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Hot loading passengers for rides


Rich1

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Had a chance at a recent airshow to observe a full-day of rides being given by a pair of R-44 helicopters. Both pilots had done a very nice job of logistics, who would land where, coordinating arrivals and departs, etc. and had two folks chaperoning passengers to and from on each side of the ship as the pilots sat at idle with rotors running. Chaperones were doing a very nice job of pre-flighting the passengers if you will prior to the rides.

 

Everything went fine until about mid-afternoon. As the chaperones were making their way toward the helicopter to unload, a young girl, (probably 5ish years old) who was sitting in the back opened the door, and immediately bolted toward the rear of the machine. Had the more-athletic of the two chaperones not been as alert and quick as she was, this could have turned out pretty ugly. As it was, the chaperone was able to grab the little girl around the waist about 1/2 way toward down the tail boom and return her to safety.

 

Just goes to show that even with the best preparations...Made my heart race for about the next two days and has caused me to reflect on my own passenger hot vs. shutdown loading protocols. Not casting judgement, just sharing for all of our reflection...

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Ive taken probably a couple hundred people up for ride-alongs over the years and I am continuously amazed at what people will do around aircraft. And you know who I find to be the worst...... passengers with a little bit of flight training under their belts. You had 3 hrs in a Bell 47 in 1976 and suddenly you are an expert around helicopters.

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There's really no reason to hot load an R44!

 

Giving rides all day with a line of customers isn't a reason to hotload?

 

Some tour companies will give rides sun up to sun down only shutting down for fuel (maybe). Every 5 min to shut down and start up is list income. Especially if it's at a fair and they're only doing 5 min rides.

 

That's why they are prepared with an alert ground crew. Good job on the loader in the original story.

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I have at multiple times helped hot load and unload passengers. Whenever we hot load we always are back behind the doors (closest to tail rotors) we open the door and escort them to a safe location, they wouldn't be able to go towards the tail rotor because we are behind them when they get out. You always are the one closest to the tail rotors when hot loading, they should never have a opportunity to go towards the tail rotor.

 

I have found that photographers are also bad around aircraft. I had one guy that wanted to get a close up shot of the tail rotor, he didn't tell me what he was doing and almost gave me a heart attack. I did however warn them of the tail rotor over 3 times before he did that.

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Giving rides all day with a line of customers isn't a reason to hotload?

 

Some tour companies will give rides sun up to sun down only shutting down for fuel (maybe). Every 5 min to shut down and start up is list income. Especially if it's at a fair and they're only doing 5 min rides.

 

That's why they are prepared with an alert ground crew. Good job on the loader in the original story.

 

Sorry, I meant GOOD reason!,...oh' yeah, and have fun hot fueling an R44 (maybe)?

Edited by eagle5
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There's really no reason to hot load an R44!

 

Why do you say that? I'm not a Robbie pilot, but isn't there a 2 min cool down not to mention the extra wear on parts like rotor brake. Hot Loading sounds like it could save a lot of time and expense. I would bet the profit margin on a tour like this is tight and it sounds like they were doing a good job at mitigating risk.

 

I'm not saying its ever a good idea to put profit margin over safety, but there is level of risk to everything in life. This kid could have sprinted onto a taxiway and get plowed just as easy. Should the operator just say children are no longer able to fly because one parent failed to control their child?

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Without a doubt, this was about quick circuits and turnarounds...at about 5 or six trips per hour I doubt hey were barely making fuel costs. They were doing this primarily to help add/draw an attraction to the airfield and airshow.

 

Just offered up the observation for reflection of our own practices, not casting judgement. We can all learn from the near-calls of others.

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Airshow heli rides are usually only 5 to 15 minutes long. A 3 minute shutdown followed by a load, and a 3 minute startup means you are spending as much time on the ground as you are in the air (or more). Hot loads are the only way to go. Sounds like they mitigated the risks pretty well. If there had been no chaperon there to catch that little girl, I would say they didn't mitigate the risks. But they did. End of story.

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I guess I've just heard too many horror stories (and I don't want to become one of them!) so I'm shutting down. If my boss doesn't like it, he can send one of the other guys to do the county fair rides!

 

Using a chaperon works until the day he doesn't reach the little girl in time, then its, "Why, for the love of god, were they doing it that way?" As they say at the Robinson course, "the safety notices are written in blood"!

Edited by eagle5
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If my boss doesn't like it, he can send one of the other guys to do the county fair rides!

 

Give him my number, I hotload the 44 every time I fly. It'll come with some experience and some good ground personnel. You can tell people 5 times what not to do, and they will still go do it. It's an overwhelming environment for them, many just can't process the info, also you have to remember its a high noise environment as well.

 

Sometimes I land with the passenger I am most concerned about facing the golfcart so that its a no brainer which way to leave the ship (straight to the cart and not around the tail).

 

Well trained ground crew is the key!

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Give him my number, I hotload the 44 every time I fly. It'll come with some experience and some good ground personnel. You can tell people 5 times what not to do, and they will still go do it. It's an overwhelming environment for them, many just can't process the info, also you have to remember its a high noise environment as well.

 

Sometimes I land with the passenger I am most concerned about facing the golfcart so that its a no brainer which way to leave the ship (straight to the cart and not around the tail).

 

Well trained ground crew is the key!

 

(added) A great trick is to ask a passenger to repeat back to you what you told them....then its reinforced. Some passengers don't speak English well, that one is always a challenge.

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Without a doubt, this was about quick circuits and turnarounds...at about 5 or six trips per hour I doubt hey were barely making fuel costs.

 

Let's do the numbers!

 

First, it's not about clock hours, forget that. It's all about the Hobbsmeter. Remember, as we have discussed and argued interminably in these here parts, helicopter component flight time is "skids up to skids down."

 

If you keep the rides to one-tenth (6 minutes) then you can do ten rides per flight hour (no matter how long it actually takes you to do those ten rides). If you sell seats for the low-low introductory price of $20 per person and keep the ship full every time, that makes $60 per ride or....(drumroll)...$600 per flight hour. Not bad for an R-44! I'd take that revenue in a heartbeat. (it's even better if you can keep each ride to five minutes of collective up time.)

 

So if that R-44 at the fair was there for, say, 10 hours that day and they did, say, 6 hours of flight time, then they made $3,600 in revenue for the day. Maybe more. I'd say they covered their fuel. And then some.

 

Sightseeing rides? Me likey!

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I guess I've just heard too many horror stories (and I don't want to become one of them!) so I'm shutting down. If my boss doesn't like it, he can send one of the other guys to do the county fair rides!

He wont like it and you probably won't have a job that long. It's not a big deal as long as the ground crews are well briefed and they stand behind the doors as pax disembark. It is not feasible to shut down everytime, that would be a great way to lose customers and revenue though. I have hot fueled a 44 hundreds of times by the way. Never had an issues. The ag business is go, go ,go and there is no stopping!

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(added) A great trick is to ask a passenger to repeat back to you what you told them....then its reinforced. Some passengers don't speak English well, that one is always a challenge.

 

Did you know many cultures (particularly latinos) say yes when asked a question because it is disrespectul fo say no. I Have had it several times where I asked a question got a "yes" and they proceeded to do exactly the opposite. Now I make them repeat, it is the only way to ensure the transfer of knowledge.

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Well, if hot loading for tours is the norm, then I could be in trouble! I didn't even like doing it AS A PASSENGER, which is why I would never volunteer to be a chaperon (one wrong move and somethings getting cut off!). This is one reason I didn't like shop class back in school (the teacher was always missing a finger or two)!

 

So, I guess my next question is; How do they do it in the South Rim ('cause that's where I'd like to work)? If they're hot loading those tourists, then I'll either have to "come to grips", or find a new line of work?

 

Still, I'm going to stay away from those county fair rides. If an adult gets hurt, I wouldn't feel that bad ('cause they SHOULD know better)! If a child got hurt, I'd have a hard time living with it, and kids are all over those fairs!

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I guess you really wouldn't like hot fueling yourself...

 

Tying this thread in with the Mountain Bike thread asking about unattended idling, I'd like to hear others' thoughts on solo hot fueling... Short of 91.13 Careless&Reckless and maybe common sense, is there anything prohibiting this? I know this is common practice for some.

Edited by 280fxColorado
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Well, if hot loading for tours is the norm, then I could be in trouble! I didn't even like doing it AS A PASSENGER, which is why I would never volunteer to be a chaperon (one wrong move and somethings getting cut off!). This is one reason I didn't like shop class back in school (the teacher was always missing a finger or two)!

 

So, I guess my next question is; How do they do it in the South Rim ('cause that's where I'd like to work)? If they're hot loading those tourists, then I'll either have to "come to grips", or find a new line of work?

 

Still, I'm going to stay away from those county fair rides. If an adult gets hurt, I wouldn't feel that bad ('cause they SHOULD know better)! If a child got hurt, I'd have a hard time living with it, and kids are all over those fairs!

 

You will hot load in the South Rim all day long!!! You will not even shut down to go to the bathroom, you get a "control hold." You may shut down for lunch, or they may just put the spare pilot in your place if they have a lot of tours booked.

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