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How many autos to proficiency?


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To all:

 

A fact that disturbed me is, that there are (apparently) a lot of "schools" out there who teach their students only of autos in the single digit range. Today one guy showed up at my school to take his rotorcraft PPl written exam... with 50 flight hours he had done 7(!) autorotations. Probably he wants to take his time and likes to get his written out of the way, but that was not the first occasion I heard such stories.

 

I mean these poor fellas probably gonna die if they are not trained to be proficient! I mean, a private pilot (and probably most commercial pilots too) will eventually bend some metal, but at least they survive!

 

I probably did more than 30 autos before I even soloed, and much more till private... what about you guys?!

 

Fly safe! Cheers, Phil.

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The fact is, the base price is what it takes you to pass the check ride. And in a flight school, your trained to pass the check ride. Its then up to you to seek out and ...pay....for more training provided you arent working for someone.

 

Im not an instructor, but I imagine you cant just burn your students bank account on autos or any other training for that matter if he is demonstrating the manuevers at a PTS level. It all comes down to cost...especially at the student level.

 

I seem to remember doing quite a few though...at least towards the end. Ending every sesson with at least one auto on the way in. The schools will train you to be as proficient as you want, as long as you keep writing the checks.

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(since I haven't talked to the guy in person I had to edit my earlier post: I found out that he has not 30 hours, its more like 50 hours)

 

Yea...

"burning the students account by doing autos" is not what I intend to do - only so much that they know what to do when the f*** engine dies... and you can't tell me, that anybody has only just a slight idea whats happening to him/her after 7 autos.

 

You know, I learned to fly helicopters by learning how to cope with emergencies; flying this thing straight and level, or shoot different kinds of approaches came more coincidently (I think thats how things work out in our business normally) - and yes, with some of my guys I have to practise normal approaches even after 35 hours ;)

 

On my solo stage check my stagecheck instructor said: "I only want to see that you don't kill yourself".

good point and thats what keeps me in business too (if would be a shame to have a record like: 3 students passed, 1 failed, 2 dead :blink: )

 

...any more input appreciated!

 

 

P.S.: my personal opinion: if a student isn't half way proficient in autos, I don't let him go solo, period! ...and thats not a matter of the amount on his check!

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The engines are rather reliable. I doubt that a majority of pilots will ever experience an engine failure. Running out of fuel, maybe, but having the engine die seems pretty rare.

 

I know, I know, practice for emergencies. But here's a query: how many pilots practice a blown tire while driving 60mph? How many pilots practice getting out of a skid? How many pilots practice not occupying the same space as another car? How many people practice for emergencies in their cars?

 

I'm thinking that proficiency might not be the answer, but rather knowing how to react to a problem, or how to think of a proper solution. Maybe seven autos is enough to ingrain a procedure into the brain. It may take 20 or 30 or even 40. Then again it may take only 5. It depends on the pilot and his skills in piloting.

 

I did a couple of autos today. They suck. What I did get out of it though is that now I know the numbers, where to put the rotor needle, know what the airspeed should be, and when to flare. I flare high, so maybe I need a few more under my belt. But after that, I know I want to keep autos to a minimum.

 

Anyway, proficiency depends on the person.

 

I haven't had any first aid classes in over eight years, but I bet I still know CPR.

 

Later.

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That's part of the difference between civilian and military training. It was common to do 10 or more autos in a single flight period in the TH55, most of them 180s. I have no idea how many autos I did in flight school, but it was certainly well up in the hundreds. All of them, every single one, to a full touchdown. If there was a power recovery, it meant you had screwed up very badly. Whenever I thought I was getting pretty good at them, my instructor would say "Let me try one", take the controls, and do the entire pattern, from initial hover to picking it up and moving off the lane after the auto, with his knees, using his left hand only to raise & lower the collective on the entry and final pitch pull, and put the skids on any spot you could name to boot. He would be hovering with his arms crossed, holding the collective with his leg, cyclic between his knees, and ask me if I wanted to try another.

 

We got lots of good training at Ft Wolters, and not all of it was in the syllabus, but there was no thought of cost whatsoever. The only objective was to teach us to survive, and fly, with angry people shooting all sorts of projectiles at us with 18-year-old kids in the back. Most of us weren't much, if any, older ourselves, and flight school was the most fun I ever had.

 

It's simply not possible to do that sort of training when the student is paying out of his pocket. It's very, very expensive to get even the basics, and the basics are all you're going to get, unless you're able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, the instructors have barely learned to fly themselves, in most cases, and are still learning to control the machine. What is needed are instructors with tens of thousands of hours under all conditions, but that ain't gonna happen either, because they want, and deserve, to be paid many times what a brand new CFI with 200 hours gets. So in the end, you get what you pay for, if you're lucky, or probably less.

 

Check the NTSB website, and look at the Robinson, Schweitzer, etc accidents. There are lots of them, as would be expected in aircraft used for primary training. There are lots of engine failures that resulted in crashes. There are also lots of accidents that started out as a practice auto, from which the instructor was unable to recover and parts flew all over the place.

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The engines are rather reliable. I doubt that a majority of pilots will ever experience an engine failure. Running out of fuel, maybe, but having the engine die seems pretty rare.

 

Tell that to one of my R44 partners who had a total engine failure in an Enstrom. Or to one of my transition CFI's who just had a turbine self-destruct while on an EMS mission.

 

I did a couple of autos today. They suck. What I did get out of it though is that now I know the numbers, where to put the rotor needle, know what the airspeed should be, and when to flare. I flare high, so maybe I need a few more under my belt. But after that, I know I want to keep autos to a minimum.

 

It's your neck, but that's an attitude that might get you killed. IMO you need to do enough autos that they become fun to practice because you can do them without having to think about them a whole lot.

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Autos are about the most fun you can legally have in a helicopter. As long as you apply common sense in training, they are in fact about the safest approach you can make! You are ALWAYS out of the H/V curve in an auto!

 

Crashes occur in autos because CFIs have not done the groundwork - they are in too much of a hurry to practice the whole maneuver before students know the basics, and/or they allow autos to progress in conditions unfavourable to a successful outcome (low airspeed and/or RPM, high ROD, combined with high D/A). Finally, CFIs allow students to practice hover terminations which are nothing like the profile you would use in "the real thing" - in general, flaring too high and going for a zero-groundspeed maneuver no matter what.

 

Combine all this together and you create compelling reasons to limit autorotation training - visualize an R22 at 50KT and 90%RRPM at a 5410' MSL airfield in 90-degree weather and tell me if you'd like to be aboard. Not me.

 

So practice lots of autos, but until you can enter without losing RRPM and without yaw, maintain consistant airspeed and RRPM in turns and straight-in, power recover rapidly and smoothly and maintain a consistant heading and ground track, you will not be autorotating within 400' of the ground with me. Luckly it doesn't take much time to throw this type of autorotation practice in on just about every training flight.

 

Fly well!

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I'll throw in my two cents here- I agree that every student is different in proficiency. I went thru probably 30 autos before my private checkride, and it wasnt until the last couple that I really felt in control of it, ahead of the aircraft, and not just hanging on for the ride. Thats what it took for me and I feel I could do it for real at anytime when flying. I would shake the hand of a pilot, who with only 7 autos under his belt feels he is really ready for a real life situation.

 

I hated knowing we were about to practice an auto at first.....Witch, I know the feeling. But dont let that keep you from learning ... you need to really master this maneuver, its just too important to minimize.

 

Ok, two paragraphs, maybe that was a nickels worth!

 

Goldy

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To all:

 

A fact that disturbed me is, that there are (apparently) a lot of "schools" out there who teach their students only of autos in the single digit range. Today one guy showed up at my school to take his rotorcraft PPl written exam... with 50 flight hours he had done 7(!) autorotations. Probably he wants to take his time and likes to get his written out of the way, but that was not the first occasion I heard such stories.

 

I mean these poor fellas probably gonna die if they are not trained to be proficient! I mean, a private pilot (and probably most commercial pilots too) will eventually bend some metal, but at least they survive!

 

I probably did more than 30 autos before I even soloed, and much more till private... what about you guys?!

 

Fly safe! Cheers, Phil.

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I'm not sure why but I really struggled with autos at first. At some point, it was like a switch was flipped, it came together. Now, no problem at all. But I will tell you that I'm craving to do a full-down, something I haven't done yet. Everything looks good right into the recovery so I've got a good feeling that I'd do alright. But I'd like to do a full-down with every flight.

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We usually ended up doing between 50-100 with students before their PPL (or whatever it took them to get proficient). We would do at least 10 per lesson while prep'ing for checkrides. We start down these long field roads into the wind, do 10 into the wind, then come back up the other way and do 10 180s. When first learning, we'd go up to 3000-4000 AGL and just practice adjusting speeds and RPM, then turns--the student didn't get near as nervous w/o the earth rushing up at them. Anybody can fly a helicopter with engine power, the true masters can do almost all the same things w/o an engine (like max performance t/o's, right?? hahaha)

 

I had one guy come to me from a school in the NE. He had his private, and was working on his commercial--had NEVER done a 180 auto. YIKES. Not required for the PPL, but all of our examiners made you demostrate them; confined areas too.

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Delorean,

 

I agree with your numbers of 50-100 as a 'general' rule which would cover most people. There's no point in teaching someone if you don't see it through to proficiency.

 

I do want to draw attention to a couple of issues which spring to mind after reading your post. While they don't necessarily apply to your post, I simply want to promote discussion and maybe bring to mind issues that others may not have thought about.

 

1. Robinson SN-38 - Practice Autorotations Cause Many Training Accidents (Last Paragraph)

 

In part I agree with the essence of this SN. The autorotation is a maneuver that can go wrong. While '3-4' might not be the correct numbers, instructors should be aware of their levels of focus and fatigue, and be disciplined enough to react to them. If that means standing down from a flight, or postponing certain maneuvers during a flight, then do it. At the very least, break up repeated autos. Give you and your student a break by doing something else and then returning to them later in the flight.

 

2. Throttle Chops at high altitude could cause an engine to quit. - Avoid throttle chops at altitudes above 3750DA

 

While not mentioned in the R22 Flight Manual, this is a boldface warning in the 'Normal Procedures' of the Schweizer. The point here is that often I would hear of instructors going up to altitude (say 2000feet), in order to do some of those 'controlled' autos and give the student time to play (which I am all for incedentally). However, I am sure that some instructors often forget that on a hot summer's day, the temperature only needs to be 28 degrees and that 2000AGL has suddenly shot up to a DA of 3750'.

 

By the same token, people must remember that the HV diagram is predicated on DA. It all gets bigger on hot days. A classic stage-check question I'd ask is, "For today's conditions, describe / show me the HV diagram." Many people forget the DA part totally and describe the curve they see printed in the book. - The R22 POH HV curve even has the curve shown for sea level and 7000' DA. The curves are quite different. Fling hints at this in an earlier post. The effect that DA has on an auto can be quite startling. Don't forget this!

 

 

As I said, these aren't really a challenge to your particular post. Just reading yours got me thinking.

 

Interesting article about autorotation training in Defense Daily Network! - Some pertinent issues are brought up!

 

Joker

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The engines are rather reliable. I doubt that a majority of pilots will ever experience an engine failure. Running out of fuel, maybe, but having the engine die seems pretty rare.

 

Don't forget Witch that an engine failure in only ONE thing that may cause you to have to autorotate. There are many other things that can go wrong with the craft that would cause you to enter an auto and the engine will still be working.

 

I know, I know, practice for emergencies. But here's a query: how many pilots practice a blown tire while driving 60mph? How many pilots practice getting out of a skid? How many pilots practice not occupying the same space as another car? How many people practice for emergencies in their cars?

 

The problem here Witch is that a blown tire doesn't mean your gonna die. The fact is this. If something happens and have to auto, you had better know how to do it, and not at a marginal level. The chances of death are high if you screw up, and you only get one shot at it when it happens.

 

 

Anyway, proficiency depends on the person.

 

That is true and I agree. But the key word there is proficient. You must be proficient. And IMO doing the minimum of anything does not make you truely proficient. It just means you know how to do it.

 

 

I haven't had any first aid classes in over eight years, but I bet I still know CPR.

 

If you knew that the likely hood was high that your wife (I don't know if you married, hypathtical) would suffer some kind of deathly injury that can be saved by CPR and you were the ONLY person that could perform the CPR, would you be willing to bet her life that you would remember something from eight years ago? I know I wouldn't. I mean Paramedics that do this as a job, and peform CPR on a regular basis go to classes every year or so to keep their certs up. And they do it all the time. Knowing the procedure, and being able to accomplish the procedure successfully and save a life are two different things.

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Well I think that some of you have it correct. It depends on the student. I do know this though when it comes to doing autos my students have to be able to perform at a near ATP standard becasue if my student were to get hurt becasue I didnt shoe him something or didnt drill drill drill then I am the one who caused that pain.

 

As far as doing a 50 knot 90 percent auto ar 5150 MSL. Sure you bet I would do it. As long as I have the AGL to make all the corrections I need to make a safe fulldown. Dont ever be afraid to learn more autos keep praticing the consstantly and here is why. I have had a tail rotor failue in a robbie at 600 agl and 65 knots. the one spot I had for touchdown was way to close for a straight in. my target area was about 100 feet by 40 feet. I did hit the spot and didnt have any troubles with the touchdown. What did amaze me was the fact that I felt compleatly scaired shtless. I had not done an auto in nearly a month. Never again will I be cought with my pants down like that. Pratice untill it is an automatic response without thinking one bit. Your training is what will save your life not how quick you learned it ,but how well you learned it.

 

Fly safe, God speed.

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