Well, well, well...it seems that our not-so-favorite R-44 pilot here in Washington has got her panties all in a wad about having to install a radar altimeter in her little helicopter that is being operated under FAR Part 135. She wrote an article that got published in some venue (Mad Magazine?), and she's blogged about it, of course. About the radar altimeter she dismissively says, “Don't need it!” with an expression on her face like she just smelled a fart, perhaps one of her own. She claims that if she needs to verify her separation from the terrain, all she need do is look out the window. Well, yeah! Can I get an amen?
But I wonder how that works at night?
You know, sometimes we fly over pretty sparsely-lit terrain. Sometimes that terrain below us is uneven. While it is true that a radar altimeter won't alert you that you're about to fly into a vertical cliff face (sayonara, Patsy Cline!), the device can warn you when you're flying into rising terrain of which you might not be aware. Not all of us are lucky enough to fly around in brand-new Bell 505's with dual Garmin G1000's.
And so I wonder how many of these Part-135 R-44's out there are allowed to fly charters at night? Because the way I look at it, when you're carrying people from here to there at night for hire, you damn well ought to know your exact height above the terrain. Sometimes just “looking out the window” isn't good enough. Can I get another amen?
Expensive? Yeah, you might say that. Tax deductible business expense? Yeah, that too.
Robbie owners complain that there is no room in their puny 5-hole(?) panel for such a large, heavy, complicated device. Plus, there's already a GoPro mounted there! But wait...the Garmin GRA 55 looks pretty neat. Instead of the usual, big analog dial, it's just a small digital display that doesn't appear to take up much room. It weighs five pounds, maybe. Maybe.
So...I'm not sure where exactly I stand on this issue. On one hand I see the need for all Part-135 operators to have a radalt. On the other, it is kind of governmental overreach.