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R22 overspeed liability


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#1 captmorgan

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 09:39

I am a student pilot working on my commercial license, during a recent solo flight I had an over speed in an r22 which resulted in the engine and rotor RPM going up to 115.% I had my head down switching the radio frequencies and when I looked up there was a huge bird heading right at me, my instinct was to push down on the collective but in the process of the panic while doing that I over powered the governor and increased the throttle on the descent. engine rpm and rotor rpm quickly rose and I pulled on the collective get them down but it was too late. They had already gone above their limits. I turned around and returned to the airport and reported it when I got on the ground. The helicopter was grounded and maintenance inspected it today, they said there was damage done to it and now the flight school and holding me liable for the cost of repairs, the student agreement says that the student is liable for repairs up to $15,000 in the r22. I was lucky enough that I did not hit the bird otherwise It would have definitely destroyed the helicopter.

my question is, even though I saved my ass and the helicopter even though It was damaged in the process the school told me I am liable for the repairs $7500-$17000 it is a lot of money and I'm just a vet you see my GI Bill, I don't have that amount of money.

Any thoughts? I don't have renters insurance either.

#2 iChris

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 15:44

I am a student pilot working on my commercial license, during a recent solo flight I had an over speed in an r22 which resulted in the engine and rotor RPM going up to 115.% I had my head down switching the radio frequencies and when I looked up there was a huge bird heading right at me, my instinct was to push down on the collective but in the process of the panic while doing that I over powered the governor and increased the throttle on the descent. engine rpm and rotor rpm quickly rose and I pulled on the collective get them down but it was too late. They had already gone above their limits. I turned around and returned to the airport and reported it when I got on the ground. The helicopter was grounded and maintenance inspected it today, they said there was damage done to it and now the flight school and holding me liable for the cost of repairs, the student agreement says that the student is liable for repairs up to $15,000 in the r22. I was lucky enough that I did not hit the bird otherwise It would have definitely destroyed the helicopter.

my question is, even though I saved my ass and the helicopter even though It was damaged in the process the school told me I am liable for the repairs $7500-$17000 it is a lot of money and I'm just a vet you see my GI Bill, I don't have that amount of money.

Any thoughts? I don't have renters insurance either.

 

Looks like you’re the poor honest soul left holding the bag. Overspeeds have become commonplace in that old R22. I would surmise only 5% (1 of 20) of the overspeeds are ever reported. The reason, nobody wants to be that guy or gal.

 

There’s a culture where mistakes are covered up, Some think they are keeping their overspeed a secret; however, some fellow students are keeping the same secret and so on until one day your trying to fly with one blade.

 

It’s a testament to the durability of the R22 that such catastrophic events are unlikely, even given the fact that the training helicopters you’ve been flying likely have an unwritten history of many overspeeds.

 

You’ll be known at your school as the guy with the; I looked up and there was a huge bird heading right at me” overspeed story. This could also downgrade you as a potential CFI at that school.

 

However, you are to be commended for your honesty. You are one brave soul.

 

Take a look at the follow post on this issue:

 

Helicopter flight instruction and rental agreements

Flight School Solo Insurance

 

 

Also take a look at any student agreements you've signed at your school, most read like the following and you are left holding the bag.

 

Note: some students have prevailed in court due to the schools inability to provide adequate training. 

 

 

INSURANCE

 

All Company owned aircraft are insured to the following Liability Limits:

Aircraft – Each Occurrence  $1,000,000 Passenger – Each Occurrence $100,000

 

I agree that the Company shall not be liable or responsible for any loss or damage suffered by me due to aircraft availability, malfunction, or my failure to arrive at my destination on a timely basis. I agree that the Company makes no implied or expressed warranties concerning this rental agreement.

 

I agree to assume liability for loss or damage to the aircraft that is not covered by the insurance maintained by the Company or its lessors, including but not limited to the deductible portion of any claim. I understand that flying may be hazardous and may result in physical injury or death to myself or my passengers.

 

I hereby agree to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Company, its partners, members, employees, agents, and affiliates, from any and all claims, demands, causes of action, costs, losses, damages, liability, or any obligations of any nature whatsoever, including attorneys fees and costs incurred by the Company resulting from the operation of any aircraft in my possession and control.

 

I agree to pay reasonable legal fees and costs should any portion of the agreement have to be enforced against me by legal action.

 

In the event of an accident/incident resulting in damage to the aircraft, I, the renter, will be held completely financially responsible for the costs involved.

 

The purchase of additional Non-Owner’s (Renters) Insurance is highly recommended.


Edited by iChris, 10 May 2014 - 16:41.

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Regards,

Chris

#3 Nearly Retired

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 17:01

Notwithstanding the financial liability you're now facing, I was more concerned with your "instinctive" reaction of pushing instead of pulling.  Pushing is bad, mm'kay?  Unloading the rotor = no goodski.  Pulling is better.  Better to let the bird hit the underside of the fuselage or the chin bubble (if possible) than the main bubble or flight control.  In the future, please try to fight that instinctive urge to push the cyclic.  It will be your final undoing.

Good luck with the insurance thing.  Many pilots scoff at the very idea of renter's insurance.  However, if it would apply in this case and cover an event like this, it could be worth every penny you would have paid for it.


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#4 Spike

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 19:02

Sorry to hear about your situation…… Sadly, you have learned the hard way, some flight schools won’t pay to appropriately insure their customers to the point of holding them liable for damages. In fact, it becomes an oxymoron. That is, said school will provide training to operate the machine and when that training leads to damage, the student still must pay... Sorry.... 

 

Tell me, where is the incentive to appropriately train?  And, while training costs continue to rise, it’s obvious how schools are inflating their profit margins. In this case, by not adequately insuring it’s [own] customers….

 

Lesson here? You bet. Research the flight school you plan to attend thoroughly to include level of insurance coverage and any suspected past litigation actions against customers. To wit, where I came from, you would not been held financially responsible for the damages you describe……     


Edited by Spike, 10 May 2014 - 19:03.


#5 Darren Hughes

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Posted 10 May 2014 - 22:56

Part of the cost of doing business as a flight school is students doing dumb stuff. If they can't afford those costs, they can't afford to be in business. If schools want to promote a safe training environment, they need to promote honesty when it comes to situations like this. Otherwise, you'll have students and instructors alike not reporting overspeeds, hard landings, and the like. If a school is going to charge you $7,500+ for an overspeed, they are not promoting a safe incident reporting culture full stop, and they don't deserve your business, or to be in business. It's unfortunate for them, but that is the business they chose to be in.

 

This extends into the rest of the industry, where we need companies to ensure there are no repercussions for employees pointing out possibly dangerous situations, or self reporting aircraft incidents.

 

How much of your money are they currently holding? If they will not work with you to reduce your liability in this case, it's time to take your money elsewhere.


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#6 bqmassey

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 02:13

If you are working through an institute of higher learning (a college), I would speak with the director of the aviation program and explain the situation, just in case the college has built some insurance into the cost of the program.

 

At the very least, it will bring up a topic that absolutely should be discussed (and usually isn't), and maybe having the college on your side will help.



#7 captmorgan

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 06:56

Notwithstanding the financial liability you're now facing, I was more concerned with your "instinctive" reaction of pushing instead of pulling.  Pushing is bad, mm'kay?  Unloading the rotor = no goodski.  Pulling is better.  Better to let the bird hit the underside of the fuselage or the chin bubble (if possible) than the main bubble or flight control.  In the future, please try to fight that instinctive urge to push the cyclic.  It will be your final undoing.

Good luck with the insurance thing.  Many pilots scoff at the very idea of renter's insurance.  However, if it would apply in this case and cover an event like this, it could be worth every penny you would have paid for it.

 

 

My reaction was to push down on the collective, as I am so paranoid of getting into a low-G pushover I am very carefull when goig forward with the cyclic.

 

The renter agreements says I'm liable for damages up to 15,000 if the helo is damaged due to my negligence, error in operation or solo flights...but then again none of the instructors have taught bird avoidance techniques.

 

I'm using my GI Bill to go to school, I contacted the program director and he said he was going to look into it. I guarantee that none of the veteran students at my school would have that amount of money to fork out like that.

 

The helicopters at my school have been overspeed before and kept quiet. There was one helicopter that would just not track and balance and it shook more than Michael J. Fox on a redbull high... Eventually they repaired it and it was suspected that someone oversped and did not report it to avoid the liability.

I makes me realize that everyone's got a price on their integrity even if it's means screwing the next person over. I rather not get a Job as a CFI there then be responsible for someone else gettin hurt on my account.



#8 captmorgan

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 06:57

If you are working through an institute of higher learning (a college), I would speak with the director of the aviation program and explain the situation, just in case the college has built some insurance into the cost of the program.

 

At the very least, it will bring up a topic that absolutely should be discussed (and usually isn't), and maybe having the college on your side will help.

 

I would sure hope so, as 80% of the flightschool bussiness is from that college.



#9 Mikemv

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 07:57

Captmorgan,

 

Your honesty in reporting the details of the flight are to be commended and are a sign of professionalism, even at your early career stage. 

 

As a member of the US Helicopter Safety Teams' Safety Management Systems (SMS) committee, I have the task of getting flight schools to accept SMS and produce a Just Safety Culture ab initio.

 

You are the kind of pilot that the industry wants to have both now and in the future with integrity and professionalism. 

 

A few suggestions for you:

 

Point out to the school that there is a lack of flight training about bird encounters and this should be in the curriculums prior to solo, both demonstrated and practiced. How could you be responsible for conditions not trained on?

 

Also contact your VA representative about this situation. The VA should know that the school is exposing Vets to this financial liability. They have the power to pull the schools VA training capabilities.

 

Let us know which school is treating pilots in training this way. There may be industry support that can be applied.

 

Know that you will probably have to find another school!

 

Best wishes,

 

Mike


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#10 Airhead

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Posted 11 May 2014 - 13:28

Flying solo while building time for your commercial is also a problem to face with your school. There is little to benefit from being alone other than building self confidence. Your school is having you fly solo to save money or to make the price point of the program look better and you are not getting proper training in the process. 

 

You can always pay the extra cost for the instructor out of pocket (eliminates your liability) or try to get an instructor to fly with you for free. They usually will for the hours. With an instructor on-board you can be polishing your skills instead of just burning low lead. Even on a cross country they can be teaching you things that you will be missing out on if you are solo. Tell them you want simulated engine failures, diversions, and other scenarios. Tell them to be sneaky about it and distract you before they pull up the carb heat or a breaker.

 

Don't let them just sit there. 

 

Even though you aren't paying out of pocket doesn't mean you don't own the training you receive.

 

61.129

 

© For a helicopter rating. Except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section, a person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with a rotorcraft category and helicopter class rating must log at least 150 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:

(1) 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in helicopters.

(2) 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least—

(i) 35 hours in helicopters; and

(ii) 10 hours in cross-country flight in helicopters.

(3) 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in §61.127(B)(3) of this part that includes at least—

(i) Five hours on the control and maneuvering of a helicopter solely by reference to instruments using a view-limiting device including attitude instrument flying, partial panel skills, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, and intercepting and tracking navigational systems. This aeronautical experience may be performed in an aircraft, flight simulator, flight training device, or an aviation training device;

(ii) One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure;

(iii) One 2-hour cross country flight in a helicopter in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and

(iv) Three hours in a helicopter with an authorized instructor in preparation for the practical test within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test.

(4) Ten hours of solo flight time in a helicopter or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of pilot in command in a helicopter with an authorized instructor on board (either of which may be credited towards the flight time requirement under paragraph ©(2) of this section), on the areas of operation listed under §61.127(B)(3) that includes—

(i) One cross-country flight with landings at a minimum of three points, with one segment consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and

(ii) 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern).


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#11 superstallion6113

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 21:34

What damage are they saying is done? Have they given you a list of the damages? 



#12 cburg

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 09:41

What damage are they saying is done? Have they given you a list of the damages? 

An equally important...get proof that the work actually got done.

 

I used to rent dune buggies in Phoenix years ago and they had a scam where they would charge you for damage after every rental...and never do the repairs....and then charge the next guy for the same thing.  I'm sure that's not the case here...but if you have to pay...you should be able to know the work was actually performed...and was in fact necessary.


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#13 Astro

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Posted 15 May 2014 - 16:22

For what its worth if you just put your thumb and index finger on the throttle with the rest of your hand on the collective you can lesson the possibility of over powering the governor. Flying solo is the best part of being a pilot, I hope they let you continue to do it!
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#14 8KCABrett

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Posted 05 April 2017 - 23:58

Old topic, but I feel it should also be added that when birds are startled in flight, they tend to close their wings and dive....so you don't want to be doing the same thing. Between that fact, and the concerns about unloading the rotor, it makes sense for pilots to cultivate the opposite reaction.  


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