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    Commercial Offshore Helicopter Pilot and instructor: Ratings; H175, AS365N3, EC135T2+
  1. It's all good, please don't think that I took offence to anything anyone had said, but I've seen this accident referred to elsewhere and the crew ripped apart by people who didn't know the facts or how the crew were lead down the garden path by an underlying issue with the Eurocopter checklist. Now that I'm in the offshore industry again it always amazes me how terrified of helicopters the rig workers are, so I often take it upon myself to work through their worries and try and help them understand, because they get all their knowledge from movies or newspapers. These unfortunate events must occur for us all to learn from them, it is a factor of the industry whereby things will only change after an accident. I'm always more than happy to discuss rotary wing aviation with anyone, be it questions regarding the operation of helicopters, quirks (like the 135 fuel system) or general career advice. Always here to help explain things or expand on the already large knowledge base that is here. The people on this forum are generally more knowledgeable than most so I'm very happy to add any insight I can as to how things would relate to reality. Having your squishy butt strapped into something changes how one thinks drastically and that is easy to forget when one hasn't been in that situation so a little context always helps. :)
  2. The 135 has an awkward fuel system set up, which has now been resolved, but at the time if you were low on fuel and in cruise flight the fuel would be pooled in the forward tanks, causing the rear fuel transfer pumps to overheat and a caution to appear on the CAD. So IAW FRC's the rear pump is selected to off. Let's now say you've cruised for 10 mins in busy airspace with lots going on and your mental capacity is reducing (bearing in mind this isn't a game, it is VERY different in reality) and you begin to slow the aircraft down, the fuel flows to the rear of the aircraft and the front pump overheats, so you turn that off, forgetting to turn on the rear pump again. Now you have no fuel transfer pumps and the emergency checklist does not advise you to check the other pump, I can tell you that it is very easy to forget, because I've done exactly that, before I realised my mistake. The 135 has an indent in the fuel tanks so that one engine will flame out before the other one, giving you enough time to realise that you're of fuel and react accordingly, either prepare for autorotation or rapidly descend to the ground. In the event that both flame out at the same time, you have about one to two seconds to enter autorotation before the blade drag becomes too much to overcome and the RPM decays beyond recovery. Also, on the 135, in the event of a double engine failure you lose your RadAlt and you have to reach up and left to the overhead panel and power it again, it's a stupid design. Now place yourself at night, over a city, it has been a routine flight so far, nothing exciting, then all of a sudden, both engines fail. It is going to take time to realise what has gone on and attempt to recover the aircraft, by which point the RPM has decayed too much and you have to watch the ground coming up to meet you from whatever height you were at. But the likelihood of both engines failing at the same time is incredibly small, so when it happens the shock factor is immense. This is reality and if you don't perform perfectly immediately then you will die and perhaps kill other people too, you can't just pause it or reset and try again, so your stress levels go through the roof and unless you've experienced a double engine failure then I'd thank anyone not to comment on the actions of my ex-colleague. In reality, unless you are expecting a double engine failure, either because you've already lost one or you are in a combat situation then you'll probably be surprised and not react in time so you'd better leave a nice message on the CVR for your family, but if you think it might be coming and react accordingly then a double engine failure is not a big deal at all and you have full control of the aircraft all the way down.
  3. They will still hold fuel for their ultimate destination i.e. the home/diversion airfield. This is so that should there be an issue with refuelling they are still capable of returning the aircraft to an airfield. You'll often hear of aircraft that have 'one last chance' to take fuel from the tanker before they have to go straight home. If they are successful then they continue with the tasking, unsuccessful and they break off and head for home. I'm not aware of the terminology used by specific operations, but I'd assume the tanker is the destination and the airfield is the destination alternate, so the crew would hold fuel to destination alternate in case of any issues with them or the tanker. It would be poor airmanship and incredibly irresponsible to only have enough fuel to reach the tanker only and not also be able to make it to a runway. But, this is a game, there are no consequences, so load up with weapons and take minimum fuel, you won't get courts-martialled or fired from your keyboard.
  4. If anything (removing the ejection seat from the equation) incidents in helicopters are probably safer than fixed wing. Flown correctly, you can land your helicopter at zero groundspeed in an area the same size, or slightly smaller than your D-value. Has something gone slightly wrong? Well, just land down in that field and check it out. Has something gone majorly wrong? Well, just autorotate to wherever is big enough for the fuselage to fit. You can't do that in fixed wing. Despite what some people think, even in autorotation, provided you keep the rotor RPM within the operating parameters you can perform fully aerobatic manoeuvers. That ability alone makes the helicopter my go-to in an emergency, contrary to the Hollywood theory of flight where no helicopter survives to the end of a movie. Now, if you're asking are helicopters more dangerous because we operate them in higher risk environments? Then yes, but inherently I'd say helicopters are safer. Also, ejection seats/mechanisms are heavy and helicopters tend to be operating near to their MTOW, so adding one/two heavy seats means less payload, which either reduces your range by cutting fuel or combat effectiveness by carrying less weapons, both of which would invalidate the benefits of rotary wing.
  5. The tail fin on the Gazelle helps enormously with tail rotor failures. I'm not entirely sure of the figures for the Gazelle, but the Dauphin (a relative of the Gazelle) sends 90% of its power to the main rotor and only 10% to the tail. Provided that there is 40kts of airflow over the tail fin, the aircraft will remain pretty much pointing straight. Obviously, this will vary with the type of tail rotor failure and also (and significantly more importantly) the power setting at the point of failure. High torque failures will necessitate a high speed running landing. The Gazelle has a smaller tail fin, but the principle is the same. Long live fenestrons and tail fins.
  6. Just to clarify; Bingo is not an emergency condition except in US parlance. Bingo fuel is defined in AOPA manuals as the minimum fuel to comfortably return to the airfield. It is a normal planning fuel, you can plan to run down to your Bingo figure before returning home (not after, obviously :thumbup:) VFR Bingo: Fuel from the farthest point in the route to your destination airfield + 5% contingency IFR Bingo: Fuel from the farthest point in the route to your destination, plus fuel to your IFR alternate, plus instrument approach fuel at one or both (wx depending) plus 30mins holding fuel, plus 10% of the entire amount. Joker fuel is a self-defined fuel figure that is higher than Bingo fuel. All of these must be calculated so that the aircraft is shut down with more than or equal to the minimum fuel in the tanks as per the Ops Manual. TLDR If you're American, Bingo is an emergency, for the rest of us it is a normal fuel planning state. Source: real life fuel planning.
  7. No worries, happy to answer any real aviation queries from anyone, but when it comes to how the sim works, I'm definitely not the guy to be asking. No, this is purely real world stuff and the differences between AFCS/SAS and Coupled Upper modes will vary between types. Some will totally remove the Stability systems with the mag trim, most will keep them in but at a degraded state since you are removing the Force Trim actuators. In our operation (UK Offshore Oil & Gas stuff to the Rigs out at sea) we are not permitted to hold the mag trim down whilst we fly, but quite often we are in IMC flying IFR in very poor weather. Our weather limits are extremely low, so removing part of the stability system is a huge no-no. Yep, again these things will vary from type to type, when I was on the EC135 the Level D sim could sometimes back flip when the mag switch was pressed. So that shows how hard it can be to properly replicate the way trim works. Yeah, again more of a general reference to real aircraft, also the Gazelle is the great grandfather of most of Eurocopter/Airbus' products so a lot of the items in a Gazelle have been carried forward and are recognisable even in their latest aircraft. Unfortunately, they were very serious. I'm sure you would do fine in a real aircraft, as would most people on here, if you know what to expect but react to what you see then you shouldn't be surprised if you manage to cope. Yeah, it has its place, but you can always pause it and hit the reset button and nobody is actually in any danger, but I get your point nonetheless.
  8. None of the following is particularly relevant to the game, this is info in response to questions regarding real aircraft operation, so if you're after Black Shark control tips, just skip this post. Basically, by depressing the mag trim you are removing the stability system from the aircraft and this can cause issues with the parallel actuators in the control run. If, for example, you were straight and level with all the control servos in that state, then you hit the mag trim and adjust your attitude to something vastly different, then release the mag trim, the actuators are still in the position they were in for straight and level, so the aircraft will be fighting you and itself to try and adjust and this can result in the actuators hitting against their control stops and you lose that bit of control movement. It is easier to just fly through the trim forces, select your new attitude then click the trim button again. A lot of aircraft have two trim types. The magnetic trim, the big clicky button, to quickly set the new datum and also a beep trim on a coolie hat. The beep trim allows fine trim in pitch and roll separately or together. So if you are in a sustained turn and the pitch control forces are uncomfortably high, you can use the beep trim to nudge to nose down to adopt a level attitude without adjusting the roll trim. The reason it is unwise to trim in roll, is that in the event of an emergency you can easily find yourself dealing with quite a few issues at once which can result in a reduction of your capacity, so the last thing you want to be doing is fight an aircraft that is trimmed to be in a left turn, for example. If it all hits the fan, you want to be able to neutralise the cyclic and the aircraft will fly level-ish with no stick forces, so you can focus on whatever the problems are. Even more important if you are flying IMC, which can obviously lead to disorientation and you definitely don't want the aircraft to be trimmed for anything but level flight. Also, as a side note for anyone who partakes in low level flying, trim the aircraft for a slight nose up attitude and just hold the cyclic forward, so that should anything happen, the aircraft will be trimmed to fly away from all that hard stuff that will kill you very quickly. For visual help, I've linked a random image of a Eurocopter cyclic (same one that is in almost every Eurocopter/Airbus) you'll see the coolie hat with 'beep trim' labelled beneath it and the mag trim with 'FTR' (Force Trim Release) labelled above it. https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3800/9013728426_07aa262b68_b.jpg Indeed, we have had people appear at my work with a logbook with a few thousand hours on helicopters looking for a job...only to find out their hours are on a flight sim and that they thought it was realistic and their hours were valid :doh: A simulator can never replicate that feeling as you are coming down an instrument approach and you are on minima and you're not sure if you're going to get home tonight or end up diverting. It can't replicate the noise, vibration, stresses, weather effects, turbulence, having multiple radios going at once, having people in the back who are relying on you to get them home etc.
  9. In most aircraft with a mag trim you will generally find yourself hitting it every few seconds. It is purely there to set a datum for the aircraft, however, air being the unstable medium that it is, will disrupt the aircraft from that datum and will need reset and re-trimmed with another click...or you can be lazy and couple it up using the upper modes of the autopilot, so people will tend to hear regular clicks coming from the cyclic. Also, in reality you would be rather foolish to depress the mag trim and manoeuvre the aircraft whilst holding the trim button, you're opening yourself up to a whole world of problems. You fly through the trim forces and reset the trim to the correct attitude, but it is poor practice to trim the aircraft in the roll axis whilst turning, pitch trim in the turn is fine though. But at the end of the day this is just a game so do what you want, nobody is able to correctly simulate helicopter flight dynamics, not even our £multi-million level D simulators, so you just do whatever you need to do to pop those pixels where you want them.
  10. Not sim, but still... Does this count? It's tighter than it looks, especially behind the camera.
  11. Yeah it is a small world, bud. I hate air tests though. "Hey, if I turn this screw you might lose an engine, is that cool?" "Wait...what??" "Too late, done it"
  12. Quite possibly mate. I popped in to do an air test and fly a 135 back to Staverton last May I think.
  13. AS565 and any Eurocopter/Airbus gets my vote, although I'm somewhat biased with over 2000hrs on the AS365 and a few hundred on the EC135. Fantastic machine, a real pilot's aircraft and I've never had any 'major' mechanical issues with it. :thumbup:
  14. As said above; you do get bird strikes, but they are not particularly common. We have had a few over the years on base, but they generally disappear in a pink puff through the blades or they bounce off the side. The engine intakes are protected in a few ways to prevent ingestion depending on the aircraft type - we have mesh covers over the front of our air intakes, whilst other aircraft have air intakes on the side of the engine compartment instead and some others have curved intakes. However, losing an engine (if you have two) really isn't a big deal and is something we practice regularly both in the sim and real aircraft. The biggest issue would be intrusion into the cockpit, which thankfully is rare. And again as said above, Google will show you the effects of cockpit bird strikes.
  15. Thank you, and I agree about the lack of information and also about the addition of a little more info in the manual. However, if you or anyone else have any questions regarding helicopter systems in general, feel free to send me a PM and I'll get back to you as quickly as I can. I won't be of any help regarding military ops as I've never been a military pilot, but I do have around 3000hrs of commercial flying so I've got a rough idea how a helicopter works and I can hopefully help with those type of questions i.e. systems, principles of flight, emergencies, instrument flying etc. basically everything but the deployment of weapons. Cheers, Roy
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