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Helicopter IFR


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For those of you who operate helicopters IFR, I have a simple question. Do you or your company have a policy or procedure on the use of pitot heat during instrument operations? I am asking this of those pilots who conduct IFR operations under Part 91 or 135. What I am looking for is a general idea of what is being done industry wide, so I can bring this into my instruction of instrument students.


For those of you who do not fly IFR, Please keep in mind that I am really not looking for some of the types of comments one sometimes see on this board.


Thank you.

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While some RFM's do cover it, others do not. Plus there are some operators that will maintain a standard procedure due to the different helicopters they operate. Plus some will alter the procedure to reflect the area they operate in. Generally they make it more restrictive. What I am trying to do is get a rough idea on how some operators are doing it, so I can add this material into my instruction. At present, there are no IFR training helicopters with heated pitots, so no switch. So would a non-functioning switch added to the switch panel be of some training benefit? Right now I am thinking it might. What are your thoughts?

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I fly two IFR aircraft for my company, and we use the numbers from the RFM. I haven't ever heard of one set number applying to multiple aircraft. And I'm not sure how a non-functioning switch would be of any benefit - is the purpose to help them remember to use it? In that case, the cruise checklists at most companies includes a reference to OAT and pitot heat. I think a very brief reference to it during the pitot-static lesson would be more than enough. Focus more on cockpit management and task prioritization by loading them down in flight; these skills translate into actual IFR flying much better than specific procedures.

Edited by Eggbeater
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A switch is pointless IMO. When they get to an IFR cockpit, they will have a PIC directing them, and a checklist to follow. It makes no difference whatsoever what they've done in instrument training in a Robinson. What they need training in doing is following the checklist. There is a checklist for everything - preflight, before starting engines, starting engines, before takeoff, cruise, descent, approach, and on to engine shutdown. Teach them to follow the checklist, every time, and you have done your job.

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  • 1 month later...

When we are in precip, we use the pitot heat most times. I fly the S76 C+/++ and the SPZ autopilot system can be thrown off a bit with too much water in the pitot static system. It is not in the RFM as a procedure, and not on the checklist. Checklists are just that, checklists. They are not all encompassing and are the minimum for any given activity.


Yes, we use the cargo hook armed as a reminder that it is on so as to turn it off on short final. This prevents burning people, usually HLOs who might come in contact with the probes.


Not a bad question.

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