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R44 incident on Mt Baldy


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'>https://youtu.be/eua4pi0ZuSE

 

What led to the hard landing is under investigation. There were indications it was a planned landing that went awry.

 

It appeared to one passenger that the pilot did not recognize a problem until moments before touchdown.

 

"We were just going fast down and I heard him say 'oh, (expletive),'" said one passenger, who asked not to be identified.

 

The helicopter has previously been used for aerial tours offered by Hangar 21 at Fullerton Airport. The incident did not occur during a company tour, according to Rob Sims, who said the helicopter had been rented by the pilot for a charter flight.

Edited by iChris
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I just talked to the pilot and he told me he didn't mind if I shared with you all what happened so that others could learn from it. He's already told the FAA and NTSB it was clear cut pilot error and he has a gopro video of it he's going to put out when the investigation is over. Anyway he didn't say if he was trying to land or not but that he didn't realize he was at full throttle and he got low rotor RPM and he hadn't left himself an out or room to recover the RPM so he did the best he could to control the descent into terrain. A little ADM would have gone a long way here but let's not sit back and call him a "retard". 10,000 hour pilots crash too and a lapse in judgment could bite anyone especially if we think we're above making a mistake. Thankfully in his case no one was badly injured (he had the only fracture). He'll pay a high price for this in a few ways. Let's try to remember he's one of us and has a passion for rotary aviation.

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“There’s a great deal of difference between operating an aircraft on the front side of the power curve than operating an aircraft on the backside of the power curve.”

 

“On the backside of the power curve the aircraft is unstable with power and airspeed.”

 

Frank Robinson, Robinson Helicopter Company

 

The same old accident scenario, power required for the existing flight condition exceeds power available. The helicopter was actually telling them what was about to happen. Had they been aware of what their airspeed, torque, or manifold pressure readings were telling them. Steadily decreasing airspeed and a steadily increasing torque, or manifold pressure readings.

 

This is the unstable condition that exists on the backside of the power curve. It demands your immediate attention. The lack of attention on your part leads to accident reports that normally read as follows:

 

THE PILOT'S INFLIGHT DECISION TO TURN THE AIRCRAFT, WHICH WAS AT OR NEAR MAXIMUM GROSS WEIGHT, IN SUCH A DIRECTION THAT REQUIRED MORE POWER THAN WAS AVAILABLE FOR THE GIVEN FLIGHT CONDITION.

 

A FACTOR IN THIS ACCIDENT WAS THE PILOT'S INABILITY TO TAKE REMEDIAL ACTION DUE TO THE LOW ALTITUDE OF THE AIRCRAFT.

 

THE PILOT FAILED TO MAINTAIN AIRSPEED RESULTING IN A DESCENT THAT REQUIRED MORE POWER THAN WAS AVAILABLE FOR THE GIVEN FLIGHT CONDITION TO ARREST THE DESCENT.

 

THE PILOT’S DECISION TO OPERATE THE HELICOPTER AT A HIGH-DENSITY ALTITUDE NEAR TERRAIN, WHICH RESULTED IN A SETTLING WITH POWER CONDITION.

 

By all means, let your passengers do all the photography work, your main job is to fly the aircraft. Don’t let them talk you into unnecessary hovering and low-speed maneuvers, tight turns, etc. Trying to get shots lower and lower. In this kind of worked the customer is not always right.

 

'>https://youtu.be/y4sxEOdPYDQ

 

'>https://youtu.be/yz_vEsRHeWs

Edited by iChris
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HA! That video has been posted several times over the years, usually during one of those good old, "SWP is not VRS,...yes it is!" debates.

 

This type of accident keeps up they're bound to ad, "Proper Photo Flight Technique" to SFAR 73!

Edited by r22butters
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He's already told the FAA and NTSB it was clear cut pilot error and he has a gopro video of it

 

He'll pay a high price for this in a few ways.

 

Tell your friend don’t be so quick to admit clear cut pilot error until all the cards are on the table. Let the investigation run its course.

 

In the following accident, the pilot in command thought he was at fault; wrong, it was found there was another culprit involved. This culprit’s timing was uncanny, initial thoughts were pilot error, clear and simple. The real perpetrator was uncovered after a thorough investigation:

 

Before engine disassembly began, it was found that a pipe running between the compressor diffuser scroll and PT governor was slightly loose. This was traced to a loose nut (of a type known as a 'B' nut), at the union of the pipe with the diffuser scroll. The purpose of the pipe is to supply a reference compressor pressure, Pc, to the fuel control components. In the event that the pipe becomes disconnected or loose, there will be a complete or partial loss of engine power; the gas generator will run down to sub-idle and even flame out.

 

The nut could be turned under firm finger pressure, although the engine manufacturer specifies an assembly torque of 80 to 120 lb-in for this and similar unions on the engine. It was established that the union was leaking by disconnecting the Pc pipe at the PT governor and blowing air into it; bubbles appeared after soap solution was applied to the union.

 

Most of the 'B' nuts on the engine had no 'torque paint' applied to provide an indication of loss of torque during inspections, although a white, crumbling residue was visible on a few. Such residue was found on the loose union, and the two halves of the mark were misaligned by approximately 1/16 inch, only a small rotational movement. It was later noted that the application of 80 lb-in of torque caused realignment of the marks and also eliminated the leak.

 

The Pc pipe is normally disconnected at the compressor scroll whenever a compressor wash is carried out. The aircraft records indicated that this was last accomplished, approximately 30 operating hours before the accident.

Edited by iChris
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I posted some photos of me in that bird just a few months ago......

 

This comment is most likely an issue as well...."The incident did not occur during a company tour, according to Rob Sims, who said the helicopter had been rented by the pilot for a charter flight."

Edited by Goldy
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I posted some photos of me in that bird just a few months ago......

 

This comment is most likely an issue as well...."The incident did not occur during a company tour, according to Rob Sims, who said the helicopter had been rented by the pilot for a charter flight."

That sounds like a CYA statement right there. I couldn't find that tail number on any 135 certificate (FAA's Jan 4, 2017 list). Can't be runnng around doing official company charters without the certificate, but if the pilot "rents" the helicopter on their own...

 

Yeah, it could have been a 91 photo flight, but my memory is a little fuzzy on those rules. It's been a while since I did 91 ops.

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I posted some photos of me in that bird just a few months ago......

 

This comment is most likely an issue as well...."The incident did not occur during a company tour, according to Rob Sims, who said the helicopter had been rented by the pilot for a charter flight."

As an experienced renter, I can tell you they don't let renters do stuff like that!

 

Forgive me for asking, as my commercial regs are a bit rusty, but isn't a commercial pilot renting a helicopter for something like a photo flight where he will most likely be paid, one of those things we're not allowed to do? It represents a holding out or something? The old, someone says to you, I want to charter an aircraft for... Then you respond, sure I can get one for you and fly it as well!?

Edited by r22butters
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As an experienced renter, I can tell you they don't let renters do stuff like that!

 

Forgive me for asking, as my commercial regs are a bit rusty, but isn't a commercial pilot renting a helicopter for something like a photo flight where he will most likely be paid, one of those things we're not allowed to do?

 

It represents a holding out or something? The old, someone says to you, I want to charter an aircraft for... Then you respond, sure I can get one for you and fly it as well!?

 

"The incident did not occur during a company tour, according to Rob Sims, who said the helicopter had been rented by the pilot for a charter flight."

 

One of the passengers stated in part, “we all had video cameras and cameras, and we just wanted to get some good footage.” So, it appears that it was solely an aerial photography flight; therefore, it could be conducted under the exceptions in §119.1[e][4][iii]. Moreover, a commercial pilot could conduct the flight for compensation per §61.133[a] under Part 91.

 

§119.l[e][4][iii], which allow for aerial work operations, such as aerial photography, to be conducted under Part 91 instead of under a Part 135 operating certificate when common carriage is not involved. The operation would involve photographers who intend to board and disembark at the same aircraft base or specifically includes flights which may include stops limited to human and aircraft need.

 

There are four elements in defining a common carrier; (1) a holding out of a willingness to (2) transport persons or property (3) from place to place (4) for compensation. This "holding out" which makes a person a common carrier can be done in many ways and it does not matter how it is done.

 

An aerial photography operation does not purport to transport passengers from one airport to another and therefore does not satisfy the "holding out" element of common carriage. Legal Interpretation, Mona Bentz

 

The above is only in regard to the FAA and its regulations; however, the insurance coverage and limitations are another matter, that depends on the rental agreement between the parties. Who’s responsible for compensating for the damaged aircraft and the pain and suffering of the passengers? The parties involved will have to work that out.

 

This is a good heads-up for those who rent. you should all be aware of the responsibilities you've taken on.

Edited by iChris
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This a grey area Imho, just because a passenger has a camera (just about everyone does) and wants to take a good picture over something they see while they are flying, it doesn't make it a aerial photography flight.

 

There are nonstop sightseeing flights (within 25 miles) and there are aerial photography flights.

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This a grey area Imho, just because a passenger has a camera (just about everyone does) and wants to take a good picture over something they see while they are flying, it doesn't make it a aerial photography flight.

 

There are nonstop sightseeing flights (within 25 miles) and there are aerial photography flights.

 

It's grey because the details are unknown..

 

In any case, you’ll have to determine the primary intent (sightseeing or aerial photography) for the flight prior to departure. That exact information we do not have. However, note, the FAA in its preliminary accident report has list the flight as a Part 91 operation, at this point.

 

It comes down to knowing the primary purpose for the flight prior to departure, agreed upon by the parties involved.

 

The FAA defines a commercial air tour as "a flight conducted for compensation or hire, where the purpose of the flight is sightseeing” (§110.2). The definition includes eight factors that the FAA “may consider” in determining whether a flight is a commercial air tour. Any other factors that the FAA considers appropriate, may be interpreted to find your operation a commercial air tour even if it does not meet the other factors in the definition. The FAA’s determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.

 

The general rule is if a flight involves the carriage of persons or property for compensation or hire, and does not meet an exception listed in § 119.1(e), then the operator is required by part 119 to hold an air carrier or commercial operator certificate and conduct such flights in accordance with the appropriate operating rules.

 

§110.2 - Commercial air tour - means a flight conducted for compensation or hire in an airplane or helicopter where a purpose of the flight is sightseeing. The FAA may consider the following factors in determining whether a flight is a commercial air tour:

 

(1) Whether there was a holding out to the public of willingness to conduct a sightseeing flight for compensation or hire;

 

(2) Whether the person offering the flight provided a narrative that referred to areas or points of interest on the surface below the route of the flight;

 

(3) The area of operation;

 

(4) How often the person offering the flight conducts such flights;

 

(5) The route of flight;

 

(6) The inclusion of sightseeing flights as part of any travel arrangement package;

 

(7) Whether the flight in question would have been canceled based on poor visibility of the surface below the route of the flight; and

 

(8) Any other factors that the FAA considers appropriate.

Edited by iChris
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