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As usual, I find it rather interesting popping in here to see what pilots get worked up about. I am of course referring to the falsifying of logbooks thread.

 

Not to say things shouldn't be done about this, but in all seriousness how big a problem is this in actual fact? I would submit it is a very minute issue in the grand scheme of things.

 

Conversely, there are some pretty major issues each and every pilot working for ASRD should have, and those are with ASRD itself, their terrible organization, almost complete lack of standards when it comes to operational flying in the fire environment, and last but not least, the treatment of the companies they hire. This has been a topic of some discussion for a couple decades that I can remember, so I ask, who is auditing the customer these days? Unfortunately the answer is nobody.

 

Some of the things I've witnessed during this spring's fire flap in Alberta can be described as appalling at best, negligent and potentially fatal at worst. If you are reading this and nodding your head in agreement, then it is you who I'm asking (along with myself) to step up and do something about this. If you are reading this shaking your head and wondering what on Earth I'm talking about, then it is you who need to open your eyes, pull your head out of your wallet, and start understanding how far off course this whole thing has gone in the last 20yrs.

 

Without getting in to specifics, ASRD practices are very poor on fires, particularly fires like McMurray with some many aircraft. Talking about safety is one thing, implementing it is an entirely different concept. When the poor fellow from Campbell was killed, was anyone told to land for an hour, briefed on what happened, given time to call family or friends who only knew they were flying in Alberta? Not anyone on our fire. Not acceptable. In fact I have yet to hear a single official word from ASRD on the accident. Not good enough. A bit of a tangent here, but one I think any of us who have lost friends or family over the years can relate to, but it's not generally what I am talking about.

 

So, who is going to audit the customer? HAC? Not a chance. The pilots association? Oh wait, we don't have one of those... so here we sit in 2011 working for customers (Gov't and private sector) who continually put conditions on our service in the name of safety, yet just as continually put helicopters and their crews in dangerous situations and there is not a soul doing anything about it. I find it astounding. At the risk of dating myself, I don't remember it being like this in the 80's. Perhaps I was just young and ignorant in those years.

 

AR

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what you are talking about is called a safety standdown, AR... and you are right... after the slave lake fatality, it should have taken place immediately... :shock:

 

the benefits of having a standdown for even 30mins would pay for itself 10 fold in my mind...

 

fly safe all...

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As long as the customers use whitewash in place of real, measureable standards for safety, we will always have to endure hazards caused by "lowest common denominator" companies.

 

I have no faith that SMS will improve the industry, nor will the customers raise their standards; rather, I suspect the customer to reward poor contractor culture simply because they are cheaper to hire. Investments in training and retention of crew, a proper culture of safety, good maintenance, and modern equipment are expensive. What we get instead is good operators lowering standards across the board to compete for contracts against companies that care little for the consequences of their actions.

 

In the aviation world, friends, we're still the red-headed stepchildren.

 

By the way, I don't find ASRD any different from anywhere from BC to Ontario as far as their respect for the crews working on their behalf.

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When guys are grounding themselves out of fear of a mid-air, due to having 15 machines scrambled for a .3 of a hectare fire as a knee-jerk reaction to the Slave Lake disaster, I have to question just how focused on safety the ASRD are. My guess is that saving face is their current priority.

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Hands Down the best would be the USFS! Any time there is a fatality an immediate investigation is launched and all crews yes even the Heli crews are briefed as soon as possible on the incident...I wonder if ASRD would have acted any differently had it been "one of their own" crews? I can't remember what happened after the Bird dog went down a few years ago with the ASRD person on board?? anyone remember?

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Popping in now and again like you AR but this is a very interesting thread. Good comments from all and maybe, just maybe something constructive could come from this discussion. After all the agencies and customers read this as well. So an objective Q&A format might be worth a shot:

 

- what you are talking about is called a safety standdown, AR... and you are right... after the slave lake fatality, it should have taken place immediately - I totally agree as well. Has ASRD been officially advised of this? To what degree should it be taken...incident stress counselling? At the very least a half hour to regroup and decide individually if we're fit to carry on. But they need to know this.

 

- described as appalling at best, negligent and potentially fatal at worst - First, we control our own destinies so if it is a situation with any of the above, I'm not doing it! And I would expect that my company would not want to risk me or their aircraft under those conditions. Do they know? The incident and caution reporting system is well defined in their own pilot handbook...have we used it? Has our company used it? In all fairness they have to know what is broken before they can fix it. And if they choose not to fix it, from a safety/risk perspective why would we want to work there?

 

- As long as the customers use whitewash in place of real, measureable standards for safety, we will always have to endure hazards caused by "lowest common denominator" companies - Such a true statement and unfortunately one that has been around since the 80's, and I bet the guys before my time would say the 60's too. So we could want to see measurable standards put in place by the customer base. Hand over control as it were and have them police us. Some actually do in their own way. Others rely on TC and insurance companies to define us as legal and able to perform safely. Others still have "competencies" to be met which obviously is having some subjectivity. Are we at a point where we have to have some big brother define what is safe and what isn't? Maybe we are.

 

- I know a customer company that has the safety policy "safety starts with me". Ouch! No room for finger pointing or blame there. The guys grounding themselves from an overwhelming situation of too many machines in close proximity did just that. Well done. How do we help prevent the same thing? We look at the source, an agency, and paperwork and yep, there we go again with following up with incidents reports. It's a language they understand.

 

- And I might as well say it...rates...if we in the industry can't understand why some companies offer the rates they do, how can we expect a customer base to understand? The bottom line though, it's way beyond our control.

 

A lot of the ideas (all good ones) in this thread talk about a requirement for some kind of regulatory change or standards. Essentially a top down approach. It would be easier for us for sure. But it didn't happen in the 80's and it seems it isn't happening now. But we, as individuals are smarter and have progressed. We don't do 9 week stints in a tent camp (ok I am dating myself also) and that didn't come about by the good nature of employers. I think it's up to the individuals to cause change, very much a bottom up approach. We need to make our own decisions on safety, to fly or not....full stop. (emphasis on individuals as this is soooo not a union thing) It's our responsibility. But we need to do it somehow with a blessing from our company and customer. Non-punitive reporting....aka SMS, I think it is worth a shot. Empowers a bottom up system...maybe, at least in concept. But doing 2 weeks on 2 weeks off heli-logging was also a very distant concept to me when I was sitting in my tent for 9 weeks.

 

End of rant (slow day)

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Hands Down the best would be the USFS! Any time there is a fatality an immediate investigation is launched and all crews yes even the Heli crews are briefed as soon as possible on the incident...I wonder if ASRD would have acted any differently had it been "one of their own" crews? I can't remember what happened after the Bird dog went down a few years ago with the ASRD person on board?? anyone remember?

 

Is that the one that went into a beaver pond close to Grand Prairie? Where the searching helicopters crews didn't know they were searching? When they kept calling the registration over and over again on the radio? Where another bird dog pilot when down from the airport to the Duty Room in town and reminded the D.O. that the plane had sat-tracking and thats there is a screen 10 feet wide in front of his desk that shows where all the aircraft are in Alberta? The one that when the same bird dog pilot went out and found the wreckage the radio girl kept calling for the missing aircraft? The one where SRD got really lucky they didn't run out of day light because they waited so long to dispatch search aircraft?

 

SMS and all emergency planning was no where to be seen that day, AND NOTHING HAS CHANGED!!!!!!

Look out for yourselves when flying with ASRD.

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I have always said what every forest fire department in Canada needs is a EXPERIANCED HELICOPTER PILOT on staff that is there to do nothing but look after all HELICOPTER related issues. Not people that have "LOTS OF TIME IN THE PASSENGER SEAT" or believe they know everything helicopter related. Get someone on staff that has been there and actually knows what goes on from the other side of the windscreen...

 

My guess is you would see a dramatic differance in how the heli side of a fire was handled.

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Thank GOD some of you are starting to see the light. Transport as usual could close down for all the effect or help it has on the industry, all they have been doing for years is putting in pensionable time, including most provincial Forestry Departments.

 

Excellent posts by the following individuals:

 

Auto-Relight, Doc B, Mobil 254, Deep Throat, Heliguy 1, Skidmark, Putz.

 

HAC has NO guts and is being run as an arm of the government.

 

 

Sorry to say guys & gals posting your opinions on this FORUM has little or no effect, other than possibly making you feel good.

 

I honestly don't see, as individuals, you keep putting up with the constant BS.

 

Prior to 1987 (De-Reg) there were regulations that companies and Customers had to abide BY.

 

All that happens now is the customer plays SHOT-GUN POKER and calls the shot.

 

The Airlines (Big Boys) still have regulations and file tarrifs. Go figure.

 

 

I am in NO way being sarcastic, just an observer.

 

Don

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