timetable?
The Billy Deacon Search and Rescue Memorial Trophy.
Bond rear-crew, Andrew Cowx and Paul Walters, win an award sponsored by Bristow as a memorial to one of their winchmen.
"Beware the ides of March"
Lot 3 solution. BRISTOW.
Front page of Sunday Times Business section today.
Expecting 92 + 189 and few surprises on basing.
Judging by the 20,500+ views this thread has, no he's not, me like lots of others appreciate the information and views posted here even if we 're not contributing you rude tw*t.
Firstly keep up the work ( ignore the recent idiot poster)
Secondly, is the rumoured outcome good, bad, indifferent....was or wasnt what we were expecting ?
> ... is the rumoured outcome good, bad, indifferent ..
First, let me say that I have been flown around the mountains and lochs of the North-west Highlands by Bristow, Bond and CHC and would be happy to find myself being flown by any of them again.
Bristow is a highly capable and experienced SAR helicopter contractor with a history of Coastguard contracts going back to 1971. However, the Bristow rescue history goes as far back as Alan Bristow rescuing wounded legionnaires in the Vietmanese jungle in 1950. One of the dominant themes in Alan Bristow's autobiography is rescue and how he felt about the helicopter's unique role in such activity.
Recently, I wrote the following assessment in an email.
- Most likely?
A piece each. Lot 1 to Bristow and Lot 2 to Azimuth/Bond. This lowers the risk profile substantially for all parties.
- Next most likely?
Bristow get the lot.
- Least likely?
Azimuth/Bond get the lot.
Posts to be found above show more about what I mean by the risk profile. However, there are other reasons for a two-contractor solution, some of which I thought might influence the competition. While the sun is shining, these are all minor.
- It makes strategic sense to go for a solution with diversity and resilience.
- With one system and two contractors the customer learns a lot more about the task, including the economics of it. (Important for a good replacement solution in 2023/2026.)
- The strategic objective of maintenance of indigenous resources is probably better served by involving Bond (Avincis/Azimuth/Bond-Babcock).
- One might speculate that tax collection is more secure from a company with an EU/UK-registered parent (Avincis/Bond).
The rumoured outcome is VERY GOOD.
There were no bad award outcomes available at this stage in the competition.
I like your analysis - the two-contractor solution to teach the customer how to do it next time would have been particularly appealing.
Outcome is fine. Could have been worse, overall - as long as it gets implemented and delivered rather than torn open and re-run.
New ITAR rules likely to help all disciplines, not just satellite.
Contract Award imminent.
I am expecting something happening from tomorrow onwards. Dates from 26th to 29th have been suggested. There might be a notice on the OJEU TED site.
I am not certain whether that will be before or after a parliamentary announcement.
This is a bit of a tricky subject for me. Personally i am in the military, in aircraft engineering, so I'm going to be biased but i would like to add something to the discussion.
I'm not really bothered with the aircraft that they are replacing the Seaking with, very capable platforms. The same goes with he pilots training, and the pilots them self's. I'm guessing most of them are going to be Ex Mill anyway. The point I'm going to put across is that i hope with civilizing this service to the Armed forces is that they get the initial contract correct, First time. At the end of they day they will be co-ordinated by kinloss's center, and work very closely with military and Civvies MRT's.
I see everyday in the Royal Air Force the civilian counterpart not reaching targets, what ever they may be. The famous words "its not in my contract" Then gets passed up the chain to "Mr i get paid to much" to get politics involved. Costing even more.
The initial reports given to us from the media, and other sources given here are very sketchy about Low Lumen Viz. I hope these little things are sorted out correctly before we sign the contracts! I don't want to hear in the media that lads could not be airlifted because "its not within there remit"
Most of all, Well done SAR crews for being awesome. As I'm sure the Coastguard will continue to be just as awesome.
> This is a bit of a tricky subject for me. Personally i am in the military, ...
So am I but some things are just too important.
Richard, I give you my personal guarantee that Bristow are better at flying SAR than ISS are at feeding servicemen.
The contractor's new TUPE employees will continue to be just as awesome. Later, half of 202 will continue to just as awesome in 92s, 189s and different colour flying suits.
BBC - Bristow Group 'to take over UK search and rescue'
Sky - UK Helicopter Search And Rescue Ops 'Sold'
Nothing on the DfT site or the OJEU yet. Expect more in the morning.
Possibly a wee bit off topic, but I once surmised to a long-serving RAF bod that the RAF rescue crews must get pretty hacked off with civvies who get lost or injured and need rescuing, regarding them as muppets who make life hard for the military. And I was told that in fact the aircrew love doing search and rescue for civvies, because it gives them a chance to practice their skills for real.
I think you've hit on something relevant there Tony. The military do tend to like to have a proper job to do instead of a lifetime of pretend wars with Orange Forces and moving boxes of stones around.
Not much of a problem just now but in 2016 with no SAR and no Afghanistan it will look very different. The Navy will go off and play with an empty aircraft carrier. Enjoy!
The RAF will be back to the world of pretend. I can see many boxes of stones in my crystal ball.
I don't expect Bristow to have much of a problem with staff shortages in the period 2016 to 2019.
GOVERNMENT PRESS RELEASE
MINISTERIAL WRITTEN STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT
(Copied from other pub thread because I have just thought of this)
Won't contracting out make the argument that rescuing mountaineers is all good practice for the RAF and should therefore be free a bit tricky?
My eldest son in the RAF (Sergeant at Conningsby) and youngest (ex RAF) works for BAe., Production and Development and now seconded to RAF Leuchars in Fife. It seems that they both now sit on different sides of the fence in who is the most uncomfortable bedfellow.
It seems to me from listening to them both though, that your right with regard to 'not in my remit' with civilians staff, but the RAF has its issues as well........
As posted above, "The ... outcome is VERY GOOD. There were no bad award outcomes available at this stage in the competition."
My general view is in the current climate with the age of the craft this was pretty much the only option.
> (Copied from other pub thread because I have just thought of this)
> Won't contracting out make the argument that rescuing mountaineers is all good practice for the RAF and should therefore be free a bit tricky?
The principle purpose of this contract is to fulfil international obligations to provide rescue services across a million square miles of the NE Atlantic.
It is possible to use the same resources to do Land SAR, so high quality and high capacity resources are available for that task without the need for a additional service or enhanced ambulance or police capacity.
In civilised countries, the armed forces exist to protect the people. Some of our neighbours take a broad view on that and do it extremely well. As expressed by that gormless prat Philip Hammond at Rosyth the other day, that's not what our armed forces are for.
> The principle purpose of this contract is to fulfil international obligations to provide rescue services across a million square miles of the NE Atlantic.
I understand that...so not primarily for mountaineers.
So, after a few Daily Mail pieces, insurance is more likely to be required?
> My eldest son in the RAF (Sergeant at Conningsby) and youngest (ex RAF) works for BAe., Production and Development and now seconded to RAF Leuchars in Fife. It seems that they both now sit on different sides of the fence in who is the most uncomfortable bedfellow.
> It seems to me from listening to them both though, that your right with regard to 'not in my remit' with civilians staff, but the RAF has its issues as well........
I was visiting a 92 year old retired RAF WO armourer in a care home on the way back from the base on Sunday. One of the guys that put the FORCE into Air Force in the days when the force was bl33ding MASSIVE.
It is certainly true that we have to move forward and embrace our post-imperial role but the I do wonder what guys like that think of the sorry little "cost of everything, value of nothing" rump we are left with.
> So, after a few Daily Mail pieces, insurance is more likely to be required?
From my post on another thread.
"Charges for MR for most territories across the world are a myth created by skiers who have been rescued within the bounds of commercial resort areas. Obviously there are huge variations around the world especially where the cost of rich people falling over far exceeds the ability of a poor country to pick up the tab.
Across northern Europe, people cannot afford to have anything other than free rescue at the point of use except in a tiny number of restricted commercial situations. Ambulance re-embursement is another issued entirely and is caused by the presence of an insurance market and not the other way round.
I am fed up of insurance salesmen coming on here trying to create a market."
I was quite surprised how much cloud was an issue in todays world.
I knew that Bristow's would get the whole contract......Well I was 95% certain.......makes sense as only dealing with one company.....
Also I happen to know someone who works for them and is right this minute "fitting out" some brand new S-92's in Aberdeen!
As for the basing SAR helicopters in Aberdeen....I don't think so....
I've seen the first two S-92's fully liveried bar the name (HM Coastguard) doing lots of training flights from and around the Inverness airport (Dalcross). Bristow's have a very small base there apparently! Also closer to the main mountains and less air traffic around!
Also Lossiemouth has just lost the contract for basing the JSF there so what's the future of that??? Closure???
To RichardAWatson......you are right to voice concerns re the commercial attitude! But from what I know of Bristow's all will be OK......or better...well they have brand new toys! But like you I do hold a reservation IF in the long term commercial interest takes hold!
Lossiemouth isn't closing, its having typhoons move up when the tornados move out.
Under the new contract, 22 helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.
Ten S-92s will be based, two per site, at Stornoway and Sumburgh, and at new bases at Newquay, Caernarfon and Humberside airports.
Ten AW189s will operate, two per site, from Lee-on-the-Solent and a new hangar at Prestwick airport, and new bases which will be established at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports.
> Under the new contract, 22 helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.
> Ten S-92s will be based, two per site, at Stornoway and Sumburgh, and at new bases at Newquay, Caernarfon and Humberside airports.
> Ten AW189s will operate, two per site, from Lee-on-the-Solent and a new hangar at Prestwick airport, and new bases which will be established at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports.
Which only comes to 20 helicopters. Presumably the 2 extra are there for maintenance coverage purposes.
I won't bore you with my poor understanding of the details but helicopter pilots have different sets of rules that they must used for different conditions of meteorology and particularly of visibility. Pilots must be properly trained, licensed and equipped for these conditions.
At sea, there are few obstructions and flying above the height of possible ships allows flying to continue in some appalling conditions.
On land, and particularly in mountains, obstructions are the pilots obsession. Recent events in London tell us all why. There is no way round it. We have no magic box of tricks that will help us.
What will help us to make progress with a rescue in those circumstances is the collaborative working that is displayed in the following video of Rescue One Zero Zero at work.
Air-Ground Collaboration is the congress main theme at IKAR 2013 at Bol, Brac, in Croatia, this October. I am hoping that the member organisations from the UK jurisdictions will be fully participating in that congress along with their new aeronautical partner Bristow.
I just think it's a 'human nature thing' and we are all going to fight the corner of our current employer
I know I digress from the topic but it is related, and maybe we shouldn't be so sentimental regarding the demise of the SAR and the iconic Sea King?? For my part I still believe in the saying, if it aint broke don't fix it attitude....but maybe its about to break??
Maybe we shouldn't be so sentimental regarding the demise of the SAR and the iconic Sea King?? For my part I still believe in the saying, if it aint broke don't fix it attitude....but maybe it IS about to break??
> Maybe we shouldn't be so sentimental regarding the demise of the SAR and the iconic Sea King?? For my part I still believe in the saying, if it aint broke don't fix it attitude....but maybe it IS about to break??
I thought they regularly broke.. well too regularly for their liking.
I knew of a few issues at Valley where things nearly went very wrong due to things failing.
> Richard, I give you my personal guarantee that Bristow are better at flying SAR than ISS are at feeding servicemen.
Ive heard very good things about bristow's. though i hate babcocks, and will continue for having hatred for the company till the day i die. Cant fix my radiator let alone a ***** aircraft.
I think another member here has stated that the RAF has had issues of their own, this is true and i don't doubt that. Everyone's human at the end of the day! Its a very good point, and well put.
this is unfortunately the way! The man you visited would of conciderd his job as a way of life, I don't see my military career as being a way of life, but just a job. Like 99% of the RAF.
I'm very happy people have noticed and commented on my post. I believe its the most important issue in all of this!
But well done to bristow's, and if you want to give me a job, and pay for my license I'll be a bloody hard worker!! wink.
However, thats a big gap between Inverness and Humberside down the East Coast.
I reckon the boys in Prestwick especially will be busy! (even busier than they are now)
> ... ... but maybe its about to break??
It's been broken several times. Credit is due to a few poor soles in the MoD tasked with getting that creaking old naval weapon system to make it this far and the contractor's technicians who have dealt with all the little (!) annoying problems along the way. This is a long long time overdue.
No *#'*ing kidding!
any idea what the new flight times to popular winter spots (ben nevis, glen coe) etc will be from the new bases? and how they would compare to the old bases and old helicopters?
I wonder what the future holds for HMS Gannet - closure?
What makes a SAR-H different from normally rotary is what goes on, in and out of the cab at the back. Does anyone know:
1) Will all winchmen (or women) be paramedic qualified (currently not always the case in the Sea Kings)?
2) How much cross-training is being scheduled for responding units operating alongside e.g. MRT's, RNLI ect
> I thought they regularly broke.. well too regularly for their liking.
I think I was speaking about the 'principal' and not the aircraft
Theer was a report that for 300 hours or so.. there were no operational seakings on the east coast...
So there needed to be a massive investment.. which Labour opted against..
> any idea what the new flight times to popular winter spots ...
AWESOME! We don't know exactly how fast the book speed for the AW189 will be yet but we know it will be faster than the S-92. Possibly significantly so.
The S-92 in it's current format has a cruising air speed of 140 kts. Seen doing really awesome ground speeds on AIS when heading towards a hospital!
The Sea King does about 110 kts.
The S-92 and AW189 have yet to reach the peak of their development so you ain't seen nothin yet.
Fundamentals of helicopter running costs:
It isn't pressurised (the Sea King) so in principle, it can go on for ever. Like George Washington's axe, you can replace all the parts, and it's still the same axe.
However, as the years pass, the parts break more frequently, get more expensive and harder to find (even for a helicopter with an enormous in service fleet) and the fuel efficiency, performance and running costs simply deteriorate past the point where buying a new aircraft is actually cheaper (as long as you can find the capital to do that.)
There are special cases where you might want to keep operating such an aircraft. In fact, you can get new-design rotor blades (google "Carson Kit") for a Sea King, and a glass cockpit. But, fundamentally, it's still an old aircraft with lower performance and safety standards and higher running costs than you can get now.
On top of this, demands and expectations increase. Now people want to carry more casualties, in worse weather, from further away, in harder to find circumstances, with no more training or crew than they had before. So, you've gotta put more kit on: goggles, FLIR balls, sensors, double up the hoists, perform clever first aid, anti-icing kit.... you're gonna need a machine with better performance.
At some point, the lines cross; you're better to buy a new aircraft than carry on flogging an old one. That's a matter of judgement, based on what resources are available to you and what you're committed to delivering to the public.
> What makes a SAR-H different from normally rotary is what goes on, in and out of the cab at the back. Does anyone know:
> 1) Will all winchmen (or women) be paramedic qualified (currently not always the case in the Sea Kings)?
"The Contractor shall provide Rearcrew trained to a minimum of BIEC standard (equivalent to the IHCD Emergency Medical Technician) and with at least one Paramedic qualified Rearcrew on each shift."
Some bidders were putting forward an all paramedic rear crew. I don't have an exact account of the Bristow approach.
Experts have tried to get a handle on the training hours issue and only confused themselves. The problem is that there are overlapping figures for different training time objectives. I am expecting that, as occurs now, there will be significant training hoours available for work with "Ground/Maritime Emergency Service Personnel" as the CAA describe them.
What occurs at present is that the helicopter providers, both military and civilian, regard themselves as under-utilised for this training. They would like organisations to make more effort to organise training with them. That doesn't paint a picture of an approaching problem with ongoing training.
However, in 2015, when 20 MRT, in Scotland alone, who have never been in anything but a Sea King for 20 years, all need to understand how to work with TWO new types, one can see a problem emerging. That's hundreds of people just in Scottish MR. Then there is England, Wales and Northern Ireland. What about RNLI, Aux CG and independent lifeboats, police, fire, and NHS teams. Thousands of people need to understand varying aspects of how this new service works. That is going to be the crucial time.
Most crucially, the approach of the Customer is going to have to change if we are going to make a reasonable effort to make that problem disappear.
> Most crucially, the approach of the Customer is going to have to change if we are going to make a reasonable effort to make that problem disappear.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
That's not enough.
> That's not enough.
That may be the original but the 19th September version is 'Bidder to Define'. There are figures higher than 25 that are out there. There are also different ways of defining what happens within those hours and how transits and other aspects are treated.
What I can be certain of it that Bristow know all this stuff inside out because they have done it all before.
I can also be certain that CAP 999 tells them they cannot operate several of the SAR Rules of Flight Exemptions unless we are pre-trained. The way I am reading this is that you cannot keep hold of a SAR Air Operating Certificate, and therefore the Contract, if you are not making a substantial effort to get out there and pre-train these teams.
I see the change to 'Bidder to Define' as an acknowledgement that this is not up to the customer. Good thinking. This is between the regulator and the operator.
"This is currently achieved by the nomination of a liaison Officer at each Base location." Correct. And that Liaison Officer will sometimes sit in meetings and complain that they are being under-utilised for such training. The reasons that he complains are as follows.
1. He is fed up with hovering over gormless prats who put themselves and the aircraft in danger by not turning up for proper training. (Perhaps they were in a Sea King in 1996 and they can remember what colour it was so they think they are still current for helicopter pre-training.)
2. A man in Gatwick will be all over him like an itchy rash if he can't show that he is making this happen. (ATPL(H) cost a lot of money and SAR AOC cost a moderate-sized fortune. Never underestimate the effort people will make to hang on to either of these.)
I have no problem with continuation training. Where I see a potential problem is with initial type training for the many who have never done S-92 and therefore may need to learn two types from scrath. (In the North-West Highlands we have a head start.)
I have yet to see anything in the DfT documents that acknowledges the existence of this need.
My understanding is that the contractor would be up for working with these teams to advance this pre-training requirement before the service starts. I expect that the regulator, customer and insurer would need to be on-side for that to happen.
Nice one on the Sky News site Jon.
Sky News; stories like this in the national news are one of the few opportunities we get to educated the general public who would otherwise never engage with the mountain safety message. I have done a similar thing on the Daily Mail website in the past, but I don't think I can summon the will today :-)
> ... the Daily Mail website in the past, but I don't think I can summon the will today
I had a quick look at the Mail's take on this. Not too surprisingly they are playing the Flt Lt Wales card.
Does anyone have a copy of his CV. I want to forward it to Bristow. Is it a foolish assumption to believe they don't already have it?
Slightly off topic Jim, do you know if the RAF MRTs will remain?
I should have thought that they will continue as their primary role is to attend and secure RAF crash sites whether or not they are in the mountains.
> Slightly off topic Jim, do you know if the RAF MRTs will remain?
My understanding is that this matter has no effect on RAF MRS. Base closure and transfer will have more effect.
Note that RAF Kinloss MRT have already morphed into RAF Lossiemouth MRT after the base became Kinloss Barracks upon transfer to the army.
(That was a good night. I am already working on my fitness in preparation for the hangar party that I am expecting on 31st December 2015! I may have to acquire a taste for Rum as well.) ;-)
Thanks for that, I'd never thought of their primary role.
Many people forget there primary role. Its to locate downed aircrew. :)
Does anyone know why we couldn't just give the MOD more up to date aircraft and kit?
Puzzled Mr Ed.
First, the MoD (as opposed to parts of the RAF & Fleet Air Arm) never wanted to do it and passed up opportunity to bring SAR into the Joint Helicopter Command around 15? years ago when JHC was first set up. Over the years they have also consistently reduced the military involvement in SAR with the aircraft having been maintained by private companies for many years.
Second, the MoD (and the Government generally) was/is broke. Remember all the headlines about the £37 billion pound black hole in its budget that ultimately resulted in both Harrier and Nimrod being scrapped? For around a decade, the MoD has desperately been trying to rationalise the number of aricraft types it supports and the last thing in the world anyone in the Defence Procurement Agency (now Defence Equipment Support) wanted to do was have the vast hassle and expense of buying a tiny fleet (or ideally two fleets) of new SAR helicopters when they were sacking staff and cost cutting on core military programmes.
Third, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency and the Department for Transport would have fought tooth and nail to stop the MoD taking full control of SAR and given the MoD's appalling track record on procurement they would have had a compelling argument that the MoD would probably make a complete hash of it.
Fourth, unlike the MoD, private sector operators like Bristow have both existing experience and economy of scale in operating appropriate modern aircraft meaning they can control costs more effectively. As such, even if the MoD wasn't broke and didn't make a complete hash of things, it would probably still end up no cheaper in the long run for them to do it.
Because it would cost allot more. New Tool kits, specialized tools, and test sets, spread over so many sites, and takes years, decades to bring a new aircraft into service. Why, i have no idea. Then you got the cost of training new tech's and liney's and aircrew.
Where as bristow, are massive, probably have more aircraft than the military, already have the A/C, and has more experience with them.
Only guessing though! This is not gospel. :)
Why should the break the habit of a lifetime and save the SAR flights.....
I've no real concerns over Bristows ability to run the contract, nor the capability of its crews or machines. The S92 and Aw189 is light years ahead of the workhorse that is the Seaking. Also i'd imagine that a hell of a lot of SAR crew CV's will be chapping on Bristows door right now!
Remember though. There is only 1 fully 24 hr all weather SAR asset. And that is MRT!!!
Also i'd imagine that a hell of a lot of SAR crew CV's will be chapping on Bristows door right now!
> Remember though. There is only 1 fully 24 hr all weather SAR asset. And that is MRT!!!
I'm a techie in the air force, and I'm tempted to apply for the ground-crew! Wouldn't mind getting myself a b1.3 license.
Nice summary. Do you think DFT will be shown to have done this better than MoD ? Whenever I hear the words "Government Tender" I reach for my sick bucket and tranquilisers, but I'd be happy to hear a more measured view.
> Does anyone know why we couldn't just give the MOD more up to date aircraft and kit?
As Ex-Engineer says, the MoD don't want it and much of it is to do with David Niven and his JHC. Since then, SAR Force has been the sorry little orphan of the British helicopter fleet. Around 2000 or 2001, the government started making more moves toward a civilian service. There was a limited idea of the size of the task, because the reporting was incompetent, and it still is, but principally the civil service simply does not have the skills to deliver the collaborative service that is required. After considerable stumbling around, extra contracts, maybe a wee bit of corruption and a failed contract process, we have arrived at something useful.
Ex-Engineer proposes that there is evidence that the MoD would have made a complete hash of it. Why single out the MoD? If I put forward the term 'rail franchise' who would you think of that could make a complete hash of it?
The Norwegians are re-equiping 330 Skvn RoNAF with new helicopters. The project is led by the Justice and Public Safety Ministry but it also involved the Ministry of Defence who will operate the aircraft and the Ministry of Health who I think will be training the rear-crew and other medical support. We can't do that type of joined-up thinking in the UK. As soon as you get elected to parliament or sign up for a government service pension scheme, that part of your brain completely stops working.
The MCA has an extremely useful skill set in a certain area. The clue is in the name: MARITIME & COASTguard Agency. Not hard to work out is it? Unfortunately, they have a few health issues. Self-worth issues for instance that are not made any easier by the European Parliament's conviction that in a single market there is no proper purpose in member states having their own coastguard services. Then there is the OCD, characterised by the idea that the entire world can be run from Southampton.
I would like to think that between now and April 2015 we can all have a group hug with the Coastguard and everything will be fine. That seems as likely as every pork butcher in Britain going to ShrivenHAM for a Post-Crash Management course.
Any Hour, Any Day, Any Weather.
In this case, Yes, but as much by accident as by design!
As Jim has pointed out, having two attempts at the tendering process has helped result in a fairly good set of requirements in the contract the second time around.
Not sure if this has been posted yet
Fair. Success through cock-up rather than conspiracy.
Jim asks why single out the MoD ? Well, because they're atrocious. Partly lack of capacity (which they themselves admit, actually in common with the US DoD.) Partly the level at which they recruit (guess what ? If you consistently employ folks at lower wages and educational achievements than your supply base, in due course the latter will run rings around you at contract negotiation time. Mothers of committed and accomplished denizens of Abbey Wood need not spit at me, I'm making a supportable generalisation, not slagging off every individual.) And no doubt reasons connected with the way politics interacts with the Civil Service.
Doubters should get themselves a subscription to "Defence Analysis." Any residual pride that "our MoD must surely be cleverer than the French/the Spanish/the Greek" will soon shade into fury at what happens to our taxes.
To Jim's point, I don't insist that MoD are worse - I just don't happen to know the other Departments so well, and I have my suspicions. NHS computing, anyone ?
None of which reduces my respect for the Poor Bloody Users of the kit, the Tommy Atkins's, the Serving Men etc.
Ah yes, the great city of Abbey Wood. Home of MCA Aviation.
The obsession within the MoD with decision making by committee in order to 'safeguard taxpayers' money' is just a recipe for disaster.
The rules that mean that lead engineers can't negotiate costs directly with the contractors are just moronic and are then compounded by the fact that those responsible for finance then second guess every technical decision.
If the MoD sacked every Commercial Officer and every Finance Officer, abolished 'business cases' for expenditure under £10 million and gave complete control of project budgets to a single named engineer or logistician then things would probably run fine!
All that is required are Design and Development Planning, Input, Output, Review, Verification, Validation and Change Control as defined in the Design Control sections of ISO9001.
"In physical science a first essential step in the direction of learning any subject is to find principles of numerical reckoning and practicable methods for measuring some quality connected with it. I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind: it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be."
Thomson, W. (1891). Popular Lectures and Addresses, Vol. I. London: MacMillan. p. 80.
La oss ga flyr.
No argument with that - I guess I'm not too thrilled with some of the senior people who are responsible for the processes... I could certainly name a couple from ten years back who would have benefited from a trip around the back for a good shoeing. Taxpayer would've benefited too.
Anyway, fingers crossed for a good result.
> ... would have benefited from a trip around the back for a good shoeing.
Only 10 years? I thought stuff like civil servants mysteriously falling over in the toilet after meetings about government contracts was from the Thatcher 'greed is good' era.
Bristow's new toy for the Gap contract just flown overhead.
La oss ga flyr. :-)
I'd have been shoeing them on behalf of the taxpayer, the user, and the contractor's employees.
No doubt it still goes on - ten years is simply the limit of my personal experience. But then, if your employer is running the same policies and culture as David Kelley's was, the contractor is probably the least of your worries.
How about the SAR version? How many people can you get in a UK SAR Helicopter.
Nominated by Tom.
During a Kinloss MRT operation several years ago, 17 MR plus full crew in a Sea King belonging to [unnamed provider], long-haul at low level.
Nominated by Morris.
During a Kintail MRT operation several years ago, 23 MR, plus casualty, plus full crew, in a Sikorsky S-61N belonging to [unnamed provider], from the hill back to base.
Nominated by Ritchie.
During a Skye MRT operation not long ago, 17 MR, plus full crew, in a Sikorsky S-92 belonging to [unnamed provider], from the hill back to base.
Well done to the pilots for keeping it in the Green. Well done to the co-pilots for getting the maths right. Your medals (Air Force Chocolate) were lost in the post.
The DfT spec of "8 casualties and/or survivors (of which 2 are on stretchers)" is looking a little lame now.
Any further nominations?
Not particularly relevant now since the Super Puma is not involved with these contracts but apparently Eurocopter have got to the bottom of the cracked gearbox shaft problem on the EC225 versions of the Super Puma. They have replicated the cracking in bench tests and flight tests are underway to back that up.
They expect to have a solution for return to service in the third quarter of 2013. That will not be a fully certified permanent solution but a quick-fix based on constrained operational parameters and additional monitoring.
(A fully certified permanent solution might take up to 12 months to get fitted into the entire fleet.)
This means that the aircraft probably would have been sorted out well before April 2015. However, having both Lot 1 and Lot 2 aircraft awaiting certification at the time of contract award would have needed really big b411s.
It does mean that in the case of future problems with either S-92 or AW189, there will be another suitable modern aircraft out there that can do the job.
I have come across a Sikorsky graph suggesting that a Coastguard SAR-type S-92 might carry up to 28 rescuees with 30 minutes fuel remaining.
(Now all we need to know is the configuration for stacking them.)
It would depend entirely on the configuration of the aircraft with supply's, extra gear, equipment needed for SAR. I'm entirely not surprised. I'm sure they could of squeezed a few more in though.
For example I think the RAF have the record for most people in a Chinook. Way into in the 3 Figures. Yet can only carry so many troops.
The Sikorsky S-92 is a fat bar steward by some standards, though compared to its little brother the Pavehawk that I watched colleagues working with this afternoon it is a very able performer. Role equipment has an effect but it is generally a marginal effect for aircraft in a non-offensive role.
For all helicopters, an important variable affecting lift capability, and therefore passenger capacity, is fuel load. The Stornoway S-92 flight is designated in all the DfT contracts as the long range/endurance flight. This is defined by a Radius Of Action increased by 25% over that at the other bases and specified in the contract. For this reason, aircraft deployed at Stornoway have extra tanks and may turn up at MR jobs that bit heavier. Endurance, and therefore fuel, is also required for MR jobs with multiple deployments of searchers and therefore the fuel load will always be higher at first, restricting passenger numbers, and then lower later on, allowing a greater load.
The next variable is air density. This is affected by temperature and altitude. Altitude is the Sea King's achilles heel, which can make seven a very big number indeed. All new aircraft for the UK SAR Helicopter Service are required to have an ability to delivery, on the ground or in the air (land-on or hover & winch), a standard MRT load of 6 person plus extra kit, at 4000 feet, in still air, in hot conditions, with specified endurance remaining. That spec is way beyond Sea King or S-61N capability.
The next variable is air movement, though probably second equal and often used to overcome short-comings mentioned above. Helicopters like about 15 knots, maybe more, of wind that they can face into to give extra lift that makes hovering or take-off easier. British wind has been essential to the reputation of the Sea King and its predecessors in the mountains. Downdraughts, severe gusts, tail-winds and turbulence are all troublesome. Still air or other unfavourable wind conditions restrict passenger numbers.
A typical current UK SAR helicopter might have 10 seats in the back. It is normal for them not to be able to carry that number on early taskings TO the hill. Pushing the boundaries of passenger capacity normally happens either during sea level sorties, or, as occurred later in the Skye operation, carrying FROM the hill, down-hill all the way (sometimes assisted by taking off in a headwind).
Flying amongst complex ground also restricts passenger numbers so that extra margins of control are available when flying near obstructions.
Never underestimate a helicopter pilot's desire to live long enough to sign off at the end of his shift.
Page 48 will give you the payload/range curve for EC225 showing the fuel/payload trade off very nicely. I've never seen one for S92, but it's a comparable aircraft.
So in theory you can take 38 of me (70kg plus 10kg for clothes) about 500nm. Of course in practice you'll want a bit of reserve, you'll have some role fit (de-icing kit chews away at performance, FLIR balls, winches, med kits and crewmen add a few kilos too)... and in normal conditions the regulators insist that people sit in crashworthy seats.
You might be interested to know that EC225 was selected for the Shtokmann field, 300nm into the Barents Sea, carrying about eleven people. So looks like Eurocopter had offered a crashworthy ferry tank option to get the necessary 600nm radius of action.
As you say, helos will set off full of fuel and hope, and there will be times when they can bring back a very large number of people - because their chances are better jammed into a maxed-out helicopter than they are being left wherever they were found. But that's a decision for the guy up front on the day.
Didn't someone just get a medal for taking a round through one engine of his Chinook, but knowing his Operating Data Manual well enough to judge that he could, nonetheless, complete the pick-up and bring the casualties home on a single engine ?
> ... the payload/range curve for EC225 showing the fuel/payload trade off very nicely. I've never seen one for S92, ...
S-92 SAR Version
Aircraft manufacturers normally use the figure of 80kg persons (or 180 pounds per person in developing countries).
That is one of the 23 exemptions listed in Appendix 1 of the CAA's CAP 999.
15 - Passenger
Passengers not secured in seats. Alternative procedures must be established where there are insufficient seats available. It may not be possible to secure 'Passengers' in seats."
"4.2 Operating minima for the dispatch and continuation of a SAR operational flight are at the discretion of the aircraft commander. However, he must consider the urgency of the task, crew and aircraft capability and the requirement to recover the aircraft safely."
One or two medals around in the UK SAR community over the years.
OEI (One Engine Inoperative) and the concept of 'Safe Single Engine' are key aspects of safe twin-engined helicopter operations and extemely important considerations for SAR operations. In particular, it affects hovering and winching operation at locations close to obstructions.
Single engine performance was been a crucial inadequacy in previous generations of aircraft. Modern aircraft will bring changes in approach and important improvements in flying safety. In the mix of other changes, this may cause some confusion about the way the service is being provided.
Thanks for the S92 chart - I could have used that this time last year.
I think 80kg is getting out of date: even my old copy of APV970 is talking 82kg. No matter.
Here's the Chinook guy - he certainly took a decision on the day.
You'll find that 82 is a conversion of the 180 lb American number. (Of course if they're American and under 180 then they are all girls.)
80 kg is normal in the European sphere of influence. (Raised a few eyebrows in a room full of Scottish MR guys. They still didn't cancel the order at the baker's.)
Nice work in the Chinook.
A couple of weeks ago, I met some nice chaps from the United States Air Force who were at Lossiemouth with their angry-looking aircraft. These guys are from 56th Rescue Squadron at RAF Lakenheath. Their job is Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR).
Their aircraft is the Sikorsky Pavehawk HH-60G. The significant thing for us is that the Pavehawk rear cabin size and layout are broadly similar to that of the AW189. It may be a while before we get a close look at a real 189.
The rear cabin volume is 11.2 m3 in both cases, with the AW189 cabin being a little wider and shorter than the Pavehawk. Both aircraft have a large sliding door on each side of the cabin and a rescue winch above the starboard door. Both aircraft have a similar floor height that is much lover than the Sea King thus making it easy to access the cabin when the aircraft is on the ground.
Unfortunately, the rearmost part of the Pavehawk cabin is regularly occupied by two large fuel tanks. However, after measuring these, it occurred to me that they occupy the same space as would be occupied by 4 MR personnel with rucksacks in front of them, sitting in the 4 seats that we might expect to be fitted at the back wall of the AW189 rear cabin. So that's fine: everything else I look at in the Pavehawk is with the assumption of 4 MR folks already seated at the back.
The 2 flight engineer seats in the Pavehawk (front corners of rear cabin)are in roughly the same position as the rear-crew seats that we might expect in the AW189.
I photographed 4 USAF guys with bags and rucksacks sitting in a row across the cabin on the floor in front of the tanks (in front of the assumed 4 x MR). They fit in there OK and the 189 is slightly wider, so even better. There was still significant space in front of them as well as the 2 flight engineer seats.
It may be possible to have as many as 8 x MR or survivors seated in an AW189 depending upon the seating arrangements, including temporary seats, that Bristow go for. That would provide for securing seated passengers, which is always preferable. There would still be room on the floor for more. If you land-on, then potentially you can cram them in until you estimate that you have reached your max take-off weight. However, when the door is open in flight, such as when winching, you can't have unsecured passengers. Contractually, 6 seated/secured passengers are required as part of the "MRT Standard Load".
I photographed one of the USAF guys stepping up into the rear cabin. This is a really easy step in, or just sit on the edge and shuffle in. The Sea King is a bit of a mantelshelf move to get in and rough ground can take that to chin height even for me.
Cabin height is low. However, it's not like you have to move the length of a long narrow cabin like a Sea King. The Pavehawk and AW189 have a square-ish compact cabin shape which means that you only have to drag yourself a metre or two and sit down. The winchop is the one with the problem because he or she is in there all the time. Hopefully, he has a budget for knee-pads and physiotherapy. :-)
I shall try to make up a presentation with these pictures and circulate it to the usual suspects in the MR community but it won't be appearing here.
[I have submitted 2 photos in my UKC gallery. Rather stuck for a category but I put 'Wildlife' on the basis of the half-inch machine guns. :-) It remains to be seen whether they will be approved on UKC.]
One of the Pavehawk pics has been approved and is at the following address.
[We've done the gun comments. Please resist the temptation to do more of those in case it gets the pic deleted.]
Unfortunately, this pic does not show the winch (Goodrich single, above this starboard door) and shows only a vague impression of the height of the floor from the ground.
The Karrimor rucksack, loaded with my MR kit, is there to help with scale.
In the far corner of the cabin you can see part of one of the Flight Engineer seats that are fitted in each front corner. These are in a similar position to the expected seating for rear-crew in a SAR AW189.
One can see the full height of the cabin. This height is similar to the AW189. The 189 ceiling is expected to be much less cluttered.
Looking at the wheel and door sill in the bottom of the picture, it can be seen that the step to get in is slightly larger than a wheel diameter. This is roughly the same height as the AW189. The 189 might be a little bit higher but this will depend on the final spec of the SAR variant. The 189 also has a full length step that, on the basic version, is at a level just below the bottom of the fuselage.
Note that the door is not fully open in this picture. Looking at the door in the left of the picture, one can see the front edge of one of the long-range fuel tanks through the window. As stated in the previous post, these tanks take up the same space as 4 persons seated along the back of the cabin with their rucksacks. This means that one can get an impression here of the space available after both rear-crew are seated at the front and 4 MR, or survivors, are seated at the back. There will be space for 2 stretchers either across or along the cabin.
Clearly, if one had 4 persons seated at the back and 2 stretchers, things are getting a bit cramped for working on 2 patients. Access to medical items stored at the rear might also be more difficult. If this is a significant issue then somebody is going to be walking home. Realistically, you just can't have everything: MERT talk of Merlins not having enough space to work on a casualty.
The last episode of Helicopter Rescue (Series 2, Episode 3) is still on iplayer until 20th May 2013. It contains several scenes at ARCC Kinloss and will be a useful watch for those who are not familiar with what they do.
Eurocopter have published a Safety Information Notice about the Super Puma EC225 gearbox problem. This is not directly relevant to the new UK SAR contracts since this aircraft will not be used. However, this aircraft was originally an option for these contracts and it is instructive to observe what it takes to resolve major component problems in a helicopter.
Temporary arrangements for a return to flying over hostile terrain are expected to be approved and implemented in a few weeks. Additional fault warning devices will be fitted to warn the crew of a change in the condition of the shaft. It is expected that the aircraft will be required to land within 2 hours flying time after a warning is produced by this systems.
A new shaft design to provide a permanent fix is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2014.
It is not yet known how many operators will return to flying based on the temporary fix but Bristow have stated that they will wait for the new shaft.
Eurocopter state that further improvements to the gearbox emergency lubrication system are under way.
Managed Transition recruitment from the RAF and RN to Bristow is said to be closing on 31st May. I hope all the best flyers have their applications sorted out.
Direct applications for SAR Commander, SAR Co-Pilot, Winchman and Winch Operator posts can be done on the Bristow website and these are dated 'ongoing'.
Commanders require 'At least five hundred (500) flying hours previous military/civilian SAR helicopters experience' and there is a not a requirement for previous SAR experience for Co-Pilots.
Winchman and Winch Operator roles also require SAR experience. (These specs appear to illustrate a similar rear-crew organisation to that used by some other contractors where Winchman is the entry level and career progression leads to Winch Operator. This is not the same as the military versions.)
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