Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Strikes Seem to Work

There is so much going on with the T-45/F-18 O2 problem that it is hard to get your head around exactly what is the most interesting.

Is it the fact that this has been a known problem for over twice the time it took to fight WWII and nothing was seriously done until now?

Is it the cycles of aviation leadership that couldn't or refused to see it as an issue ... or decided the easier thing to do was to shift the problem in to someone else's PCS cycle?

Is it the hubris of engineers who put more faith in their theories than the facts in the aircraft?

Hard to say, but what I find most interesting is the fact that what finally got things moving was after a body of the best junior officers in Naval Aviation went on strike.

There is a broad and deep well of trust junior officers in aviation have in their aviation leadership. It is a byproduct of the shared risk they take in the aircraft and the trust you have in each other, regardless of paygrade, in a world where even the most routine flight holds a chance of death from a whole host of reasons, most beyond the control of the pilot.

As there is this shared risk and background, there isn't a belief that your leadership would knowingly put your life in risk for anything but the mission.

Sure, you may not personally like your leadership, may not think some are as good at flying than you are, and perhaps even eyeroll at their careerism ... but it takes a lot for you to finally run out of confidence in them when it comes to safely operating the aircraft. NATOPS is written in blood ... etc ... etc ... etc.

For goodness sakes, in Navy and USMC aviation we have relieved Commodores and Flag Officers who have gundecked annual written tests and check flights.

That is why the IP's revolt and its aftermath are so interesting.

Absolutely nothing would have been done without it ... which is why it happened. The collective opinion of the best aviation junior officers realized that the well of trust had gone dry, and they had to do something for their concerns to break through. Sad commentary, but it happened.

Word did get through. Via Mark Faram over at NavyTimes;
The commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Scott Swift, will lead a month-long review of the recent physiological episodes experienced by pilots flying in the T-45 and F/A-18 aircraft.

The rash of incidents involving pilots in flight who had trouble breathing prompted the Navy to ground the T-45 trainer aircraft in early April. Dozens of Navy flight instructors had refused to fly the aircraft.

In response, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran issued a short memo to Swift telling him to investigate and respond “within 30-days,” according to a copy of the April 21 memo obtained by Navy Times.

“To better inform future operational, fiscal and personnel decisions, [Swift] is directed to lead a comprehensive review of the facts, circumstances and processes surrounding the recent PE’s involving T-45 and F-18 aircrews to include how these issues have been addressed,” Moran wrote.
"The seriousness in which I view these incidents is reflected in the seniority of those leading this review,” Moran said in an April 24 Navy press release. “They will provide a full and open accounting to our aviation community, their families and the public."
The right thing to do, finally.

What will they find out, and what will the resolution be? That is a story still to be told.

Until then, BZ to the IPs and their revolt - and the senior leaders for listening.

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