Saturday, 18 July 2009

Cut and Shut Helicopter: Defending the MoD

Having seen a few bloggers writing about the Chinook flying in Afghanistan which has a tail section from an Argentine machine I feel that, much as I really, I mean really, hate to defend the government and the MoD, especially on the issue of airborne transport in Afghanistan, it is my duty to do so just this once. This is probably a non-story. Sorry.


As I wrote here most stories in the paper I can assess are wrong in important ways. In that post I mentioned working in an industry which generates a lot of press. That industry is aviation. As the MoD said, it is common practice to use parts from one aircraft to repair another. With a typical holiday jet the most major component likely to be swapped would be the engines (which have a maximum lifetime, or might have to be rebuilt due to damage), but many non-structural elements like fairings, panels, avionics and machinery plus doors, gear components and some other smaller structural elements might well be.

I was never in the RAF proper or involved with the Chinook, and know little specific about its construction except that it is fairly conventional. However it is an excellent aircraft with a fantastic safety record. Maintenance in the military is generally good, and the repair which involved Boeing the manufacturer and Fleetlands, the military helicopter repair facility was probably done very well. After all the aircraft has flown many hours safely since.

Half the UK Hercules fleet has been cut in half and fitted back together. A section was added to extend the length of the aircraft, and done perfectly safely, with an excellent record since. This sort of major repair work is possible to complete safely, but in a car is sub economic so the car would be written off. Hence a cut and shut car is poorly repaired, and a serious hazard. Aircraft are far more expensive to buy, so sound repairs can be made.

Sorry, people, the government is probably right on this one. Save your indignation for where it is justified, there is no shortage!

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