Although the media has covered this story a few months ago the Military Aviation Authority has recently issued its Defence Air Safety Report for 2012-2013 in which it confirms the reported certification situation on Rivet Joint, the RAF’s new signals intelligence aircraft (SIGINT) and Nimrod R1 replacement. (H/T Big Dave)
The report can be read in full here
From Page 11;
Airseeker was procured as a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) case at risk against the then UK Certification procedures (Dec-2009). Indeed, due to the age of the design XXXXX on RC-135W aircraft, the risk identified at the time of Main Gate Business Case (MGBC) has now been realised. Accordingly, as it will not be possible to comply to the current MACP (or the pre MAA Certification regulations), an alternative Airworthiness Strategy was agreed between the MAA and DE&S in Dec 2011. This alternative means of demonstrating the the safety of the aircraft based on a comprehensive safety argument will need to be shown by DE&S and the RTS authority. MAA staff will provide assurance of the safety case and subsequent RTS. It is likely that the Secretary of for Defence will be approached to release DE&S from compliance with the MACP
What does this mean?
1. We told you it might be a problem but you went ahead anyway
2. As predicted, it is a problem
3. Over to you sunshine
DE&S are likely to ask Phil Hammond for an exemption to the existent process which kind of begs the question why bother having them written in the first place then?
If no such exemption is forthcoming the Rivet Joint aircraft are going to be the worlds most expensive gate guards (H/T Big Dave, again).
People often criticise the Military Aviation Authority, it is easy to take cheap shots, but anyone doubting the need for it should only take a few minutes reading the Haddon-Cave report in the aftermath of the loss of Nimrod XV230 over Afghanistan with the loss of 14 personnel.
Unless the UK is in a war of national survival, where risks can be accepted and personnel asked the same, safety management or looking after the people we ask to deliver defence outputs should come first.
Perhaps more worrying in the report is the warnings on the lack of Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel, an issue that seems to be afflicting many posts across the MoD.
Could it be argued, that these two issues are related?