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Thread: Helicopters

  1. #1
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    Smile Medium lift heli's tender - still under review !

    cut from the orignal article I posted in the news section .....



    ................Critics claim that leasing and outsourcing aircraft doubles the cost to the taxpayer, deprives the exchequer of its own assets and reduces the Aer Corps' SAR training. The total cost of private outsourcing and maintenance is €45 million a year.

    The contract to acquire three medium-lift Sikorsky helicopters for €70 million, which was controversially abandoned two years ago on cost grounds, is still under review, said a spokesman for the Department of Defence.
    This is my arguement about the tender for those S-92's being cancelled. It was a botched decision by the government, it was made in light of "green flu", not fully understanding the arms industry with its offsets and thinking that the private sector can perform the job cheaper.:confused:

    Yet even if the contract is given out to the private sector the DF will still have to cover this service with the threat of strikes. "Renting out" SAR for €45 million when you can buy 3 helis for €70million is a joke and a foolish decision by the government.

    I havent read the tender for the ulititly heli tender but Im sure there is a mention of winches (or someone posted something about it)

    Within 1 and a 1/2 years you can purchase 3 helicopters with an expected life time of 20 years. The deal included numerous spare parts and the DF, most importantly the wing, would have the use of 3 medium lift helis.

    Those 3 S-92's should have been purchased (with 2 at a later date) along with 8 blackhawks and a trainer helicopter.

  2. #2
    Cuchulain
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    The reason that the military are losing out to commercial operators is due to cost. The cost of purchasing 3 brand new types (never a good idea) that you refer to is just that - the purchase of 3 helicopters. The contract with commercial operators covers EVERYTHING. If you really believe that the IAC can operate 4 large, IFR, 24 hour, fully crewed SAR helicopters at all you are living in dreamland - let alone do it cheaper than a commercial operator. And do you really think that the IAC could just stop providing a SAR service to use the helicopters for other military tasks? For Gods sake wake up man or confine your comments to something that you know about

  3. #3
    6-40509-04014-7 yooklid's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Cuchulain
    The reason that the military are losing out to commercial operators is due to cost. The cost of purchasing 3 brand new types (never a good idea) that you refer to is just that - the purchase of 3 helicopters. The contract with commercial operators covers EVERYTHING. If you really believe that the IAC can operate 4 large, IFR, 24 hour, fully crewed SAR helicopters at all you are living in dreamland - let alone do it cheaper than a commercial operator. And do you really think that the IAC could just stop providing a SAR service to use the helicopters for other military tasks? For Gods sake wake up man or confine your comments to something that you know about
    Are you Hpt in disguise?
    Meh.

  4. #4
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    For Gods sake wake up man or confine your comments to something that you know about
    Im fully awake and know what Im talking about. I wont confine my comments since this is a discussion board

    The cost of purchasing 3 brand new types (never a good idea) that you refer to is just that - the purchase of 3 helicopters.
    go and re read that S-92 bid, it included spare parts etc...

    buying new helicopters a bad idea ? I did note, the DF should purchase the extra 2, bringing the total to 5.

    you cant stick your head in the sand and run away for this issue

  5. #5
    Cuchulain
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    If I have my head in the sand Andy then you have yours very firmly up your ar*se. You obviously know nothing about SAR operations.

  6. #6
    Brigadier General
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    Cuchulain, as a matter of intrest, what evidence can you present that you know anything about SAR ops
    All you have presented, so far is a sh***Y attuide.



    If you really believe that the IAC can operate 4 large, IFR, 24 hour, fully crewed SAR helicopters at all you are living in dreamland

    Intresting comment; total bo**ox, but an intresting comment all the same.
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  7. #7
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    45mil a year x 20 years, thats 900 milion and I would well believe the figure as not only do they charge to have the service in place they also charge per call out, I believe this can be checked by looking into Dept of Marine info.

    Anyway if the figure was even half this figure there is no way in hell that one unit of the DF would be allocated this much money, even considering wages, and remember if the helis are bought for the air corps they become a state asset, like any other state asset, and be far more flexible than sole use.

  8. #8
    Closed Account Goldie fish's Avatar
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    Last time I heard,there is still a requirment for at least two MLH. The new Light utility helis will pave the way to the successful operation of this type,given the required financial commitment. Whether or not these will be used to compete in at least one of the SAR tenders around the country remains to be seen,though it may be retained as a standby asset in case of major emergencies.
    The new tender,mentioned elsewhere,suggests aircraft fitted with rescue hoists,and capable of being fitted out as air ambulances,but no mention of Dedicated Over water SAR is mentioned.

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    45million pa? Where is that figure coming from? Even Lorna Siggin's book mentions €30 Million as the payment. Figures are probably in previous PQs.

    Ok, some facts. That figure is for 3 aircraft on station. To provide a similar level of cover, the Air Corps would need to have at least 5 aircraft, and these would all have to be dedicated SAR assets, which means no deployment and no army co-op.

    On costs, the figures mentioned (be it 45 or 30m) covers everything included in running the service; fuel, insurance, salaries, pensions, aircraft maintenance, crew training, depreciation, everything. To have the AC do this would cost the state a lot more, but the costs would be buried in the DoD budget, or more likely, wouldn't be properly found and spent, so that the service would be half assed and underfunded, and the AC would get the blame for any 'accidents' that ensued.

    The only thing that matters here is the service provided, sailors and fishermen need a dedicated, professional, day, night and foul weather capable air sea rescue service. Who provides it is completely irrelevant. To have the Air Corps running this service means that the heli wing is entirely organised around the SAR tasking, its too small to do this and another job at the same time.

    The re-orientation of the AC to more military roles is a welcome thing, and something that they couldn't expect to do while providing SAR at the same time. They are better off without SAR, and SAR is better off without them.

    The AC needs to be able to provide a contingent capacity, both in IR situations and in the case of a major disaster, but I can't see any reason why they should have to be asked to do what is a civilian function. Are there any real reasons or is this purely an emotional response from our younger posters?

  10. #10
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    well I still remain unconvienced. I dont think the decision to privatise SAR was taken in the cold light of day, it was a reactive decision more than anything to do with "planning".

    I dont know much about the private company operating this service or its track record, it remains to be seen if they can actually deliver on service and price.

    After around a year of operation it will be come apparent the real finanical costs and the actual service. That medium lift deal had major offsets,it had spare parts and a option for 2 more helis. It was pretty cheap and good value in my eyes and finanically I think the Aircorps do the job for cheaper offering a better service.

    Were still going to have to cover SAR and some of the air corps assests will be tied up in that.

    This could all back fire on the government and turn into another rail track. But if it genuinely works out cheaper for the tax payer and its better for the DF then im all for it.

    just found out its the same company thats operating at the moment...
    Last edited by andy; 14th June 2004 at 15:22.

  11. #11
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    45million pa? Where is that figure coming from? Even Lorna Siggin's book mentions €30 Million as the payment. Figures are probably in previous PQs.
    Currently the cost is €30 million and thats only for Dublin Shannon and Waterford. Add the north west on to that and the figure easily goes to €45 million P.A.

    Aidan, this was taken out of the Sunday Business Post. The comments regarding SAR where from a business point of view.. i.e finanically is privatisation cheaper or better?

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    Currently the cost is €30 million and thats only for Dublin Shannon and Waterford. Add the north west on to that and the figure easily goes to €45 million P.A.

    No it doesn't, if its €30mill for three, then surely it should be €40m for 4.

    The company involved has many years of experience, in fact it has significantly more experience with long range SAR than the Air Corps.

    That medium lift deal had major offsets,it had spare parts and a option for 2 more helis. It was pretty cheap and good value in my eyes

    To accept the offsets would have meant a legal challenge to the deal which would have prevented a purchase in the first place. And it was not cheap, or good value. The S-92 has yet to enter military service anywhere, and is still an unknown quantity.

    and finanically I think the Aircorps do the job for cheaper offering a better service.

    Unless you have some figures to back that up, its just an opinion with no basis in fact. The better service piece is debatable, particularly given the recent issues in Sligo (or in your magical world, would all that just dissapear?).

    still going to have to cover SAR and some of the air corps assests will be tied up in that.

    No they won't, and certainly not to the same extent as having 4 MLH on call and ready 24/7. Under the new arrangements, all that will be required is to have the aircraft capable of SAR in an emergency, no having aircraft on call and that that implies for servicing and maintenance.

  13. #13
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    No it doesn't, if its €30mill for three, then surely it should be €40m for 4.
    The North West is a bigger area to cover. Its not going to stop at €40 P.A.

    To accept the offsets would have meant a legal challenge to the deal which would have prevented a purchase in the first place. And it was not cheap, or good value. The S-92 has yet to enter military service anywhere, and is still an unknown quantity.
    The tender was a botched tender. Another example of the government making a mess of it. How they didnt factor in offsets is unknown to me. Perhaps the S-92 is unproven but its still won. Nothing is cheap, but the deal on offer taking in the offsets and capabilities of the helicopter was value for money. If they government did go ahead with the S-92, it would have met all the needs of SAR. The issue would have been closed.

    and finanically I think the Aircorps do the job for cheaper offering a better service.


    Unless you have some figures to back that up, its just an opinion with no basis in fact. The better service piece is debatable, particularly given the recent issues in Sligo (or in your magical world, would all that just dissapear?).

    The fact that the medium lift heli tender is going under review, demonstrates that there are draw backs to a private company providing the serivce. Its a fudge, they didnt go ahead with the tender because they made a mess of it, poor economic conditions and short sightedness of Smith. Privatisation still doesnt entirely solve the issue since the air corps has still not been fully released from SAR.

    It also flags up that the government has not a well thought out policy regarding SAR and they are simply responding to incidents without any long term strategy.

    Incidents with the Air Corps shown that the government failed to provide them with the necessary equipment to do their job. They were offering a great service with the sh1te equipment they had to fly in. Instead of simply addressing the problems with equipment they went down this route of privatisation and the problems and cost associated with it.


    still going to have to cover SAR and some of the air corps assests will be tied up in that.

    No they won't, and certainly not to the same extent as having 4 MLH on call and ready 24/7. Under the new arrangements, all that will be required is to have the aircraft capable of SAR in an emergency, no having aircraft on call and that that implies for servicing and maintenance.
    :confused: So they will have to provide SAR back up and provide some the helis and training for it. When else do you need a heli for SAR except for an emergency? The aircorps were providing this 24/7 in some areas but lacked the helis to cover the 4 areas. Its not a huge demand on the A.C. its the lack of modern helicopters that was the problem.

    The question im putting forward is this:-

    Under the new arrangements the government is paying out €45million a year for a private company to operate the service.

    This sums up to €900million (in todays money, but the actual cost will be a lot more with inflation) while the contract for the 4 s-92's was something in the region of €70million (with offsets,total cost is €70m,subtract the intrest savings).

    However the new arrangement doesnt even completly solve the SAR service. The DF is still providing some of its resources as a back up. It is interferring with the new tender for the utility helis.

    From experience the DF can provide this service as cheap and as good. This service by its nature is best suited to the military, there is no overtime,strikes etc. There has been no "freeing up"of air corps assets since they hadnt any medium lift helis assets in the first place.

    Its clear as day, the government have made a balls of this whole thing.

  14. #14
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    Perhaps the S-92 is unproven but its still won

    No it didn't, the EC-725 did. The decsion was changed for political reasons after the tender committee reported, as was reported in the press at the time. And if offsets had been included in the deal, who's to know that either of the other two contenders wouldn't have been in a position to offer a better deal?

    From experience the DF can provide this service as cheap and as good. This service by its nature is best suited to the military, there is no overtime,strikes etc

    What experience? Like you said yourself, the AC has never really operated MLH in the SAR role (Apart from about a year in 1982 with an SA330 and a few months with an S.61), and it couldn't even keep the S.61 operational without, wait for it, a strike! Nice one Andy.

    And anyway, what else is there about SAR that means it /has/ to be provided by the military? Driving buses in parts of Dublin is dangerous, should the army do that? Firemen get stones thrown at them in some areas, should that be military also? Lets have one good, logical reason why SAR has to be a military function.

    There has been no "freeing up"of air corps assets since they hadnt any medium lift helis assets in the first place.

    There is more to the AC than just helicopters, there are also things like staff time, fuel, maintenance time and available flight hours. Also, see the reports that the Dauphin and Alouette's are both already seeing a lot more military training.

    It also flags up that the government has not a well thought out policy regarding SAR and they are simply responding to incidents without any long term strategy

    Again, you don't know that. Looks to me that, if you take the last 10 years, things have evolved along a fairly predicable path with an increasing input by private contractors into SAR.

    This sums up to €900million (in todays money, but the actual cost will be a lot more with inflation) while the contract for the 4 s-92's was something in the region of €70million (with offsets,total cost is €70m,subtract the intrest savings).

    The order was for three aircraft with an option for two more. The three were SAR, the two potential were for TTH duties. The costs would have been spent over 3 years. Now, three helis are not enough to keep 4 on station, you'd need 5 or (to be even nearly safe) 6. So, in short, you'd need a capital investment of at least 120mill to deliver the same level of service as the private contracts do now.

    Now lets consider the other costs involved. The AC would have to train pilots, pay them and provide a state pension. The AC would have to train maintenance crew, pay them and provide pensions. The AC would have to invest heavily in facilities and machinery. And the AC would have to pay for fuel, parts and repairs. For 20 years! Do you think these things are free just because its the government? Trust me, your 900m figure would look very small next to that lot.

    I'd have no problem justifying spending that amount of money on the aircorps if it granted an appreciable increase in the usefulness of the AC to the state, as it stands the SAR role can be better dealt with by the private sector, let them off, the AC have other things to be doing.


    Oh, and as for;

    When else do you need a heli for SAR except for an emergency?...

    The emergency referred to is generally considered to be a ferry in trouble in the Irish sea or something of that magnitude; its a scenario that has been long planned for and has little implications for having aircraft ready on the ramp at all times because there would be enough warning to stand-to and get aircraft in the air.

    Its not a huge demand on the A.C.

    Um, yes, it is. Have you being paying attention over the last 20 years?

  15. #15
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    what a load of complete rubbish Aidan

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    what a load of complete rubbish

    Perhaps, but if you don't have the arguments to dispute what I say ...

  17. #17
    Moderator DeV's Avatar
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    There is an international requirement to have SAR helicopters airborne within 15 minutes of a call during the day & 45 minutes at night (the extra time to allow the crew to wake from sleep).

    There are also requirements as to a helicopter being a certain distance from base within a specific time.

  18. #18
    Cuchulain
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    Aidan - you are on a very frustrating path with this Andy character. He really doesn't have any idea of how government procurement works or how SAR operations are run. Logical, informed and reasoned arguments have no effect on him.

    Andy - I have 25 years SAR experience as a pilot including 12 years in the military and 13 years as a civilian SAR pilot (not with CHC). Having operated in both environments I can assure you that both are equally professional (a large number of crews are ex-military). The difference lies in the efficiency - a comparable civilian operation is run much leaner and therefore at a lower cost base.

    Having some experience of government procurement as well I can tell you that any Government working to a budget needs to have a firm projection of costs. A civilian operator gives this in the contract. Any unserviceablities, spares, consumables, accidents, training costs must be covered. Therefore if a SAR aircraft has an accident for instance, or the rear crew decide to all go sick - then the commercial operator must be in a position to still provide a 24 hour service. Not so the IAC. Add to that the cost of purchasing unproven new helicopters, training for 40+ pilots (who may then leave for Aer Lingus), crew, engineers, spares, fuel, simulator recurrency training etc, etc, etc and that may add up to more than your wildly inacurrate 900 million.

    Moderator - I apologise for telling Andy that he has his head stuck up his ar*se and promise not to do so again.


  19. #19
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    Cuchulain,

    Having some experience of government procurement as well I can tell you that any Government working to a budget needs to have a firm projection of costs.
    A government needs firm projection of cost? Well that’s new isn’t it. Most of the infrastructure projects in this country from the port tunnel, luas, motorways, hospitals etc have been built by many private companies after a tender stage and submitted their overall completion price.

    Numerous infrastructure projects up and down the country haven’t met any “firm projection of cost”. Many have cost and time overruns. It’s not the private company which takes the increased cost, it’s the state.

    If you take a look at some of the public bodies, such as some of the county councils, or even I.E delivering on (conventional) rail they have actually delivered on their initial cost.

    The private sector does not guarantee better value for money, if you look back a few years ago, the government rented out 1 helicopter at the same cost as actually buying it.

    The private sector will provide SAR including training, the actual helicopters, repairs etc for the given price as long as there is no unforeseen problems. Should anything happen like there is a strike by pilots or increased operational cost, the state will have to pick up the pieces.

    The air corps will be involved in SAR, in case of any contingency, resulting in the private company not fulfilling its part of the contract. The air corps will have to provide some form of back up to the company. If the government was completely sure that the company would provide the service and this issue was done and dusted, it would have probably not included the winch in the utility tender. Nor would the government be currently revisiting the medium lift tender.

    The argument to privatise SAR for economic reasons is idiotic. The company said it will provide the service for €45 million a year, totalling €900million for 20 years.

    The state could purchase 4 S-92’s for €70 million which will last for 20 years. The operational costs for the state to operate 4 medium lift helicopters is modest. Wages in the Defence Forces are fixed, without the massive overtime associated with the like of the Gardai or the private sector.

    Included in that same €70 million were spare parts and training. Even without these items it is a long way from the €900 million. The operational costs for those medium lift helicopters wouldn’t exceed several million each year; while the government would have access to them should any emergency arise. This massive gap between what the air corps can provide at a given price and what the private sector can provide is too large to simply sweep it under the carpet. It’s an example of poor government.

    The only problem in that tender for the state was the fact that the S-92 was unproven. Its the governments mistake for not taking this factor into account.

    It’s widely accepted within the Defence Forces and government circles, the reason why Air Corps pilots were leaving was because they had no new aircraft for many years, moral was low and its role was ignored by the government. Since then, the government has addressed this issue and retention rates are very high. It should also be noted that there is expected to be a large surplus of pilots in the private sector in the coming years. Supply will exceed demand. The days of the Air Corps being a training school for the likes of Air Lingus are long gone.

  20. #20
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    Seems like there is a simple conclusion to this.

    Andy, you have been presented with two seperate posters, each with some experience of the practicalities of these things, outlining extensively the many holes, flaws, mistaken assumptions and factual inaccuracies in your position; you've now gone and added another massive non-sequiteur in your last post which, to be honest and more out of pity than anything else, I won't go into.

    When this is broken down, it seems like you just want the Air Corps to have big shiny helicopters with tricolours on them, and are willing to construct any argument you can to sustain that dream. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but you really ought to take a more careful look at the facts. The "I know I'm right and no amount of facts can convince me otherwise" argument will only get you so far.

  21. #21
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    When this is broken down, it seems like you just want the Air Corps to have big shiny helicopters with tricolours on them, and are willing to construct any argument you can to sustain that dream.
    Aidan, please take the time to re-read my posts. I neither care if SAR is carried out by the Aircorps or the private sector. I was simply pointing out that the Aircorps is the better option.

    ** withdrew remark regarding Cuchulain**
    Last edited by andy; 17th June 2004 at 22:51.

  22. #22
    King Monkey FMolloy's Avatar
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    Andy, unless you've got good reason to suspect Cuchulain of misrepresentation you should apologise.
    "The dolphins were monkeys that didn't like the land, walked back to the water, went back from the sand."

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    You're assertion that the Air Corps is the better option is based on such delicate (and often duplicitous) arguments however, and the weight of all the objective evidence points so heavily in the other direction, that an emotional motive seems the only rational explanation.

    For example, you assert that the 4 base*(as in 4 helis on call) service would cost €45m per annum, totalling 900mill in 2004 prices over 20 years. However, the director of the Irish Coastguard, Mr Liam Kirwan, is quoted as saying in the Marine Times that '"the estimated cost of operating 3 Search and Rescue bases by a civilian operator will cost €19 million per year, that's for everything - for six helicopters, all training, flying hours, fuel and VAT at 21%." . So in effect, your headline figure of 900m is completely wrong.

    Also, note the six helis? You want to do the job with 4. Note the fact that the tender was for 3, and now you reckon Sikorsky will throw in another for free? And the fact that the S-92 didn't actually win?

    ?

  24. #24
    Commandant Come-quickly's Avatar
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    Em hate to break up this really productive debate, but if the medium lift contract is genuinely under review, for what purpose in the light of recent noises from the DOD is this related to a possible future SAR requirement or for purely military usage?
    "It is a general popular error to imagine that loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for it's welfare" Edmund Burke

  25. #25
    4 Star General andy's Avatar
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    sorry Cuchulain,

    You're assertion that the Air Corps is the better option is based on .....evidence points so heavily in the other direction, that an emotional motive seems the only rational explanation.
    Yes the air corps is a better option for SAR, primarily because of economic reasons, its dependable, etc

    The director of the Irish Coastguard, Mr Liam Kirwan estimates are clearly wrong. He should consult the actual government figures of €30million for 3 or €45 for 4 helicopter.

    I am in fact completly correct.

    No Aiden, I dont expect Sikorsky to throw in free helicopters. And I did note that the only major problem with that tender was the fact that the S-92 is unproven.

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