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Downwind takeoff and landings


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#1 rbhansen

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 00:03

I read an artical in Vertical Magazine a month or to ago about the lack of "good" instruction that flight schools are providing nowdays. In the artical it mentioned that students are not learning how to do downwind takeoffs and downwind landings. I for one was taught that this is to be avoided if at all possible. I would like to know how common of a practice it is to do this type of takeoff and landing away from the training environment and out in the real world flying when you are working the helicopter. Do you think it is a safe manuver? Should it be taught in flight schools? Any insight would be greatly appriciated. Thanks
Brandon

#2 Goldy

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 01:31

My 2 cents..It does add an additional element of risk, and no one wants a roll over because you failed to judge the (added) power required to stop your descent rate. While I was never taught downwind landings, I was taught to do hover 360's in winds gusting over 20 knots...if you think its easy to hover downwind in 20plus knots in an R22, you gotta another thing coming! But it does give you some experience on the power and aft control required.

This is aggravated by the fact that many schools are teaching you in a ship that may not have a lot of excess power available and at or near Max GW. This was common with me weighing 240 and flying an R22.

Not every off airport landing site has a 360 degree clear field of view. In fact, in the S&R environment, you are lucky to find a patch of land large enough to set down, regardless of wind direction...so yes, I think in many cases you are landing crosswind or downwind in many real life helo jobs. ..watch your power and descent rate!

Now one last thing. When was the last time you heard of a DPE requiring a PPL applicant to show him a downwind landing? If its not asked for, many schools wont teach the manuever...at least not at the PPL stage.

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#3 Wally

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 09:00

I read an artical in Vertical Magazine a month or to ago about the lack of "good" instruction that flight schools are providing nowdays. In the artical it mentioned that students are not learning how to do downwind takeoffs and downwind landings. I for one was taught that this is to be avoided if at all possible. I would like to know how common of a practice it is to do this type of takeoff and landing away from the training environment and out in the real world flying when you are working the helicopter. Do you think it is a safe manuver? Should it be taught in flight schools? Any insight would be greatly appriciated. Thanks
Brandon

Are downwind takeoffs and landings "safe"? That depends on your expectations. My goals are: Survival, first; Certificate, second; Aircraft, third; Job completion, fourth. A perfectly aligned into the wind autorotational forced landing that ends in your death because of terrain is useless. On the other hand, a skidding arrival or hard landing from a downwind auto is a better choice than falling through triple canopy or terminating into a cliff. So why would the wind direction be the sole factor in deciding flight path?
Power management and aircraft control limits are separate issues that have to be considered, but always with an eye to assuring survival.
Should it be taught? The factors that go into the process are assumed to be a part of a commercial level training experience. How could you complete a full commercial level syllabus with the wind on the nose all the time? Perhaps you could complete training without ever having flown a significant downwind factor takeoff or short approach? Yes, that should be taught, optimally experienced, but at least discussed, because blindly going into the wind isn't the safest answer to all situations.

Edited by Wally, 13 February 2008 - 09:01.

Just a pilot...

#4 Helo-Pilot

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 12:39

I think that teaching downwind landings and other unusual manuevers is important in providing quality trainin. The fact is, we do operate in these conditions, and we need to be trained in dealing with them.

With that said, I think that the first thing that needs to be taught is the decision making skills needed to deal with these conditions. Does the student have the ability to recognize his or her abilties, and will they tell the other person/passenger/instructor no when they are exceeding their abilites?

#5 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 12:40

Everything is a compromise of some sort. All things being equal, I'll take off and land into the wind every time, but not all things are always equal. A crosswind is fairly common, and downwind is the last choice, and should only be used if it's the safest option in the situation you face. Sometimes it's the only option. It should be taught, I think, because of this. Taking off and landing downwind can get you in deep trouble if you don't know what to expect, and if you aren't careful. Hovering downwind, you may be in translational lift, and then you go out of it as you accelerate downwind, reaching zero airspeed at what can be 10 or 20 knots of groundspeed, and if you don't have sufficient power available, you can smack the ground moving rather fast. Not good. It can be the same for the landing - you may be moving forward to the landing area, and lose ETL while still high, and not have enough power to be able to hover OGE, and the ground can smite you pretty hard. You may have to take the risk, but you have to plan ahead and be ready for unexpected events. If you've never done this, you may never do it again. But this is like all flying, it takes experience and judgment. If your instructor doesn't at least demonstrate this, he's shortchanging you.
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#6 rbhansen

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 16:07

Thanks for the insight on this topic. It helps to hear from more exsperienced pilots that have seen or done these thing. Thanks again for the advise.
Brandon

#7 Yuki

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 17:16

RB,

Ken Obi (owner of Orbic Helicopters), does teaches that. Yesterday, I have practice landing approaches and take offs with tail wind (I only have 7 hours on the 22).

Yuval

#8 WingsToRotors

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 21:17

I think that if a pilot can find himself in a bad situation he needs to have some experience in handling that situation.

If you'll forgive me, I'm going to use an example from the fixed wing world. Back in the old days, spin training was a standard part of the training received to get one's private license. In the seventies or eighties somebody in the FAA noticed that some students were dying while learning to recover from a spin. In an effort to stop the accidents, the emphasis was shifted from spin recovery to spin avoidance. The idea was that if you never get into a spin, you don't have to worry about recovering from one and the number of accidents will decrease.

The problem is that now an entire generation of pilots have never experienced the odd physical sensation and bewildering sight picture that a pilot sees as his airplane enters a spin. My plane snaps over on its back and the nose points to terra firma as it starts to spin like a leaf. It can be pretty disorienting even if you intended to enter the spin. The idea of finding myself in that situation without any previous experience with it makes me shudder clear down to my toes!

The FAA sort of accomplished its goal. There are now fewer training accidents, but every year a few pilots die because they suddenly find themselves in a spin and they have no idea how to get out of it. When you're nose-down and the ground is spinning up at you, it's a little late to try to remember what you read in a magazine article once upon a time.

Downwind takeoffs and landings do offer more opportunities for something to go wrong and that's why we need to be exposed to them. We need to know that the situation can bite us, and that when it does we can manage to get the dog's teeth out of our rumps!
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#9 West Coaster

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 03:38

It should be taught for sure. Best to learn with an instructor sitting beside you guiding you versus a passenger watching you sweat bullets. Sooner or later there will come a time when a downwind landing or takeoff is your only choice and it never gets fun.

I think more often than not just knowing that you're downwind is half the battle. Ask yourself if you can hover OGE, cause you will be till your nearly on the ground in a strong tail wind. Be ultra mindfull of your tailboom as you'll have a much higher nose-up angle than normal to stop you're forward movement. If you're dealing with a strong quartering tailwind from your right (left in a French machine) know you could easliy lose tail rotor authority for a variety of reasons. Load that disk up early!

Trust your gut as you always do and don't be afraid to say no to the customer.

#10 choppedair

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 20:14

I also think they should be taught, to an extent. Depends on the students level of experience.
I heard a newly hired instructor a few weeks ago complain about tower putting him approaching to a taxiway with a 5-7 knot tailwind. Apparently no one had shown him that before..?
It falls under the schools policies I think. A bigger school will have more strict "blanket" policies that apply to everyone. As mentioned, flying the R22 downwind presents it's own problems, and is a likely reason many haven't practiced this in flight school.
I like to atleast show my students downwind work. More often, I like to teach them how to make a downwind approach into a headwind hover (like a bit of a pedal turn/slip toward the wind as they slow down). Or taking off from confined areas or pinnacles sideways with the nose pointed into the wind, etc.

Edited by choppedair, 02 March 2008 - 20:15.


#11 HeloJunkie

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 01:10

Its interesting because just today I was out with my instructor and we had a good 15 to 20 knot wind and we pretty much did nothing but peddle turns, downwind and crosswind landings.

My instructor's point was that any helo pilot can land into the wind, but as someone pointed out earlier, there will come the day when you simply cannot land into the wind and its better to have the experience and training before you find yourself in that situation!
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#12 relyon

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 02:10

Being able to handle downwind landing conditions correctly and choosing to get in them are two different things. If I don't like a clearance I don't accept it. "Negative - cannot comply" usually works. Sometimes one is unable to land in a given spot [now]. Compromising safety because someone tells you to isn't acceptable.

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#13 Gomer Pylot

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 09:43

I agree. Just because you can, and your instructor has shown you how to, that doesn't mean you should. Doing it light, with an instructor, and doing it loaded to the gills, are two different things. Sometimes you simply can't safely land downwind, due to performance issues, and that's what you need to be able to recognize in time to make a missed approach safely. I've refused landing several times because of downwind conditions. Once we were trying to land on a supertanker, and I asked the captain to turn the ship. He refused, saying he couldn't turn there. I tried an approach, with a stiff tailwind, and ended up in a descent with close to 100% torque. I again asked the captain to turn, and he again refused. I then told him I was returning to the beach with his relief and about 10 more officers and crewmembers, and he could get relieved whenever they got a boat to bring them out. He immediately started a turn so I could land into the wind. If you have to do a downwind landing, check your power while you still have enough altitude to do a turn and climb, and if you have the room, try to do a 180 at the bottom so you end up into the wind. The latter I would only use on an airport or similar surface, to finish a straight-in instrument approach to avoid having to stay at circling minimums. It's not a common maneuver, but it has its place. Going in straight downwind, you're in a perfect setup for settling with power or LTE, so be very, very cautious.
Best Regards,

Gomer

#14 500E

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 18:08

The question is should you be taught the way to do it, the answer is yes, when training we did take off and landings with tail wind + quick stops either flaring down wind and turning into wind with nose up, or turning into wind and flair in the turn, don't know if you could in a 22 but in the 300 was ok.
As Gomer Pilot says there are times when you have to make a decision as to the manover based on the machine your level of skill & the prevailing conditions, remember if YOU think it is unsafe don't do it
One of the things that opened my eyes was autos thought I had them down to a T,
One day the FI said we will take full fuel + a extra bag of weight to day just to let you feel how the ship handles at near max weight, Yeah I could handle it! required a lot more power to get it of the ground ( no wind day) climbed real slow, got to 900ft and he chopped the throttle on me!!!! boy did it felt different, I was glad when he said I have control, we discussed it and did it 6\7 times until he felt I understood the difference in the flight envelope, (we always did autos to the ground) He had worked out that I was getting complacent and was not thinking around WHAT IF, it woke me up and made me much more aware.
I would not want to hear my FI say no one has shown me this, would start to wonder what else he was not shown.
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