Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Things That Go Crack

What appears to be the latest foul deed by the clearly grossly negligent and incompetent Liberals in relation to National Defence is the tail rotor cracking on the new Cormorant helicopters. Before anyone gets too excited, they should understand that this is not new or unusual, much as I'd like to blame the Liberals for everything.

In 1982, we received our first CF-18s and we were like kids with a new bike. It was the latest and the best, and we had a ball training the instructors, ground crew, and first operational squadron pilots. Eighteen months later, we began to discover cracks in the vertical stabilators and everyone was horrified. Some engineering analysis determined that the air flow over the leading edge extension (LEX) in high angle of attack flight (e.g. dogfighting) was hitting the tail in such a way to cause significant flexing. Anyone who flew the Hornet back then will remember being very "impressed" with view in the mirror of the two vertical stabs trying to kiss each other (some exaggeration, but you get the idea).

Significant restrictions were placed on the aircraft until the solution was found and applied. It turned out to be what we called the LEX fence, and was simply a small vertical plate on the LEX, which diverted the airflow in a more harmless direction. For the past twenty years, the CF has flown the Hornet with great effect in peacetime and wartime operations and the aircraft has performed superbly.

I don't know what is causing the tail rotor cracks on the Cormorant, but the Air Force has been there before. Teething problems for even good aircraft and other equipment are nothing to panic about. They just need to be addressed and, if budget constraints and lack of qualified personnel slow that process down, then there will be yet more reason to castigate the Liberals. In any case, they deserve every bit of it.


Blogger Dr_Funk said...

Lcol Hawn,
The cracking of the tail rotors isn't so much a matter of concern from my perspective as is the fact that maintenance and repair on the Cormorant is done by civilian contractors, not CF personnel. These are SAR aircraft, operationally vital. Is it, in your opinion, such a great idea to have civilians servicing such aircraft?

12:35 PM  

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