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The R22 Chronicles
Part One: "Back to basics"
Over the years there have been many varied problems in the Australian Helicopter industry - most can be related back to efforts to "cheat" the system so that a greater monetary gain could be made or less money was paid out for replacement and maintenance.
The cheating has also evolved because of working conditions in the cattle mustering industry, where, in order to ensure that the mustering work was completed, CAA flight and duty times were not complied with.
Because of the ease with which records could be falsified, the deliberate falsification of aircraft maintenance logs, flight releases, pilot flight and duty time logs and pilot log books became common place.
This everyday occurrence became a way of life and many took it to the extreme.
Since 1980, I can recall deliberate actions to circumvent CAA (CASA) rules and regulations.
Everybody, including CASA, "knows" what has been going on but in all reality nothing constructive has been done until recently to eradicate the problems - they still occur.
In any language, twenty three years (plus or minus a couple) is a long time for any Federal Government agency to react decisively to a known dangerous non compliance practice.
In later posts I will include scanned copies of letters sent to Government ministers and CASA to prove this point.
In my opinion, CASA had a duty of care to ensure that compliance was monitored, especially as it had privileged knowledge that may well have stopped people being killed.
To make sure that we are all on the same wave length - let's define aircraft certification for safe flight in a manner we can all understand:
Certification is the issue of a document by a regulatory authority which has resulted from extensive design, testing and proof that an aircraft can be operated to certain limitations and requirements which will result in safe flight under those conditions.
Some examples of NOT complying with certification could be:
A jumbo jet operating 20 hours per day for a year without a mechanic inspecting any part of it
A jumbo jet trying to take off from a short runway at Brisbane Airport with full fuel and all seats occupied with an extra 100 passengers standing in the aisle
A jumbo jet with a wing spar life of 10,000 hours flying 12,000 hrs on that spar and you have a ticket on the next flight.
A jumbo jet operating its engines continuously at over max design temperature and the engines are on the plane above, on which you have a ticket!
Sound silly?? Well all you need to do is change the name to R22, Bell 47 or Hughes 269 and the parameters to Australian mustering conditions, to see that a real lack of regard happens in some Australian operations.
Want proof? Click here to read an article on Main Rotor Blade finite lives - its definitely worth a read!!
Click the picture above to view an R22 blade which broke with fatal results here in Australia.
Click here for Part Two.
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