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chris pochari

Don't strap people in a helicopter

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Not an article. Just a letter to the editor. Do we know that's what happened with the fuel control? Those weren't Apical floats.

 

I have to correct myself. When I flew offshore, " Apical floats" were the ones with the rafts. Dart acquired them in 2007 so there are no more "Apical" floats, they are just floats and the raft is optional.

 

I don't know what happened but IMO, flying passengers over water that are restrained in such a way that it would be very difficult to free themselves in an emergency, is criminally negligent.

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FFCL placement previously identified as a design hazard...

 

https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-recs/recletters/A-10-131.pdf

 

"As a result of its findings from this investigation, other similar accidents, and reported incidents, the NTSB is concerned that inadvertent movement of the FFCL on certain Eurocopter AS350-series helicopters and other helicopters with similarly designed FFCLs and detent tracks could lead to an engine overspeed event or loss of engine power, which could cause a serious or catastrophic accident if the FFCL movement occurs during a critical point in flight or on the ground."

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If the reports are accurate, especially with the AS350, maybe simply restrict what passengers are allowed to bring into the cockpit environment would prevent such incidents…. If so, discussing the related issues with HUET, harnesses and floats essentially become moot ….

 

The initial “links of the chain” of an accident are usually apparent and thus should be easily mitigated. Failing to recognize this, for whatever reason, can contribute to further “links” contributing to an unfortunate end result.

 

With more than a few hours in an AS350, if you fly one, guard the center floor controls like your life depends on it -because it does. If flying tours, in cruise, cover the center controls with your left hand and arm at all times. Simply hook a finger into the left seat bucket edge and rest your arm across the center control area. This will afford you a level of protection and, be instantly readily available to lower the collective in case of engine failure. In short, every machine has one or more “Achilles Heel”. Understanding what they are may save your life and the passengers lives you’re responsible for…..

Edited by Spike
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500 hours in B2's flying in the ditch last year. Many times one of the front passengers would be taking a picture with a camera or cell phone then drop it. Countless times the phone/camera ended up directly under my FFCL or fuel shut off after they attempt to catch it. The majority of the time the passenger instinctively goes to grab for it immediately. If you happen to be talking about something outside of the aircraft or momentarily distracted something else they can beat you down there before you're able to smack their hand away or grab it for them. Honestly couldn't believe someone at one point thought that design would be a good choice. Specifically for loss of tail rotor at a hover as well as the possibility for accidental shut off. I feel like the majority of FFCL or shut off valve incidents would be prevented by a left drive helicopter in the tour sector.

 

Just my $0.02

 

 

Oh, also maybe don't restrain people into a helicopter with zero ways of quick disconnecting in an emergency. But I think we beat that horse.

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Anyway, it's not up for debate anymore.

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily banned open-door helicopter tours Friday because of concerns that extra restraints could hinder emergency evacuation, after the deaths of five people in a New York City crash Sunday.

The FAA said operators, pilots and consumers should be aware of the hazard created with extra restraints that hold passengers inside helicopters, but could hinder an emergency evacuation. Leaving doors open is popular for photography. “The FAA will order operators and pilots to take immediate actions to control or mitigate this risk,” the agency said in a statement. “Until then, the FAA will order no more “doors off” operations that involve restraints that cannot be released quickly in an emergency.”

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Anyway, it's not up for debate anymore.

WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration temporarily banned open-door helicopter tours Friday because of concerns that extra restraints could hinder emergency evacuation, after the deaths of five people in

 

Hold the phone... The FAA has not issued any official banned on open-door helicopter tours. The FAA has a rulemaking process. To date, no regulatory actions has been taken, in writing. All we have is an NTSB recommendation. It may happen, and there may be some upcoming emergency action, but it hasn’t happened yet.

 

We have not seen the official order.

Edited by iChris
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No operator in their right mind will ever tether pax to a helicopter again with a harness that is not quick-release, FAA rule or not.

 

Not to make light of this accident, but I envision a WKRP moment at Liberty Helicopters. I'm sure that whoever is in charge must've walked in the door like a modern-day Mr. Carlson and said, "As God is my witness, I never figured on this happening." And honestly, they probably did not. In retrospect, *we* can see how fraught with danger these harnesses are...now. But the incredible series of events...the holes in the Swiss cheese lining up like that...boy, who could've (or should have) seen that coming?

 

Well, the courts will decide that.

 

But like I said, even without a new FAR on the subject, I can almost guarantee you that it will never happen again.

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Hold the phone... The FAA has not issued any official banned on open-door helicopter tours. The FAA has a rulemaking process. To date, no regulatory actions has been taken, in writing. All we have is an NTSB recommendation. It may happen, and there may be some upcoming emergency action, but it hasn’t happened yet.

 

We have not seen the official order.

I thought it was a photo flight not a "tour"?

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I thought it was a photo flight not a "tour"?

 

Urgent Recommendation

 

To the Federal Aviation Administration:

Prohibit all open-door commercial passenger-carrying aircraft flights that use passenger harness systems, unless the harness system allows passengers to rapidly release the harness with minimal difficulty and without having to cut or forcefully remove the harness. (A-18-12)

 

BY THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD

ROBERT L. SUMWALT, III

Chairman

Adopted: March 19, 2018

 

Harness system was not installed by the helicopter manufacturer; it was comprised of off-the-shelf components (a nylon fall-protection harness tethered via a lanyard to the helicopter) that were provided to the passengers by FlyNYON, the company that sold the experience to the passengers. Under normal circumstances, at the conclusion of each flight, FlyNYON personnel would unscrew a locking carabiner located on the back of the passengers’ harnesses so that the passengers could egress.

FlyNYON - The Ultimate Helicopter Photo Experience

 

NTSB Urgent Safety Recommendation (Full Text)

Edited by iChris
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It may happen, and there may be some upcoming emergency action, but it hasn’t happened yet.

 

We have not seen the official order.

 

The official emergency order...

 

``Doors-off'' and ``Open-door'' Flight Prohibition: Emergency Restriction/Prohibition Order

 

or

 

PDF

Edited by iChris
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So, just how many operators are actually affected by this? I mean, was it that common to lets passengers dangle out the open door strapped in by a harness that could only be cut off in the event of an emergency?!

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So, just how many operators are actually affected by this? I mean, was it that common to lets passengers dangle out the open door strapped in by a harness that could only be cut off in the event of an emergency?!

 

From the FAA’s viewpoint it’s not so much how many people have been affected, it’s how many could be affected and lose their lives in the future. That seems to be the basis for their decision evidenced from the background and basis of the order section in the original text. Also read the “Scope and Effect of This Order” section. Order Link..

 

Background/Basis for Order

 

While the fatalities on March 11, 2018, involved an aircraft impacting the water, passengers could face a similar hazard in other emergency situations, such as an aircraft fire on the ground.

 

Under 49 U.S.C. 46105( c ) the Acting Administrator has determined that an emergency exists related to safety in air commerce. This determination is based on the threat to passenger safety presented by the use of supplemental passenger restraint systems not approved by the FAA, which may prevent a passenger from exiting the aircraft quickly in an emergency. Accordingly, this Order is effective immediately.

 

This order is issued to all operators and pilots of flights for compensation or hire with the doors open or removed (hereinafter, “doors off flights” or “doors off flight operations”) in the United States or using aircraft registered in the United States for doors off flights.

 

This Order also prohibits passenger-carrying doors off flight operations unless the passengers are at all times properly secured using FAA-approved restraints.

Edited by iChris

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I could see this being a problem for utility. Power line inspections and aerial ignition both involve people hanging out of doors in harnesses. Or am I missing the wording that targets those photo/tour flights? I've never done net gunning but that would probably be hit too. Anyone else see some unintended consequences that I'm missing? I know it says quick release or mitigation but they did have strap cuttersnfrom what I read so that must not qualify as mitigation.

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I could see this being a problem for utility. Power line inspections and aerial ignition both involve people hanging out of doors in harnesses.

 

Anyone else see some unintended consequences that I'm missing?

 

I know it says quick release or mitigation but they did have strap cuttersnfrom what I read so that must not qualify as mitigation.

 

A supplemental passenger restraint system must not require the use of a knife to cut the restraint, the use of any other additional tool, or the assistance of any other person. A supplemental passenger restraint also must not require passenger training beyond what would be provided in a pre-flight briefing.https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2018-06096/p-11

 

There still may be a question regarding persons normally not considered passengers. Notwithstanding that, all restraint systems should meet the requirements of this order.

 

(1) flight crewmembers

(2) crewmembers

(3) person performing an essential function in connection with flight operation; or

(4) Is necessary to accomplish the work activity directly associated with that operation.

Edited by iChris

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