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Air Corps SAR

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  • Air Corps SAR

    Just heard on the radio,the Minister announced that the Air Corps will no longer be involved in SAR operations in the North West.
    Is this the end of Air Corps SAR?
    More info to follow.

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

  • #2
    Mr Smith announced in Baldonnel today that a programme would commence early next year to replace the current light helicopters in use by the Aer Corps. (RTE 6.1 News)


    • #3
      6.1 News

      So is the minister admitting that the Private company was better at the job than the Air Corps? The only reason this is the case is that the equipment provided to the air corps was primative and unsuitable in comparison.

      At least a new era in Heliops will(possibly) begin with a single heli type.
      Who wants to start the ball rolling? My money is on the EC135..

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


      • #4
        Not to take anything away from the lads in the Aer Corps, but private industry will nearly always provide a better service than any government agency. It's the nature of the beast.

        No-one, I think, is in my tree...


        • #5
          Well since almost all of the CHC employees in Ireland are ex-IAC anyway...I think Goldies statement holds more merit.
          "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


          • #6
            Whatever the reason for the superior performance of CHC ( better equipment, etc) it seems that the service was better. The fact that most of the staff are ex-IAC is not relevant. If the IAC equipment is of a lesser standard......well it just goes to prove my previous post.

            Like I said, not a reflection on the IAC guys themselves.....just an informed opinion on the merits of private industry over govt inefficiency.

            No-one, I think, is in my tree...


            • #7
              Would it have anything to do with the "Industrial Action" in the North-West recently?


              • #8
                Helicopter rescue service 'to go private'
                Don Lavery
                The Irish Independent

                THE €16.3m Air Corps search and rescue (SAR) service for the north-west was axed yesterday by Minister for Defence Michael Smith, who said it will be privatised.

                The Sligo-based service, hit in October by what Mr Smith called "an unusually high incidence of sickness" among air crew, will be provided commercially.

                Mr Smith, who also announced a plan to procure a new fleet of light helicopters to replace aircraft - some of which are 40 years old - claimed the decision was made because the Air Corps was unable to retain full specialist skills needed for a modern 24-hour SAR service.

                A spokesman for the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO) said: "We are extremely disappointed with the decision." Soldiers' representative group PDFORRA was also disappointed the Air Corps would have no role in search and rescue in the region after 40 years.

                Sources said some Air Corps personnel who moved to Sligo to train on the large medium-lift S-61 helicopter were in shock. In October, the service was hit by a sudden outbreak of illness among crew after a pay claim by winch crews was withdrawn, although an offer had been made by the Department of Defence.

                A shortage of winch operators meant the Corps could not take part in rescue missions but was available for searches, air ambulance duties and island relief.

                Mr Smith said the Air Corps would continue to train personnel to SAR standards, and would be available to the Coast Guard.

                In July, Mr Smith told the Dail he was committed to maintaining the Air Corps's role in providing SAR services and to this end the S-61 helicopter was being acquired for the north-west.

                Senior Defence Forces sources said they were "extremely concerned" about whether medium-lift helicopters would ever be bought, despite commitments by Mr Smith. He cancelled plans to acquire five such helicopters in 2002 because of cutbacks. It was unclear last night how many light helicopters would be bought. The Air Corps had sought eight Agusta 109 helicopters but sources said five would be purchased. An €8.4m Learjet 45 executive jet is to join the Ministerial Air Transport Service this week, to allow the Air Corps extra capability during Ireland's EU Presidency.


                • #9
                  The Aer corp in Sligo had the same aircraft and equipment as the coastguard.Put it down to mismanagement.


                  • #10
                    Helicopters for "military interoperability training programmes".

                    The Irish Times

                    Ireland Thu, Dec 18, 03

                    Air Corps to cease search and rescue
                    Mark Brennock, Chief Political Correspondent

                    The Government is to end all Air Corps involvement in search-and-rescue services, putting the money saved towards the purchase of a new fleet of light helicopters.

                    The search-and-rescue service based in Sligo, the only one currently operated by the Air Corps, has been beset by staffing problems and a dispute over pay, conditions and safety for several months. It will now be transferred to private operation, joining the other units at Dublin, Shannon and Waterford which are operated by the company CHC.

                    Announcing the decision yesterday, the Minister for Defence, Mr Smith, said the new fleet of light utility helicopters would allow the Air Corps "to provide an extended range of services, including, in particular, supporting important military interoperability training programmes".

                    This includes "interoperability" with the military forces of other countries in operations abroad.

                    In his statement, Mr Smith said he "acknowledged the efforts of Air Corps management and staff to maintain an operational SAR [search-and-rescue] service in the north-west and, in particular, the dedication and commitment of key personnel in the search-and-rescue service".

                    However a spokesman for PDFORRA, which represents many of the search and rescue personnel, said last night he was "saddened and disappointed" at the decision. The decision to pull out of the Sligo operation follows months of dispute over pay and safety issues.

                    The helicopter winching crews at one point had a pay claim but it was withdrawn from arbitration during last summer.

                    PDFORRA, which represents the crews, maintained that Air Corps staff are serving alongside more highly paid search-and-rescue crews working for CHC.

                    It says a specialist report drawn up by Air Corps management last year found that the salary for winch operators in CHC/Irish Coast Guard was €48,000 to €58,000 annually, compared to a maximum salary of €37,000 for the Air Corps. A substantial proportion of the winching staff in Sligo have been on sick leave since the summer, and in October the winching staff were redeployed to Air Corps headquarters in Baldonnel.

                    PDFORRA attributed the level of sick leave being taken to "a hostile and difficult working environment, with harassment and related stress".

                    He denied there was any "work-to-rule" or withdrawal of services by crews for any reason other than illness and stress.

                    The Department of Defence said it plans to publish a notice inviting tenders for the supply of the helicopters in the Official Journal of the European Community early in the New Year.

                    The new aircraft would help the Air Corps provide support to the Army and provide additional support in the areas of surveillance, airlift, inshore rescue, medevac, air ambulance, island relief and hospital transfers, said the Minister.

                    The Air Corps will now dispose of the current Alouette, Dauphin and Gazelle aircraft.

                    The PDFORRA spokesman, Mr Gerry Rooney, said last night his organisation was saddened and disappointed that after 40 years the Air Corps will no longer be involved in search-and-rescue.

                    © The Irish Times


                    • #11
                      finally the aircorps has shot itself in the foot, game over flyboys, this is fantastic stuff, you handed your own heads on a plate to smith and Mc Creevy, lets see,

                      well we need cash so lets cut out the crap SAR service and dispose of the flying tins and with the money we get we'll buy them a token 5 decent light choppers so that they look like theyre doing something and it'll take the glare off berties shiny new flying limo.

                      Now lets move before they realise that the NEXT time we need choppers we'll have to lose some other capability first...

                      this is bloody great. mismanagement indeed!

                      this sh*te has gone on long enough, heads should f*cking roll and NOW.

                      the Aircorps fleet is constantly shrinking along with the number of useful public service roles it performs.
                      "He is an enemy officer taken in battle and entitled to fair treatment."
                      "No, sir. He's a sergeant, and they don't deserve no respect at all, sir. I should know. They're cunning and artful, if they're any good. I wouldn't mind if he was an officer, sir. But sergeants are clever."


                      • #12
                        I think it's a shame that there have to be cutbacks in other areas before there is investment in new. They talk about military interoperability, in what way? troop transport? Those LUH, if we ever get them, will carry at most 6 fully equipped soldiers, where with the medium-lifts we could carry 20. The only candidate I see that could be armed is the Augusta 109.

                        And I think Morpheus is spot on, we'll get a token of what is due.


                        • #13
                          we'll get a token of what is due.




                          What is 'due' is decided by the Government, they make policy so they are the final arbiter. The fact that we may not agree with them is hardly of relevance to the decision they take.

                          Also arming these helis is of dubious usefulness. Anything smaller than a 212 won't really have space enough for a door gun along with proper ingress/exit for troops. Putting rocket or machine gun pods on them will mean v little extra capacity for troops (GW vs ULW), and anyone who wants to use a machine like this for CAS needs to get their heads examined. And still, all of the products in the sector can be offered with an armament package.

                          The simple fact of the matter is that small LUH helis are only really military in name, particularly for a force structure like ours where there are no 'heavy' assets there to back them up. The Alouette has done 40 years service, the vast majority of which has been spent without any 'military' equipment on board (save soldiers IW). Chances are its replacement will do exactly the same.

                          If I were to guess, I'd say the AC will end up with 6-8 Eurocopter 130 or 635s (A109 has gone out of favour, someone must've spoken to the Belgians).

                          Best to be hoped for would be 10 EC635s and 4-6 NH90s. But thats just fantasy. Interesting to see that interoperability is being mentioned for the first time though, thats a major forward step.
                          Last edited by Aidan; 18 December 2003, 14:05.


                          • #14
                            With interoperability being mentioned with the "military forces of other countries in operations abroad"....Could this be done with 5-6 LUH's??? & knowing the IAC's luck 5 R22's


                            • #15
                              I dunno Bud Fox, a few r44s mightn't be bad. They'd do the job for covert ops in this country (they sound like tractors on feilds, so no one'd notice the noise! :xlol: :xlol: :xlol: )

                              Seriously, it's a sad day to see the Air Corps lose SAR in Sligo. I dunno what happened up there, but methinks, right or wrong, the minister's not for turning. And the fact the minister chose the 17th -of all days- to announce it, that was cold. :(
                              If you have to do it, you always have to do it right. Either it makes a difference, or it’s good practice so that when it does make a difference, it gets done right.