Rivet Joint Certification Warning

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?

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bigdave243
bigdave243
April 11, 2014 7:18 pm

Wow, I got a mention…twice in a TD post. :-) Thanks.

I don’t really doubt the need as such for the MAA, however in this instance it just seems a step too far. Granted the design of the aircraft is decades old, but it’s not like these things have a habit of dropping out the sky. The E-3D is based on exactly the same aircraft and no one is complaining about them.

Do we want another Nimrod like incident? Definitely not. Is the MAA needed? Probably. Is this possibly going a bit far…..In my opinion ( for what little it’s worth) Yes.

A slight side note…..why do our rules for flying military aircraft and the USAF rules for flying military aircraft NEED to be different? Maybe a bit of jointery and cross pond communication would go a long way……..

Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
April 11, 2014 7:20 pm

Umm – why not hand over to the other Hammond on Top Gear & he’ll solve the problem in no time by making the a/c a right off & the MOD can reclaim most of the money blown on the insurance. Oh hold on we pay the BBC’s licence fee (or at least i used to before bailing out to Frogland) so we still pay for the insurance. Merde, i thought i’d got it cracked. For explexetive deleted sake there are other airframes “off the shelf” could have been better & cheaper, than popped rivets. Too slow Bae, & why not the (hesitates for long time trying to remember their name this week) Airbus airframe, that UK does actually have a stake in? The Aussies’ Wedgetail seems a reasonable price & efficient too.

Mark
Mark
April 11, 2014 9:09 pm

I have been of the opinion for a while that should rc135 be held to the same standard as mra4 it will never enter service on the uk register. It will be one to watch with interest.

The Other Chris
April 12, 2014 8:10 am

Completely agree.

dave haine
dave haine
April 12, 2014 9:31 am

Surprise, surprise, we’ve replaced an old an knackered airframe with a equally (old and possibly more) old and knackered airframe. The Nimrod fleet at least had the advantage of a core of very, very experienced and motivated technical and engineering staff. Whereas the Airseeker is a ‘new’ type.

…And the only solution is to exclude the type from the formal airworthiness process…. I’m being deafened by the sound of our legal brethren rubbing their hands and drooling at the prospect.

By the way….the E3D is not based on the C135 airframe- they’re as different as the C135 is from the original -80 prototype. The obvious differences are the fuselage diameters & lengths, wing sweep, horizontal tailplane span and fin height. The less obvious differences are the internal wing and fuselage structures, fuel tanks and undercarriage supports. In fact, the only things the three types share are the outer wing panels, flight deck windows, and some systems. Even the main spars are different.

We’ve got to remember that our E3’s were the amongst the very last Boeing 707-320Bs (themselves very different from previous 707 models) ever built, delivered in 1990-1.

Whereas the Airseekers, being much modified Stratotankers (Model number 717), all first flew in 1964.

And lets face it, over the years 30-odd KC135s have spanked in, out of a fleet of approximately 800 airframes. Which, even allowing for the cousins somewhat more ‘spirited’ operation of a tanker fleet, seems a little high…..

….Like TD, I’d be very worried about the lack of suitably qualified maintenance staff- in my experience, few air safety incidents have equipment malfunction or failures as the major causal factor- most are human error, either omission or incorrect intervention. A high proportion of those are maintenance related.

It’s a shame, though….I seem to recall that the RAF used to be absolutely red-hot on flight safety….. it was relentlessly banged in to us, and relentlessly banged into the aircrew about airmanship. But in those days, a Chiefy Tech could refuse to sign the Form 700, and the aeroplane would not move….no question, no argument. Even the most junior spanner-handler had the same attitude and pride in their work…..

….I suspect the modern lads still have the same attitude and pride, and an organisation that doesn’t reflect those values will lose those staff very quickly.

Mark
Mark
April 12, 2014 9:57 am

If I could +1 Daves post I would do it 100 times. People who think refitting old aircraft of which we have no experience is a gd idea should take note this was all far to predictable.

Peter Elliott
April 12, 2014 11:25 am

Well I can’t see an intelligent chap like Philip Hammond being prepared to put his own personal bollocks on the chopping block by issuing an exemption.

If he does it probably needs to be strictly time limited and with a hellish degree of additional scrutiny and general buggering about to deterr anyone from ever asking for one again.

And if they don’t it raises the question of what are the correct actions now:

(a) Park them up, keep very quiet, and hope no-one notices
(b) Admit the cock-up and find another way to deliver the capability

Taking a leaf out of the original Nimord programme could we find a way of tacking a couple of multi-role aircraft onto the back of an order for P8 ASW-MPA? 80% capability in the air is better than 100% stuck on the tarmac.

The Other Chris
April 12, 2014 11:59 am

Frothy beers all round.

John Hartley
John Hartley
April 12, 2014 12:25 pm

Well its too late now, but at the time, I was ranting on an old TD post, that we should have used 2nd hand B767-200ER. Give them the cargo door conversion, then it is easy to install the Rivet Joint kit. There were ex Silverjet aircraft available then. Using 707s as old as me, was never going to end well.

bigdave243
bigdave243
April 12, 2014 3:13 pm

@david haine

I wasn’t aware of the difference between our E-3D’s and the frames used for the Rivet Joint aircraft. I thought they were both just 707’s. Thanks :-)

In any case this is something that really should have been dealt with at the procurement stage. It’s all a bit embarrassing really.

Does anyone know how long they plan on keeping the R.J in service?

mike
mike
April 12, 2014 4:10 pm

@ bigdave243

Its a pressing concern for them, along with their j-stars and E-3 fleet… all aging and need replacement/update at the same time, the ‘big 3’ programs (F-35, KC-46 and LRB) of theirs have really made it difficult for them to address replacing them, so I would say they will soldier on for a few more years yet – until an accident or after one of the big 3 projects has been completed.
A Poseidon/KC-46 derivative could be a good bet for future platform, but that is some time away.

bigdave243
bigdave243
April 12, 2014 4:36 pm

Well whichever platform the Americans go with (i’d guess at B737) it would make huge sense for us to tag onto that procurement economies of scale, commonality, jointery and all those other buzz words we all love.

Even more so if we buy the P-8.

Then again maybe it’s time for Airbus to start having a serious look at an ELINT/SIGINT/AEW variant of the A320 family.

Derek
Derek
April 12, 2014 4:38 pm

Just another step in the absurd Nimrod saga, a farce that would make Shakespeare blush, its monumental nature only being compounded by the fact that nobody has been held to account for what must stand as one of the most remarkable series of poor decisions that MoD procurement has ever seen.

The answer was glaringly obvious back in the 90s, new build Nimrod 2000 (to become MRA4) airframes for both the MPA and SIGINT/ELINT mission, but the MoD establishment was too incompetent for such a move so now we have no MPA and the Rivet Joint saga.

Mark
Mark
April 12, 2014 5:09 pm

Well if your gonna look back to around 2000 then the answer for nimrod replacement and the tanker aircraft replacement was the a310.

Derek
Derek
April 12, 2014 6:12 pm

Yes thats right, the answer in 2000 was an out of production 25 year old barely successful airliner design for which nobody had developed a military special mission variant aside from the then being designed MRTT conversion.

Assuming the requirements as they existed at that time, 21 MPA, 3 ELINT, 14 Tanker resulting in a total requirement for 38 airframes- or 15% of total A310 production, even more enlightening that would be 45% of the active commercial A310 fleet in 2013.

If the answer was an Airbus it was new build A330.

bigdave243
bigdave243
April 12, 2014 7:06 pm

An A330 would make a perfectly good tanker aircraft, however I think that for particularly the MPA task an A330 would be miles too big.

I think the same really for the SIGINT/ELINT roles too. I suppose you’d gain a common fleet but the A330 is not a small aircraft.

I’ll confess i’m not sure how much bigger it is than a B707 variant.

Peter Elliott
April 12, 2014 7:26 pm

The upside of using an A330 would be monstrous range and endurance, even with a full weapon/sensor loadout.

Quite handy if we ever envisaged fighting thousands of miles from the nearest friendly strip.

And especially if we are wary of creating a boutique fleet of carrier launched STO/RVL utlility cabs.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 12, 2014 9:41 pm

I had the misfortune to inadvertently click on TD’s link to the MAA report.

Holy fucking Christ, the MAA seem like a bunch of dry dusty old wankers. Are they paid by Moscow? Or should the MAS be known collectively as Private Godfrey?

War’s a dangerous game. Get used to it.

Derek
Derek
April 12, 2014 11:43 pm

RT,

For some reason they left that point out of the Nimrod XV230 enquiry, can’t think why….oh wait, I can, its because the authors weren’t c***s.

War may be dangerous but as a rule of thumb, with the odd exception, the winning side is usually the one responsible for killing fewer of its own personnel. Losing a dozen or more personnel in an entirely avoidable accident, not to mention a valuable military asset, is not war- it’s retardation, no matter how macho you think you are.

Mercator
Mercator
April 13, 2014 12:35 am

Well if you don’t trust American military maintenance and airworthiness schemes, I guess you better bring back all those guys on exchange. And following on from that: do all these 135 variants retain any civil certification, and if you don’t trust that, do you trust any US civil certifications?

I’m not trying to be a smart arse, I’m just trying to point out that some of these assumptions about the supposedly lax US airworthiness system have logical consequences.

Tubby
Tubby
April 13, 2014 7:04 am

Presumably the issue is procedural or systems problem, where due to the age of the airframe it is not possible to get original documentation and certification of the aircraft/components from the manufacturer so that to decided if the aircraft is safe they will have to do so on the basis of an alternative procedure?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 13, 2014 7:34 am

Derek, don’t be a complete dipstick.

SIGINT planes fight the next war today. Applying peacetime safety standards to them is a bit of a self-inflicted shot in the foot. If we don’t fly them, no SIGINT.

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 9:32 am

I can’t say I’m surprised at any of this. Sadly.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 13, 2014 9:35 am

‘Applying peacetime safety standards to them is a bit of a self-inflicted shot in the foot’

I agree flying is inherently unsafe you only have to look at the statistics for civilian airlines to realise that it is a hugely dangerous method of travel and implying the same sort of safety standards would only add cost and complexity to an old airframe constructed in an a different era of technology. Its a cost vs benefit analysis, if we only lose an airframe and its crew every 5 years then its worth the savings. If the Kevins don’t want to be risking their lives on routine peace time missions then they should ask themselves why they joined the armed forces to begin with, it’s just elf & safety gone mad IMO.

Or maybe we could have used lessons learned from the Nimrod fiasco and put the equipment in a modern airframe that we new would pass the certification requirements.

Derek
Derek
April 13, 2014 10:00 am

RT,

It is most assuredly you being the “dipstick”, though I would use far stronger language.

DN,

It is not worth losing an airframe and crew every 5 years, only a complete moron would suggest such a thing.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 13, 2014 10:50 am

Derek

You might find this hard to understand but this is the Armed Forces we are dealing with and as RT say’s war is a dangerous business and does not need the insidious common sense levels of safety applied to it an any shape or form. Perhaps if the RAF were willing to take a few risks with their aircraft and crew we could have an entirely different type of person willing to flock to the colours, those willing to take risks on the understanding that the MOD/service chiefs are incapable of procuring any sort of equipment that meets our requirements without adding huge cost, and therefore a waste of tax payers money when it would be better spent on actual war fighting.
At the moment we have in the armed forces the expectation that all the service members would return home to their wives and children at the end of a routine peacetime mission over the North Atlantic, this molly coddling needs to stop before the armed forces are incapable of firing a single round in anger due to the interference of the ‘elf & safety’ brigade. I presume you are a civilian (if you are not then I suggest you become one) as it is obvious you do not understand that every day, is a day staring danger in the face as a member of the HM Armed Forces. We do not need common sense safety standards forced upon the armed forces by a left leaning political correct vanguard who believe it is every parents right to expect that their sons/daughters life will not squandered due to piss poor management from the MOD.

However will we get the Balaclava spirit back into the armed forces if this attitude is allowed to prevail.

It is just ‘Elf & Safety’ gone mad and needs to stop, the MOD are perfectly capable of managing risk without the need for further bureaucracy. You’ll be telling me the Snatch Landrover is not up to the job next!

Derek
Derek
April 13, 2014 10:58 am

DN,

It appears to be you with the comprehension problem. Conflict is made dangerous by the enemy, it should not be made dangerous by your won side using unsafe equipment. The fact that you are sick enough to think that losing an aircraft and crew every five years is acceptable is disturbing enough.

But hey, damn those selfish wives and children for not wanting their loved ones to die pointlessly because some twat was too macho to do a proper safety evaluation on an aircraft. Your post reads more like a piece of misplaced sarcasm.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 13, 2014 11:12 am

Derek

‘it should not be made dangerous by your won side using unsafe equipment’

But how are we going to expect are service men and women to accept risk in times of war if they are not using equipment that would not be deemed safe in a Turkish abattoir? It takes years of public school or office work to ingrain this sort of attitude in the managers.How are we going to instill such an ethos in the members of the armed forces who have not been exposed to such views, without exposing them to unnecessary danger on a daily basis (once their workmates start losing life and limb to avoidable peace time accidents, you’ll soon sort the men from the boys). And if the wives and children expect ‘daddy’ to come at night then maybe the mother should have married an accountant.

It’s ‘Elf & Safety’ gone mad and needs to stop!

Derek
Derek
April 13, 2014 1:38 pm

DN,

I am just going to assume that you are attempting and failing to be amusing, their really is no other explanation for your silly ranting.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 13, 2014 1:54 pm

Don’t worry Derek, servicemen generally assume their wagon is lethal, and they are lucky to get out of it alive.

Now then, in the real world, are Rivet Joints dropping out of the air like rain? Or are the MAA Dereks*** being a bit of a Wuss unnecessarily?

*** it’s nice to have a name for a generic type of frightened and trembling civil servant. Derek seems about right.

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 2:02 pm

Generally best if we don’t wait till ‘Rivet Joints dropping out of the air like rain’ then start doing something.

The Other Chris
April 13, 2014 2:37 pm

@Derek and @DavidNiven

Keep it civil please.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 13, 2014 2:48 pm

Derek

‘I am just going to assume that you are attempting and failing to be amusing’

I am just pointing out the views a certain number have when it comes to health and safety in the armed forces (both civilian and military alike). But failing to be amusing?

Au contraire (although my humour has been described as dry and deadpan)

mr.fred
mr.fred
April 13, 2014 3:18 pm

DavidNiven,
Success at being amusing is dependent on your audience, so I’d have to say Derek may have a point. I think I see where you are going, but repetition tends to wear humour a bit thin.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
April 13, 2014 3:22 pm

I am a bit worried about where this site is going.

Are we being used as a “marketing focus group” by the Dereks and Bobs? Postulating extreme stands and seeing where it goes? The Ukraine discussion would fall into that category easily. It was not for nothing I included the old Wiki definition of trolling as in Vietnam getting theMigs come out to play.

when I think of the old Bob, he always had masses of facts to support his view. This Derek, assumed… To be the direct inheritor of the Bob title from before just throws these views around.

Personally, I will not engage in any discussion with the said acronym.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 13, 2014 3:26 pm

TD,

Would you rent a car from an American hire car company if you went there on business or holiday? A car built and regulated to American safety standards?

Rivet Joints are fairly fundamental to US intelligence gathering. SIGINT is fairly fundamental to UK intelligence gathering, but the odd thing about SIGINT is that it mostly happens in peacetime. So applying peacetime levels of risk is a bit cockeyed.

No one wants Kevins to die, but equally no one should think that peacetime risk levels should automatically apply in all circumstances.

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 3:31 pm

‘equally no one should think that peacetime risk levels should automatically apply in all circumstances.’

Neither do the MAA, they have kept aircraft flying where needed on ops in the past and will no doubt in the future. But to manage the risk we have to understand, currently we don’t.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 13, 2014 3:37 pm

Topman,

I can absolutely guarantee you that the MAA won’t take into account the opportunity cost of missed SIGINT. They will only calculate the risk of an aviation incident, because that is all they are good for.

And if the MAA don’t understand the risk, I suggest they get going. No holidays or weekends off until they do.

It needs grown ups to decide, not Dereks with slide rules.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
April 13, 2014 3:55 pm

mr.fred

Derek obviously failed to either read or understand the last sentence in my first post. And so true to the tradition of HM Forces, once you get a bite keep fishing. ;-)

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 4:18 pm

Yes I did misword my earlier post when I said ‘they’ it’s not their decision to make. My example was taken at DH level not by the MAA.

My point about risk and lack of understanding still stands. Those who manage the risk need to know what the risk is re Airworthiness/Flight safety then balance that against operational need. However if we don’t meet the safety case because corners were cut or we didn’t bother doing the job right in the first place, those making the decision can’t possible have all the information they need, with regards to operation requirements and balancing that against flight safety.

mr.fred
mr.fred
April 13, 2014 5:31 pm

Red Trousers,
The trouble with sitting back, lackadaisically, while burning aircraft fall out of the sky because you are too lazy to do some checks, is that each aircraft is a part of your capability. One waiting for clearance can be used. One that is a burning heap of wreckage is no good to anyone, and has also taken a dozen or so of your trained analysts with it.

You would need to make a proper risk assessment, which can only be done by a bunch of “Dereks with slide rules” not some middle-manager with a self-inflated sense of their own importance. “Grown-ups” indeed.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 13, 2014 5:40 pm

Mr Fred, well best they get on with it then. And be prepared to sign their name to a decision, right or wrong.

Civil servants generally don’t like taking decisions, and really hate it when their name is publicised.

wf
wf
April 13, 2014 5:44 pm

@mr.fred et al, Rivet Joint (eg RC-135) has been in service for nearly a quarter of a century, without loss, in the country with the largest military and civil aircraft registries in the world. I don’t think we need to spend a couple of years working out whether they are going to randomly turn into balls of fire.

Why not just adopt US military standards, or just call them NATO standards?

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 5:46 pm

Funny signing off the risk should crop up. CS not really, for this it will be the SoS.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
April 13, 2014 5:48 pm

TD,

Any member of the services in the MAA is a civil servant. As with the Met, they are “institutionally” safeist.
;)

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 5:51 pm

@ wf

If they had the same standard and could read across, you’d be right. I mean before the Nimrod piled in, we hadn’t had one pile before so they are fine, ok? I mean we would fly an a/c for that long not knowing if it’s safe, could we?

If we fly them, we need to know they are safe. Saying someone else is sure isn’t good enough, we need to know the risks.

wf
wf
April 13, 2014 6:08 pm

@Topman: actually, I daresay there’s all the documentation required available, assuming this is an FMS sale. The proof will have been obtained already. Does it usually take years to certify civil aircraft that have US certification?

Topman
Topman
April 13, 2014 6:17 pm

It’s not that’s the problem. If it were all available this wouldn’t be happening. Not so much being held back, look up thread for DH’s post, it sums it up.

Hannay
Hannay
April 13, 2014 7:55 pm

Access to US documentation isn’t only an issue with Rivet Joint. Same with Reaper and Lightning. Buying off the shelf from the US generally means years of work trying to get access to what you’ve already paid for or just getting no information at all. Not exactly quick and easy or value for money.

dave haine
dave haine
April 13, 2014 8:23 pm

Okaaay…..

The three AirSeeker airframes are all modified KC135Rs, themselves upgraded KC135Es (New engines, some airframe mods). Out of a fleet of roughly 800 airframes (C, KC, RC, EC) there have been over thirty hull losses- a quarter of which have been airframe failures, mainly engine separation and vertical Stabiliser separation. Also there have been a number exploding due to overheating fuel pumps. None of this is helped by the fact that they can be a bit of a sod to land too. (Side story: In order to get UK certification for the 707, Boeing had to fit taller fins, or a ventral fin, for stability) one classic incident ended up with a loss of control causing the landing KC to career into two others, thereby spanking three airframes in one go.

Not withstanding all of the above, the USAF have estimated that at least 60% of the the fleet will need re skinning by 2018, due to corrosion. That doesn’t allow for any airframe corrosion that will almost inevitably be found, when the skin comes off (The USN discovered this, to their horror when they started re skinning their P3s). It now costs the USAF over $11000 per flight hour to maintain each KC/ RC.

Now, returning to our three pieces of classic americana. The design life of a KC135R is 39000hrs- our three, which are the three lowest houred, all have in excess of 22000hrs.

The issue for the MAA, and one that they did point out a while back, is the maintenance records, or rather the lack of them.

The USAF, almost uniquely in the west, operate a life replacement MX (maintenance) philosophy. Basically, they replace components at certain hanger inputs, irrespective of condition. The advantage of this is less inspections and therefore records are required, but increased component costs are the disadvantage. And of course, as airframes get older, scheduled hanger inputs become more frequent. Of course, if you’re operating a fleet that’s under ten years old, it’s a very good system. OTH, if you’re trying to keep a ageing fleet going, it raises your costs enormously.

The UK’s preferred maintenance philosophy is to replace on condition, more inspections needed, but perfectly good parts don’t need to be replaced. No problem for younger aircraft, but a godsend for older fleets.

I’ve rather simplistically summed up the differences, but it illustrates the problem for the Dereks in the MAA- transiting a type from one MX scheme to another, is fraught, especially an ancient, much modified, legacy type like a RC135W, with years of records from many different units, all filled in to different levels of competence

@ Mercator
No-one has criticised the US military airworthiness system, nor indeed the civil one (Although as C135s never went through any civil certification process- I’ve no idea why you even mentioned it). It’s the fact that they are old aeroplanes with all the issues that old aeroplanes have.
(Although…..Boeing are on record as saying they prefer to deal with JAA/ EASA than the FAA….. :-) )

I think we’d have done far better to bung all the kit into B767-200 or 300s. The airframes could be serviced by any number of very good maintenance organisations, in fact almost every UK airline.

Maybe the A330 if we wanted to buy new airframes.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
April 15, 2014 1:10 pm

Dave has pretty much hit the nail on the head asto why we’re going to have one or two “issues”. It is also complicated by a couple of other factors, namely –

1. MoD gave up “Crown Immunity” some years ago. That means “avoidable” accidents are slap bang s0d in the scope of our increasingly litigious compensayshun industry. See numerous Coroners inquests over deaths on Telic & Herrick being set up as evidence for suing MoD for providing unsuitable equipment .

2. It would appear that the MoD (and in particular the RAF) have some history of being mendacious to say the least with regard to airworthiness. The attached is a link to a website which I believe is maintained by a civil servant who is still “in”, despite being something of a thorn in the side of both MoD and RAF, which also tells you something.

The gentleman in question presents a case which, if true, ought to result in prosecutions all round to say the very least. He also appears to be highly competent technically and posts on PPrune under the handle “Tucumseh”. I say “if true”, because the MoD/RAF side of the story is not portrayed, but based on what is presented would have to be very compelling indeed to avoid drawing the same conclusions. Make your own minds up.

https://sites.google.com/site/militaryairworthiness/

In this case, it most definitely is not “Elf N safety” gone mad.

The Whistleblower
The Whistleblower
June 19, 2014 4:55 pm

Synopsis

I revealed to Congress in 2008 that the United States Air Force was operating a fleet of specialized reconnaissance aircraft (RC-135s) that were not airworthy. The agency retaliated with an immediate attack on my character to divert attention away from the maintenance issues that I had reported. The three-year diversion included a trip through the Pentagon, Congress, and the Nebraska State Court system. Eventually, government investigations substantiated the non-airworthy conditions that I had reported, but not before the United States had secured a 1.3 billion dollar foreign military sale to the United Kingdom for the same type of aircraft.

The agency suspended my security clearance and refused to provide me with the derogatory information it had compiled against me. After 17 months, I conducted a one man, lawful and peaceful protest at the off-base residence of Lt. Col. Dana C. McCown, the aircraft maintenance commander of the 55th Wing. My protest broke the stalemate when McCown petitioned the Sarpy County District Court for a harassment protection order against me. Through civil court actions, I was able to prove that McCown had lied to federal investigators, paving the way to a global settlement in April 2011.

My security clearance was adjudicated in April 2012. Although a Federal administrative law judge recommended the reinstatement of my security clearance, the personal security appeals board (PSAB) chose to disregard his recommendation. Through these events, I stumbled upon a breach of national security involving two major commands, spanning several decades. When I reported this security breach to senior defense officials, a “be on the lookout” was issued against me by the 55th Wing, challenging my authority to act as an officer of AFGE Local 1486. I decided that it was in the best interest of the bargaining unit to “shut-up and color” until I retire in the year 2014. Congress and the Justice Department clearly demonstrated an inability to protect me from prohibited personal practices (5 U.S.C. § 2302).

Now that I have retired and the blackmail has ended, I am providing this information to demonstrate how harassment, intimidation, and reprisals are used to control the Federal workforce when management fears that it has been caught doing something unethical or illegal, thus the title, “Cowardice in Leadership – A lesson in Harassmant, Intimidation, and Reprisals”.

Available in e-book format only.
ISBN# 978-0-692-02924-4 .mobi file (Amazon)
ISBN# 978-0-692-02925-1 .epub file (everyone else)