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What the heck happened here?


mausermolt

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pardon the language on the video. mute it if you want. the shenanigans happen around 1:06 AND DONT CHEAT AND LOOK UP THE ACCIDENT REPORT! just wanna see how close people get.

Edited by mausermolt
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Nope, not settling with power. I do know the cause but will leave it to see what others come up with. Remember what you need for SWP? This accident happened before the pilot could have found himself in SWP.

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He was hovering in one direction, then made a left pedal turn to turn through 180. While making that pedal turn, the tail wobbled a few times - this would appear that he started out into wind, made a left pedal turn across the wind (wasn't easy) and then tried to hover downwind.

 

Lots of left pedal sucking power, gone from a small amount of headwind to a small amount of tailwind, just ran out of power. Started to descend, and was going down in his own downwash - it looked like the rate increased just before the first hit.

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Nope, not settling with power. I do know the cause but will leave it to see what others come up with. Remember what you need for SWP? This accident happened before the pilot could have found himself in SWP.

 

Below ETL, >20% power applied, >300 FPM descent rate. But if you're heavy and trying to HOGE, you're going to start sinking.

 

Anyways, after watching the video again, I did notice him holding a hover before he turned around. So that rules out SWP as the initiator of the accident. As for low RPM, I feel like if he was going to get the horn he would have gotten it on the first left pedal turn at 0:54. Unless that's just when the RPM started to droop, then got the horn and tried to recover after the 2nd pedal turn. Thinking he was going to hit the ground anyways he pulled collective, looks like he did just before impact anyways, unless I'm seeing things...

 

So JD, are you saying that the NTSB got it wrong? :o

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The DA was reported to be 10,500 ft that day, and the pilot reported his weight to be around 2300 I think it said. im certain the guy ran out of throttle. the NTSB got it right on this one IMHO.

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Y'all are way too certain in your exclusion of settling with power/VRS. The time requirement is how long it takes the aircraft to start the descent, a second or two, and if you don't have the plan and the room to execute...

 

Although I don't think that's what happened here. Put yourself, high, hot and heavy, at your power limit, and then slide into the lee of an obstruction, descending and moving towards the obstruction... Even without the wind following the terrain downward making a downdraft, an unanticipated reduction in ETL as you move into the "wind shadow" will embarrass you, if not worse, even with adequate power. If it's turbulent, as is likely, and you're low, "powered out", settling and moving towards the obstruction, it had better be flat where your inertia is taking you, it takes energy and time to turn and reverse away.

Edited by Wally
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I am in agreement with the NTSB. This incident was at high D.A. and ended up in a low RPM situation that was un-recoverable. This was not SWP/VRS. The NTSB report doesn't even talk about SWP/VRS.

 

The helicopter was being operated at high D.A. and weight at very low speed. That put the helicopter at the limit. Add in a little left pedal which demands power from the engine then you bring yourself even closer to a Low RPM condidtion. Once in the Low RPM condidtion there was not enough altitude in to be able to recover which then resulted in contact with the ground.

 

Note: It was caculated that the IGE was only 8,500 and OGE was 5,000 but the D.A. was caculated to be 10,600'.

 

It was a classic high D.A./Low RPM accident. I am just glad no one was seriously hurt.

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Note: It was caculated that the IGE was only 8,500 and OGE was 5,000 but the D.A. was caculated to be 10,600'.

 

...the pilot reported his weight to be around 2300 I think it said.

 

So, that means it was 40 C, which makes his OGE cap of 5,000' PA (8,800' DA). Its odd though, that at 40 C, 2300lbs goes beyond the 11,800' DA line, before reaching 8,500'? Perhaps I'm doing something wrong?

 

Anyway, he was going too slow!

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When high, hot, heavy and need to hover any direction and the performance chart under your seat, you should always perform a power check, at altitude above the intended hover point, so if Low-RPM occurs, you can safely recover from it….. Planning is one thing… Actual conditions is another……

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Be careful when flying photographers. They tend to scream out last minute directions ( slow down, more,... now hover) to get their shot. May just have caught the pilot off guard for a only a second. Game over.

 

Curious what you all would have done in here. It looked like the rotor slowed in the video just as he hovered, .. probably got the horn then and pitched it forward a bit. But it was too late and too much decay so he nursed it around to the slope. Looked pretty low to begin with to dive forward with success. Thoughts?

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I am in agreement with the NTSB. This incident was at high D.A. and ended up in a low RPM situation that was un-recoverable. This was not SWP/VRS. The NTSB report doesn't even talk about SWP/VRS.

 

 

The description of the video on youtube's website has the link to the NTSB accident report.

 

http://www.ntsb.gov/...509X10416&key=1

 

Now unless that is the wrong accident report...

 

"The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The pilot’s decision to operate the helicopter at a high density altitude near terrain, which resulted in a settling with power condition."

 

Am I missing something here?

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Stand corrected. Didn't read the last line in the report. I do not agree that there was a SWP condition in this case. This is only my personal and professional opinion. Why?

 

First, I am not sure there was enough time prior to the impact to even get to a ROD grater than 300 feet/min. Many helicopters require much more than that to be in SWP/VRS.

 

I personally feel this was just a low RPM situation resulting from poor planning/execution in which the pilot did not have the altitude to recover from.

 

It's late, I will add more to this later as to my thoughts on SWP.

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To All,

 

Time to chime in. I had personal interaction with this 1400+ hour pilot both before and after this event. Like all of us, he is human and we can all get caught in this situation, like it or not!

 

What caused this to happen was an accident chain. The pilot did not use the head working skills that he possessed and put the helicopter in a position of non-performance capability. The DA was high, the GW was too high (an extra pax, too much fuel) and wind conditions that hindered performance. The helicopter did not have the power to perform (fly) under these conditions!

 

Why did this happen? Those of you that were at my FAASTeam "Wings" presentation prior to Heli Success this past November heard me review an accident with tragic results. I challenged the audience to have a Personal Fatigue Risk Management System and to apply it at all times.

 

This event in this video took place because of an accident chain consisting of the following links: poor rest the night before, fatigue and stress from many flights previous to this one, lack of food and a non recognized desire to perform the flight. Flight planning and performance considerations were hindered or did not exist at many levels.

 

Certificates were requested to be surrendered and a 709 ride was required.

 

Any of us Human pilots can end up in this same position if we do not constantly evaluate ourselves with a personal Fatigue Risk Management System. IMSAFE used prior to and during the entire day is only a beginning. Did you ever get a little sleepy after lunch? Not rest well the night before? Have family issues on your mind (birthday, anniversary, vacation planning, divorce)? Pressure to perform the flight (peers, employer, ego)? Desire to fly(need to build hours, I love it)? Have the onset of a cold or just have a headache? Now ask yourself honestly how you perceive and manage yourselves throughout the entire day even if you are not flying.

 

Use events like this to enlighten yourselves to the mistakes of others and use RM & develop and use a personal FRMS.

 

Best wishes to all, fly safe you Humans.

 

Mike

FAASTeam Representative

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Gomer is correct: SWP and VRS are not the same thing, but that is all academic to me. The accident occured because the pilot was flying too low. That is the problem with newbs: they don't understand (or care) that you must leave yourself a plan B whenever possible. Every pilot figures this out at some point, but some kill themselves in the process. That pilot did everything wrong you can think of. It screamed "careless and reckless". Regardless of whether he was within the performance limitations, there was absolutely no reason to fly that low. Even the drunk guy filming (or somebody with him) said something along the lines of "we might see a crash"! I flew many photo flights while I was teaching and I figured out the best way to avoid trouble was keep it above ETL and keep at least 300'. At 300', the photographer cannot tell the difference between 15 knots and a hover. They also have a bag full of long lenses. Below 300' you narrow your options considerably, set yourself up for noise complaints and then possibly the attention of the FAA. One time an ENG Astar flew over me (and about 10,000 other people) repeatedly at about 40kts and no more than 100' over downtown Sarasota. Insanity.

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