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wind limitations


HELICOLT
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I was jw what limitations were placed on pilots flying in the wind for different types of jobs? I know these limitation will be different for different employers, but just wanted an idea for GOM,Fire Fighting,Tours,Logging,EMS,etc... Also what is the highest wind speed you would feel comfortable flying in? thanks in advance

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I fly ag and do lift work up in MA. We're using 44's and call it a day (for the lifting) when the wind gets above 25kts. Too much rick of one of the mats blowing into the tail rotor. Plus the 44 is not recommended above that.

 

I have flown in over 30kts in a 300 and it was fine. Wouldn't go much more in that machine. Haven't had the chance to fly in any more wind than that so I can't say my limit!

 

Once it gets tat windy its time to hit the beach for some kitesurfing anyways!! B)

Edited by Trans Lift
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Limits in the Gulf are typically around 40 knots, but will depend on company and aircraft type. Generally no start/shutdown above 35 knots for small ships.

 

I've been out in 55 knots in a 300. Got caught in the gust front of a line of thunderstorms. We were just getting back from a X/C flight, and were 5 miles from the airport. The storms were not forecast. Took a while to get there at 10 knots ground speed, but the helicopter doesn't fly any differently with 55 knots of wind than it does at 55 knots airspeed.

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The limits for my EMS & ENG jobs are the same:

 

> 40 kts winds, and/or > 15 kts gust spreads.

 

That's on the ground, not wind aloft. Wind shear is up to the pilot--I don't fly when it's 40-50+ kts with more than a 45 degree vector change (predicted.) You'll know it when you pass through that layer. Our local TAFs always have them at 2000 ft, but I can tell you they usually occur around 200-300 AGL in this area. In a tight LZ, we're just passing through 20-30 kts at that point--helluvah time to get hit with a 40 kts wind from the right side.......boom, LTE!

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"Also what is the highest wind speed you would feel comfortable flying in?"

 

I have had a 60 knot tail wind at cruise, and it was a hoot even though a little disorienting. My landmarks came by so fast at 180 knots GS that by the time I identified them, I wasn't there- that's far out, man...

To the point- it all depends on what and where I'm operating, which is dependant on experience in the conditions. Once I've lit the fire, the helicopter doesn't care what the winds are, so that's the first issue: What and where are am I starting and flying? Spinning up in an AStar in 50 knots in flat open country where I can point the beast into the wind before the start may be doable. Change anything in that proposition, and it's no longer a good idea. Same for the shutdown, and that's also something I think about because I've been there- sucky conditions where I am and can't get anywhere else to shutdown without greater hazard.

How far and what terrain will I cross enroute? High winds in the mountains are a bigger issue than over the aforementioned flat open country. "How far" is an issue because on a two way trip, wind costs more fuel. 55 knots of wind in a 300 that cruises at 70 or so is an outbound groundspeed of 125, and inbound at 15. Do that over 60 nm legs both ways, and you're a half hour out and 4 hours in (the 300s I flew couldn't carry that fuel). You will almost always have some crosswind to plan for, so it can be a lesser total problem but an issue on both legs. A faster aircraft changes the ratios, but the cost still exists, ie- the AStar I'm flying at present, in those conditions, would be outbound 0+20, and the return leg would be an hour. With two hours of fuel typically on board, what would be a comfortable hour round trip is now pretty near my min fuel.

Finally, the conditions at the job site are tremendously variable and in my opinion, require the greatest level of experience and judgment. I've tried to work into places where 10 knots were too turbulent on some days, marginal on others, and no problem at all different at pads in the immediate area because of local terrain and pad configuration.

 

Plan to survive, which means plan conservatively enough that you're always within your, and your aircraft's limitations- and you have a 'no harm, no foul' exit available. It really and truly sucks to be stuck where you may not be able to shutdown and secure the aircraft, but can't safely get somewhere better.

Edited by Wally
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I have flown in the R22 with wind speeds greater than 38knots and moderate windsheer not fun at all. When I worked in Alaska with Croman logging in the S61 we were holding in a hover on the side of a mountain with a 60knot headwind. Did not feel like there was that much wind blowing. I personally do not like to fly with over 30knot wind speeds in the R22 (20knots or less daily is fine). The R44 and the S300 I like less than 40 knots with gust spreads less than 10knots. Ag work I like to see less than 5-8knots due to drifting.

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