Sunday, July 21, 2019

One way tickets only....

Shameful, absolutely shameful....the Prime Ministers Boeing 757 breaking down yet again  and then to top it off the replacement aircraft breaking down in sympathy.

The PM straight from  successful meetings and a well received speech that was featured in two UK papers as a podcast which increased New Zealand’s profile and standing in the world suddenly turned into a hitchhiker on a commercial airline.
This episode makes us look like some Pacific Island with a Trader Joe’s bamboo booze bar on the beach.

“Defence Minister Ron Mark says the New Zealand Defence Force plane that the Prime Minister used is at the "end of [its] life" but replacing it isn't a priority”........WHAT.

This from the last internationally embarrassing episode in 2016......

“If the Royal New Zealand Air Force is mortally embarrassed by the breakdown of its Boeing 757 carrying the Prime Minister and a trade mission to India, it deserves to be.
The public who pay the bills to maintain a modest, but hopefully competent, Air Force have a right to ask what is going on at Whenuapai if a mission such as this one cannot be executed successfully?
The force is hardly laden with duties these days. It's military role is largely limited to maritime surveillance and troop transport. When its two jet airliners are not required to fly the SAS or other Army contingents to foreign trouble spots they serve as the country's VIP aircraft, a not unusual task for air forces in other countries. It is a task they could be expected to approach with a good deal of pride and careful preparation since it is liable to attract more public attention than any of their routine operations.”
“We are too quick to absolve public servants of any blame if it is possible to hold a politician to account. Opposition parties yesterday were quick to question the age of the VIP planes and whether Key should be using them anyway. Among the public, some will be quick to say it serves him right for keeping the Defence Force on short rations.
None of these excuses will do. In fact, they serve only to take to take the pressure off the RNZAF and its maintenance performance, and make it more likely nothing will be learned from this failure”.
NZ Herald 2016

No, nothing has been learned  since 2016 or even 1986...Yes it is a bloody priority  you bunch of numpties. I was always taught to wear a tie and shine my shoes before trying to sell something. Sell yourself first my mentor advised.
                                                                                                                                                           Turning up for international conferences in  the aircraft equivalent of  a 1993 Ford Mondeo is not a good look and hardly inspires confidence. And yes I do blame politicians for this fiasco, National for not doing something about it when Key was left stranded in India and Labour (Goff) for saying while in opposition “ We don’t consider updating the Airforce VIP flight a priority.” Perhaps the thought of Key stranded in India appealed to him.

 "We could fix the problem overnight if someone gave me a billion dollars or so but right now it's not the priority,"  Mark said.

Wrong...... it is the the priority so lets give him  the money and stop complaining about taxes.


Noel said...

Not the PMs plane. It's the taxpayers strategic airlift aircraft. Sure has a small first class equivalent section which VIP can use.
Most obvious replacement is second hand 767's at 68mil but with around a billion on Herc replacement and mega bucks on the P8 the groupies will have to wait for more reliable transport.

Noel said...

Oops Troopies not groupies

Lord Egbut Nobacon said...

The most obvious replacement is the Embraer KC-390 jet engined military spec that will do both jobs extremely well.

Buying turbo props like the Hercules and the Airbus is not he right choice for NZ.,, a jet engine can be changed in the field and has less parts to go wrong than prop driven planes, also more economical and not tied to a particicular engine manufacturer...the US is renowned for overcharging on Milspec kit.

Like a Napoleonic warship the inside can be changed from sumptiuous captains cabin to fighting trim in short order....even Nelson slept with his cannons.

Anonymous said...

Given that she's been running around telling the Oz's who they can have in their own country, and promoting her wellbeen budget as a masterpiece (it isn't), perhaps it's a case of poetic justice?


Noel said...

KC 390 over Herc.

James said...

You cannot compare KC 390 with Hercs - you are confusing tactical airlift (which relatively small propellor planes are best suited) with ‘strategic airlift’ which is fast, safe and can carry larger bodies of troops but can also be configured for Air Medical Evacuation (AME) and VIP as required, which jets are best suited for.

Ron Mark is quite right too - these days, there is a thriving and growing private sector that can and does provide jets for strategic airlift. The Aussie Defence Force contracts out to Go Fly for twice a week flights to the Middle East, and most other countries in the world are increasingly turning to civilian contractors to replace planes like the RNZAF 757.

The Aussie Air Force occasionally use their KC 390s (might be a different number) which are dual purpose refuelling aircraft and transport. But NZ has no requirement for air to air refuelling, so best bet is to let these 757s see out the rest of their (hopefully short) life and then contract out their purpose to the private sector.

Noel said...

Wasn't aware the RAAF had Embraer's KC-390.
Not confusing with KC30A?

Gerald said...

The Veteran said...

James talks sense. There is no great reason for the RNZAF to have a strategic airlift capability ... tactical yes, strategic no and a two aircraft aging fleet is a recipe for an accident (as per what happened in Oz) waiting to happen. The 757s are 'vanity' aircraft that we can do without. There will always be pressure on the defence dollar and the dosh saved can be better spent on our 'sharp end' capability.

And DPMC can charter an executive jet if need be and I have absolutely no quarrel with that.

James said...

Yes I was confusing them with KC30A.

Johno said...

Rnzaf need short/unprepared field capability and Jacinda can do without a private jet. Turboprop are the only way to go. Egbut needs to stick to writing puff PR for Jacinda and avoid aerospace topics.

Lord Egbut Nobacon said... have the attention span of a gnat.

"The KC-390 has a hold volume of 170 m 3 (including the ramp), and a maximum payload of 23 tonnes (or a concentrated maximum payload of 26 tonnes over the centre of gravity). It has a rough-field capability, giving it the ability to land on California Bearing Ratio (CBR) 4-rated (soft field) surfaces, and company-released performance specifications give the aircraft a maximum cruise speed of 470 kt (870 km/h); a maximum altitude of 36,000 ft; and a range (with 23 tonnes of payload) of 1,380 n miles (2,556 km), or a ferry flight with internal fuel tanks of 4,640 n miles. The range can be extended by in-flight refuelling.

Portugal that has almost the same requirements as us in terms of distances flown have just ordered five KC390s.

The Airbus is far to sophisticated and expensive for NZ while the Hercules comes with allsorts of political baggage.......look at the problems with Skyhawks.

James said...

Egbert - it seems you are conflating two issues here.

Issue one - the RNZAF Boeing 757 fleet is unreliable, as proven by stranding prime ministers twice in recent years, as well as the journalists tagging along (that’s the one that gets the most reporting).

Issue two - the RNZAF / NZDF has had to decide what to replace our museum-piece C-130 Hercules.

The Hercules are used for tactical airlift - short range, possibly under fire (requiring ability to deploy counter measures and land in expedited / shorter runways and airfields). Whereas the 757s have been used for ‘strategic’ airlift, transporting soldiers / police officers from one secure location to another, along with all the infrastructure that a normal civilian narrow body jet would require. RNZAF 757s have also been used for VIP transport (the PM / foreign minister up front, the journalists in the back) and can be used for Air Medical Evacuation (this occurred a couple of times brining back WIA soldiers from Afghanistan).

The KC-390 that you are advocating could only be used for tactical airlift, not the strategic function that the 757s have been offering. I believe it was considered as a replacement for the C-130s, but for cost / training / interoperability / proven-reliability purposes, the RNZAF has chosen newer Hercules - you can debate this if you want, but it has nothing to do with the latest breakdown of the 757.

I, and it seems Ron Mark, but more importantly the Veteran here on this blog, believe that there is no requirement for the RNZAF to have its own narrow body jet airliners for ‘strategic’ transport, because this can be contracted out to civilian providers, like the Aussies do with Go Fly. VIPs can travel in hired executive jets, and journalists can fly civilian or on the rare occasion that a large party of journalists would need to accompany the foreign minister / pm to a remote location (such as a pacific island for a forum or something like that), a larger aircraft can be hired that does exactly the same as what the 757s do.

I would hesitate to blame the RNZAF for this latest failure - they are old crappy planes, they do not fly enough, and the RNZAF is underresourced to sustain a sufficiently big maintenance facility or program.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


It is always a pleasure to read common sense.

Johno said...

Ignore Egbut. In another thread he tried to tell us that when airliners run out of fuel they rollover inverted. He's a Google trained pilot.

Psycho Milt said...

Ignore Egbut.

An epic fail as a comment on a post written by him, surely?

Lord Egbut Nobacon said... are correct, except in expecting the dual roles to be adhered to.

The C-130 was used for strategic airlift for 30 years. I first flew to Malaya in 1967 where it promptly broke down in Alice Springs leaving a company of Infantrymen sitting around the Mt Gilliam Motel's swimming pool drinking beer for two days.

You have no idea of the hardship.....about two years later on the return journey the same thing happened. The parts had to flown in from either NZ or the US as the Aussie Hercs were a different model and parts were not interchangeable.

I'll be long dead before someone curses the fact they bought four engines with gear boxes where parts are only available from the manufacturer and then only with US govt permission as opposed to two commercially available jet engines that can be repaired in the field.

Noel said...

they do not fly enough,

Ironically had lunch yesterday with an ex RNZAF mech and he said the same thing.
Engines weren't designed for short hops.

Gerald said...

Moving a Company ain't really a Strategic airlift.
Aussie used Quantas and sea. US Pan Am.

The Veteran said...

Noel ... essentially you're right. The 757's are underutilised and flying them internally as a super shuttle service is asking them to do something they weren't designed for. Gerald too is on the money with his comment. The NZL military does not need a strategic air capability and the 757's are a vanity wasted space.

Back to the VIP transport saga. In my time and when I was 'poodle faking' for Minister Faulkner we used a C130 on o'seas trips. The airforce knocked up a sound proofed cabin (essentially a container) that fitted into the cargo hold. It had six business class seats and carpets and not much more. Terrible thing ... no windows and it was like being in a jail cell but at least you could converse over the roar of the engines (sort of). I can remember one time we were traveling with CDF (Sir Richard Webb) and he asked me to bugger orf from the container because he had something confidential he wanted to discuss with the Minister ... Faulkner said 'No, he's my ADC, he stays' ... what a man. I digress. The airforce used to provide us with 'in flights ... cardboard boxes that contained sandwiches and sealed cups of orange juice. Thought that was pretty pedestrian so, using the dosh I had been entrusted with as an imprest account, I used to get the hotels we were staying in to knock us up a picnic basket with wine, beer, real (not plastic) sandwiches, savories, cheeses and stuff. Don't think the crew were overly impressed or perhaps they were. Them wuz the daze.