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How high are people flying in Robinsons?


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In preparation for an upcoming ferry flight, I began thinking, "How high of surface elevations are Robinson pilots really operating at?" I'd like to hear from some flight instructors that work at flight schools up in the mountains to know how high you all are flying at.

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uhh... surface elevations?? do you mean take-off and landing altitudes or level flight altitudes? R22 or R44?

Generally speaking take-off and landing above 6000 in a robinson is getting near its usefull operating limit depending on temp. level flight above 10000.

ok... i tried to give some general info.... I didn't say it was book values or any other crap... just my 2 cents and personal point where I start to question the operation and aircraft ability for a robinson.

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In my R44, flying all over the state of Florida, my goal was to be between 2000 and 6000 AGL. This generally made for cooler flying. The only exception was if the head wind got worse or clouds made me do it. If there was a FEW to SCT layer for the most of the route and desitination, I normally try and get above the clouds. If there was a BKN to OVC layer, forget about it and stay lower. Generally I hate flying any lower than 1500' in a helicopter unless I am looking at something interesting.

 

In my opinion, unless weather or a specific mission dictates, there are no really good reasons to be flying a helicopter any lower than 1200'.

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I have been flying around Utah for the past year in the R22 BII completing my private in June and starting into my commercial X-C hours in July and August (Very HOT months). We consistently flew over the Wasatch mountains at 9,000' MSL on these flights. Lets just say you really learn about VnE at those temps/altitudes andbest rate of climb speeds when you are trying to get over mountains.

 

Any body else from Utah on here?

Any body going to Robinson on Nov. 3rd?

Edited by jaskins
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Rotors flies R44's at 5670 on a daily basis.. with no issues. We generally fly around 6200 in the pattern and up to 7K around to different airports. I posted a few weeks ago about a flight we did to Leadville:

 

http://helicopterforum.verticalreference.c...showtopic=10400

 

it the link doesn't work you can look under "helicopter flight training - school reviews" go to page 2 and look up "Rotors goes to Leadville".

 

if you want more information send me a pm and i'll send you my cell number.

 

 

disclaimer: i am not an instructor!

 

aloha,

 

dp

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In my opinion, unless weather or a specific mission dictates, there are no really good reasons to be flying a helicopter any lower than 1200'.

 

Why is this your opinion? I am curious to know from a learning standpoint.

 

~Jeff

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Why is this your opinion? I am curious to know from a learning standpoint.

 

~Jeff

I wasn't asked, but I share the same opinion. Altitude gives you more options if the

engine quits. Also, way too many perfectly good running helicopters crashing into the

ground, wires, etc. Even in the GOM, I rarely fly below 1000' unless hopping between

platforms or the weather pushes me down. There is really no reason to scud run

along at 500'. "Bury the wires or bury the pilots". Or climb up to a safe altitude.

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Why is this your opinion? I am curious to know from a learning standpoint.

 

~Jeff

 

Hi Jeff,

 

Thanks for the question.

 

1. Cooler air = cooler temps for cabin and engine.

2. Above 1500 cuts out 85% of all soaring birds.

3. Above 1000 cuts out most of the weekend warrior airplane traffic and all the other crazy 500' helicopter pilots.

4. Better radio reception for flight following with Center for traffic advisories. Traffic advisories = safer flying.

5. More time and visibility to locate nice spot to land in the event of engine failure or emergency.

6. Single engine, you have a much better chance of making a good spot if you can glide 2 - 3 miles as opposed to just 3/4 of a mile.

7. Spot airports and landing areas sooner.

8. Better for noise abatement for flying neighborly. We get enough noise complaints as it is, yet we still insist on flying helicopters everywhere at 500'. Ridiculous.

9. Cooler air is MUCH smoother. Do you realize that most often, once you get just above the cloud tops, it gets glassy smooth. On the flip side, anytime you are below them, it is usually bumpby as hell. In other words, would you rather have your boss and his buds in the back, sweating their asses off and getting bounced around in the back...OR.....relaxing in cool smooth air. You often have the ability to give them the latter by simply pulling up on the collective.

10. Much fewer man made obstacles, ie, antennas are above 1500' agl.

11. Catch stronger tailwinds, increase speed, increase fuel efficiency, get there sooner. Save time. Save money. Your boss loves you.

 

That is the real world my friend. There are VERY FEW reasons to fly a helicopter....of all things.....everywhere at 500'. Schools teach it for standardization in training to learn how to fly traffic patterns. After students learn that concept, they should be taught to never do it again unless weather or mission demands it.

 

That answer your Q?

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Lyn,

 

Thanks for the thorough reply. You answered my question. All of your points make sense. I never objected to flying a helicopter that high or higher, but you seemed awfully adamant (sp?) about it, so I thought I should find out why in case I missed something. When I fly in an airplane, I pick the highest altitude I can that is appropriate for my operation for many of the same reasons you listed. In the helicopter H269, I like to stay at oddball altitudes to hopefully keep faster aircraft from running into me from behind. The lower altitudes are nice in terminal areas because airplanes (faster) are generally higher 1000 feet +. However, based on you response, I'm going to consider your strategy when selecting helicopter altitudes.

 

Thanks,

 

Jeff

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I get scared above 1000 feet agl.

I like 400 feet personally... I don't like the idea of my engine failing so I don't think about it. ;) just kidding a little bit... but I do fly low, call me crazy, but I like it and all my reasons for flying low would just be disputed so I won't list them.

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  • 2 months later...

The airport I train out of is 5837' MSL. Last week on our way to Taos, NM we got close to 9000' MSL in the R22, my commerical CFI was telling me he didn't want to go any higher, that was the highest he'd been (he trained in Phoenix) and the highest he'd been before that was with me also. It's not bad flying at that height, Taos is around 7000' MSL and once we fueled up, we were at max weight, had to be right up against the 5min manifold pressure limit. Flying instrument, we've had the R44 up to nearly 10000'.

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i've flown the R22 Beta II over 10,000 MSL more than once. i didn't get that high to try and clear mtns (in case i wouldn't have been able to in a tight situation). but each time i've flown that high i checked the DA charts and i was very close to pushing max operating DA of 14,000 of the R22. depending on your gross weight etc, you can usually fly up to the max operating DA, whatever those condition may be for the day, but anywhere close to that your pushing low rotor rpm.

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I had a talk with my cfi about the R22 max altitudes. He was tellin me it was not a good idea to go to the upper altitudes in case of engine fire. Said, you would have to auto min's and min's instead of sec's to get on the ground.

 

I was thinking all these airplanes fly up there with about the same engines and they are not having engine fires. I don't see NTSB reports on common engine fires on the R22. I was thinkin he was scared of heights, lol....

 

Anyone seen a report on engine fire at altitude in an NTSB report? I have not checked in a while, maybe I miss searched??

 

Later

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  • 5 weeks later...

Doing some instrument training I recently had the R44 up to 12000'msl. It was fairly cool out so we were still able to do 80kias. Real calm morning too. Instructor told me the same thing about not being more than 9k AGL, if there is a fire, it's doubtful you could land before total consumption at that height.

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I fly my 44 to and from Bakersfield California and most of the time I go at 10,500' to get over the Class B of LAX. A couple of times I have gone the low route (up to coast, S. Industrial @ LAX, Over SMO, VNY, etc climbing as I went) but I found that it is just so much faster and easier to jump up to 10.5k - not to mention a lot less turbulence on the windy days. I plan my climb to hit the 10k mark as I reach the veil since that puts me right near the 9000' AGL mark for "in flight fires".

 

I also fly to and from Phoenix to visit family and often I am coming home at night over the desert. Usually a 6.5k altitude will get me adequate terrain separation but at 8.5k I am well assured of it so that is usually my target.

 

I also go to Big Bear and the field elevation there is almost 7k, and it is surrounded with mountains on two sides so I generally see 9.5k before heading down for a landing.

 

Going to and from the desert in the summer time, even during daylight I ALWAYS shoot for 5 to 6k. The air is so much cooler and my EDM800 shows the huge difference the cooler air and higher altitudes make for engine cooling and performance. It also allows me to cut my AC which also provides better performance and economy.

 

While I am not a great fan of high altitudes in the R44 due to a slight fear of heights (its nice to look out the windows of my SR22 and "see" my wings during turbulence) I have come to respect the 44 in turbulence and spend enough time at altitude to know that my 44 is quite as happy flying there as it is at 1000' AGL.

 

B)

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At higher altitudes in the R44 you should also keep a good eye on the RPM gauge and make slower imputs to the collective. If you drop the pitch too fast, the RPM will spike and the governor will not catch it in time. This could spell an overspeed if you are not carefull. CFI's should have this discussion with their students before flights at higher altitudes as well.

 

This usually becomes a concern above 10,000' msl or so.

 

Good news is that you'll get rpm back faster when that annoying buzzer goes off ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

When I was a new pilot I would try to fly 3000-5000' agl most of the time. It was mostly to give me more landing options in the event of an emergency. Now I spend most my time 1000-2000' AGL for this reason. While I was flying higher I had quite a few near misses (by my definition) with airplane pilots. I calculated the risk and figured a mid-air was more probable than a engine failure. This has pushed my altitudes lower. I have not had a near miss at my lower altitudes I now fly but of course you dont has quite as many options for emergency landins

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When I was a new pilot I would try to fly 3000-5000' agl most of the time. It was mostly to give me more landing options in the event of an emergency. Now I spend most my time 1000-2000' AGL for this reason. While I was flying higher I had quite a few near misses (by my definition) with airplane pilots. I calculated the risk and figured a mid-air was more probable than a engine failure. This has pushed my altitudes lower. I have not had a near miss at my lower altitudes I now fly but of course you dont has quite as many options for emergency landins

 

 

All of my close calls have been below 3,000'agl so you never know.

Edited by JDHelicopterPilot
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South of Salida, CO I climbed to 13,000' msl and crossed a ridgeline just north of Hayden Pass, almost full fuel, 4 pilots, and maybe 50 pounds short of max gross. Go to youtube and do a search for "colorado vertical" (in quotes) and look at the intro flight video they have posted. They've an awesome mountain flight course.

Edited by flewthecoupe
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