Archive for the ‘jet’ Category

Information is filtering through that an Antonov-12 has been lost on take-off from Al-Asad airbase in Iraq on Thursday. So far there is very little available, but we do have a few facts. The ASN is currently describing it as operated by “Falcon Aviation” and states that the entire crew of 7 died. We’re getting a lot of Google traffic searching for the registration S9-SAO, which is with British Gulf International Airlines (BGI rather than BGK), an An-12BP with the serial number 346908. The aircraft seems to have been sold by the Russian air force directly to BGIA during its Kyrgyz phase.

Falcon probably refers to Falcon Express, the local affiliate of FedEx that has repeatedly showed up chartering dodgy An-12 and Il-76 operators into Iraq. (This is why the Viktorfeed shows their movements.) There’s an interesting thread on PPRuNe in which it’s said that new hires on their own fleet of Beech 1900s and Fokker 27s were told to watch Air America. (This one’s pretty good too.) Interestingly, searchers are coming from both *.fedex.com and dhl.com hostnames.

In other news, something weird in the feed got my attention. What on earth was “Deutsches Rettungsflugwacht” doing around the region? It seems that someone has been using their IATA two-letter code as if it was a three-letter ICAO code, or rather that Dubai Airport doesn’t know the difference. IATA DV is SCAT, a Kazakh-based operator started in 1997. What did we find there, then? Well, Yak-42 serial 4520422306016, which is an old friend. As 3C-LLL at Air Bas, then UN-42428 at Irbis, this aircraft is a Bout veteran; operating for Sudan Airways and Air West, it made regular trips to Iraq and Somalia in 2004-2005. At the time, the DXB Web site gave aircraft types as well as times, destinations, flight numbers etc, so it was the first individual plane I was able to identify – they only had the one Yak-42. Like the rest of the Irbis fleet, it’s been keeping a low profile since the company shut down in a hurry in June 2006.

The registration is now UP-Y4210. SCAT also used to have Tu-134B serial 63285, then UN-65695, which belonged to long-blacklisted and shutdown Boutco GST Aero, and interestingly, also to UTAGE in Equatorial Guinea, a company involved in the Christmas Day 2003 3X-GDM crash.

Update: JACDEC confirms it as S9-SAO.

I knew roughly what Resource Accounting and Budgeting was all about, but I never imagined they could invent a system that would require NHS trusts to pay back any overspend twice. Especially as, at the same time, the introduction of payment-by-results means that their income scales directly with their output. So, they can’t reduce the number of operations performed, because their income would go down still more. That also means they can’t really cut any variable or semivariable costs – pay is set by long-term negotiations with the unions that aren’t readily adjustable, and inputs such as drugs are dependent on the scale of production.

Worse, a lot of them are committed to paying unalterable PFI charges, so even the overheads cannot be trimmed. It’s less well known, but MOD has been struggling with RAB ever since its inception. By definition, MOD has a lot of stuff that is only used if there is a war on – vehicles, sets of combat body armour, bandages. RAB requires government departments to pay a notional cost of capital charge on the value of their assets back to the Treasury, which is or used to be 6 per cent. This was a significant drag for the MOD, which responded by flogging stuff it then had to buy back when the wars started. There are vehicles in Afghanistan that were acquired for Kosovo, sold, bought back for Iraq, sold, and bought back again. It’s hard not to see the whole thing as an exercise in treating the public servant as a servant.

Latest is that the RAF is leasing-back two Canberra PR9 reconnaissance planes it disposed of literally months ago. The Canberra was the RAF’s first jet bomber, going into service in 1949 or thereabouts, and it is planned that it will finally be replaced by the (delayed) ASTOR reconnaissance plane, a business jet stuffed with gadgetry. That isn’t in service yet, so it’s yet another of those “capability gaps” Blair’s defence secretaries are so fond of. PR-9 had some extremely advanced cameras, the like of which are unavailable on anything else – it was one of the few UK or NATO assets the Americans specifically asked for in Afghanistan in 2001.

I’d very much like to know what the two (officially civilian) PR9s are doing.