Because I doubted the refurbished AHRS system, I selected INS for my main gyro. [...] there is no right answer when it comes to applying ORM in the case of "operational necessity." [...] the "failsafes" you learn (and more importantly, pass on to others) someday will save your life (or someone else's).
Photo by PHAN Bo J. Flannigan. A TIME TO REMEMBER By Cdr. Mac Shuford In light of the final decommissioning of the S-3 airframe, here’s a story in memoriam of its more than 30 years of faithful service. Although my event happened more than a decade ago, the lessons learned are appropriate today. ur detachment was well-prepared, but concern was the AHRS, which just had been replaced we had been having constant issues with (the failure rate of reworked parts was not good). The one of our aircraft. Its problems included INS also had a history of failing during the cat stroke. the inertial-navigation system (INS), the Losing both would mean loss of the main attitude attitude heading and reference system gyro—any carrier pilot’s nightmare off the catapult at (AHRS), a recurring bleed-air-leak indication, the night. Adding to our issues, the GPS system was not TACAN, and our mission-data load. Of course, not all acquiring any satellites. Although this problem was of these things ever had failed at the same time; what unusual, it wasn’t unheard of, given the amount of elec- were the chances of that happening? tronic interference on the flight deck. However, I never During the brief, the aircraft’s problems were at the had lost that system before. forefront in my mind, even though the launch was at After a couple years of fleet experience, I had night, and we were operating under “operational neces- learned (like most naval aviators) to build “failsafes” sity” for a completely organic (carrier-only) air-wing into my habit patterns for occasions like this. Little strike. With our aircraft as a mission go/no-go criteria, things, like keeping a flashlight pointed at the tiny and the stage was set for the possibility of some difficult seemingly useless backup “peanut” gyro, which could decision-making. be the one thing that saves your life. Like many of my Our startup was normal, and my primary aircraft other failsafes, I did this because someone had taught 22 Approach me that, over the life of the S-3 airframe, many unex- tion and, thus, no navigation. We headed north toward plained mishaps occurred off the cat at night, and atti- southern Iraq. tude could have been
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