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How many hours do I need to think that leaving a running helicopter unattended is a good idea?


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For Papillon I guess its 1,000?






Someone posted this on another thread and I figured this forum has been pretty slow lately (unless you're in the military that is) so even though its 3 years old and probably already talked about, there doesn't seem like much else, so here goes?


Seems to me if I was so worried about the "fluid levels" as to feel the need to check them again when I got to the Canyon, I would not have used that helicopter in the first place?

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From the NTSB report. It's kind of confusing.


By 15:57:07, the collective was once again shown in a lowered position consistent with the rotorcraft performing a landing. The value for Twist Grip Mode transitioned from a value of "Flight" to "Idle" shortly thereafter. During this time, recorded collective position began to increase slightly. In the same region of the plot, Twist Grip Mode transitioned from "Idle" to "Acceleration" and then to "Flight" by 15:57:23. Recorded values for Collective Position began to rise more abruptly. Around 15:58:01, recorded values for Rotor RPM decline sharply. At this time, recorded collective position was changing rapidly. Around 15:58:06, values for Rotor RPM declined abruptly for a second time. Values for Rotor RPM then dropped to zero for the remainder of the recording.


From the Papillon SOP book:


Aircraft Idling: The twist-grip, or fuel control lever, will remain in the "Flight" position at all times. Idling the aircraft during hot loading, hot fueling or waiting on the ramp is not permitted.


Edited by helonorth
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"Check fluid levels" means he went to take a piss.

I always carry a water bottle. Worse comes to worse, I can just open the door, poor out the water, then refill it while sitting there.


I know there are guys out there who would say they have no choice but to get out while its running. They'll say its because they have to fuel it themslves and they're not allowed to shut down, or they're in a place where if they shut down they may not be able to start up again, but this was a tour pilot in the Grand Canyon!?


I realize that in the commercial world you must at times trade safety for profit, but like hot fueling an R44, you're never going to convince me that its a good idea!


Now I don't know about these fancy turbines they get to fly in the Canyon, but my Robbie flight manual says, "minimum crew is one pilot". I used to think, why did they put that in there? Isn't that kind of a , "no duh", type of thing?

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Always, ALWAYS latch the Astar collective when you land and bottom it. The trim point for the collective is about half travel and it can easily move towards this point if not monitored. If you're getting out hot, do a good stability check, ensure that the collective is latched down, and friction the cyclic as tight as you can safely do.

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Astro, if you did not know that repo-ing to do a "fluid level check" is pilot-code for going to take a piss, then you haven't been around aviation very long. So it's not a question of how many hours you need before you think getting out while running is a good idea, it's that you need more exposure to the things that helicopters do out in the real world.


So let's school you!


Properly done, there is NOTHING wrong with getting out while the helicopter is running and its blades are turning. Notice: "Properly done."


What this means is that you land the thing on a firm, level surface. You reduce the collective to minimum and, if applicable, apply the collective friction or lock. You roll the throttle or move the fuel control lever to the IDLE position. You also make sure the cyclic won't move, either by applying friction or the lock (BO-105, EC-145, etc.). Some ships (H-500, EN-28) have force-trim systems that make cyclic friction unnecessary or at least redundant. If you're worried that an errant gust of wind will cause a wild rotor divergence, then learn how rotors work when the cyclic stays still. If you're worried about wind velocity moving the helicopter around, then don't get out.


If you do all of these things, then NOTHING bad will happen while you're out taking a leak or keeping your passengers from walking into the tail rotor. The helicopter will not spontaneously catch fire, or explode, or even take off by itself. The engine will not choose those few minutes to chip and tear itself up.


Having said that! I have flown ships...206L's with the C-30 mostly, in which the throttle friction was so loose that if you came off IDLE even slightly, it would roll itself up...maybe not to full, but enough to get some serious RPM. You had to really roll it smartly to IDLE, even when hot-loading pax on an oil platform...which we did as a routine.


I've flown helicopters that had poor or inoperative cyclic frictions. In these ships I did not get out while the blades were turning. For the 13 years I was at PHI, we did not get out while it was running due to a policy prohibiting such activity in our Ops Manual.


So can the procedure be dangerous? Of course. Is it inherently unsafe? Nope.


Consider the reality that we sometimes do "hot" loading and unloading in the field. The last 206 I flew was a hybrid corporate/personal-use ship. We landed at many off-airport sites. My boss *never* would have put up with me saying, "Hang on...wait until I stop the blades before anyone gets out." Or if I'd landed to pick him up at the corporate HQ and motioned for him to wait for me to shut down before he came out to the ship. I'd be looking for another job!


And so when you have "civilians" walking around a running helicopter, then SOMEONE needs to be outside making sure they don't do anything stupid. And that someone is me. Or you.


There was the case of the pilot of the 407 on low skids. He landed at an airport to get fuel. Instead of frictioning his cyclic he merely turned the hydraulics off, which was just plain dumb. Naturally...NATURALLY the cyclic fell forward as it will do because of the weird way the 206/407 cyclic is hooked up. As the pilot walked back to the ship with his baseball cap on and his head down, one of the MR blades whacked him. Horrible. Read about it here:




We'll never know exactly why the Papillon pilot in the Grand Canyon decided to roll his throttle back *UP* to flight idle before getting out to take leak. We'll never know why he didn't ensure that the collective was locked down. Stupid, stupid moves, both of them, that resulted in his death.


Now Astro, you do what you want...what you think is safe for YOU. Just recognize that your opinions about wha's safe or unsafe for the rest of us are not universally held. I'll say it again: Getting out while running is not inherently unsafe. You just have to be smart about this sh*t.

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No minimum experience requirements at our company.


Here's the company procedures I wrote for our Company Operations Manual which was approved by the Minister of Transport (in Canada) as being compliant with the regs. Not sure about the FAA rules.

(1) No person shall start an engine or leave an engine of an aircraft running unless a pilot's seat is occupied by a person who is competent to control the aircraft, unless:
a) No persons are on board the aircraft

b)the aircraft is parked on a solid level surface
c) the throttle/engine has been rolled back to idle
d) Collective and cyclic frictions are tightened to prevent the controls from moving and collective lock is engaged (if applicable)
e) pilots shall remain within close enough proximity to take the controls in the event the aircraft began to move. NEVER leave the aircraft unattended.
f) Pilots should remain in the seat and at the controls in excessive winds or gusting conditions or if other aircraft are landing in the immediate vicinity.
g) No aircraft loading/unloading shall occur while the seat is unoccupied


Glad to see you appreciated the link.

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Guest pokey


Here's the company procedures I wrote for our Company Operations Manual which was approved by the Minister of Transport (in Canada) as being compliant with the regs. Not sure about the FAA rules.


(1) No person shall start an engine or leave an engine of an aircraft running unless a pilot's seat is occupied by a person who is competent to control the aircraft,



that is the part i agree with too.


i know it negates the used car salesman's philosophy tho: "there is an ass for every seat"

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