Sunday, May 28, 2006

Offered without explanation by LP;

Cool storm pictures taken by some mad seppo.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"So, I had, like, this exam? I was like totally, not, like, going to pass?"
"So, I was like totally, like, freaking out, and that?
"And so, anyway? I sat the exam? And I was like, I totally don't care if I like fail, it's just like, whatever."
"And so, anyway? The exam was like so totally bullshit, full of stuff like critical point and point of no return and hectpascals, and stuff?
"Exactly. So I'm like, just, you know, like totally put down the first thing that comes into my head?"
"And so, anyway? I get the result and I'm like whatever, and you know what? I passed?"
"You passed? How?"
"It's multiple choice?"

Aircraft operations, performance and planning. 70%. Pass mark? 70%.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I was in two minds whether to post this, which makes me agnostic, I guess.

I got a message posted from LP. If you read this LP, shoot me a line at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Further to the Sea Sprite drama, it now appears that a party sub-contracted to supply the avionics failed to deliver.

[Kaman's senior vice president Russell Jones] said the delays began when a subcontractor selected to provide a complex guidance system for the Seasprites went out of business.

Why did we buy them in the first place? The helicopters were to be deployed on a new class of Offshore Patrol Vessel which we were acquiring along with Malaysia, which required a very lightweight helicopter. Malaysia pulled out of the program, and the OPV was cancelled, but not the helicopter. Why was it not cancelled? Rumours of an impending freeze on defence spending prompted senior Navy bods to get the project approved in a hurry, before the department of finance had a chance to tighten the purse strings. That hasty decision seems to be coming back to haunt Navy, although whoever it was that signed the contracts seems to be keeping a low profile.

But there are now rumours of an even more serious problem. Cracks have started appearing around the airframes.

Thank you Hugh Jarse, wherever you are...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Grounded Seasprites face axe.

This is indeed a sorry tale.

Aircraft are funny things. Military aircraft are even stranger. If you've ever heard an aircraft described as 'obsolescent,' it means it is on its way out. The airframe and engines are very rarely the cause of this - believe it or not, the airframe and engines of a thirty-year-old helicopter aren't all that different from a brand new aircraft. The thing which makes aircraft go out of style are the avionics and electronic systems. Anyone still out there still using a thirty-year-old desktop computer or VCR for anything other than novelty value? Didn't think so. Solution? Buy a cheap thirty-year-old aircraft, then fit out brand new electronics, computers, avionics weapons systems, the works. Result? Brand new aircraft, right? Wrong.

As I understand it, the main problem seems to be getting all the systems to communicate and getting the bugs out of the avionics, meaning Navy can't get the Seaprites certified for night VFR or IFR, or get the fire control software to talk to the weapons and sensors, a severe limitation in a combat aircraft. Seems it's a lot harder than you'd think to get all those complicated systems to work together effectively and reliably. And it has to be 100% reliable, as you don't get any second chances at 50 feet and 150 knots in pitch darkness. More importantly, it turns out to be as expensive as getting a brand new aircraft certified. Which now makes it clear what you are paying for with a brand new aircraft - brand new electronics, computers, avionics weapons systems - all integrated and certified bug free.

Anyone notice anything strange about this photo?

Pretty lethal and scary looking, no? Not really, no. Look at the light source and shadow on the fuselage. A bright light on the right side of the picture. Now look at the light shining on the aircrafts missiles. The light is coming from the left side. Now look at the light shining on the FLIR pod under the nose of the aircraft. The light is shining pretty much front on, from the front of the picture.

It's been photoshopped - both of those elements have been added electronically. Ironic, as it is the electronics which caused so much trouble on the real aircraft.

I think the whole saga is a damn shame. The taxpayer forked over a huge wad of cash, a lot of people worked very hard for a long time and at the end of the day we have very little to show for it.

The question is - do we cut our losses and run, or do we suck it up and spend another $500 million or so fixing it up?

The risk being that another $500 million or so may not end up fixing it at all.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I'm having an odd day.

I went shopping and got stuck behind someone who had a dozen items and wanted to pay with three different credit cards (flybuys on each, thank you.)

I walked to work and passed a house that had been taped off by the police, CSI New York style. The occupants of the house didn't seem too upset by this development.

I arrived at work and was told I had a package delivered to me. The package was empty. I do not recognise the sender.

We've just had a going away party for someone who left last week. They weren't invited.

What's next?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

And furthermore, overheard in the office.

Friday, May 05, 2006

One of our engagement presents bears a striking resemblence to a member of the household...

Thanks Tara and Rachel.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Had our engagement party on Saturday - thanks to everyone who came and everyone who helped out.

Meanwhile Overheard in New York.