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Tuesday, March 1, 2005


No NBAA Nuptials

Your article "What Happens in Vegas . . ." (October 2004, page 34) stated: "But problems soon arose. By early this year, they'd become severe enough that two longtime, well-respected NBAA staff members, Robert P. Blouin, the senior vice president of operations, and Cassandra Bosco, head of communications, had tendered their resignations. (Blouin and Bosco are husband and wife.)"

That, of course, is wrong. Cassandra and I are good friends, but not married.

Bob Blouin
Phaneuf Associates Inc.
Washington, D.C.

Irish Errors

Your Rotorcraft Report item, "Bell/Agusta delivers AB139 to Aga Khan, Wins Irish order," incorrectly states that the Irish Air Corp, "known by the Irish name Garda, will use the EC135's for pilot training." You go on to state that "the Garda currently operates Alouette 3s, AS355N Squirrel 2s, SA342L Gazelles and SA365F Dauphin 2s." This also is incorrect.

The Irish Air Corps is the air element of the Irish Defence Forces under direct control of the Irish minister for defence. The Garda are the national police force of Ireland and come under direct control of the Irish minister for justice.

The Irish Air Corps and Garda Siochana are two separate entities. The Alouette 3s, SA342L Gazelles and SA365F Dauphin 2s to which your article refers are operated by the Irish Air Corps. The AS355N Squirrel is operated by the Garda Siochana. The four AB139s and two Eurocopter 135s will be operated exclusively by the Irish Air Corps.

Eamonn Murphy
Irish Air Corps

Commercialize SAR?

[Editor's Note: This reader refers to a story published on DefenseDaily.com, an affiliate of R&W. That story is summarized in Rotorcraft Report, page 14.]

It was with great surprise that I read the recent website article about the outsourcing of U.S. Navy search and rescue by Gary Crouse. Aside from the rather dated comments on the future of nine SAR stations that have already been abolished, the article seems to make some incredible assumptions about the capabilities of a contracted civilian SAR unit.

The Navy SAR stations in the western United States were created after a study in the late 1960s demonstrated that a military pilot ejecting over Southeast Asia had a higher rate of survival than the same pilot ejecting over the Sierra Nevada mountains. Simply put, an already banged-up aviator will die of exposure and injuries long before any sort of conventional rescue methods could deliver him to safety.

The Center for Naval Analysis study cited in the website article used excellent statistics and accounting, but failed to ask any pertinent questions about the actual needs of training areas affected. In the "Longhorns" search-and-rescue team at NAS Fallon, Nev., we have crews that can be airborne and into the range complex within 30 min. of an ejection. This service is provided at all times the range is open, which averages more than 100 hr. a week. The study certainly didn't encapsulate the cost of having anywhere close to that availability of either aircraft or flight crews. Nor did it account for the added flight time from Reno or Carson City (the likely base of any part-time civil operation) to range facilities as far as 200 mi. distant.

The Center for Naval Analysis also missed the actual physical requirements of mountainous search and rescue. These requirements are illustrated by the Jan. 5 hoist rescue by an HH-1N Iroquois SAR crew from NAS Fallon of a 32-year-old snowboarder from a 60-70-deg. slope at 9,000 ft. in failing light in the Sherwin Range of mountains. What civilian helicopter crew is trained and equipped to extract a critical patient at 9,000 ft. via hoist? That's what we practice for, every day. In the end, Navy leaders asked those questions. NAS Fallon's answers were enough to discredit the study as it applied to the Fallon Range complex and resulted in increased support for the Longhorn training doctrine. Instead of going away, the Longhorns are up to four rescue-ready aircraft.

Rescue missions of the type performed by the NAS Fallon Longhorns are immediate in nature. They cannot be pre-scheduled, or flown based on aircraft availability. The Blue Angels learned this lesson last December when one of their pilots ended up in the Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola. It was dumb luck that an SH-60 detachment was nearby: Pensacola SAR is gone and the nearest Coast Guard rescue helicopters are out of New Orleans. As it was, the pilot spent 35 min. in the water. How much longer would have been fiscally sensible?

Lt. Andrew Severson
U.S. Navy
Longhorn SAR
NAS Fallon, Nev.

Right Aircraft, Wrong Unit

First, let me congratulate you all on yet another superb issue of Rotor and Wing. I am a Naval flight instructor with Helicopter Training Squadron 18 (HT-18) at NAS Whiting Field and enjoy reading the articles.

Regarding the February Rotorcraft Report item on the tsunami relief efforts, the aircraft in the accompanying picture are misidentified ("Nations Marshal Rotorcraft to Aid Tsunami Victims," February 2005, page 8).

The CH-46Es pictured in the article are from the U.S. Marine Corps HMM squadron attached to USS Bonhomme Richard. Helicopter Combat Support Sqdn. 11 no longer flies CH-46s. I and a few of my fellow instructors here at HT-18 were the last of that great breed of "Phrog" drivers. All HC-11 aircraft are MH-60S. As a matter of fact, the CH-46D, "Sideflare 46" on a stick at NAS North Island, Calif. is one that I used to fly.

Lt. Matt Knowles
U.S. Navy
NAS Whiting Field, Fla.

When Are Lessons Learned?

As you point out, the helicopter's role in the massive tsunami relief efforts is a lesson for all of the importance of such aircraft in disaster response ("Nations Marshal Rotorcraft to Aid Tsunami Victims," Rotorcraft Report, February 2005, page 8). Unfortunately, it is just the latest such lesson.

When will this industry get its act together to end the foot-dragging that prevents rotorcraft from being integrated into emergency-response plans?

Louis Alvarez
Jamaica, N.Y.

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