A recent helicopter crash in the USA highlights the dangers of operating outside of the design specifications. In this last case in a string of what appears to be helicopter ‘mast bump’ cases – death. The same is true of anything designed – from a helicopter to a business, government through Creation. Anything designed has limits to its performance with consequences, often severe if design is breached. In this post I discuss and apply this principle. Enjoy.
A couple of decades ago I met Trevor & Glenda Rogers at the Auckland Big Boys Toys show. They wanted a web presence so I worked with him to develop his website under the brand that he was operating at the time – ULTRA Helicopters. It’s a bit of a story but well worth the while to read it, so grab your cuppa and listen up.
Ultra was a US brand manufactured in New Zealand under license through Asia. Trevor, I think, was an aircraft engineer by trade. He recounted to me the changes that he undertook to the original design as a result of a tailstrike which had taken chunks out of the Fenistron tail. Put simply, a Fenistron tail is identified best by a fixed (usually fibre-glass) covering around the outsides of the tail rotor. Sending the picture of the damage back to the USA raised concerns at the damage, potential accidents over the years resulting in deaths, like this one in Aussie.
With the Americans struggling to believe that their pride and joy basically didn’t cut the mustard Trevor ‘just’ extended the rotor shaft by a foot and a half to short circuit the problem. Holy Moley, did I just say “just”? I had to don an anti-dust suit just to enter the bloomin’ workshop! Then it was titanium this and titanium that!
Trevor’s recounting of Head Office’s response is a story worth repeating even if it contains a bit of embellishment from a bumptious salesman! Apparently they didn’t believe it at first, so Trevor emailed the boffins the pictures, which reportedly sent them into a tailspin of their own trying to work out WTF had happened downunder to cause this trauma!
I think mast bumping and tailstrikes are more well understood now, but at the time the gist of the story was that they came back saying that the only way this could have happened was if the helicopter was operated outside of its design specifications.
Well duh! This is downunder guys. You may want to follow all the rules up there, but we just do things downunder – we use most things to their max and we tend to have the mentality that we’ll just fix it if it breaks!
So the reply went back to the US designers’ question, like, “What are you doing down there anyway?” with a cute, little, “Oh just the usual farming sort of stuff, you know chasing stock, a bit of deer recovery, you know?” Consternation of course from the US designers!
My understanding is that Trevor’s move away from the Ultra brand and technology into his own TGR Helicorp was in a large part due to the Yanks’ resistance to change, and had its genesis in this event. Trevor and Glenda later slipped their new and revised helicopter plans, prototype and primary value out from under the noses of their arguing investors and the receiver, and ended up with jail-time as a result of telling the court to stick it too – but that’s another story all on its own!
Just because a helicopter can sling a deer (or more) around doesn’t mean that it’s safe, or that we should do this outside of the design specs, especially if we want to live. Trevor, Glenda, the pilot and his family were probably all lucky that they dodged a bullet but it could really have been another fatality.
Design of any machine requires specifications. Drive a car beyond its design limitation and you will crash it. Unless you are Elon Musk, you can’t drive a car to the moon, or unless you have the resources of Stanley Kubrick, you can’t send people to the moon. You can’t just jump start a farm tractor with a cellphone battery, nor lift a 2.5 ton machine with only one leg of a 2.5 ton pallet jack (please don’t ask me how I know this!), nor can you make a dopey judge see reason when she’s hell-bent on supporting the Crown’s case no matter the truth!
Design is built into most things around us – business, media, marketing, the law, finance, distribution are all things designed. Business is designed to make a profit. Operate outside of the design specs and you will go broke. Media are setup to gain eyeballs – yours – as are all marketing efforts. The law is designed to dispense legal rules and judgments. If there is justice in there, great – it’s a happy day – but the law is designed for a purpose. Operate outside of the law and you’ll be facing adversity, in some jurisdictions sometimes even death.
When I look around me I see nature too has design inbuilt. Tell me please whether places previously nuked have recovered any. The specifications that exist mean that while I may be able to run a mile, my body will pay for it later. When I get a decent sleep I have a clear mind but when I don’t I’m grumpy. I also notice that cuts scrapes and bruises repair themselves naturally but that when I dig for hours at a time, my back hurts and that some bad injuries can cause long-term consequences.
Human relationships too seem to have design specs, usually global. I lived in Samoa for the best part of a decade and it never ceased to amaze me how the Samoan propensity to put a fist in your face at the slightest hint of insult caused a surprise when there was a reaction! That’s how fights started.
Boof then . . . Boof!
Then Boof, boof, boof!
always as a rule seek respect. Women (as a rule) seek love. This is just how we are wired – good or bad. Unfortunately we tend to give in the manner that we seek so that men tend to give respect rather than love and women tend to give love rather than respect, thus we all operate outside of our design specs. Trauma results. I’ve had to terminate a few people from Club Wairua because of failure to respect. Respect is the fundamental rule. Everything stems from there. You can hate me as much as you like and you can think of me what you will, but the day that you show disrespect, you’re out. It’s a little bit more nuanced than that but basically them’s the rules. Break ’em and bye, bye. Operate outside of the design specs and eventually the SHTF.
I’ve always said that evidence of design is evidence of a Designer – applying this in the biblical sense that there is a Creator who has given us the design specs for living. Operating outside of this design may achieve a short term advantage, but sure as eggs, there will be accountability at the end of the day. This ultra-long view may not be popular, indeed it may be destined FOR unpopularity but if popularity ifs your goal, go for it.
I’d prefer to live long-term though, as IMHO the alternative sucks.
Helicopters, business, human relationships or the God-thing are all the same – go beyond or outside of the design specifications and you’re toast.
Make sure that you’re doing it all right today eh wot?