I was so lucky, when I first began flying helicopter EMS in 1999 when my first director of ops told me that he would rather me turn down a flight and go back to sleep, than push weather limits. However, the go/no-go decision was still my sole decision to make. At the time, I probably did not appreciate my director’s sentiment as much as I should have. [Read More...]
Flight Risk Assessment Tool
Helicopter air ambulance
After a recent helicopter accident, some old topics popped up on a number of internet forums: aircraft repairs, aircraft data plates, and salvage parts. While it remains to be seen if any previous repairs have fault in this accident, the ensuing discussions demonstrated that there is an ongoing knowledge gap in how aircraft repairs can be performed legally.
First, the use of aircraft salvage parts in aircraft repairs is perfectly legal within the FARs and is a classic example of, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” However, when it comes to data plates, there is – and has been – specific regulatory guidance on how they are made, attached, and maintained.
Unfortunately, some people are not aware of (or choose not to follow) this FAA guidance.
As such, the FAA and the OEMs have become more proactive in this area in recent times. For instance, as recently as October 2018 the FAA issued new guidance. So follow below as we continue the discussion. [Read More...]
aircraft data plates
legal aircraft repairs
RPMN: What is your current position?
I am the president and chief instructor of Civic Helicopters Inc. Of all the helicopter business models I could have ventured into, I chose the flight training model. I have been instructing helicopter and fixed-wing since 1974, and I’ve focused on helicopter flight training since 1987. I have accumulated over 32,000 flight hours; 26,000 of them were in all different makes and models of helicopters flown with pilots from all over the world. [Read More...]
meet a rotorcraft pro
Siller Helicopters Inc. based in Yuba City, California, performs lift jobs and aerial construction support across the USA flying two Sikorsky S-64 Skycranes, two CH-54 Tarhes, and two S-61s. The company has been doing lift work since the 1970s and is extremely experienced in all aspects of this demanding and very specialized work. Siller Helicopters is also well known for providing high quality and very well maintained firefighting aircraft on both contract and call when needed.
Rotorcraft Pro observed a recent lift job in the northern California city of Roseville at a large mall. The job entailed lifting eight 6,500-pound air conditioners, more than a Sikorsky S-58T can lift but well below the maximum 11,000 pounds their S-61 can lift. For jobs up to 10,000 pounds nothing can do it better than a light S-61. In addition to removing the old air conditioners, a few loads of support scrap metal from the air conditioning base plates were taken away. Precision flying is typical of such jobs, so this one was not particularly challenging for the flight crews. The mall was near sea level and it was a cool morning, so the S-61 had plenty of excess performance. This gave the flight crew many options to complete the job safely and efficiently. [Read More...]
helicopter heavy lift work
Are you a military helicopter pilot that didn’t keep your own logbook? Perhaps you thought it was sufficient to let the military track your flight time? You are now in the position of having to translate your military flight time into civilian flight time. Translating flight time is an unavoidable task, because most military pilots did not maintain a logbook. Though this is a very time-consuming task, it is not insurmountable. Most military pilots will need to translate their military time properly into a civilian logbook, as most employers will require a logbook in order to hire you. [Read More...]
Military to Civilian Helicopters
In 1982, offensive lineman Dave Schreck was coming to the end of his college football career. His team had gone 8-5 and beat Vanderbilt University in a bowl game. It was the first winning season in over ten years at the Air Force Academy and the team not only beat Army and Navy to win the coveted Commander in Chief’s trophy for the first time, but also scored their first victory ever over a ranked Notre Dame team. Schreck finished the year being inducted First Team All-WAC (Western Athletic Conference) selection—and was also one of ten players nationwide selected for a scholarship by the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. He garnered these athletic and academic accolades not at some “football factory” school, but at The United States Air Force Academy. Now, that’s noteworthy.
His success both on—and off—the field at the Colorado Springs academy would open up a new world in a coming Air Force and corporate career for the young cadet who hailed from the quaint town of Coon Rapids, Iowa. “My goal was not to get out of small-town Iowa. I loved small-town life and where I grew up, but the Air Force Academy opened a new set of doors for me that I never knew existed. Looking back on the chain of events that started with my graduation from there just amazes me—the Air Force gave me so many opportunities,” Schreck says. “For example, I never dreamed I’d work in the White House, but the Air Force gave me that opportunity. I’ve traveled to all 50 states in my career, as well as over 25 countries. Up until age 17 my sphere of travel was limited to states adjacent to Iowa.” [Read More...]
Rotorcraft Pro Executive Watch
There are some helicopter search and rescue (SAR) missions that are just impossible.
A prime example of this was the crash of a Dehavilland DHC-2 ‘Beaver’ on Alaska’s Thunder Mountain on 4 August 2018. Flown by Rust’s Flying Service, the sightseeing plane had one pilot and four tourists onboard when it accidentally turned into a high-hanging glacier in Denali National Park.
At 1,800 hours, the pilot managed to get a satellite call to Rust’s Flying Service; asking for help before contact was lost. After many reconnection attempts, the pilot was reached once more. He reported being trapped in the wreckage with two possible fatalities onboard. Then contact was lost.
The National Park Service (NPS) dispatched its AS-350 B3e high-altitude rescue helicopter from its base in Talkeetna to the crash location reported by the Beaver’s emergency transmitter. “We had no ability to get to the site at that time, since snowy, windy weather had settled onto the mountain,” said Nic Strohmeyer, an NPS aviation helicopter specialist. “So our SAR helicopter had to return to base.” [Read More...]
helicopter search and rescue
Several times a year, I’ll field a question about aircraft records. Not the Chuck Yeager type, but those binders, stacks, or sometimes just boxes of documents and paper products that record the maintenance performed on an aircraft.
The specific topic may vary a bit, but one topic that continually repeats itself concerns the FAA required format for these records. While there is FAA guidance on the content and form for each maintenance entry made into these records, there is no mandated format, i.e. physical form, on which that entry should be written. [Read More...]
FAA Advisory Circular 43-9C
FAA Maintenance Records
Becker Avionics has been innovating high-quality products since 1945 when Max Egon Becker created his first aircraft radio receiver. Within three years, he was building luxury car radios for Mercedes.
“Max was a great innovator and great thinker,” Becker Avionics USA President Luis Gonzales related. “He had a passion both for automotive racing and flying.”
Becker’s focus on the general aviation market, especially gliders, naturally led to equipment attributes that all pilots desire. “It required them to build light equipment that was very reliable,” explained Lee Benson, a senior consultant for Becker USA. “That continues in the ethos of Becker today.”
Becker remains a high-tech family company, now under the direction of Max’s son, Roland, with a focus on digital avionics technology. It creates and manufactures communications, navigation, surveillance and search-and-rescue equipment for general aviation, air traffic control, law enforcement, and military operations throughout the world. “He took the company to that next level,” Gonzales said. [Read More...]
helicopter navigation systems
helicopter search and rescue
“Lyn, when making a decision to accept a flight, I want you to place no more value on the patient than you would a sack of crap.” My response, “Huh? Wait . . . what? Can you say that again?” [Read More...]
Rotorcraft Pro Editor's Letter