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  • NO SAR but new government Jet!!

    'Embarrassed' Ahern backs plans to purchase a new Government jet

    TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern has backed plans to buy a new Government jet, despite the expected political fallout.

    The move comes after the 12-year-old Gulfstream GIV jet broke down twice in the past couple of months, in embarrassing incidents for the Taoiseach himself and other ministers.

    Plans had already been in the pipeline for the leasing of a second jet in the run-up to Ireland taking over the Presidency of the EU next January.

    But Mr Ahern, it is understood, believes they cannot delay any longer in replacing the GIV which has been becoming increasingly troublesome, and is determined to secure a replacement without further delay.

    Ministers are prepared for widespread public criticism if they go ahead with buying a new plane in the current difficult economic circumstances.

    But Mr Ahern fears further breakdowns of the GIV during Ireland's term heading the EU would reflect badly on the country and cause further embarrassment.

    It is expected that Defence Minister Michael Smith will be asked to explore the options for buying a new executive jet.

    The jet was bought for €44m in 1991 and went into service early the following year.

    It is believed the GIV would have a "trade-in" value of about €20m but Government officials would not speculate in advance of a tender process on how much more money might be needed to secure a replacement.

    The GIV has more than 7,500 flying hours clocked up and the Department of Defence says it has had a "98pc availability" rate during its lifetime.

    But ministers have called its reliability into question after several high-profile breakdowns in the past year.

    In December, Marine Minister Dermot Ahern and Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh had to make hurried alternative arrangements for an important EU meeting after the jet was grounded.

    And Mr Ahern himself had a first-hand taste of the problems with the jet when it broke down at Mexico City airport last Friday week.

    Irish Embassy officials fixed up alternative commercial flights for Mr Ahern and partner Celia Larkin back to Dublin via Amsterdam.

    There were two separate faults discovered in the jet during the pre-flight inspection in Mexico, one in a fuel tap and the second with the hydraulics.

    Replacement parts had to be flown in for the jet which was back in service the following day.

    In the past, the plane has let Mr Ahern down on one particularly important occasion. Over a year ago, it had to be towed away from the runway at Washington Airport after it developed a fault. Mr Ahern was due to travel to New York to meet UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. No alternative flight could be secured to get the Taoiseach there in time so the meeting had to be aborted.

    The Department of Defence says the flying hours on the jet are not high by the standards of such aircraft.

    But a spokesman said it does have more than the average number of take-offs and landings because of its frequent usage within the country.

    The main engine had to be replaced in 2001 while significant rusting of the plane's tail was also discovered that same year.

    It accommodates 14 passengers on local and European flights but can only take 10 on longer trips such as transatlantic flights.

    Gene McKenna, Political Editor

  • #2
    It would be a bad idea for that slimy underhanded minister for OFFENCE to be involved in buying a new jet. Look at the mess he made with the new Heli order. It nearly landed him in court for breaking the Departments own rules on the tender. Once again the governments contempt for the DF comes to the fore. The money would be better spent on giving us a modicum of air mobility, or at least the ability to fly at night. Not long ago i witnessed a comrarde with a serious back injury being carried of the side of a mountain by a team of medics in the dead of night in deplorable conditions because the SAR heli could not fly in those conditions. And what happened to the "need for intercept capabilities" that we were informed we needed after Sept 11 ? Will we fit the Gov Jet with Air to Air misiles in emergencies? YEA RIGHT


    • #3
      The spin being put on this one is breathtaking.

      The servicibility of this aircraft is probably as good as or better than comparable operations. Any aircraft is going to have downtime, and when there's no replacement available, what do they expect? Some sort of fractional-lease system might be more advantageous and give the option of replacement aircraft when needed.

      It'd be interesting to hear what servicibility on the rest of the A/C fleet is like. I've heard that the GIV is the only aircraft where spares availibility isn't a problem.

      As for the high amount of short haul trips, who the F*** is to blame for that then!


      • #4
        No wonder there is such spin in that story - seeing that Bertie has more spin doctors than Tony Blair
        IRISH AIR CORPS - Serving the Nation.


        • #5
          Would It not be possible to say lease an Aer lingus aircraft. As far as I can see anytime British PM Tony Blair travels abroad he uses the services of a British Airways 777 and do the RAF still use VC10's for ministeral transport sure those things are older than God or should I say much of the Irish Air Corps fleet! Surely If this glorified 737 is puchased It won't eat in to funds for the IAC. Oh what sort of country do we live in Bertie or Biffo board Irish 257(this aircraft will no doubt be in service soon as we can't be a laughing stock you know) and the alouettes sit on the ramp in Baldonnell. The same alouettes that were in the air when-war in Vietnam was raging/The Beatles were riding high in the charts/De Valera was still alive-need I say anymore.



          • #6
            The Aer Corps need those rescue Helicopters now not a new bloody jet to give Bertie a new ego trip. There is nothing wrong with stepping off an Aerlingus A320 in either Brussells or London is there.
            What would be the ideal heli for SAR the S92 or others? And then we have the utility heli problem, would it be the A109 or the Douphin 2?
            Any thoughts??
            Only the dead have seen the end of war - Plato

            "Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory" Proverbs 11-14


            • #7
              8x Eh101
              8xA109M/E or EC-635...
              Thats two airframes, 16 helicopters, all rotary wing aviation requirements met.
              "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


              • #8
                Imshi, tried pricing 8 EH101s?

                Cos they ain't cheap. I agree, they are probably the best medium lift heli on the market at the moment, but if they were to cost significantly more than an aircraft with only slightly lesser capabilities, then the extra money might be best spent elsewhere ... like on an AIII replacement.

                Ideally though, a high/low mix of medium lift helis would be a cheaper solution. Even if they weren't EH101s.

                The Eurocopter option would be EC725s as the front end SAR heli and the Puma AS532AL (or even the UB) as the troop transport, fairly simple, can carry 25 troops and its a very well proven design.

                Alternatively, if the contract was to be readvertised, the NH-90 could be entered, with a fairly simple version of the TTH providing the SAR end and the NFH providing the SAR capability.

                Theres another problem on the horizon though, and its potentially a serious one for the Air Corps. SAR in this country is almost completely civilianised now, Justifying tens of millions of Euro for SAR aircraft to provide/supplant a service already provided by civilian companies with no capital expenditure involved is going to be a tough one for any Minister of Defence. I'm not saying it won't happen, but its not going to be easy. Which is probably why we've heard the stories about the PPP and civilian techies being thrown around.

                I wouldn't be making any bets on the future of the medium lift (ML) contract in that environment. If we were to hear of a AIII replacement first, with a twin engined type selected, I'd really begin to fear for the ML contract.


                • #9
                  A story I got yesterday (though the first half is irrelevant)tells a lot about the state of our helis at the moment..Its an outsiders, Honest ,view of the Air Corps..
                  From the Limerick Leader.
                  Monte Carlo
                  THE date was January 1964 and it cost sixpence.
                  London's Motoring News led with the heading: "BMC victorious in Monte", and the story told of how Paddy Hopkirk, with Henry Liddon as co-pilot, had won the Monte Carlo Rally in their Mini-Cooper 5, and I got the last available copy.
                  It was a huge story for Ireland.
                  Prince Rainier and Princess Grace had made the presentation outside the royal palace.
                  And it was such a big thing for Britain too that Paddy was féted on the stage of the London Palladium that Sunday, viewed by tens of millions. Hopkirk was a hero.
                  Four years later they made a great comedy film called Monte Carlo or Bust with Tony Curtis, Susan Hampshire, Terry Thomas (as Sir Cuthbert Ware-Armitage, who else?) Jack Hawkins, Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore. It was a delightful film which added to the already massive reputation of the Monte Carlo Rally.
                  This Thursday sees the start of the 71st Monte Carlo rally. And nobody will notice.
                  But wait a moment. There is a comparison:
                  Americans go to London and spend a small fortune see the tennis at "Wimbleton", in the same way as people pay small fortunes to see the Monaco Grand Prix snarl around the streets of Monte Carlo in late May.
                  But the "real" London set wouldn't be seen dead at Wimbledon. Their natural home is at cricket in Lords where one can also play tennis, but "real tennis" a-la Henry VIII. Let the Americans and Japanese have "Wimbleton" and all its brash razzmatazz, and good luck to them
                  The same with les Monegasques. Not for the smart set the smelly and noisy Ferrari, Williams, McLaren, Jaguar or Jordan-type cars. No indeed. The upper set actually leave town for the grand prix weekend and hand the place over to the dreadful sponsors and their clients.
                  The Monte Carlo rally at the end of January is the real scene. And if the Americans and Japanese don't turn up in their thousands, so much the better.
                  So it's the Monte this weekend. It may well be 39 years since Paddy Hopkirk won, but it retains a certain, em, je ne sais quoi.

                  AEROSPATIALLE sold Alouette III helicopters to the Irish Air Corps and they were collected from Marseilles in 1963, a few months before Paddy Hopkirk won the, etc.
                  They're still flying.
                  Yes, dear reader, we have forty year-old helicopters up there.
                  The Alouette (which is the French for skylark) is a robust banger of an aircraft, and has always been the backbone of helicopter operations here, despite the existence of the sexier-appearance Dauphins and Gazelles in the fleet.
                  Yes, I know that there are World War II DC3 Dakotas still flying today, but one would have imagined that a helicopter would wear out a bit faster, what with all the torque and strain on the jesus-bolt from which the entire apparatus hangs from the rotors.
                  So, when you see the clumsy-looking grey Alouettes rise from Sarsfield Barracks, think in terms of four decades of service. None of the pilots or service personnel which first handled it are still in the Air Corps.

                  Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.


                  • #10
                    THey ain't cheap but then going by this state's record they'll have to last till at least 2043.....the EC725 is dodgy kit, and really with a small fleet you need the thirty man troop compartment.

                    Mind you even an Alouette replacement is unlikely....yep I've run out of hope
                    "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


                    • #11
                      Just hear that the Government jet went belly up again this morning as Bertie was bout to leave to go to Prague. I tell ya he should fly Aerlingus? and stop wasting money on the Bloody thing and spend the money on SAR helis.
                      Only the dead have seen the end of war - Plato

                      "Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory" Proverbs 11-14


                      • #12
                        that would be sensible thing to do, get rid of it after all they own an airline


                        • #13
                          Or maybe Ryanair ... (I'm sure Celia could rustle up a packed lunch for Bertie to make up for the lack of in-flight catering).


                          • #14
                            This is incredible.

                            Taoiseach's air fare costs €35,000

                            Pressure on for new €100m Government jet to avoid diplomatic embarrassment

                            THE TAOISEACH jets home from Prague today by air taxi, with the fare due to exceed €35,000 for the two-day trip.

                            Meanwhile a fuel-pump booster will be winging its way to Dublin from Switzerland, the latest small part needed to replace a failed item on the ill-starred Government Gulfstream IV jet.

                            The private secretary to the Taoiseach, David Feeney, received a phone call late on Wednesday night informing him of the jet's unavailability for the planned 8.30am flight the next day to the Czech Republic.

                            An air taxi had to be swiftly booked to replace the jet, which the State purchased 12 years ago and which is now proving increasingly frail. Just a week earlier the Taoiseach had to abandon a red-carpet send-off from Mexico City when the jet developed problems with both its hydraulics and fuel system.

                            Last night there were calls from Fianna Fail backbenchers for the jet to be replaced. They found support from Fine Gael frontbencher Gay Mitchell, who emphasised the high level of airport diplomacy that would be required in advance of Ireland's EU Presidency next year.

                            The jet has logged 7,500 flying hours, which is not seen as excessive for its age. However, it has a very high level of take-offs and landings, due to its use on short-hop trips, including many to Belfast, Cork and Shannon.

                            Tanaiste Mary Harney ran into controversy in 2001 when it was revealed she had used an Air Corps Casa plane to fly from Dublin to Manorhamilton for the official opening of an off-licence at an estimated cost of €13,000.

                            The Gulfstream IV jet costs €5,500 an hour to operate, and flies about 600 hours each year for an annual operating cost of €3.3m, including depreciation. The jet, a 14-seater, originally cost £44m. The Government would like to obtain an aircraft with up to 60 seats, but this could cost €100m plus.

                            "After serving the nation well for more than two decades, the time has come now to replace the Government jet," commented Dublin North TD Jim Glennon yesterday. "This latest incident is the fourth in recent weeks. The jet is decrepit and not airworthy. It threatens the safety of An Taoiseach and all who travel in it. It is embarrassing and the situation needs to be addressed immediately." It would not be possible to successfully hold the Presidency of the EU next year with a jet that does not function, he said.

                            Gay Mitchell echoed that point, saying his party was willing to enter into discussions on the replacement of the jet.

                            Even in the few months prior to the Presidency, the jet would be needed for trips to each capital of an expanded EU, he said.

                            Mr Glennon added: "We all saw the photographs of Bertie Ahern in Mexico standing in front of the broken-down jet. It was a moment of extreme embarrassment for our leader and the nation. We should not be put in that position again."

                            Senan Molony, Political Correspondent


                            • #15
                              I saw Tony Blair getting off a BA plane to the US on the box this morning, perhaps Bertie charter a Aer Finglas jet, however I can see why the Aer Corps are making a fuss over the G-IV, Its the only chance they will get to get a new jet in the next 10 years :(
                              You're even dumber than I tell people

                              You might have been infected but you never were a bore