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Bud Fox
16th May 2003, 14:20
Spy-in-sky €8m helicopter 'could not see in dark'



GETTING the Garda Air Support Unit off the ground was expensive, troublesome and in some instances almost farcical, the Dail Committee entrusted with getting value for money heard yesterday.

When a helicopter ran into cloud at night in Co Clare it had to stop . . . and didn't operate again in rural areas in darkness for nine months.

The Secretary of the Department of Justice, Tim Dalton, admitted it was a trial-and-error process but members of the all-party Committee of Public Accounts felt it was mostly error.

The 'spies in the sky' aircraft were also over budget and a cause of tension between gardai and Air Corps personnel with safety and technology changes also causing delays.

The committee was told by Comptroller and Auditor General John Purcell that it was £3m in excess of the initial estimate of £5.66m and the helicopter was grounded for all-night flying in rural areas for nine months in 2001 for safety reasons - because it ran into cloud on a mission in County Clare.

Furthermore, while a contract for a second helicopter was signed in August 1999, the Comptroller said that "quibbling over the level of equipment on board" was one of the factors which delayed its delivery until February 1 of this year.

There was also a legislative obstacle to a move to switch the piloting of the aircraft away from the inadequately-trained Air Corps and into the private sector.

The Air Corps personnel did not have the capacity for night flying for the new chopper and it emerged late in January 2002 through the offices of the Attorney General that under the Irish Aviation Act, a State aircraft could not be registered to be flown by civilians.

Mr Dalton told the committee that as a result they had to return to the Air Corps to operate the EC135.

An investigation into the "cloud" incident had sought greater night training for the Aer Corps as well as fitting a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder to any new aircraft.

Mr Dalton said the helicopter should have been in use 12-18 months earlier.

Lurk
16th May 2003, 19:03
Horray, we're off again!:o

Goldie fish
17th May 2003, 00:41
At least the questions are being asked..the non policy of aircraft aquisition that has dogged our air corps since the end of the Emergency. We either have obsolete overpriced or unsuitable craft. Or else we get them then change our minds..
Fougas
Kingair
Dauphin
Gulfstream
Puma
For example.
Maybe (seeing as the moon is blue) a proper procurement programme will be initiated? The purchace of 4 single types in 4 aircraft is inexcusable and costly,when in the case of the ec135, it would have made good economic sense to replace the dauphins/gazelles/allouettes with the same type,at the same time.

Bud Fox
11th June 2003, 15:30
from the thread complaining about the EC 135 being full of "Toys for the boys" would it be possiable to fit a winch to either the AS355 or the EC135. Both are twin engined, have the FLIR and nite sun. (But would they have the capacity / capability with rgds a winch man). Just a wild thought on providing a last line of SAR cover.

yellowjacket
11th June 2003, 15:35
Why?

SAR is far too serious a business for improvised, last ditch arrangements. Anyway, Ireland is quite well covered for SAR currently.

sarsteve
11th June 2003, 15:36
Many outfits operate winch-equipped 355s and I'm sure the 135 is also capable, 'tho I've never seen one. Both helos are rather small though if required to assist more than 2-3 rescuees.

Bud Fox
11th June 2003, 15:41
Well were all here in the Dept of Finance just wondering how we can save a few Euro. But seriously...just a crack pot thought.

Silver
11th June 2003, 19:10
Not such a crackpot thought, Bud Fox.

If you look at any of the US police documentaries, the majority of such helis have winches fitted. At least the winches are there in case of an emergency, thats the way I look at it.

I recall seeing one US police heli using a regular rope, tied to the door, to rescue a person from a river !

Look at it this way, the GASU helis are out and about a lot more than AC helis, and may be able to save somebody in dire straits -where ever minute counts.

(EC-145's are capable of winch operations so I'm sure EC-135's are also).

sarsteve
11th June 2003, 19:17
The AS350 uses a 300lb winch, while the AS350 can use a 450lb winch. I'm sure the 135 could use the 450, and possibly even a 600lb winch. Over ground SAR is great work for these little helos(like the A111), while something larger is needed for offshore(where most often larger numbers of survivors are present) like the S61 you guys are currently leasing.