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One piece of advice you would give to avoid an accident.


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Helicopters are viewed by the public as being very risky and dangerous machines to operate. With the recent string of weather related accidents, what is one piece of advice you would give to keep yourself safe while flying? I'm interested to see if many of you view accidents as stemming from complacency, lack of experience, or unavoidable circumstances.

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Helicopters are viewed by the public as being very risky and dangerous machines to operate. With the recent string of weather related accidents, what is one piece of advice you would give to keep yourself safe while flying. I'm interested to see if many of you view accidents as stemming from complacency, lack of experience, or unavoidable circumstances.

 

 

According to NTSB statistics, in the last 20 years, approximately 80 percent of aviation accidents have been caused by “pilot error.” Many of these accidents are the result of the tendency to focus flight training on the physical aspects of flying the aircraft (The 5%) by teaching the student pilot just enough aeronautical knowledge and skill to pass the written and practical tests. Risk Management is ignored, with sometimes fatal results. The flight instructor who integrates risk management into flight training teaches aspiring pilots how to be more aware of potential risks in flying, how to clearly identify those risks, and how to manage them successfully.

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Edited by iChris
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Where many accidents occur during flight training there's a certain unspoken need by flight instructors to show what the helicopter can do or to try to make training as beneficial as possible for the student. Many times an accident occurs because the pilot tries to push a bad practice autorotation or going through with something that they don't feel is entirely safe. It's easy to say "well that's dumb, just don't be afraid to tell the student to go around" but it's not always easy for an instructor to say these things, to admit that an "iffy" entry was poor enough to justify a go around or if it's recoverable. Even high time instructor pilots still have accidents sometimes because of the mindset that they can recover it.

I know a pilot who was in an accident because of this mindset. Now don't get me wrong, this was a very good and very experienced pilot whom I respect a lot, and it's important to understand that it can happen to anyone at any level of training, understanding or experience. It's not always pride, it's not always a hazardous attitude of invulnerability, or complacency, sometimes it's just plain hard to be practicing a maneuver and still being 600 ft high and making that go around decision when you have so much time ahead that it still seems fixable. That attitude or assumption that a maneuver can still be recovered can cause even a great pilot in a poor position to still try to see the maneuver through until it gets to an unrecoverable state.

 

To summarize my one piece of advice: Never be too worried, intimidated or scared to say "I don't like this, go around." Perhaps you could have still recovered the helicopter, perhaps you're missing an opportunity or wasting a pattern doing so, but it's healthier and better than trying to push a bad situation. I know it's not as easy as it sounds, but try to change your mindset and keep you and your student safe.

 

Be safe out there. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt.

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Religiously read the NTSB accident reports...there is a wealth of information contained in each of the reports that can inform our own dcision making and risk management. It can be about flight into IMC, low level (into wires or cables), high DA onditions, but the one piece of advice I always take away is to religiously pay attention to your gut level intuition. A good instructor will have/should have instilled a healthy skepticism and/or caution....if it doesn't look or feel right...i.e. a bad approach or a tight landing area, etc.....then it probably isn't.

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Besides the old saws "Takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory" and "It's better to be on the ground wishing you were flying than it is to be flying wishing you were on the ground"?

 

How about: ALWAYS HAVE A WAY OUT and then: use it! The hardest decision of all is to quit a winner but without the jackpot...

 

Oh, and another- Sometimes survival is as much as you can get without killing yourself. Put the helo into the trees and explain it, or die trying to get to the airport?

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Don't allow distractions to change your habits..like answering a cell call or text in the middle of a pre-flight....and unless you fly in a high fixed wing traffic area like I do in LA, fly a bit higher than 500 feet. 800-1000 feet gives you a whole world of more options, and keeps you away from ground obstacles like many towers and wires..

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Use ADM. There are many who feel it is nothing more than common sense (they are half right), but its more than that. It's a structure for your thoughts, and once you train yourself to do it, it becomes habit. You start analyzing every change in the flight and can quickly make sound decisions. Many accident reports have stated that there was a breakdown in ADM prior to the accident. I believe that in most cases there was never any ADM happening in the first place. There are several models and acronyms to choose from, but they all boil down to the same principals. ADM works. CRM works. Use them. They prevent accidents when used properly. If you have any questions about how to implement these tools when you fly see your local flight instructor.

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Just *one* piece of advice? I gotta agree with Wally (I guess the GOM teaches you this): Always, always, always have a Plan B in your back pocket. (And a Plan C...and preferably a Plan D as well.) Always.

 

Sometimes Plan A goes out the window as soon as you take off. Be prepared for when that happens. Having a Plan B has saved my butt more times than I can count.

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-Never stop learning....continue to read and study even after you obtain the ratings that you want.

 

-Stay informed....try and learn from the mistakes of others as well as your own.

 

-If you don't know the answer, go and find it. Ask the older guys. Although some are cantankerous they have a wealth of knowledge and don't mind sharing it.

 

-Never become complacent.

 

-Stay alert.

 

"Be safe out there".

 

Five0

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The longer you go without hearing about an accident, or heaven forbid, having one yourself, assume you will be the next mishap pilot, and use the dread of the idea to color your complacency. Everyone is safety conscious right after an accident. Complacency has the natural inclination to increase with distance from perceived danger.

Whoever said "great thread" was right.

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I learned this from Rich Stowell, Master CFI and author of some great books for FW pilots:

 

There are only 2 kinds of "Pilot Error," errors of "omission" or "commission." You can make an error due to lacking info or training (omission), or you can make an error knowing all the info and having all the training; i.e. knowing the "wires" we're there. Anytime the pilot says "watch this" be especially cautious, that's the classic error of "commission."

 

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Find a personal minimum you are comfortable with and stand by it. If that is 2000/10 or 1000/5 and you are comfortable, safe, and legal don't let ground chatter change your mind. It's okay to reevaluate your mins as you gain experience, but start somewhere. Your CFI, maybe without you realizing it, set some mins initially for you when he signed you off to solo. There's a starting point. So are the FAR/AIMs.

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Never fly down the middle of a valley.

 

There are three things that keep a helicopter flying: airspeed, altitude, and power available. If you don't have at least two you are committed to whatever situation you have put yourself in.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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