/ NEWS: Bristow Wins Helicopter Contract

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UKC News - on 26 Mar 2013
Bristow helicopter, 4 kbThe Department for Transport has signed a contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd to provide search and rescue helicopter services in the UK.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=67942
Chris Sansum - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Won't be long before we have to pay mountain rescue insurance then...
Dave Garnett - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Sansum:

Yes, now they'll be able easily to quantify the exact cost and charge accordingly.

Are the RAF and RN not going to have a capability to rescue their own crews then? If so, won't they need new helicopters anyway? My understanding is that the current RAF and RNAS crews view their civilian rescue work as not only a national service (and what's wrong with that?) but also valuable training so they are up to scratch for the military S&R they are there to provide.
Neil Williams - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Sansum:

I would figure that that would be something the BMC could offer to members quite cheaply. The bigger issue will be inexperienced people in the mountains who won't be BMC members?

Neil
NickD - on 26 Mar 2013
So wait.

There will be more and better aircraft operating from a larger number of more suitable locations? This is an OUTRAGE.
NickD - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Chris Sansum:
> Won't be long before we have to pay mountain rescue insurance then...

Oh no! I was hoping to carry on letting my risky hobby be a potential burden to the state. Waah.
Jon Ratcliffe - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to NickD: of course nothing to worry about eh Nick, I mean everything else that's ever been privatised has also worked out better than before, just as promised...
In reply to UKC News: I know the Sea King is a very old airframe now, so if there are any helicopters geeks out there I'd be interested to know what makes he AW189s and S-92s better? Faster? Able to stay on scene longer? Better electronic systems etc.? And is there a reason why one type of the helicopters are going to certain bases, and the other type to other bases? Could it be one has longer range so can go further out to sea or something?
NickD - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe:
> (In reply to NickD) of course nothing to worry about eh Nick, I mean everything else that's ever been privatised has also worked out better than before, just as promised...

I'm not sure that this is privatisation in the strictest sense. It's more like contracting-out defence and security operations, like with Blackwater. Oh wait.
pebbles - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Jon Ratcliffe: quite.
Tom F Harding on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Bristow already use both of them for the offshore oilrig transport in the UK. All their engineers and equipment have to be sighed off on a particular airframe so standardising the fleet will keep their overall costs down. They are a very professional operation.
nufkin - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to TobyA:

Just in case you've not noticed it, this thread might be interesting:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=484374


(probably best to make a flask of tea before you get started)
birdman - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to TobyA:

As you guessed the S92s are going to locations where the main requirement will be maritime SAR, and the other AW189s will be going to other locations to fulfil a multirole requirement.

The Sea Kings are an old airframe, with ageing gearbox, engines, parts etc, the avionics are basic and requires the pilot to operate the aircraft within limits ie not over stressing the airframe / engine. New glass cockpit (read gucci avionics) free up the pilots capacity as it automatically operates the aircraft to the limits available to the pilot at the time, so if in an emergency the pilot hauls on the collective to increase power, instead of over stressing, the aircraft gives maximum power available whilst remaining in limits. Basically it allows the aircraft to be flown at the edge of its envelope safely.

The S92s AW189s will more than fill the void left by the Sea King, with age also comes serviceability issues and lets face it, the SAR pilots put themselves and the crew at enough risk hovering inches from rock faces or miles out to sea, without having to worry about the effect of wear and tear on the rotors, gearbox engines etc on performance.

Im just glad the contract included night vision FLIR and mountain flying requirements.
martinph78 on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to NickD: Yeah, much better to stay at home and get fat, smoke, and drink to excess if you can't afford insurance. Much less of a burden on the state.

Guess you could chance heading for the hills without insurance. Maybe have a swipe card at the gate or something?
lex - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

I've no problem removing the burden of my risky sport from the state.

After all, if you go to any A & E on a Saturday afternoon, its full of footballers who doubtless pay an extra insurance over and above their tax and NI to contribute to the ambulance and subsequent NHS treatment. I'd imagine the same must surely be true of horse riders, cyclists, and, come to think of it, anybody who drives on the roads, which is alledgedly the riskiest things anybody does.

To extend the logic further, those who live in remote areas requiring air ambulances must also pay an tidy some to cover their costs.

So, when I can see all these other groups paying, I'll happily do the same....

Cheers,

Lex
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to lex: Ok.. as a footballer I did pay insurance.

As a rugby player too. You pay it in your fees. Certainly when I broke my arm I was offered claim forms by the club..
SCC - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to lex) Ok.. as a footballer I did pay insurance.
>
> As a rugby player too. You pay it in your fees. Certainly when I broke my arm I was offered claim forms by the club..

Did that cover the NHS cost if you were injuured though? Or Ambulance from the ground to the hospital? Or Air Ambulance if required?

Si
NickD - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to lex:
> anybody who drives on the roads, which is alledgedly the riskiest things anybody does.

You mean like a tax for road users? A "road tax", if you will?
PeterM - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to NickD:
> (In reply to lex)
> [...]
>
> You mean like a tax for road users? A "road tax", if you will?

Oh do shut up. Road Tax does not exist. Vehicle Excise Duty does, but not all vehicles are subject to it as it s based on emissions or age.
lex - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

If the insurance was to provide you with some cash if you broke something then thats a different thing to having to have it and if you don't, then you don't get picked up by the ambulance or treated at the hospital.

Lex
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Simon Caldwell - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:
The main objections I've seen seem to be (1) this means we'll have to pay/get insurance, (2) they're foreign and hence a bad thing, (3) they're private, and therefore just like G4S.

(1) no it doesn't
(2) no it doesn't, unless you're a UKIP supporter
(3) no they're not, they've got a long successful record of running search & rescue
PeterM - on 26 Mar 2013

1.6 Bn seems a hell of a lot of money to me that could have maybe been used to replace the ailing sea kings and thereby giving the RAF and Navy better helicopters. Also how does a commercial company carry out it's S & R training? Could be seen as lots of costly but unecessary wear and tear on the Choppers not to mention the waste of costly fuel all of which affects operating costs and the bottom line. I'm sure the equipment and Pilots are/will be absolutely first rate, but I can't see this having a wholly positive outcome in the long term if it's based on commercial economics.
Dave Garnett - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador:

None of those was my question. Are they providing S&R for Navy and RAF military personnel or just the civilian operations?
James Jackson on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to SCC:

I would wager it would cover third party liability, and perhaps some personal accident (i.e. 'Break an arm, get a hundred quid' type stuff). That's the only insurance I've ever had when partaking of 'risky' activities in the UK.
Frank4short - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to most of the thread:

Nufkin posted the link to the other thread which details a significant part of the tender process for this contract. In said thread Jim Fraser has proven his excellent in depth knowledge in the subject matter and has opined that it's actually an excellent result. On top of that Bristow offer this self same service in numerous other countries, as stated in the article, if there were any question over the quality of service they provide there you can be sure there'd be no chance of them getting it.

Yet at that there has been no shortage of people speculating wildly and without any grounds, other than suspicions and feelings, that a private service won't be as good as that being presently provided. Even though it'll be nearly all the same pilots in newer better equipment. Also that there'll be charges for rescue despite the fact the contract is a lump sum affair with no individual rescue charges. All talk of rescue charges, insurance, etc is just nonsense and should really be ignored.
Slugain Howff - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Dave Garnett:
> (In reply to Toreador)
>
> None of those was my question. Are they providing S&R for Navy and RAF military personnel or just the civilian operations?

Bristows will be the single supplier for RAF, Navy and civilian S&R.

Under a programme of "managed transition" military pilots and crew will be able to apply to leave their service and take a job, if offered, with the private contractor.

samharrison7 - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

All other concerns and issues aside, I have a question that hopefully someone can answer:

I'm a bit ignorant of the way SAR is funded, even at the moment. Obviously, a company like Bristow is in it for the money. So, how do they actually make their money? Who pays them? If it is the state, then surely it would have been much cheaper to not privatise?
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to samharrison7:
> (In reply to UKC News)
>
> All other concerns and issues aside, I have a question that hopefully someone can answer:
>
> I'm a bit ignorant of the way SAR is funded, even at the moment. Obviously, a company like Bristow is in it for the money. So, how do they actually make their money? Who pays them? If it is the state, then surely it would have been much cheaper to not privatise?

Maybe in the long term.. But there was a need to find 100's of millions to re-equip..

I think people are being overly suspicious here.. contracting out such services is standard practive throughout UK sectors, from school meals, to the NHS, to security, and throughout the world, including S&R.
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to lex: Is that happening now?

There just seems a huge resistance to get insurance. It will become pretty standard in most sports. In football I think we pay not just for our health.. but the public. Ball off the pitch smashing a window and injuring someone etc..

All I'm saying is we did pay for it.

I just don't see any immediate risk. its all a bit knee jerk and poorly thought out at the moment.. which as its been on the cards for the last 7 years, well publicised, is surprising...

PeterM - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Frank4short:
> (In reply to most of the thread)
On top of that Bristow offer this self same service in numerous other countries, as stated in the article, if there were any question over the quality of service they provide there you can be sure there'd be no chance of them getting it.

- Is it the same service though? The service in the Alps is not the same service in the Highlands
>
> Even though it'll be nearly all the same pilots in newer better equipment.
- I don't think anyone is debating this.
>All talk of rescue charges, insurance, etc is just nonsense and should really be ignored.

- unfortunately I'm not so sure it is, although I hope I'm very wrong. It may be well done the line once it is estaablished properly and is relied upon.

Snowdave on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

> I think people are being overly suspicious here.. contracting out such services is standard practive throughout UK sectors, from school meals, to the NHS, to security, and throughout the world, including S&R.


I think you've not done yourself a favour there .......lol....

Look at all the "mis management" in the NHS trusts.......look at all the horsemeat sold as beef to NHS trusts, Schools, Army etc........private sector CAN be very bad WHEN commercial profit greed takes over!

As I stated in the other main thread on the SAR heli's, Bristow's is ok and I have trust that the job/transition is a GOOD move!

BUT with the proviso that I do worry that several years (maybe 10) down the road and if things change at Bristow's then commercial profit greed may take hold! But if the government don't sod them around too much all should be ok in the long term.
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to PeterM:
> (In reply to Frank4short)
>
>
> - unfortunately I'm not so sure it is, although I hope I'm very wrong. It may be well done the line once it is estaablished properly and is relied upon.

I think thats unlikely. The more I think about it the more I think it won't. S&R are for the public, we associate them with climbers but its floods, car crashes, kids swept to sea.. it would be a government decision to remove free at point of use emergency recovery and transfer. It would be a massive hit to the UK public and political suicide.
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Snowdave: It can,.. but it can ALSO be VERY BAD when its just the government...
Frank4short - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to PeterM:

> - Is it the same service though? The service in the Alps is not the same service in the Highlands

No, of course it isn't, but then again Bristow don't offer S&R services in the alps their primary focus is marine S&R which is the primary focus of the contract. As much and all as we, the climbing community, like to think of ourselves as special in this particular instance we're the add on not the focus. However in saying that if it's the same pilots/crews in newer, better equipment why would there be an reason to believe the service would deteriorate. Though you can be sure the service they offer in Canada and Norway is about as close to the highlands as it's possible to get.


> >All talk of rescue charges, insurance, etc is just nonsense and should really be ignored.
>
> - unfortunately I'm not so sure it is, although I hope I'm very wrong. It may be well done the line once it is estaablished properly and is relied upon.

Again supposition and speculation with no basis behind it. Why do you believe it's more likely that rescue will become a charged for service now?
Simon Caldwell - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to PeterM:
Would the mountain rescue teams continue to offer a free service for non-mountaineering incidents (rescuing people from cars etc) if the state started charging for helicopter use?
In the past, rescuing walkers, climbers, and sheep has been justified as a free service as it provides valuable training for S&R personnel, who would otherwise be running training sessions with dummies and flares. Why is this any different now it's being run by Bristows?
Tyler - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

> I think people are being overly suspicious here.. contracting out such services is standard practive throughout UK sectors, from school meals, to the NHS, to security, and throughout the world, including S&R.

I think people are suspicious precisely because it happens elsewhere and they've seen the results not because they are unaware that it happens in other sectors.
PeterM - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Frank4short:
> (In reply to PeterM)
>
> [...]
>
> No, of course it isn't, but then again Bristow don't offer S&R services in the alps their primary focus is marine S&R which is the primary focus of the contract.

- I bet they'd bid if there was a contract up for grabs.

As much and all as we, the climbing community, like to think of ourselves as special in this particular instance we're the add on not the focus.
- Exactly and we could be a very costly 'add-on' as far as they are concerned. Some numpty up Ben in jeans/trainers gets himself in a fix leading to a costly and arguably uneccessary and avoidable rescue. I could see them seeking some sort of redress for that.

>However in saying that if it's the same pilots/crews in newer, better equipment why would there be an reason to believe the service would deteriorate.
- It is not the equipment or staff that is the problem, as I said before, - it's trying to run a commercially viable operation that may become the issue.

> Again supposition and speculation with no basis behind it. Why do you believe it's more likely that rescue will become a charged for service now?

- As i said previously I hope I'm wrong about this, but Bristows is not a charity, and operating costs will rise - fuel, parts, insurance, wages, pensions, e.t.c.

Frank4short - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Tyler:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> > I think people are being overly suspicious here.. contracting out such services is standard practive throughout UK sectors, from school meals, to the NHS, to security, and throughout the world, including S&R.

> I think people are suspicious precisely because it happens elsewhere and they've seen the results not because they are unaware that it happens in other sectors.

Lifted verbatim from one of Jim Fraser (the resident expert's) posts on the other thread

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."
PeterM - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> (In reply to PeterM)
> Would the mountain rescue teams continue to offer a free service for non-mountaineering incidents (rescuing people from cars etc) if the state started charging for helicopter use?
I don't know. You had better ask them.

> In the past, rescuing walkers, climbers, and sheep has been justified as a free service as it provides valuable training for S&R personnel, who would otherwise be running training sessions with dummies and flares. Why is this any different now it's being run by Bristows?

- Seriously? Because it's a commercial operation. Or do you consider the RAF, Navy and Bristows to be all operating to teh same business model?

PeterM - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to PeterM:

...and I still don't know what is happening to the RAF and Navy choppers. I hope they are being replaced with something new and functional and the pilots don't all jump ship to the commercial sector, or they'll definitely need new pilots and need to train them...oh wait...
RCC - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to PeterM:

> - Exactly and we could be a very costly 'add-on' as far as they are concerned. Some numpty up Ben in jeans/trainers gets himself in a fix leading to a costly and arguably uneccessary and avoidable rescue. I could see them seeking some sort of redress for that.


Isn't that why they've been asked to bid for a contract. It is irrelevant if they would like to be paid more after the event (I'm sure they would), but they have undertaken to deliver a defined service at a fixed price. It is of course possible that they could turn round in 10 years time and tell the government that they could do it for less if terrestrial SAR was paid for by the user, but that is still a government decision, and one that they could equally well make if the MoD were running it.
PeterM - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to RCC:

Well, here's hoping. I suppose we can't actually find out what's in the contract -it being commercially sensitive and all that. I did find this:
http://www.kusi.com/story/21792065/bristow-group-announces-major-new-search-and-rescue-contract-awar... ...and the 'Forward Looking Statements' bit at the end is slightly interesting with reference to future performance:
"Actual results could differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statement as result of unanticipated circumstances including but not limited to termination of the contract by the Department or higher costs. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially is contained from time to time in Bristow's SEC filings"
- i.e. things change
-
camshron on 26 Mar 2013
My apologies for my ignorance. What exactly are we, the public, getting for 1.6 billion? A 10 year contract for sure! What does the 'contract' include?
New helicopters the Sikorsky's are $32 million per unit and at present the Augusta price is unknown (they are a new development and will not get a licence until 2014), pilots, backup, running costs, maintenance and communications networking. I am sure that others more intelligent than me will be able to add to my list. The point is 1.6 billion will soon be used up. So who pays when it is? Where do Air Ambulances fit into the scheme of things? If a mountain rescue teams can call out the SAR can the Police and Fire Brigades do the same? Logically they can but who pays? I can't get over the hurdle of outdoor enthusiasts HAVING to take out insurance. What is an outdoor enthusiast? - surely some one must have drawn up parameters.

Alan Cameron

The Ex-Engineer - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> In the past, rescuing walkers, climbers, and sheep has been justified as a free service as it provides valuable training for S&R personnel, who would otherwise be running training sessions with dummies and flares. Why is this any different now it's being run by Bristows?

That argument was only ever given as a justification by complete idiots who haven't a clue and is, and always has been, complete nonsense.

Speaking from a background in military aviation there hasn't been a military justification for involvement in SAR for decades. The only reason the ludicrous situation of 3 different organisations doing exactly the same job persisted for so long was that it was more hassle than it was worth to change it. As such, spurious but plausible justifications abounded to the extent people began to believe them.

As pointed out on the other thread, the main reason we need to have a comprehensive SAR system is that the UK has a legal obligation under international agreements to provide Maritime SAR around UK waters out something like 200miles.

The ability to rescue climbers and mountaineers is still just a bonus and always has been. It is also just a lucky co-incidence of geography that a comprehensive maritime SAR system will pretty much by default be well placed to cover the main UK mountain ranges and sea cliffs.

It is also worth being aware that any ship issuing a 'Mayday' will generally take immediate priority over land based SAR as I am quite sure MR members who post on here will be able to testify.
SFM - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:

This is my understanding of how we come about to have helicopter assistance for Mountain Resue - as a by product of our Martime SAR agreements.
As for charging is seems that it will be covered under the tenor of this current contract. Future lobbying by the outdoor community to keep the status quo may be necessary when the contract comes up for renewal.

The other plus of this contract is that it frees up military helicopters and staff for military purposes. I would imagine that in times of need they will still be made available for civilian use (flood rescues etc)


Dan Lane - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to SFM:
> (In reply to The Ex-Engineer)
>
> The other plus of this contract is that it frees up military helicopters and staff for military purposes. I would imagine that in times of need they will still be made available for civilian use (flood rescues etc)

The military helicopters are falling apart/in need of replacing...that's the whole point of this privatisation! (it is, isn't it?)

Simon Caldwell - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer:
> That argument was only ever given as a justification by complete idiots who haven't a clue

Including a winchman I chatted to while my partner was being flown to hospital. And a few MRT members over the years. It's been repeated many times on UKC too, and I've not seen it contradicted before.

> The ability to rescue climbers and mountaineers is still just a bonus and always has been. It is also just a lucky co-incidence of geography that a comprehensive maritime SAR system will pretty much by default be well placed to cover the main UK mountain ranges and sea cliffs.

Or in other words, rescuing mountaineers gives useful practice for their main task of rescuing seamen?
muppetfilter - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador: Unlike most that comment here I fly in Bristows choppers a lot and to be honest if the general public knew just how many mechanical issues they have.

"Sorry your rescue is going to be delayed by 4 hours due to operational reasons"
Simon Caldwell - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:
Interesting.

Is that in the same type they'll be using for S&R?
muppetfilter - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador: Yes, it will be the same service scheduals , mechanics and profit drives over safety. I do doubt they will use the choppers they use for us as they are so old they still have ashtrays ;)

The thing that I find so unpalatable is that the risk of fatalities is quantified and priced up, at some point at a high level the amount of acceptable loss agains cost has been weighed up.
The Ex-Engineer - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador:
> Or in other words, rescuing mountaineers gives useful practice for their main task of rescuing seamen?

Not really.

It is more the case that it would just be bloody stupid (and not morally or politically justifiable) to spend vast amounts on money on having around 20 helicopters on standby 24/7 for maritime SAR and very, very occasionally military SAR but then not be willing to use them for other rescues.

It is a similar situation to the Fire Service. Fireman didn't start to do secondary tasks like cutting people out of crashed cars or rescuing stuck pets because it was good training for fighting fires, they did it because it was eminently sensible given that otherwise they would be sitting around waiting for a fire to happen.

In both cases, what were/are secondary tasks, are now so prevalent that they are now part of the core workload and there is little chance of them ever being withdrawn. Equally, most people understand that such resources whether fire engines or helicopters are limited and on some occasions more serious incidents will take priority over less serious ones.
Slugain Howff - on 26 Mar 2013
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to The Ex-Engineer: I was reading FB today.. someone added to a comment that its basic economics that it would be cheaper to do this in house.. I just don't buy that.. maybe long term.. but not short term.. which is our issue...

The more I read the more I think this was pretty unavoidable. The worst option was no change...
The Ex-Engineer - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK: It would probably not even make financial sense in the long term.

Bristows have significant economies of scale given they are already operating large numbers of the most appropriate aircraft. Any public system, whether run by the MoD or the Coastguard, would not have this major advantage.
Snowdave on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to UKC News:

Just read in my local paper

http://www.inverness-courier.co.uk/News/Search-and-rescue-company-move-into-Inverness-26032013.htm

Good news for Inverness airport (Dalcross).....

Mind you they have been doing the training there for the new S-92's for the islands (Coastguard)for the past few months!
muppetfilter - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK: Are we better to change to S92's and their gearbox crack issues ???
muppetfilter - on 27 Mar 2013
Simon Caldwell - on 27 Mar 2013
muppetfilter - on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to Toreador: I'm flying with Bristows today and yet again we are delayed by two hours flying on an S92 due to "Operational reasons" .... What if you were waiting to evacuate a casualty with serious head injuries ....
RCC - on 29 Mar 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:
> I'm flying with Bristows today and yet again we are delayed by two hours flying on an S92 due to "Operational reasons" .... What if you were waiting to evacuate a casualty with serious head injuries ....


It isn't really a fair comparison though, is it? It's no more than an annoyance if a passenger flight is delayed for an hour or two. Doesn't mean they won't have spare capacity for the SAR operations (they've managed fine so far).

Mate of mine was once delayed by two weeks for "operational reasons" on an RAF flight, but they still managed to run a decent SAR service. Different job, different requirements.

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