In it’s third year, Rotorcraft Pro’s annual U.S. Pilot Salary & Benefits Survey was initially launched in an effort to monitor and report trends on the salaries of pilots in the industry. Traditional surveys were sent directly to employers via snail-mail in ballot form, then collected and tabulated. This old method did provide interesting results, but because employers are reluctant to reveal the exact salaries and benefits they provide, the sampling could be rather small and probably wasn’t always representative of the larger whole.
Modern web technologies have given us the ability to survey actual pilots and their employers thus generating more participation throughout the industry. As in previous years, this year’s survey had excellent participation and we have obtained some of the latest information on helicopter pilots:
~ What are their qualifications?
~ What do they fly?
~ In what sector do they fly?
~ What ratings do they have?
~ How much do they make?
~ What type benefits do they receive?
We think you’ll find the answers to these questions revealing. The goal was for Rotorcraft Pro to interact with our readers in the industry by focusing on two main questions:
~ How much do helicopter pilots make within the industry?
~ How much are you worth? [Read More...]
2017 Salary Survey Report
Helicopter crashes can happen on any kind of flight, including short corporate helicopter jumps from city to city. “Let’s say you are flying from Toronto to Ottawa, Canada,” said David Arama, director of the WSC Survival School in Cloyne, Ontario, and author of the new survival book, ‘How To Start a Fire With Water’. “This is an hour-long flight path that passes over Algonquin Provincial Park: If your helicopter goes down there, you need to be prepared to survive in a wilderness situation!”
Similar risks exist for American pilots flying across natural preserves and forested mountains; even in the heavily urbanized Eastern Seaboard. Add the post-crash challenges of unexpectedly landing on water – risks that exist even for helicopters hopping across New York City – and planning to survive after a crash should be a priority for all helicopter pilots.
Unfortunately, “90 percent of helicopter pilots do not take survival preparations seriously,” said Arama. “They often fly with inadequate safety training and equipment; lacking anything beyond a car-quality first aid kit, and not knowing if their aircraft’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) is functioning properly. Should a crash occur, these pilots are utterly unprepared to survive until help arrives -- especially if they land in an hard-to-access area in bad weather where assistance can take days to get through.” [Read More...]
Helicopter Survival Gear
RPMN: In your view, what is the greatest challenge for the helicopter industry at this moment in time? I thought about this for a while and came up with a number of different things, but decided on this: If you look at the statistics for helicopter accidents, it's normally a low percentage that are caused by mechanical issues. To me, this means that you can trace the other accidents to a decision that the pilot made at some point. Even if it's weather related, the pilot still chose to fly. I always try to fly with that in the back of my mind. It means that, for the most part, you are in control of your own destiny. This is a good thing but won't be the moment you forget it. Remember, if something goes wrong today, it's probably because of a decision you made! [Read More...]
meet a rotorcraft pro
Have you ever accidentally done a loop in a helicopter on a moonless night at 1,000 feet on downwind leg to an airport because the pilot flying lost spatial orientation? I have. The sudden and abrupt transition from controlled flight to uncontrolled flight, when the pilot “lost it,” then fighting for control, took me as much by surprise as it did the poor pilot.
He was an airline transport pilot with more than 5,000 hours in the aircraft. He wasn’t new to instrument flying, having logged hundreds of hours of actual instrument time using NVGs in a Blackhawk working for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Colombia.
Luckily, this “flight” took place in a $14 million, Level D, full-motion Bell 412 flight simulator in Dubai that I was operating as a flight simulator instructor, flight examiner, and CRM assessor for Abu Dhabi Aviation. To test my pilot’s hand-flying skills, I had given him an autopilot failure on downwind, which caused him to have to fly the machine into dark nothingness.
Because I have seen several experienced pilots “lose it” in the sim, it’s caused me to come to the realization of how important it is to have a plan of action before one does go into inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC). This brings me to the topic of line-oriented flight training, or LOFT. [Read More...]
Line - Oriented Flight Training
Do helicopters come to mind when you think of Italian style, design, and luxury? Maybe not, but Mecaer Aviation Group (MAG) is changing that.
The company headquartered in Monteprandone, Italy, with facilities across the U.S., the U.K., Italy, Canada, and Russia, offers integrated systems for helicopters, general aviation, and business aircraft. Basic trainer systems are also offered for flight control, landing gear, and actuation systems. In addition, the certified company performs completions and modifications, as well as maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services. MAG owns over 60 supplemental type certificates (STCs), and has the ability to write their own STCs under FAA and EASA regulations. [Read More...]
A few months ago, I was conducting a commercial pilot practical test for an applicant in the South Florida area. At the beginning of the exam, the applicant held up his copy of the FAA practical test standards (PTS) next to his face and took a selfie with his phone. He then proceeded to request I “hold on a minute” so that he could post the picture on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t really mind as this moment was significant to him. Maybe it was his way of calming his nerves: no harm, no foul.
The ground portion of the exam was going well as we proceeded into the performance planning portion of the scenario. We were a little over an hour into the exam, so I offered the applicant an opportunity for a short break. He accepted and proceeded to step outside. After a few minutes, I decided to walk to the FBO for a cup of coffee. As I walked outside, the applicant was holding his phone up with a selfie stick to conduct a live video on social media about the exam. To my surprise, he decided it was a good idea to turn the camera in my direction and introduce me into his video efforts. I waved in the direction of the camera and kept walking. To be clear, I was now getting annoyed by this activity. [Read More...]
With a new year comes a hunger for the new and different. Rotorcraft Pro presents a fresh look at which helicopters and equipment are under development as we start 2017. [Read More...]
Helicopter Event Coverage
The field of aviation training devices and simulators is an ever evolving and interesting area. As expenses increase in so many sectors of the rotorcraft industry, devices (which don’t move) and simulators (capable of motion) help contain training and certification costs. [NOTE: In this article, the terms “sim” and “simulation” are used at times to collectively refer to both types of trainers.] Sims can create flight scenarios that are too dangerous to duplicate in actual aircraft, and make practicing other procedures safer. For example, more fatal training accidents occur practicing autorotations than any other skill. Simulation for such scenarios can save lives.
Basic aviation training devices (BATDs) and advanced aviation training devices (AATDs) are now so affordable that primary flight schools have embraced using them to teach instruments, navigation, systems, and emergency procedures. Until the introduction and acceptance of these devices, these schools simply could not afford to acquire high-end flight training devices or full flight simulators.
Simulation is governed by two FAA groupings: those that fall under the authority of AFS-205 National Simulator Program, and those that are governed by AFS-810 General Aviation and Commercial Division. [Read More...]
During my first meeting with the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) aviation unit, I casually remark, “If you guys work with marine assets around the island, it would be cool to include them in some of our photography.” Without hesitation, the U.S. Army major responsible for handling me pulls out his phone and says, “I know a guy who captains a Coast Guard boat. Maybe I can get him to join us in the bay for some photos with the helicopter.” Soon “Coast Guard guy” is on the phone indicating that he got the supervisor’s approval. If we want to work with his ship, he will be in San Juan Bay around 14:30 for an escort mission. As you will see, such cooperation and coordination is common in Puerto Rico, and born out of necessity.
LAY OF THE LAND … AND SEA
Puerto Rico is a Caribbean archipelago that includes the namesake island, and a number of smaller ones like Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. At 110 miles wide and 40 miles long, the main island is actually quite small, especially when compared to its western neighbor, Hispaniola, which includes the countries of Haiti and Dominican Republic. Still, don’t let Puerto Rico’s small footprint fool you. With over 3.5 million residents and a large tourist population, its diverse terrain has become a mecca for all things outdoors. You can surf world-class waves at dawn, spelunk the world’s largest caves by mid-morning, leap off a jungle waterfall in the afternoon, and summit a 5,000-foot mountain as the sun is going down.
During the night, darker, more hidden activities often occur. Puerto Rico can be a hotbed of drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other illegal activities. Although not its primary mission, the PRNG aviation unit plays a vital role in protecting the island and its people from some criminally bad guys.
However, the operational area for the PRNG aviation unit is not just restricted to the island itself. The area extends west to Isla de Mona (an island between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico), and all the way east to St. John’s, U.S. Virgin Islands. This expands the operational area to a staggering 7,600 square miles, with much of those miles over water. [Read More...]
ANVIS-9 TYPE 7 NVGs
Puerto Rican National Guard Aviation Unit
Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawks
Ever wonder how many times you signed your name and A&P number after the word “airworthy.” For me, it’s in the thousands. So, how does a mechanic define it?
For some, the definition is rigid: the aircraft must be in like-new condition with a pristine record trail. For others, it’s a gray area of personal decision, defined by an aircraft’s use, age, and regulatory compliance.
Regardless of interpretation, the airworthy condition of an aircraft is the core function of a mechanic. Yet, an official FAA definition of this fundamental word is lacking within our maintenance regulations and guidance material. Let’s try to find one.
Numerous articles, papers, and FAA documents offer various descriptions of airworthy. The common accepted version today requires an aircraft to conform to its type design and to be in a condition for safe operation.
Looking to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), essential terms and their definitions are usually given at the beginning of a chapter, part, or section, along with an applicability clause. FAR Part 1, Definitions and Abbreviations, applies to “Subchapters A through K of this chapter,” so it seems it would be a logical place to find a definition for airworthy, since our Part 43 falls under Subchapter C.
Unfortunately, the definition is not listed in FAR Part 1, or Part 43, or Part 65 for that matter. Given its significance, you would think airworthy, or airworthiness, would have its own part in the FARs. [Read More...]