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Managing TO weight for Confined areas


falcon4

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I fly with some pilots who seem to have no regard for managing the weight of the helo other than staying under max gross weight. Seemed odd to me so I went online to look for info on T/O and landings in confined areas. Our helo pad is pretty confined. I didn't see much about managing weight anywhere. What is my malfunction here? lol I flew in the Navy where we were always balancing the idea of extra fuel vs performance issues. I feel it is good to be lighter any time you can for the equipment and performance, as long as you have plenty for the mission. They just want to keep the tank full all the time. Thanks for any comments.

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Do you typically have performance issues in normal operations? Unless I'm planning around power, I'm not eager to perform the refuel process any more than I have to.

I guess theory would support the benefit of not having that extra 100 lbs (or whatever) of fuel on board in an emergency that's weighed against being able to fly more between the fueling process... if the aircraft is not power limited.

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My mission happens to be flying for as long as I can. Is it causing a problem? Are they flying with way more gas than they would need and then leaving equipment, personnel etc behind because of it? Of course you don't want to fly with so much gas you cant do the job you were initially hired to do.

Maybe a scenario on when, where and how this fuel issue caused a problem would help put it into context for responses?

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I think it might be personal preference on this issue, my crew and the opposite crew do things completely different when it comes to fuel. We carry more fuel and leave ourselves room for more options when it comes to additional flights and the other crew usually flies at minimum fuel to leave options for more payload on their expected flights.

 

What happens is that we take off close to or at max gross (weather permitting, every once in a while we will reduce our max takeoff weight if there might be issues leaving at max weight) and we make less fuel stops. The other crew fuels up more often but has larger power margins for takeoff.

 

I don't think that one way is more right than the other, as long as the job can be done safely then it's a matter of personal preference. For other jobs, there might be a different view point.

Edited by Pohi
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The only time you can have too much fuel is if you're on fire or need to make a big lift in a short amount of time.

 

Just ask the Cirrus guy that just tried to fly to Hawaii...I bet he wishes he had a bit more fuel on board...lol

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Flying at max weight all the time will increase wear and tear on the machine, and brinelling in the head is the first sign.

 

If you are into the yellow zone more than 5 mins per hour, you are using up the aircraft life a bit faster than expected, so you will have more maintenance issues with time. We used to fly our police 206s at max everywhere, but the head changes were expensive. We moved up to a BK117 to go from 3200b to 3200kg, but the brains in HQ just loaded that bird up so it was at max as well. It fell in the sea 8 months later, probably not from that cause though.

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I thought he ran out? I didn't know a Cirrus had a 2000 mile range??

They install ferry tanks to get aircraft over the ocean. IIRC he still had about 80 gallons of useable fuel in one of the tanks but the valve wouldn't allow him to get at it.

 

Anyways, to get back on topic. Flying armed scouts we are constantly balancing fuel for ammo but almost always to max gross. It's the nature of our mission. That said, if my performance numbers are saying it's impossible to do at max gross of course I'm going to reduce weight. What sort of margins are we looking for? Depends on the pilot, conditions, necessity of landing there, etc.

 

This little bird doesn't carry a lot of fuel/ammo so I usually only have a couple hundred pounds to work with.

Edited by SBuzzkill
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Working pilots are always balancing fuel load with MGW. Depending on location and the type of op’s you are flying. And sure, performance can play in to the computation…..

 

Every day prior to my first flight of the day, I calculate W&B and the performance numbers (HOGE) using the highest temp for the day at the highest altitude within my area of operation (and for each mission profile). Once I do this, I know the maximum amount of fuel I can take on (which usually bumps me right up to MGW). The type of LZ doesn’t play into it because as long as I can go HOGE, I can land wherever I want. Conversely, if I can’t HOGE, I wouldn’t attempt a confined area landing. That would be dumb…….

Edited by Spike
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I fly a B3 so if it's under MGW it'll go straight up. (Really it will still go straight up even over MGW, or so I'm told)

I too fly the B3 and can say, even under MGW, there were times when I couldn’t to go vertical. That is, with a 210 gal bucket on the hook and temps at 100 degree-F……..

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I too fly the B3 and can say, even under MGW, there were times when I couldnt to go vertical. That is, with a 210 gal bucket on the hook and temps at 100 degree-F..

Are you belly hooked Spike or long line? I agree with you I love the Astar but when it gets hot straight up doesn't work. This is at altitude. The 206 L4 impresses me at how it will work it's way straight up long lining.

 

And for the OP any time your flying helicopters commercially it's always going to be a juggling act of fuel/cargo and or passengers. Most pilots do what Spike said. W/B, HOGE for worst case scenario of the day. If your in the same ship it will become second nature. And to whoever said flying helicopters at MGW all the time is hard on them... I disagree 100%

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Are you belly hooked Spike or long line? I agree with you I love the Astar but when it gets hot straight up doesn't work. This is at altitude. The 206 L4 impresses me at how it will work it's way straight up long lining.

 

 

I haven't flown the L4 but I have spent a lot of time in the L3, I'm personally not a fan of it ;). That being said; regardless of the helicopter, it doesn't matter if you're belly hooked, long line, or all internal weight for HOGE performance.

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I haven't flown the L4 but I have spent a lot of time in the L3, I'm personally not a fan of it ;). That being said; regardless of the helicopter, it doesn't matter if you're belly hooked, long line, or all internal weight for HOGE performance.

The L4 with the high altitude T/R is a totally different animal. I had about 800 hours in the L's and B's when I started flying the L4. I could not believe the difference! My first fire season in the L4 my forest service load calcs were better than a 407 above 7,500'. My manager checked my load calc three times and finally believed me. Granted that L4 was LIGHT, but I've seen it with other L4's also. I understand what your saying and not disagreeing...but it sure seems a lot easier to pull water out of a high mountain lake belly hooked than with that same bucket at the end of a 150' ;)

Edited by helipilotm
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Many moons ago in the GOM, I flew the AS350D, and we had one pad that was completely surrounded by wires and a high bridge. We hated using it because the LTS-101 engines in those things had a bad habit of coming apart. But even at max gross, or above it if the critters lied about their weights, which wasn't unknown, we came out vertically in the summer at 90+ degrees F, and then increased power to get up to max continuous torque. As long as the engine worked, I loved flying them compared to the 206, any model. But that was at sea level, and high altitude work for us was a 150' platform. You cannot make money with a helicopter unless you work it at max gross. The customer just won't allow it. Every Bell helicopter has had the max gross weight increased repeatedly. And the max weight for any Bell is set by the landing gear, not the head. The external load limit is always higher than the internal weight, and the RFM says that higher loads must not be imposed on the landing gear. As long as you're flying at or near sea level, the helicopter should be capable of departing a confined area at max gross, given proper pilot technique. My weight management has consisted of keeping it at or near max gross, because I know it will fly with proper technique. It may require some finesse, but one should always use finesse when flying, if for no other reason than maintaining proficiency. But I've flown with some pilots who had no capability of flying smoothly under any circumstances.

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Are you belly hooked Spike or long line? I agree with you I love the Astar but when it gets hot straight up doesn't work. This is at altitude. The 206 L4 impresses me at how it will work it's way straight up long lining.

Belly hooked with dual hydro. And, this is near sea level! Our problem is, we are a multi-mission operation so our machines EW’s are high to begin with. Keeping a machine light starts with the initial completion and installation of extra nonessential equipment.

 

I also like the L4 with one caveat; agreed,it’s gotta have the high-altitude tail-rotor kit as helipilotm mentioned…… The one I currently fly doesn’t and it sux……..

Edited by Spike
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Flying at max weight all the time will increase wear and tear on the machine

I agree and I find it hard to believe any pilot would argue this. It's why in the airlines they do reduced power t/o at every opportunity, allowing them to extend maintenance intervals, right?

 

I stated in the OP that as long as I had plenty of fuel for our mission, I'd prefer to be lighter. 99% of the time I land with 1.5+ hrs of fuel on board and travel less than 15 mins from our pad/fuel. I've been here a few years now and my mission has never been compromised by low fuel, but there has been pressure to carry more fuel. This seems odd to me, given there have been quite a few instances where we couldn't take a passenger or had to do a flight to burn down to weight for a mission, due to other pilots fueling max or near it.

 

For those that need the fuel on your mission, I understand completely.

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I believe consistently operating at MGW produces some additional wear-and-tear but it’s mostly due to how the machine is operated by the pilot(s) and how it’s maintained by the mechanics that makes the difference…. What really causes problems is; when a helicopter initial designed is modified over time with an increase in MGW and engine power. The Astar products come to mind. That is, some of the past-and-present Astar issues can be directly attributed to the constant increase in engine power with additional variations to allow for higher MGW’s (to meet customer demands and/or to compete with other models). Basically, making engines more powerful will produce additional wear-and-tear on non-modified existing components……

Edited by Spike
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I don't load up with buckets of rocks so I can fly heavy for no reason. My reason for flying at max gross is fuel, pax, and cargo. The more you carry, the more money per hour the helicopter makes. Flying back and forth to get fuel is wasted flight time and eats into profit.

 

If the job is a 15 min flight, back to a fuel stop and you can hot refuel every time, then topping off to max gross wouldn't make as much sense. If you have to shut down and fuel every time, it takes more time, puts more cycles on the engine, and still wastes time. Sitting on the ground fueling up isn't flying and making money (or doing work). Just my humble opinion.

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