Author Topic: article:Canadian helos sent to Haiti suffered from mech. problems, lack of parts  (Read 5915 times)

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Offline S.M.A.

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Canadian helicopters sent to Haiti had mechanical problems, lack of parts
By Alison Auld, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – 46 minutes ago

Canadian aircraft sent to Haiti to help in the aftermath of last year's devastating earthquake suffered mechanical problems that left some sitting idle for days as they awaited replacement parts, according to military reports.

Six Griffon helicopters and one Sea King went to the Caribbean country within 48 hours of the Jan. 12, 2010, disaster to help ship humanitarian aid into communities that were extensively damaged by the 7.3-magnitude quake.

But situation reports covering the two-month mission show that at times, up to three of the six Griffons were unserviceable because of breakdowns, a lack of parts and inspections.

The documents say that the inability to get replacement parts was one of the greatest challenges in Haiti, as flights delivering military hardware into the country weren't adequately prioritized.

"Current operational status of rotary wing aviation assets is 60 per cent and is a direct result of the absence of required aviation components in theatre," reads the report from Feb. 13, 2010, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

"Serviceability of aircraft is being compromised by the lack of prioritization of incoming parts."

Another military post-operation report said the Griffons' supply and movements system "for deployed operations is broken and needs to be fixed."

One of the Griffons was deemed unserviceable and not able to fly because of problems with an oil sensor, ejector system and hydraulic line. All of those parts had been stripped off the helicopter to service other aircraft in need of parts.

The documents show that during the Operation Hestia mission, which started Jan. 19 and ended mid-March, aircraft crew faced mechanical issues almost daily.

In a few cases, helicopters were temporarily unable to fly because of broken cowlings, which are external aircraft coverings over engines, hydraulics and other parts.

Others experienced cracks in the ejector system for the exhaust system, problems with oil sensors and a lack of batteries needed to operate the helicopters.

It was decided in early March that one helicopter that had been cannibalized for parts would be returned to Canada via a C-17 "due to the parts problem."

The commander of the air component said the difficulty in getting parts and the unserviceability of the helicopters didn't hamper the shipment of goods or transport of people into stricken communities.

"The delivery of aid was not interrupted due to the maintenance of aircraft," Lt.-Col. Scott Clancy said in an email.

"The Canadian Helicopter Force (Haiti) maintained an 83 per cent serviceability rate for the entire duration of the deployment."

An air force spokesman said that even when aircraft were unserviceable, aid flights continued at a good pace, and the air force routinely sends more aircraft than needed so they can be used for spare parts and maintain the mission while others are being serviced.

"There was always one aircraft that was being robbed in order to ensure the others were kept serviceable," Clancy said. "This is how we never refused aid delivery missions as we always were able to fulfil the requests."

He said the mission was an overall success, with the helicopters playing a critical role in delivering goods and evacuating the injured.

Helicopters, including a Sea King aboard HMCS Athabaskan, moved more than 207,000 kilograms of cargo during 196 flights that involved 1,000 flying hours.

On its own, the Sea King moved 597 people and almost 91,000 kilograms of equipment around Haiti, including a field hospital airlifted over a mountain range.

The priority for the Griffons was to deliver humanitarian aid and engineering equipment, conduct medical evacuations, and transport military personnel and members of non-governmental organizations into affected areas.

There were also Canadian fixed wing aircraft that participated in the mission.

One situation report lists the activities carried out by helicopters on a February day, saying it evacuated three injured Haitians to hospital in Port au Prince, transported aid workers and did reconnaissance.

The quake levelled buildings and reduced much of the capital to rubble, killing upwards of 300,000 people and displacing more than a million residents of the impoverished nation.
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Offline jacob_ns

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The old venerable Sea King (and her air detachment on the Atha-B!) once again prove that the old girl is much more capable than people give her credit.  :salute:

Offline beenthere

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What I see just a bunch of excerpts from documents concerning the deployment that have been selected to create an article that gives the impression that the unit was plagued with problems. No doubt they had problems but for the most part they appear to be typical maintenance issues that would have came up in flying operations back in Canada or on deployment.

There were obviously problems with getting spare parts delivered but that's  a separate issue.
Using one aircraft as a "rob" aircraft is pretty much a standard operating procedure as the only alternative would be to send at least one of each of the thousands of parts that make up a helicopter as spares.
But not lately. If I could do it all over again I would  change one thing.