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  • Cessna Replacement - The Options

    With the Helicopter purchase programme underway, the next aircraft to be replaced in Air Corps service is the Cessnas. Strikes me that there are number of main options.

    1. Replace the 172 with a similar number of similar aircraft.
    2. Replace them with a smaller number of more capable aircraft
    3. Replace them, and the Beechcraft, with a smaller number of twin engined aircraft
    4. Replace them, and the Beechcraft, with a smaller number of twin engined aircraft but consider purchasing more than one type, factoring in the ongoing requirement for some cargo capacity.

    There is also an option 5 of course, either retire them without replacement or expand the numbers of helicopters purchased.

    Leaving that aside for the moment, and assuming that a replacement fixed wing type is in the offing, there are a number of other considerations. The first is that the Gardai now have their own capacity which (in theory) should remove the need for the Cessna to fulfill some of its original roles. Also, the new helicopters also offer capabilities previously only delivered by the 172s. Additionally, some of the state agencies that previously required support from the AC now rely on commercial contractors, primarily because of the need for ever more expensive sensor equipment. So I think that Option 1 can be removed as a practical suggestion. That leaves the other 3.

    What do people think?

  • #2
    Specifications (172R)
    Data from Wikipedia

    General characteristics

    Crew: 1
    Capacity: 3 passengers
    Length: 27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)
    Wingspan: 36 ft 1 in (11.0 m)
    Height: 8 ft 11 in (2.72 m)
    Wing area: 174 ft² (16.2 m²)
    Empty weight: 1,620 lb (743 kg)
    Max takeoff weight: 2,450 lb (1,110 kg)
    Powerplant: 1× Lycoming IO-360-L2A flat-4 engine, 160 hp (120 kW) at 2,400 rpm

    Performance
    Never exceed speed: 163 knots (185 mph, 302 km/h)
    Maximum speed: 123 knots (141 mph, 228 km/h) at sea level
    Range: 790 mi (687 nm, 1,272 km) at 60% power at 10,000 ft (3,040 m)
    Service ceiling: 13,500 ft (4,120 m)
    Rate of climb: 720 ft/min (3.7 m/s)
    Max wing loading: 14.1 lb/ft² (68.8 kg/m²)
    Whats the general price of a 172 these days?
    "The Question is not: how far you will take this? The Question is do you possess the constitution to go as far as is needed?"

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    • #3
      http://skyhawk.cessna.com/pricelist.chtml

      Though other models like the Stationair (206) might be more appropriate.
      .
      .
      .
      With 50,000 men getting killed a week, who's going to miss a pigeon?

      Guns don't kill people, bullets kill people.

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      • #4
        Very good topic touching on this discussion on Franks board:
        http://www.irishairpics.com/cgi-bin/...=ST;f=1;t=1412

        SousaTeuszii moots the Diamond DA42, a small twin engined aircraft in the observation role. Part of his point being - what makes a good utility aircraft, may not make a good observation aircraft, due to fuel burn rates etc.

        I don't know if he posts here, but he seems to have a very well thought out rationale behind his suggestion.

        There does seem to be a grey area when it comes to the Cessna roles. CIT/observation is still a requirement certainly, but how much of a requirement is Para training? The non cheapskate option would be to order dedicated aircraft for the different roles, but that's more than likely a non starter.

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        • #5
          hi there
          The Diamond DA-42 has a problem..it's underpowered in it's current role as a trainer/general tourer and has a good cruise speed only by virtue of clever aerodynamics. I was talking to several instructors who fly it in the UK and, whilst they liked it's speed and handling and modern avionics, they disliked the lack of power and positively hated it's single-engine behaviour.
          regards
          GttC

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          • #6
            Should've checked Franks board really, shouldn't I ...

            Information that strikes me is that the Caravan 208 is going to be expensive, but still not useable in the real world in anything less than ideal circumstances. Its too much plane, no matter how you define the role*. Thats money and support cash that could be better spent on a C-295 or whatever.

            The suggestion that immediately appeals to me would be to purchase 4 PC-6 Turbo Porters in a reasonable spec. Well proven airframe and not overly expensive to run and maintain, if a little low on capacity. Good endurance though, and they would be deployable abroad as observation/liason aircraft with very good rough field abilities. Then, in good time(4-6 years later), make an investment in the transport area proper, with 2 aircraft in the CN-295/C-27J sector.

            The issue of the role is critical though. Not going to go into the CIT element of the role for obvious reasons, save to say that it seems likely that the requirement for Air Corps involvement should decrease over time. The obvious main roles for a replacement would have to include target towing, para training, general observation duties and just possibly some deployment abroad. However the more I think about it, the more it seems that most of these tasks are better done by helicopters (transport, observation) or UAVs (artillery spotting or recce proper). The only tasks that really need what a small fixed wing has to offer are transport over longer distances or roles that require endurance (hence the Garda Defender instead of an additional heli).

            Is there a case for option 5 after all, replace the 172s with 4 more AB139s and wait for more capable transport aircraft?

            Comment


            • #7
              roles

              Originally posted by Aidan View Post

              The issue of the role is critical though. Not going to go into the CIT element of the role for obvious reasons, save to say that it seems likely that the requirement for Air Corps involvement should decrease over time. The obvious main roles for a replacement would have to include target towing, para training, general observation duties and just possibly some deployment abroad. However the more I think about it, the more it seems that most of these tasks are better done by helicopters (transport, observation) or UAVs (artillery spotting or recce proper). The only tasks that really need what a small fixed wing has to offer are transport over longer distances or roles that require endurance (hence the Garda Defender instead of an additional heli).

              Is there a case for option 5 after all, replace the 172s with 4 more AB139s and wait for more capable transport aircraft?
              As you say, it's essential to be clear about the functions to be fulfilled by any proposed new aircraft purchases, especially given that large amounts of public money are involved. It is 30 years since the Cessnas were bought, so the first step, as you suggest, must be to review their missions, roles, tasks... And not just the nature of particular roles, but their frequency.

              For example, how often is target towing carried out? Would it be more efficient to hire a commercial target tug as required? Furthermore, if it is the case that a major expense is required to sustain a particular role, then the feasibility of that role must be reviewed. For example, the only military parachuting carried out in the DF is that done by the Rangers. How many of them are there? How often do they need to jump? Should a number of aircraft be acquired - costing many millions - to facilitate a very limited amount of parachuting? As for deployment of Air Corps aircraft abroad, the current White Paper rules that out.

              So your option 5 (i) - retirement without replacement - would have to be decided upon first, before looking at possible replacement aircraft types.

              As for option 5 (ii) - replacement with 4 more AW139s - that would cost in excess of €50 million. Perhaps a larger number of smaller helicopters, for less than half that sum? And there would have to be a change in Government policy, to allow for overseas deployment.

              UAVs, yes, about time the DF began to make use of these, and it looks like they would be able to handle the general observation role more efficiently.

              Larger transport aircraft? Seem to be ruled out again by the White Paper, but of course Governments can change policy. But again, given the actual Defence Forces air transport requirements, would we not be better served by getting involved in the European Strategic Airlift Agreement?

              Comment


              • #8
                the replacement of the cessnas will be either cessna caravelles or pc6s wont happen this side of election and until Earley assumes role of CoS
                Barney: Hello, my name is Barney Gumble, and I'm an alcoholic.
                Lisa: Mr Gumble, this is a girl scouts meeting.
                Barney: Is it, or is it you girls can't admit that you have a problem?

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                • #9
                  Forgive me, I'm about to ask a silly question.

                  I've very little understanding about aircraft maintenance, but my inkling would be that a PC-6 would be far easier and cheaper to maintain in the field, compared to say an AW-139. Would this be correct and is this a significant factor?

                  My own, admittedly not exactly enlightened opinion, would be that fixed wing aircraft offer advantages of endurance and range compared to helicopters. Which is enough to warrant the operation of a small number of such aircraft alongside helicopters.

                  Obviously helicopters have advantages of their own, but with the limited numbers the IAC have, perhaps they are best left to troop transport?

                  Silly question number 2: would the PC-9's be of any use in observations roles abroad? I read recently (alas on Wikipedia) that the USAF was looking into the possibility of using their model as Forward Air Controllers

                  Of course the PC-9 is another leap up the ladder of complexity compared to the PC-6 and there is the question of how to get them to troublespots...

                  On the subject of target towing, I believe the swiss use a limited number of PC-9's in this role.
                  Last edited by pym; 11 April 2007, 16:06.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by carrington View Post
                    For example, the only military parachuting carried out in the DF is that done by the Rangers.
                    Incorrect, the parachutist course is open to all.
                    "The dolphins were monkeys that didn't like the land, walked back to the water, went back from the sand."

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                    • #11
                      As you say, it's essential to be clear about the functions to be fulfilled by any proposed new aircraft purchases, especially given that large amounts of public money are involved. It is 30 years since the Cessnas were bought, so the first step, as you suggest, must be to review their missions, roles, tasks... And not just the nature of particular roles, but their frequency.
                      All true. The first stage in any formal evaluation of a replacement criteria would be the 'do nothing' or do not replace option.

                      That would mean taking the log books of the fleet over a set period (say 5 years) and examining what the aircraft have actually been used for. This may even involve costing these services were they delivered from the private sector. However in a field like the Military, it does not just come down to simple financial (as opposed to economic) benefits or costs - there may be a profound benefit from having an aircraft in service, even if a particular element of its capabilities are seldom explored. Its risk related return, and thats a judgement call.

                      Also worth keeping in mind the costs of a servicing contract and parts supply - all of the costs associated with having an additional type in service - this would make the AB-139 seem cheaper as the type is already in service (and yes, I realise that the PC-6 would have engine compatibility with other types in the fleet). So what do people think, worth moving towards a more helicentric fleet?

                      The White Paper issue doesn't particularly complicate matters btw. Any procurement decisions are undoubtedly framed by it, but those who have a key role in deciding the future policy direction also input into other decisions. It would not be surprising to have a procurement decision 'pre-empt' a policy initiative.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Clarification

                        Originally posted by FMolloy View Post
                        Incorrect, the parachutist course is open to all.
                        Sorry, I guess I didn't make that point very clearly. What I meant by 'military parachuting' is parachuting for operational, military purposes. My understanding is that the only parachuting of this nature in the Defence Forces is done by the ARW, who use it as a method of inserting an SF team. Any other parachuting is non-military, for sport or display or adventure training.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The role of airborne support for escorts is not just observation (more important jobs than that while it is up there - that is operational info so will not be discussed.

                          Parachuting & target towing I would imagine do not take up a large percentage of flying hours, when compared to escorts etc, so it makes more economic sense that if the aircraft is there, available, capable of the job and suitability equipped to use the AC aircraft.

                          Helicopters generally do not have the required endurance and loitering capability (it would be too expensive) for the airborne escort role.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by carrington View Post
                            Any other parachuting is non-military, for sport or display or adventure training.
                            It's an official DF course, organised & run by DF personnel and successful completion of it results in jump wings being awarded - what about that is not military?
                            "The dolphins were monkeys that didn't like the land, walked back to the water, went back from the sand."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              FMolloy,
                              I think he means that the course is not military in that it is essentially a sport parachutist's course.Only the Rangers perform anything like an armed drop into a combat situation/role. As for any other kind of DF parachuting, simply place a contract with the IPC in Clonbulloge or SkyDive Ireland at Ernagh to perform x number of drops per year. You could even sit an Air Corps pilot in side the pC-6 to get over that piece of legislative bullshit.
                              The PC-9s could easily perform the target-tugging function. A PC-6 could also do it.
                              Better still, give the Rangers their own, dedicated aircraft or helicopter for their duties, exclusive to them. It would take the heat off the provision of airborne assets to them.
                              regards
                              GttC
                              Last edited by GoneToTheCanner; 21 February 2008, 10:23.

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