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SHAW Viper Crash


viperdriver1313

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40 minutes ago, Sua Sponte said:

Willis is a prior -15E WSO.

I know.  But I also know several of the guys who were picked to speak to Congress about the pilot retention issue...as part of the prep the Air Force did, they were told never to use the words WSO, CSO, Navigator, ABM, or Aircrew..."because you'll just confuse the congressmen...stick with pilot in your comments".

Maybe the Air Force feels like they have enough WSOs...but I can speak from personal experience that the B-1 doesn't have enough, and certainly not enough experienced ones.  The FTU has about 40% of the authorized number of WSOs and they're struggling to fill even a scaled-back flight schedule.

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5 hours ago, brabus said:

You can tell who’s in the guard and who’s on AD by the responses. One side doesn’t give a shit, and the other is worried about getting their next assignment changed to Laughlin if they dare speak against the man. Funny and sad at the same time.

They're not wrong though. AD is punitive and vindictive. Interactions, let alone social media ones, of any kind w/ leadership are a North Korean parade. And don't get too comfortable with the ARC; AFRC is not too far behind, especially for the full time cadre.

The issue at hand with the specific senior leader in question here, is that he is known to hold grudges, and has made recent manning and funding distribution edicts that make it clear he has an axe to grind. Some people argue the stint at DLF broke Chuckles. At any rate, initially everybody assumed that the ideological "commitment to one's own legend" would be a limited compared to the aforementioned AETC/CC. But that mirage quickly faded into today, clearly plastered all over social media. As such, engaging such figures on an open vest forum like FB is just asking to get homed-on-jam. Caveat Emptor.

 

Edited by hindsight2020
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18 hours ago, hindsight2020 said:

And don't get too comfortable with the ARC; AFRC is not too far behind, especially for the full time cadre.

 

One of the many reasons I recommend to all my AD bros avoid the reserves, especially units at AD bases.  I continue to be amazed by the guys that say they're done with the AD bullshit, then join an AFRC squadron that is embedded in the AD wing they just "left," and complain that not much has changed (not directed at you).  Also, more of a reason to be a part timer, as your give a fuck about extraneous bullshit is near zero.  Even more so if you're at the rank in which you don't mind retiring.  

 

Stand alone ANG is the last bastion of hope in the ARC.  Even better if you do it as a part timer.  

 

 

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10 hours ago, SocialD said:

 

One of the many reasons I recommend to all my AD bros avoid the reserves, especially units at AD bases.  I continue to be amazed by the guys that say they're done with the AD bullshit, then join an AFRC squadron that is embedded in the AD wing they just "left," and complain that not much has changed (not directed at you).  Also, more of a reason to be a part timer, as your give a fuck about extraneous bullshit is near zero.  Even more so if you're at the rank in which you don't mind retiring.  

 

Stand alone ANG is the last bastion of hope in the ARC.  Even better if you do it as a part timer.  

 

 

Knew a guy who did exactly that.  He was so sure all his problems were caused by AD.  Joined an associate reserve unit at the same base, with the same mission, flying rainbow crews with the AD squadron.  He was happy for about a week, then back to all the same bitches and complaints plus some new ones about working on weekends.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

Lots of interesting technical aspects to this.  None of them good.

The AFRL report acknowledges "AFRL has not seen evidence that any of the suspect counterfeit components were causal in the failure of the ACES-II ejection system." and "Presence of counterfeit parts in DRS would not necessarily result in operational failure of ACES-II ejection system."

So, based on what they know now, they haven't been able to tie potential counterfeit parts to the ejection seat failure.  They haven't been able to rule them out, either.  They also twice mention finding "obsolete" parts in the DRS.  I wish they'd go into that more - how'd they know they were obsolete?  Older part number, or date code, or similar? 

On another note, they also raise concerning questions about what Teledyne (the manufacture of the DRS) did with it after the mishap.  Seems like they were doing all kinds of testing and analysis, with no regard for maintaining the DRS as a piece of evidence in the mishap.  Handing the unit off to the manufacturer like that, with no controls in place, seems like a real gap.

The AFRL report also brings up "Counterfeit components in DoD inventory has been an ongoing problem over the past few decades. Often the manufacturer/supplier is not aware the components are counterfeit. The DoD is aware of this problem and is working to eliminate these components from supply chains."

Supposedly, there are checks and balances in place to guard against counterfeit parts.  In theory, you should be able grab an avionics box, and trace the pedigree of every subcomponent back to where it was manufactured.  I think in reality, that's not always the case.  And when you get down to commodity-level components like flash chips and the like, it's very much a "race to the bottom."  Corners inevitably get cut, and someone pads their profit margin (wittingly or unwittingly) by introducing counterfeit parts.

Hadn't read the AIB before this, but the section on Substantially Contributing Factors has a section on "Ejection Seat Malfunction" on page 45-46 of the .pdf.  Issues with the DRS were highlighted during an ejection in 2014:

Following the 2014 DRS failure, a time compliance technical order (TCTO) 11P2-3-502, Installation of the Shorting Plug on the DRS Electronic Module, was issued on 20 January 2016. The shorting plug was designed to prevent noise bias issues observed in channel three of a three-channel system. Two channels are required to be in agreement for the DRS to function properly. Channel three noise bias issues have been observed in approximately 9% of all live ejections and sled tests. TCTO instructions allowed for installation of the shorting plug during regularly scheduled 36-month maintenance/inspections.

This presence of noise on one of the channels makes this sound like a crappy design to begin with.  Shit happens in electronics design, but would have hoped that aircrew escape systems would be designed to a higher standard.  And adding a "shorting plug" sounds like a technical band-aid.  Would like to see the TCTO itself, along with the other technical data contained in the AIB tabs, but it appears those aren't publicly available.

Regardless, they issued the TCTO in 2016.  The mishap airplane was on the schedule to get the mod during scheduled maintenance in 2017, but the parts were "not available."  Things like a "shorting plug" are not complex, so it's kind of unconscionable that they weren't available.  Regardless, because of the parts unavailability, they pushed the TCTO to the next 36 month maintenance scheduled for July/August 2020.

In the meantime, much like many ejection seat components, the DRS has a limited service life (in this case, 10 years).  This expired in Feb 2019, but received three life extensions from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center out to July 2020.  So, I assume three individual 6 month extensions.  Would like to see the technical backing for justifying those extensions.  Someone within AFLCMC should be able to produce some no-shit life cycle analysis that substantiates the life extension.  And maybe they can, but my limited experience has been that someone may have just signed off the extensions with a cursory glance of past data.

In the meantime of all of this, a replacement for the DRS was fielded that negated the need for the TCTO.  This was the Modernized ACES II Seat Sequencer (MASS), and became available in May 2020.  The AIB isn't clear what happened here, but it sounds like the installation of the MASS was scheduled for the next time the seat was due for it's 36 month maintenance in July/August 2020.

I don't know how it works turning wrenches on ejection seats.  In a perfect world with unlimited resources, every ejection seat mod would be given the highest priority, considering the implications.  But it seems like that's not the reality, and mods were scheduled with convenience and efficiency in mind, not aircrew safety.

Sadly, the incident happened 30 June 2020, just short of the planned ejection seat maintenance.

TL;DR:

Problem with the DRS was found in 2014.  TCTO issued in 2016 with what amounted to a simple, "band-aid" fix of a shorting plug.  Mishap seat was pulled for scheduled maintenance in 2016, but TCTO parts not available.  So, TCTO was pushed 36 months, to the next scheduled seat maintenance period in July/August 2020

In the meantime, the DRS should have been removed anyway due to reaching it's life limit.  The Air Force issued three 6-month extensions, in order to line up with the next scheduled seat maintenance.

There was a new and improved replacement for the DRS that was fielded, the MASS, but rather than replace immediately in May 2020, that was also lined up for that July/Aug 2020 date.

Aircraft crashed just a couple months short of that next seat maintenance, and seat failed due to a faulty DRS.  The DRS was past it's service life, had a known defect, and had a bunch of (potentially) counterfeit parts.

Edited by Blue
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They killed him.  He needed the seat and they let him down. 

How can they sleep at night?  

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You’re kidding right? You think these contractors who deal in billions care that  they ruin entire families? At the MOST it costs them $400,00.00 and a couple months of “we tried to figure out what happened but shucks we just couldn’t”… then back to making money in the quasi monopoly we call the defense industry.

end edgy rant 

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4 minutes ago, HeavyDriverChevyDriver said:

You’re kidding right? 

 

I'm serious.  They are pieces of shit.  

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, HeavyDriverChevyDriver said:

You’re kidding right? You think these contractors who deal in billions care that  they ruin entire families? At the MOST it costs them $400,00.00 and a couple months of “we tried to figure out what happened but shucks we just couldn’t”… then back to making money in the quasi monopoly we call the defense industry.

end edgy rant 

I hope you never need your life support equipment to keep you alive.  

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17 hours ago, Biff_T said:

They killed him.  He needed the seat and they let him down. 

The question is who is "they?"

I'd argue it's not so much the contractors, as it is the Air Force.  In particular, AFMC and ACC.  Contractors gonna contract, they're gonna occasionally be slow and provide substandard product.  That's not ideal, but that's just reality of the supply base for military aviation.

A former professor had a different way of putting it - the difference in standards between military and civilian aviation is why, when a 737 makes a smoking hole in the ground, the heirs of each person sitting in the back gets tens of millions.  When a F-16 does the same, the heirs get a couple hundred grand in SGLI money and a folded flag.  A morbid aspect of the difference in civilian and military aviation.

And the topic of "counterfeit parts" is obviously incredibly concerning, but so far it just seems like a red herring in this case.  It makes for good press, but hasn't yet been attributed as causal to the incident.

In theory, AFMC and ACC should be the "adults in the room," advocating for keeping the best possible hardware in the hands of the warfighter.  In the case of AFMC, it would be the System Program Office (SPO) for the F-16 and whatever SPO handles the ACES-II seat and components.

One would hope that, due to the criticality of their application, all mods, TCTOs, etc related to the ejection system would be given the highest priority within the Air Force enterprise.  Everything about this accident seems to point towards the ejection seat mods being treated the same as any other mod on the aircraft, and scheduled when they'd be the most convenient and least manpower-intensive.

Either way, lots of missed opportunities:

  • TCTO 11P2-3-502 was issued for the shorting plug installation.  When the plug wasn't available in 2017, ACC decided to push the install 36 months, to the next seat maintenance opportunity.  Why was such a safety-critical mod allowed to be pushed three years to the right?  Who made that call, and what was their reasoning?  What was the original compliance deadline on the TCTO?

 

  • The shorting plug was out of stock, for some reason.  Did someone from one of the SPOs go beat down the door of the supplier to expedite orders for the shorting plug?  Did someone search out an alternate source?  Or did no one take any action, and accept whatever slip they manufacturer gave them?

 

  • The DRS reached it's life limit, and it sounded like ACC asked for three individual six month extensions.  ACC is looking to the "big brains" in the SPOs in AFMC to provide well-reasoned technical guidance on whether or not the life should be extended.  Did AFMC do any kind of no-shit analysis and come to a well-supported conclusion?  Or did some desk jockey just sign it off to keep the boss happy?  In hindsight, the combination of a required TCTO, along with expired service life should have given someone pause.

 

  • When the shorting plug became available, ACC didn't install it on the aircraft.  When the replacement for the DRS became available (the MASS), ACC didn't install it on the aircraft, either.  Instead, they pushed all mods to the next available maintenance opportunity.  That's great for efficiency in manpower and aircraft availability, but poor for safety.  Again, an OK path if your mod is some mundane change, but poor if your mod is safety critical.  Goes back to what was the deadline on the shorting plug TCTO?  Who set the deadline, if it was pushed, who approved the push, etc.

 

  • The question of manpower resources at Shaw comes up, too.  I'm long since removed from any kind of military flightline environment.  But the stuff you read on social media (here and elsewhere) seems to indicate the scepter of volunteering, bake sales, SARC CBTs, and everything else but your primary duty continues to be the focus.  If some of that nonsense was diminished, would maintenance at Shaw have had the bandwidth to do the seat work sooner, and not wait for the next "convenient opportunity?"
Edited by Blue
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6 hours ago, Biff_T said:

I hope you never need your life support equipment to keep you alive.  

Same team. I’m saying big blue and defense industry get to pay a minuscule “fee” (if you can call it that) of $400k, throw their hands up in the air, and essentially say “whoops” while aircrew dies and their families are left in ruin. Reference recruiting and retention.

Edited by HeavyDriverChevyDriver
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2 hours ago, HeavyDriverChevyDriver said:

Same team. I’m saying big blue and defense industry get to pay a minuscule “fee” (if you can call it that) of $400k, throw their hands up in the air, and essentially say “whoops” while aircrew dies and their families are left in ruin. Reference recruiting and retention.

I read your original post while angry.  I can clearly see now what you meant.  Sorry man.   😞 

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6 hours ago, Blue said:

The question is who is "they?"

I'd argue it's not so much the contractors, as it is the Air Force.....

I agree.  

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On 9/15/2022 at 2:15 PM, Blue said:

The question is who is "they?"

I'd argue it's not so much the contractors, as it is the Air Force.  In particular, AFMC and ACC.  Contractors gonna contract, they're gonna occasionally be slow and provide substandard product.  That's not ideal, but that's just reality of the supply base for military aviation.

A former professor had a different way of putting it - the difference in standards between military and civilian aviation is why, when a 737 makes a smoking hole in the ground, the heirs of each person sitting in the back gets tens of millions.  When a F-16 does the same, the heirs get a couple hundred grand in SGLI money and a folded flag.  A morbid aspect of the difference in civilian and military aviation.

And the topic of "counterfeit parts" is obviously incredibly concerning, but so far it just seems like a red herring in this case.  It makes for good press, but hasn't yet been attributed as causal to the incident.

In theory, AFMC and ACC should be the "adults in the room," advocating for keeping the best possible hardware in the hands of the warfighter.  In the case of AFMC, it would be the System Program Office (SPO) for the F-16 and whatever SPO handles the ACES-II seat and components.

One would hope that, due to the criticality of their application, all mods, TCTOs, etc related to the ejection system would be given the highest priority within the Air Force enterprise.  Everything about this accident seems to point towards the ejection seat mods being treated the same as any other mod on the aircraft, and scheduled when they'd be the most convenient and least manpower-intensive.

Either way, lots of missed opportunities:

  • TCTO 11P2-3-502 was issued for the shorting plug installation.  When the plug wasn't available in 2017, ACC decided to push the install 36 months, to the next seat maintenance opportunity.  Why was such a safety-critical mod allowed to be pushed three years to the right?  Who made that call, and what was their reasoning?  What was the original compliance deadline on the TCTO?

 

  • The shorting plug was out of stock, for some reason.  Did someone from one of the SPOs go beat down the door of the supplier to expedite orders for the shorting plug?  Did someone search out an alternate source?  Or did no one take any action, and accept whatever slip they manufacturer gave them?

 

  • The DRS reached it's life limit, and it sounded like ACC asked for three individual six month extensions.  ACC is looking to the "big brains" in the SPOs in AFMC to provide well-reasoned technical guidance on whether or not the life should be extended.  Did AFMC do any kind of no-shit analysis and come to a well-supported conclusion?  Or did some desk jockey just sign it off to keep the boss happy?  In hindsight, the combination of a required TCTO, along with expired service life should have given someone pause.

 

  • When the shorting plug became available, ACC didn't install it on the aircraft.  When the replacement for the DRS became available (the MASS), ACC didn't install it on the aircraft, either.  Instead, they pushed all mods to the next available maintenance opportunity.  That's great for efficiency in manpower and aircraft availability, but poor for safety.  Again, an OK path if your mod is some mundane change, but poor if your mod is safety critical.  Goes back to what was the deadline on the shorting plug TCTO?  Who set the deadline, if it was pushed, who approved the push, etc.

 

  • The question of manpower resources at Shaw comes up, too.  I'm long since removed from any kind of military flightline environment.  But the stuff you read on social media (here and elsewhere) seems to indicate the scepter of volunteering, bake sales, SARC CBTs, and everything else but your primary duty continues to be the focus.  If some of that nonsense was diminished, would maintenance at Shaw have had the bandwidth to do the seat work sooner, and not wait for the next "convenient opportunity?"

All good points and something I learned in my brief run working with contracts and acquisitions was that contractors have a fiduciary interest to their company (forget all of the "were on the same team" crap, it goes right out the window once their EOY line is red) and USG employees have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer. The problem is USG employees are rarely in their role long enough to become competent at negotiating or insisting on performance in line with the contracts work statement and seeing younger officers get run over by a project manager in his/her mid-late 40s with decades of experience negotiating ends is not an uncommon site. 

As far as the counterfeit parts go, I think there are strategic implications to that as well that are worth investigating in regards to vulnerabilities in our supply chain and how susceptible it might be to infiltrate them. Cams and rivets is one thing but what happens when firmware starts relying on counterfeit silicon components from China.... 

 

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3 hours ago, FLEA said:

All good points and something I learned in my brief run working with contracts and acquisitions was that contractors have a fiduciary interest to their company (forget all of the "were on the same team" crap, it goes right out the window once their EOY line is red) and USG employees have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayer. The problem is USG employees are rarely in their role long enough to become competent at negotiating or insisting on performance in line with the contracts work statement and seeing younger officers get run over by a project manager in his/her mid-late 40s with decades of experience negotiating ends is not an uncommon site. 

Valid, and something that became readily apparent once inside the belly of the acquisition beast.  Contractors are incentivized to "ship it" and get paid, regardless of quality.  The USG (civilian employees and military members) try to put up guardrails and speed bumps, but when push comes to shove, the contractors win.  And it's on the USG to hope for the best, pick up the pieces, and try to make things work.

All of that, I accepted as part and parcel with the entire acquisitions ecosystem.  However......

While the F-16 is a ~$25 mil a copy, and the ACES-II seat is ~$2mil a copy, the choices that made the difference between life and death in this case were on the order of tens of thousands of dollars.  My experience was the USG civilians and uniformed personnel in the SPOs had little sway with the stuff involving big bucks.  They could however move the needle significantly when the dollar values were small.

Somewhere in the forest of cubicles at Wright Patt or Hill, some Item Manager, Equipment Specialist, or Engineer could have made some noise about the availability of the shorting plug.  They could have pushed the issue to the forefront, and it sounds like it's enough of a low-buck part that a company like Teledyne might have found another source just to make the USG shut up.  Or, someone at Teledyne might have even taken notice, recognized the issue as well, and taken up the flag inside their company.  While the company is incentivized by the almighty dollar, there are a lot of worker-bees punching a clock at these companies who really believe in what they're doing for the warfighter.

Same with the decisions on setting and subsequently extending the TCTO deadlines, and signing off on life extensions of the DRS.  Someone with the USG who cares could have raised the red flag.  A USG civilian could have refused to sign off on the extension.  Everyone knows the trope about USG civilians being next to impossible to fire.  There is very little standing in the way of those folks saying "No."

I spent the better part of my 20s and 30s in the belly of the beast, and I've had a good bit of time to reflect on it all.  The Air Force has a literal army of civilians that are supposed to be managing all of this stuff, along with a smaller contingent of uniformed members.  They're spread throughout the SPOs, Depots, etc.  There is a tremendous amount of Make Work, and it's all very much a jobs program.  In amongst the deadwood, seat-warmers, and oxygen thieves, there are also a lot of good people, who want to do what's best, and really believe in what they're doing on a day-to-day basis.

In amongst all the bullshit, every once in a great while, I got to see instances when something no shit really mattered.  Events where technical decision making by a conference room full of pasty-faced nobody civilians had a real direct impact on people's lives.  Real "figure out a way to fix the oxygen system or they'll die" Apollo 13 style shit.  And I was always surprised.  The bullshit got put aside, the bureaucracy was swept away, and Shit Got Done.  If people were lucky, there were some back patting, and maybe a couple beers together after work.  On rare occasion, six months later some people tangentially involved with it would get a meaningless award or two.  Mostly though, the people who made the wins only had their own job satisfaction as a reward, but for those folks, it was enough.

It's not like there was a Big Red Button on the wall that someone pressed and everyone switched from bullshit-mode to get-down-to-work mode.  It was more the fact that, as a whole, you collectively had enough people that gave a shit, that they were able to generate a critical mass to make something happen when it really mattered.

I spent ten years in that realm, and last turned in my badge about ten years ago.  I watched the mass of the lets-get-it-done folks dwindle over my time, and I can only imagine it's continued to deteriorate.  People retire or get sidelined.  Merit no longer gets you promoted, and often it's not even political games that move you up anymore.  The Drive for Diversity watered down a lot of the experience, up and down the org chart.  Shouting matches over the proper technical solution used to be, not common, but not unheard of.  Once it was resolved, the combatants would usually shake hands and go get lunch.  That sort of thing would have you written up by HR now.

I'm just bitter about my own experiences as a cog in the wheel, how bad the whole enterprise was, and how much I saw it get worse over time.  Events like the Shaw crash just get me dwelling on it all.

TL:DR: Contractors gonna contract, but I wonder if some cubicle-dwelling USG civilians cared enough and put their foot down, they could have prevented some of the "holes in the swiss cheese" of the Shaw crash.

Edited by Blue
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