Jump to content
twest101

Full Down Autorotation

Recommended Posts

So I have just started doing full down autorotations before i take my CFI checkride shortly and I was wondering how the community felt about at which stage full downs should be required? Should it be at CFI? CPL? Or even PPL? My thought process here is that I find it odd that you could go through commercial under FAA rules never having experienced a full touchdown autorotation and then move on if you get a job other than cfi. I have heard that in other countries they require it sooner. I just wanted to see what everyone's thoughts were. Thanks!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started about the 3\4 lesson the instructor explained what we were going to do he did a few with me watching then we did at least 2 every lesson with him covering me, don't think I was in control for quite a long time but it imprinted the correct sequences, rotor management, flare heights, and wind.

Was shown how to go for range, 180, 360, and vertical autos, go to where you can see is good rather than range every time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are some thoughts from an article in 2006 when the FAA eliminated the touchdown autorotation from the CFI PTS in April of that year and then turned around in July and reinstated it. There is still talk within the FAA about eliminating touchdown autorotation from the PTS.

 

The natural outcome of an engine failure is eventual contact with the ground. How you get there depends on your training. If you weren't trained in full-down autos -- and no one is going to do something they aren't required to -- then you'll be unsuccessful when the need arises.

 

A CFI should be able to demonstrate this maneuver to their Private and Commercial students so that they have an idea of the practical uses for autorotation practice (i.e. walking away without injury).

 

The maneuver is a time-honored practice that all CFIs had to become proficient at and demonstrate. Why "dumb-down" the requirements for CFIs? Are we trying to turn out more qualified CFIs or less?

 

The life-saving maneuver is a combination of skills that fluidly applied would provide maximum protection to the occupants. Those skills are: autorotation, quick top, and hovering auto or run-on landing.

 

The CFI must be trained to a higher standard, not only to protect himself and the helicopter from the student, but also to be a credible instructor.

 

Bell Helicopter's factory training course fully embraces the Full Touch Down Autorotation. Marty Wright, Bell's chief flight instructor, said the most important part of training involves learning how to handle emergency procedures, "spending most of our time with people doing full-touchdown autorotations." Those folks have about 100,000 hours of dual given with the current instructors on board. They seem to know something.

 

Maybe all helicopter pilots should be able to demonstrate full down autos for every certificate. This is at a cost however. There will be certainly more damaged helicopters. Manufacturers wouldn't want this because it makes the safety records look bad for the helicopters most often used for training. The truth of the matter is that it's not a matter of IF an engine failure will happen to you, but when. Even in today's world of super reliable engines.

 

So why not make all helicopter pilots demonstrate full down autos for every certificate? Well the number of destroyed helicopters from practice autorotations would skyrocket. So it will never happen. For the benefit of private and commercial pilot candidates everywhere, I hope these students urge their instructors to teach or at least demonstrate this valuable skill.

 

There may be an alternative that hasn't be put forth to the decision makers. Why not allow CFI candidates to show proficiency in training and receiving an endorsement, which can be used in lieu of demonstrating the task on the check ride. This is similar to the required spin training for the CFI - Airplane candidate that results in an endorsement when proficient in the maneuver. It is then left to the examiner whether it would be demonstrated on the check ride. I suspect the examiner would accept the endorsement almost every time. What do you think?

 

28 Jul 2006; H60Pilot

Comments = During my time at Ft Rucker, thousands of full down autos of every type (straight, 90 degree, and 180 degree) were performed everyday in both TH-55's and Hueys with ever having one of them go rolling up into a ball. My feeling is that the civilian side of the house has blown the risks associated with full down autorotations completely out of proportion. If the instructor is properly trained and proficient, and the student has the skill set to perform the maneuver, then doing an autorotation is no more dangerous than any other maneuver that we do in helicopters.

 

9 Oct 2006; JM

Comments = As retired military helicopter SIP, who over the years has performed auto's under every flight condition you could imagine, I disagree with your premise. A student that can perform a coordinated auto with power recovery will be successful when the need arises.

 

17 Nov 2006; CFII Larry

Comments = Fort Rucker didn't have a major problem with TD's. The hard landings were happening in the field with recurrent and transition training. That's why the military decided to eliminate them after initial training. There is simply no evidence that continuous training in TD's will make for a successful emergency (no damage) landing.

 

There are simply too many variables when a pilot experiences an engine out over an unprepared site. The last few feet do make the difference between a nice touchdown and a hard landing but only to the extent of salvaging the aircraft. Getting the aircraft to that point in the auto is much more important than minimizing damage on touchdown (at the cost of many hard landings during training). I'm glad that the fed's added the TD requirement again but really don't think it makes a difference in the accident rates.

 

Besides, most civil training accidents happen during power recovery autos, not TD's. Read the NTSB reports to verify. The primary reason is probably because the most experienced CFI's do the TD's under very controlled conditions. That's why Bell has such a great record in their training academy. They do not hire 200 hour CFI's!

 

 

 

r-heliautos_Page_1.jpg

 

 

 

r-heliautos_Page_2.jpg

Edited by iChris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A CFI should be able to demonstrate this maneuver to their Private and Commercial students so that they have an idea of the practical uses for autorotation practice (i.e. walking away without injury).

 

I didn't even get a "demo" of a touchdown auto until I went to RHC (when I had around 200hrs)!

 

If you start a poll, my vote is for, "teach them during the Private".

B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't even get a "demo" of a touchdown auto until I went to RHC (when I had around 200hrs)!

 

If you start a poll, my vote is for, "teach them during the Private".

B)

 

I demonstrate full down autos to every student before I solo them. I think it's irresponsible to cut a student loose without ever seeing the successful outcome of an engine off landing. A good full down demo also helps to put new pilots at ease.. "Oh. That wasn't so bad!" I find it shocking that one could become a commercial pilot and be legal to go to work without ever having seen, let alone perform, a full down auto.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Over the last few years I have flown with several former army flight instructors. One of the things the Army looked at was that they were losing more helicopters to practice autorotations, than they had 'for real' autos. On a actual engine failure, the ground available will in all probability be anything but a hard smooth surface, so the outcome of the auto is likely not to be pretty. My primary mission on an engine failure is to be able to walk away from the helicopter. If I can do that, I am ahead of the game. If I can save the helicopter also, even better. I would like to label my logbook 'No Helicopters were hurt during the filling of this logbook.' I can see where flight schools and owners really don't like training full downs as they are hard on the airframe and the gyros. A demo of two during private and commercial, I can see, but as a common practice with students, I think it should wait for the CFI training.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the owner of the helicopter... I have seen very few pilots at the private level show me confidence to not cause damage (i'm not talking about breaking or bending) of the helicopter to want to offer those students the opportunity to practice it. I think it is sufficient to show the full down at the commercial level and if their ability is such that they could practice a few.. I'm barely comfortable allowing CFI's with 150 hours practicing them.

What we need is a better full down training device (computer sim or otherwise) that allows the student to master the inputs so they're not banging the first few or sliding halfway down the runway.

I just did a full down in the Enstrom F28 this weekend and couldn't figure why the PIC wanted to slide 50 feet....when is that practical? If we're going to train more full downs then I think they should be attempted to as near a no slide as the airframe will allow (winds considered).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Im all for at least "showing" students full downs from very early on in their training. Alot of new students are apprehensive to say the least about what happens when the engine decides to go on lunch break. Most of them think you just fall outta the sky and thats it..So I think showing them within the first few hours will help to show them that there is a way to get on the ground safely in the event of an engine failure. I didnt do any touchdown autos till about a week before my CFI ride, but I wish I could've done more. When I went to the Bell factory school, thats pretty much all you do, and it makes you feel alot better about handling an engine out situation. I agree, there could or would be more damaged aircraft out there by doing touchdowns, but I dont think it would be a drastic increase in them, again, look at Bell academy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How high is a powered recovery??

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I try to at least demonstrate full downs before my students solo. It's my opinion that if they are going to be going solo, then they should at least know what it's like if they have to do one for real. Lots of stuff can happen at the bottom end of an auto from the point you would normally recover to a hover to the point of actual skid touchdown. I usually will also take my commercial students out for a lesson or two of just touchdowns so they can be more proficient. I've noticed a couple things with students that only have ever done to a hover auto, one of them being that the student will almost always flare and recover at a much higher height then what would be safe for full downs. Also students have a tendency to not ever actually get the ship level. Level brings on a whole new meaning when you don't have a whole lot of room to play with and when they are doing it for real is not the time to realize you flared too high or didn't level the ship and now you're dead in a ditch. My $0.02 anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think full downs should be taught before a student is allowed to solo. It is an important skill that needs to be in the PTS for safety of pilots, passengers and people on the ground. After all, it is a fundamental skill of becoming a helicopter pilot. The problem I have seen over this forum (and others as well) is that full down auto training is dangerous. This may be, but it also has to do with the fact that no one is taught how to do them early on. This gives the feeling that they are difficult to perform and they should not be taught until later on in training. The problem with this is that in our industry we have low hour instructors who hardly have an idea how to do a full down autorotation since it is new to them at the CFI level.

 

In my PPL training all I did was full down autos until the last few hours before my checkride to get used to when to start the power recovery. There is not much of a difference from a power recovery and a full down, I don't think. It takes practice and experience with timing, judging flare height, aggressiveness of the flare, what to do if one of the previous wasn't as pretty as you would have hoped, etc. You only get this from practice. I think it helps make a better instructor if you have this experience from the start rather than learning it before you start teaching others (CFI) and don't get to do full downs again for a while.

 

I understand this isn't practical for most schools since they have an abundance of lower time CFII's who aren't allowed to do full down training with students, but this isn't the only problem the industry has at the moment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having experienced an in-flight engine failure, I can say without a doubt, full-down autorotation training is essential to a successful engine failure event. Having said that, I believe the full-down should be introduced at the solo level and performed to standards beyond the Commercial level. If this was considered the norm, then it’s safe to say, this discussion would be moot.

 

Unfortunately, in this day-n-age, the aircraft/flight school owners are overly paranoid about aircraft damage and/or liability concern(s) which typically leads them to spin the debate against full-down autorotations. Thus, the trend is to make comments like power-recoveries are “no different” or the “risk outweighs the reward”. I’m here to tell ya, this is pure bunk…

 

The fact of the matter is; the factories perform the maneuver on a daily basis, during the day and night, to hard and soft surfaces, with little to no damage to their aircraft. Flight schools of today should be no different. That is, no different if they have experienced CFI’s onboard teaching the maneuver. Experienced meaning a “Super CFI” or meeting a minimum flight hour requirement; say 750 hours as a CFI and demonstrated the maneuver to an acceptable level. If this were the case, then the risk and liability exposures are adequately mitigated.

 

IMO, the difference between the power-recovery and the full-down autorotation is relatively minor when comparing the difference between a full-down and a real engine out event. Therefore, the difference between the power-recovery and real engine out event is enormous. So enormous, it should be considered negligent for commercial pilots, regardless of flight experience, not perform the full-down to CFI standards. Otherwise, sometime in the future, a relatively minor engine-out event suddenly becomes catastrophic. Simply put, it’s all about stacking the chips, sooner then later….

 

I applaud flight schools who allow full-downs to be taught to their students at any stage of the training program. Instructors who teach it should prefect it cause one day, or night, in the future, it’s gonna happen….

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did full downs ( with my instructor there of course ) before solo.

 

I think having an airplane certificate first and having learned leveling off and flaring and the such definitely helped with the timing part of the maneuver.

 

There is no way I would have gone solo without that experience, definitely gave me a lot more confidence to go solo.

 

I will say however that autos in the Bell 47 were so easy a caveman could do it. The thought of doing it in a robbie scares me, heck the thought of a robbie period scares me.

Edited by Rogue
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Every single autorotation I have done has been full down, and by now that number is at least 100. Some flights I would do 5 autos, 3-4 hovering autos, SEF at altitude (power recovery) and run on landings.

 

I feel its an essential manuever to be proficient in.

 

However, once I start flying the big iron, full down autos will stop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely, full downs demonstrated before solo and proficient before the comm ck ride.I love full downs, I love autos but we all need to do them monthly, not bi-annual.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My point exactly Spike.

It is not the same( How high is a powered recovery??) most to high i would suggest, drift, rotation, do not have to be controlled to the same extent, or the cyclic control regarding flare ground run.

I agree if you can recover from 10\15 ft you will probably walk away as long as drift rotation is not a factor, got that wrong once one skid well of the ground not a good moment

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think that military training can be compared to civilian training here. The military in uses TH-67s for their initial training, which are amongst the easiest and safest helicopters to autorotate. Also, with a student and instructor on board, they are not anywhere close to max GW. In the civilian world flying H269s and R22s, the risks of teaching touchdown autorotations is much higher and the risk/reward calculation looks very different.

 

Here in OZ and flying R22s, we have to teach touchdown autos at CPL level (as required by the syllabus) but not private. I demonstrate them to students much earlier though.

 

Note: by "touchdown autorotation" I mean: autorotative landing with the engine at Idle and the throttle at the detent stop.

Some instructors will conduct a "power recovery autorotation to the ground" (in which they land with the needles joined), and call that a touchdown auto, which - IMO - is not an adequate substitute for a real touchdown auto.

Edited by lelebebbel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Full autos eat up helicopters and profits.

 

In the 1960's we did countless full autos under situation imaginable, and we wrecked a lot of helicopters.

 

As the decades progressed, both civilian and military flight schools performed fewer and fewer full autos.

 

In fact, in some flight schools from the '70's on, the student never saw a full auto.

 

At some point, the curve describing the cost of full autos crosses the curve describing the cost of unsuccessful autos, and this defines the correct number of full autos taught to students.

 

The statistics and math tell us that a successful autorotative descent to a clear, flat area (with a bad landing) saves more lives and money than does a thousand full autos in flight school.

 

I've done thousands of full autos as a flight instructor and as a Chief Flight Instructor Part 141.

 

I've also done two full autos in the real world because of drive train failures, and both autorotations resulted in damage to the helicopters and no injuries to the occupants.

 

The BEST autorotation of which I have personal knowledge resulted in the helicopter landing in an impossibly small fenced-in area with a chopped-off tail boom.

 

If the engine or the drive train quit, get the helicopter to a level, obstruction-free area.

 

To get to that area requires many, many autorotative descents to a power recovery.

 

No one can afford the number of full autorotations necessary for true (and transient) competency, but most schools can afford lots of power recovery autos.

 

During my instruction days, I taught long autorotative descents (flying and maneuvering while autorotating) from the second flight; I pre-announced forced landings; and, by the end of my instruction days I did no full autos except as part of CFI instruction.

 

When you pay the bills for a flight school, you come to realize the cost of full autos.

 

And, you can't do enough, anyway.

 

Focus instead on getting the helicopter to a clear, flat space.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What happens if someone just wants to be a Private Pilot? Should they never learn touchdowns? (since a lot of places reserve them only for CFI candidates)

:unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If a person chooses to be trained to PPL level only, they need to be aware that naturally they will receive less training than someone paying for 2 or 3 or 4 times as many hours. They get trained to a standard that the administrator and the flying school have found acceptable for private pilots, and as a result, they have more limitations on their license than a commercial pilot or CFI.

 

I don't like that only CFIs do them in the US, in my opinion they should at least be demonstrated repeatedly to pilots at commercial level. On the other hand, there are a lot of other things that deserve more focus in training, such as realistic simulations of low RPM / overpitching events at low altitudes, wire avoidance training, low level operations etc.

 

If all pilots were able to pull off a perfect touch down autorotation whenever someone has an engine failure, the accident statistics would not actually change very much - the event is rare, and a lot of the time when it does happen, there is no suitable landing surface available anyhow. All that touchdown auto training doesn't help if you are landing in 100ft trees.

On the other hand, if (especially) low hour pilots were better at recognising, preventing, and recovering from overpitching situations, or if we would all stop flying into wires - now that would make a difference.

Edited by lelebebbel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...