Safety Notice for Carrying Passengers

Robinson Helicopters have raised safety notice SN 44 Carrying Passengers regarding the additional risks of carrying passengers. It underlines the importance of a thorough safety briefing for all passengers before flight which is a legal requirement anyway.

A useful video has been produced to remind pilots of their obligations when taking passengers flying.  Please watch this video and ensure you adopt similar practices to those mentioned.

The Safety Notice also goes on to recommend minimum hours for newly rated pilots to carry passengers. Whilst Safety Notices are useful in identifying areas of increased risk, they are not mandatory.

Aeromega customers are well trained and we already have a framework to support and monitor newly rated pilots who wish to self fly hire helicopters carrying passengers.  In completing our risk assessment, we have produced our own guidance on how the risks identified in this Safety Notice will be mitigated. All rated pilots are requested to read and absorb the recommendations and be aware of the requirements of our framework.

Website Update

Some of you may notice that we have changed the format of the website slightly, mainly to make it a bit more usable on phones.  All the same information is still there, we have just swapped the Menu structure around a bit. Let Duncan know if you can’t find something.

Hope it’s better to use.

Aeromega Team

Christmas 2012 Newsletter

Merry Xmas Everyone,

2012 seems to have just flashed by despite it being one of the most difficult flying years in my experience. The weather has been absolutely dreadful and many of you have understandably struggled to stay current. This is always frustrating but is part and parcel of being a UK based pilot.

Despite the stumbling blocks, we have had an eventful year and I am pleased to report several very successful trips which have inspired and challenged our regular fliers.

Alps 2012

 

Ian, Ali and I took 5 customers on an Altitude Appreciation Trip to Megeve in March.  We were blessed with fantastic weather and once we arrived in Megeve we had an amazing week seeing the Alps up close. Roy, Ian, Tony, Richard and Mikhail had a fabulous time flying in and out of Courchevel, around Mont Blanc and up and down the snowfields in between. Most of us managed to get in a day or two’s skiing as well and we also found time to sample Megeve’s wide selection of restaurants.

Apparently they have a few bars there as well.

Ali, being such a talented film maker, put together a stunning montage of the week which takes pride of place on our homepage, if you haven’t seen it yet, click on it straight away and see what you missed.

We are intending to repeat the experience next year during the week commencing 9th March 2013, so put it in your diaries.  Sorry students but the trip is only open to licence holders – although you do not have to be R44 rated.

 

Lands End to John O’Groats

Tim and Ali excelled themselves in organising the LE to JOG trip in September.  I, for one, was absolutely stunned to hear that the two R44’s made it from one end of the country to the other in a day.  Excellent effort by all concerned.  The nature of the trip dictated that the accommodation was a bit basic but resouceful planning and the team’s willingness to muck in, meant that the mission was accomplished at the first attempt.

Mallorca 2012

Ian fancied a bit of warmer weather flying so, together with Richard Brook, set off for Southern Spain in G-WEAT.  After dropping Richard at Murcia, Ian went on to Mallorca, where Tony, Roy and David enjoyed the delights of the Balearics before travelling home with Ali.

We have been incredibly lucky with our trips this year and I’d like to thank Ian, Ali and Tim for doing a vast amount of research and planning to bring them to fruition. We must also thank our friends at the Aeroclub de Megeve and Sloane in Mallorca for their advice and assistance.

Lastly a huge heartfelt thank you to all those who joined in on the trips and made them such a roaring success.  Details of next year’s trips will be circulated as soon as we have dates, In addition to the Alps, some of those being considered are Anglesea/Snowdonia, Formation Flying in Gloucester and the Lake District.

Role of Honour

We are delighted with the achievements of our students this year.  We are proud to welcome Daniel Lister and Mike Beadman to the ranks of our PPL Holders.

Staff Changes

We are, of course, distraught to learn that Candy Barron, the stalwart of the weekend ops desk will soon be leaving us after nearly 8 years. However we are delighted for her that, at last, she will be able to join her husband Adam in the USA.  I have no doubt that she will very quickly make herself invaluable to a helicopter school somewhere in Florida and at least she shouldn’t need her hot water bottle out there! On behalf of all the staff and customers I’d like to wish her the very best of luck and thank her for her contribution over the years.

It’s a pleasure to welcome Clare Blake to the team to take over from Candy.  Clare has had some aviation experience with Scott Air in the past and is looking forward to meeting you all over the coming months.

Fleet

I realise that it has been a frustrating year with weather and aircraft availability causing some disruption to the flying programme.  The damage sustained by the overspeed on G-RALA last year had many knock on effects on the availability of an R44 for SFH.  Sadly, RALA has now been sold and is no longer on our fleet.  I am, however very hopeful that a new R44 will be joining our fleet in the very near future to fill this void.

Airport

As many of you will be aware, we have been battling with the airport throughout the year regarding our continuing presence at Cambridge.  We have no desire to relocate but the charging policy that the airport has adopted is making it very difficult for us to justify staying. We are hoping that common sense will prevail and a compromise can be reached and we can get back to business as usual.

EASA

You should be aware that EASA regulation has largely come into effect and they are now the governing body.  The legislation is rather difficult to trawl through and we are all feeling our way a bit. Should you have any questions regarding the validity of licences and ratings, please email me and I will try to steer you in the right direction. The main thing to remember is that you should carry your licence and photographic ID as well as a current chart on all flights.

Epilogue

Lastly, may I express our gratitude to all our customers and owners and of course the staff.  Without you all, we have no business and would are not able to carry on flying without your continued support and custom.  Many thanks.  We hope to see you all soon, and those of you who have not been able to fly recently may get a chance over the Xmas break.  We will be closed on 24th, 25th and 26th December this year but are otherwise open as usual.

Season’s Greetings to all of you and your families.

Duncan Bickley, Head of Training

Chistmas 2011 News Letter

Hi Everyone, Merry Christmas.

It doesn’t seem a year since my last Xmas missive, but the unavoidable sounds of Slade and Wizzard in all the shops tell me that it is that time again.

Thanks

A big thank you to all of you who have continued to support us in the most difficult of trading conditions.  Fuel prices are at an all time high and the airport and authorities continue to want a bigger piece of the pie.  We are amazed that trading has stood up so well in a year when 4 other UK helicopter schools have gone out of business. Our success is wholly down to the support from our regulars, we very much appreciate your custom and look forward to flying with you all in the New Year. I’d also like to thank my fantastic team, Chelsea, Ian, Ali, Candy and Amina all work so well together to create a brilliant working environment and enable us to provide our service to you throughout the year. It’s a great place to work.

Currency

The weather is seldom our friend and many of you have found it hard to stay current.   Don’t forget that you can fly with an instructor at any time of the year when the weather is outside SFH limits.  It never does any harm to revise emergencies or try something more complicated than you would attempt on your own.  You’ll probably gain more from such exercises that repeated 28 day checks; you don’t have to wait until your LPC is coming up to do some revision.

This time of year it’s also good to try some night flying.If you have not experienced flying in the dark, I can recommend taking the opportunity to experience flying in the inky black and learning how different it is to flying in daylight. I can guarantee that between 1 and 3 hours of night experience will “open your eyes” to being in the dark!  Legal night starts as early as 16:30 at this time of year, so it is very easy to fit in some sorties without staying out too late.  It will sharpen your awareness and quickly convince you of the difficulties of flying after sunset.  Please book in with Chelsea.

GA Committee

Please find enclosed a letter and voting slip from the airport to elect a member of the General Aviation Committee.  I am delighted to have been nominated and would appreciate it if you be so kind as to vote for me.  Please ensure that you vote and return the papers by 23rd December 2011. It will benefit us greatly if we have a permanent voice on the board.

Prices

We were most reluctant to have to raise prices in the middle of 2011, but that, I am afraid is the economic reality. Our annual price review will take place in January and whilst we will do our best to keep increases down both hangarage and landing fees will rise and we will have to pass them on.

Location

As you will be aware, we were considering relocating during most of this year due to the airport’s desire to charge un-commercial prices for base operators. Thankfully they have relented enough for us to stay at Cambridge for at least another year. We have no desire to move but can only stay here if the financials stack up. We will keep you informed.

Overspeeds

G-RALA suffered a bad overspeed in October and has been out of action ever since.  We hope to get her back before the New Year and I am sure that R44 self fly hire pilots will be chomping at the bit to get current again. Don’t forget you can do a check ride on WEAT so that you are ready to SFH as soon as she comes back. Overspeeds continue to be an unnecessary drain on our resources.  I shall be posting an overview of them on the Company website to remind us of just how damaging lapses of concentration can they can be – both to airframes and pockets.  Please find time to read it – increased insurance costs are borne by everybody, so please do your best to minimise claims.

Trips

We would like to get a few more pilots coming along on our trips, preferably bringing passengers to make it a little more of a social outing. Please let me have any suggestions of places you would like to visit.

Merry Xmas to all of you and a Happy New Flying Year from all the team.

Duncan

Overspeeds

Overspeeds

One of the most costly incidents that we experience is an Overspeed. It is imperative that we, as a helicopter community avoid any more such incidents in the future.  Despite frequent discussions and reminders during continuation training, overspeeds occur far too often. Consequently,  here is a reminder of how they can occur and how they can be avoided.

Definition:

An overspeed occurs when either ERPM or RRPM or both exceed the red lines on the RPM tachometer.

Types of Overspeed

  • Engine RPM overspeed on start up
  • Engine & Rotor RPM during lift into the hover
  • Engine & Rotor RPM during flight
  • High Rotor RPM in auto rotation

Let’s look at each type individually and how they can occur and how to prevent them.

Engine RPM overspeed on start up

Cause

Engine is started – either by turning the key or pressing the starter button – without the throttle being in the fully closed position.

Effect

ERPM rises rapidly to exceed 104 %; governor does not have sufficient information to intervene before overspeed occurs.

Potential Damage

Scoring of cylinders, damage to push rods and piston seals and crankshaft. Damage to magnetos misalignment of the cooling fan.

Prevention

Follow the Company start up check list properly. Do not rush and do not skip steps.

The throttle must always be fully closed before and during the start process. Always ensure that the throttle is fully closed before you start the engine.  If the engine is reluctant to start you may prime by opening the throttle then closing it fully again before a second attempt in an R22 or using the key in an R44.  On no account should the engine be encouraged to start by cracking the throttle open whilst cranking the starter.

Engine & Rotor RPM during lift into the hover

Cause

Lifting without the governor switched on / governor faulty or non operational.

Effect

Without the governor switched on ERPM & RRPM will rise as the lever is raised.  The mechanical system of Correlation does not work outside the range of 17-21” MAP.  Consequently the needles will both continue to rise above 104% as the lever is raised. Whilst this may be counter-intuitive, it is nevertheless fact and will cause significant damage.

Potential Damage

Scoring of cylinders, damage to push rods and piston seals and crankshaft. Damage to magnetos,  Brinelling (crushing spherical bearings into egg shapes) of feathering bearings in the rotor head.

If the helicopter is flown in this condition for any length of time, overstressing of journals, rotor head and rotor blades, damage to drive shafts and main rotor and tail rotor gearboxes & hydraulic systems may also occur.

Prevention

Follow the Company check list properly;

Switch the governor on before start as directed;

Allow governor to set RPM to 104 % during wind up;

Allow governor to recover RPM after Low RPM warning horn check;

Check both sets of Warning Lights are out when directed.

Perform pre takeoff checks properly every time you lift. Things may have changed since you trained, our recommended mantra is now:

  • Upper Warning Lights Out
  • RPM 104% & governed
  • MAP
  • Lower Warning Lights Out (INCLUDING GOVERNOR)
  • T’s, P’s & Keys (set to both magnetos)
  • Fuel (Sufficient for flight)
  • Carb Heat Set
  • (R44 Hydraulics On)
  • Hatches & Harnesses
  • Area Clear, Left, Right & Above

Take off technique

When raising the collective to lift, pause at 17” MAP to check RPM is holding at 104%.  If it is not, then the governor is not doing its job but you will have spotted it before you exceed limits and cause damage.

Engine & Rotor RPM during flight

Cause

Governor failure, inadvertent switching off of governor, mis-handling of throttle, poor re-engagement technique following recovery from auto.

Effect

ERPM & RRPM do not remain within the Power On range:   R22:  97 – 104%, R44: 98 – 102%

Potential Damage

Scoring of cylinders, damage to push rods and piston seals and crankshaft. Damage to magnetos,  Brinelling (crushing spherical bearings into egg shapes) of feathering bearings in the rotor head, tail rotor drive shaft failure followed by loss of tailcone.

Prevention

Regular scan of instruments must include RPM tachometer and warning lights.

Governor usually ensures RPM is correctly maintained. Pilot must still monitor that the governor is working correctly.

Low RPM: Warning horn sounds indicating governor has failed to maintain RPM;

High RPM: No such warning received. Pilot must spot and gently roll off throttle till RPM back in the permitted range.

If RPM correctly set prior to take-off, governor failure is unlikely to take RPM far enough outside limits to cause significant damage. Use manual throttle to correct RPM gently.

NB: During auto recovery, ensure needles joined in the power-on range before raising lever.

High Rotor RPM in auto rotation

Cause

Insufficient check up on lever to contain RRPM rises due to disc loading / airspeed changes.

Effect

As rate of descent increases, updrafting air increases RRPM.  Failure to raise lever to contain RRPM rise may lead to RRPM needle exceeding Power Off Limit of 110%.

Potential Damage

Brinelling (crushing spherical bearings into egg shapes) of feathering bearings in the rotor head, over-stressing of journals and rotor blades, damage to drive shafts and main rotor and tail rotor gearboxes may also occur.

Prevention

Having entered autorotation, never forget to check up on collective to contain RRPM rise.

Avoid aggressive cyclic inputs during auto – fly smoothly & monitor RRPM throughout exercise.

Feel for increasing pressure on your backside signalling increasing disc load and check up again if necessary. Monitor needle re-engagement carefully during recover to climb.

Do not fly a helicopter above its maximum permitted all up weight.

What to do if you do overspeed a helicopter.

You must get RPM back within normal limits as soon as possible, land & shut down immediately.

Whilst the helicopter can probably continue flying, after damage has occurred, there is no guarantee, so be safe and make a sensible controlled precautionary landing.

You are legally required to report any unserviceability to the operator, so you must tell us what has occurred:-

  • Certain engineering checks have to made to ensure helicopter is airworthy.
  • Providing we can tell the insurance company what has happened and that it is Pilot Error, it is an insured risk and will usually be covered by the underwriters.
  • No other pilot will be put at risk by your error.

If you do not report an overspeed:

  • Repairs will not be covered by insurance and the owner will have to bear the costs, making them unlikely to hire out helicopters in the future;
  • An un-airworthy helicopter could remain in operation which could suffer a catastrophic failure at any time causing injury or even a DEATH for which you would be responsible.

It is therefore vital that any incident is reported. We always try to address such matters positively and retrain pilots when errors occur and are admitted. That makes for better pilots. You won’t be popular but providing you engage with us in rectifying the problems it need not affect your flying in the future.