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Do a good preflight, guys & gals


Pogue
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I don't fly R44's, so this is speculation, but I am told this linkage is not easy to see on pre-flight. I agree that pre-flight inspections should be more meticulous after mx performed, but I sure hope that isn't seen as a contributing factor in this accident. I do hope the maintence personel are looked at hard and possibly be brought up on charges. No matter the outcome, the two people will not be brought back, but this is very hard to swallow. This is another example of pilots paying the ultimate price for someone else's screw up.

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this appears to be several factors, first off the mechanics; are not paying attention to detail/having someone check your work/are not properly trained to do the maintenance.

 

next the assembly configuration needs to be looked at, either the bolt and nut need to be drilled and safety wired, or changed to a castle nut and cotter pinned.

 

another thought just came to mind. the nut is supposed to be self locking, did the mechanics use a NEW nut during the assembly? these are to be used ONCE and ONCE ONLY.

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wow. im never gonna forget this thread once I start training.....

 

"Several witnesses observed the helicopter approximately 200-500 feet above ground level (agl) in cruise flight along the coastline on a south heading. One witness, a former pilot and mechanic, reported he observed the helicopter in straight and level flight, then heard a change in "rotor noise, followed by a bang/pop/twang sound." The helicopter then "snap-rolled" to the left and descended into the terrain in a nose low attitude. The helicopter impacted the sand terrain, bounced, and came to rest near the low tide water line. A post-impact fire ensued and extinguished itself a short time thereafter."

 

.....not my cup of tea

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another thought just came to mind. the nut is supposed to be self locking, did the mechanics use a NEW nut during the assembly? these are to be used ONCE and ONCE ONLY.
Assuming the same configuration as an R22, it would be a locknut with a pal nut on top of it and the sealer gunk so you could tell it loosened. You can check them by feel on the R22, but I'm not sure about the R44. I'll check that next week...
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For the pilots

 

 

Before I started flight trianing full time I was a R-22,44 mechanic for about year and half. I think a well done preflight should of cought the hardware being loose. It say's they performed a .5 hour maintence flight but still as a pilot you can not trust the results. When a aircraft comes out of maintence you should find out what work was performed so you can pay special attention to those area's. Mechanic's are human and not machines so mistakes can happen but you hope it doesn't clam a life. While doing maintence at the repair station I seen many owner/operators show up and just glance at their ship fire it up and take off. I believe I did good work but not that good for a pilot not to do a preflight.

 

 

 

Happy flying to everybody.

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Most of us here are renters or students and have no idea when or what maintenance is done. And if you told me that maintenance was done on the swashplate you bet your sweet arse that I'd take a closer look at all the nuts, but let's be serious folks, I can look over the nuts, bolts, bellcranks, etc. but unless that nut is almost off or something else is really glaring at me the chances are not good of me catching it.

 

I've seen pilots (including high hour CFIs) just quickly glance at an aircraft before jumping in. This includes the CFI I rode with at the Robinson safety course last year. I do take a close look when I'm doing a preflight but unless it's a major screw-up I doubt I'm going to see it.

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Assuming the same configuration as an R22, it would be a locknut with a pal nut on top of it and the sealer gunk so you could tell it loosened. You can check them by feel on the R22, but I'm not sure about the R44. I'll check that next week...

 

"the sealer gunk" you refer to should be what we call anti-sabotage compound, it's either bright orange or green. if it's broken the a/c should be grounded until the mechanics can look at it.

 

Most of us here are renters or students and have no idea when or what maintenance is done. And if you told me that maintenance was done on the swashplate you bet your sweet arse that I'd take a closer look at all the nuts, but let's be serious folks, I can look over the nuts, bolts, bellcranks, etc. but unless that nut is almost off or something else is really glaring at me the chances are not good of me catching it.

 

I've seen pilots (including high hour CFIs) just quickly glance at an aircraft before jumping in. This includes the CFI I rode with at the Robinson safety course last year. I do take a close look when I'm doing a preflight but unless it's a major screw-up I doubt I'm going to see it.

 

As with any good CFI he/she would have gone thru the a/c logbook BEFORE doing the preflight and have received a handoff report from the mechanic doing the maintenance. Here's where I'm going to say, GET TO KNOW YOUR MECHANIC, HE/SHE CAN AND WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.

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I've seen pilots (including high hour CFIs) just quickly glance at an aircraft before jumping in. This includes the CFI I rode with at the Robinson safety course last year. I do take a close look when I'm doing a preflight but unless it's a major screw-up I doubt I'm going to see it.

I never thought to check all of the pal nuts until I read the accident report about the R-22 that had a similar problem with the push pull tubes to the swash plate. Since then I check them all by sight and or feel before every flight. I know what you mean about not necessarily knowing when something is wrong, but if you do a systematic hands on check every time you will catch something that's different. I've asked the the maintenance guys at Quantum about stuff several times, and usually they check it out and tell me it OK and at what point it's a problem. Once in a while you see a problem and they say no, that's got to be fixed. Either way, every time I touch a bird I want to learn more about it.

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Maybe this isn't the best time to say that, as it would seem, that a mechanics actions cost two pilots their lives.

 

 

Three rules in aviation.

 

When ATC messes up a pilot pays

 

When MX messes up a pilot pays

 

When a pilot messes up a pilot pays

 

We hopefully try to minimize how much we pay by paying attention on the pre-flight and clarifying what we hear from ATC.

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Maybe this isn't the best time to say that, as it would seem, that a mechanics actions cost two pilots their lives.

 

I'd say YES it is dispite the fact that this particular event caused the death of 2 people, if your a student at a school and want to know what all is involved in keeping your machine airborne then ask around.

 

I for one along with many other mechanics will gladly talk to pilots and students who want to know how it all works. to most it's a mystery DON'T fall into the abiss of complacencey, talk to everyone.

 

fly safe

Edited by 67november
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I agree with the overlying statement: after any MX find out what was done and inspect it. Something I have picked up along my ways: "inspect what you expect". Spend a long hard time and look at the helicopter after MX. There is also no stupid question to ask your Mech. I too often see pilots just jump in and go with out a good preflight. It's one thing if you just flew 10 minutes ago and are going back out in the same helicopter than changing helicopters or being shut down for an extended period of time. It's a sad story to hear of these two pilots. I only hope we the pilots and mechs. will learn from this and do our best to keep it from repeating again.

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Maybe this isn't the best time to say that, as it would seem, that a mechanics actions cost two pilots their lives.

 

I have two opinions of this accident, and I will explain both, either way this is a very sad event, especially when you know, or knew of the instructor that died.. It is hard to say that "" as it would seem, that a mechanics actions cost two pilots their lives.""" as quoted by C of G. Thats like saying the gas man said he put gas in your helicopter, and he really didn't. then you take off and crash and die..... The mechanic basically said, he serviced the heli, flew it, and then said its ready to go back into service.... one would sure think it was ready, since he flew it for a half hour... what im saying is the mechanic said it was done, flew it, and the cfi and student must have not looked and just assumed it was done.... so its kindof both of their faults, who knows, maybe the mechanic did do it right, and the glue was expired and not working properly and the bolts just backed off. freaky things can and do happen. but to put total blame on the mechanics might not be completly right. when the cfi could have seen this problem, or felt the nuts were finger tight and prevented this just as well.... I am always told to try and spin every nut and bolt, also look at the torque stripe when applicable. Just because the gas man or last pilot said he put gas in the tanks and they are topped off, do you just take his word???? or do you look yourself????

 

on the other hand, things like this are hard to see, hard to feel, not that obvious to alot of us pilots... so i feel the same way as gerhart, if those nuts were lose and I was told there was someithing wrong with the helicopter and it cannot be flown. say i was told this by the mechanic, and he sent me on a hunt to find what is wrong. I don't know that I would even find it myself... It probably wasn't all that obvious if the mechanic flew it and the student and instructor got 15 minutes away from the airport...... I will also say that a good preflight is always a good idea, even if the mechanic just did a total preflight and flew it for a half hour, things happen and some you will catch and some you may not..... becoming a private pilot, does not mean that you know all of the ins and outs of that helicopter, or you would also be an a and p for that type and model.... things are hard to catch and see sometimes.....

 

I'm pretty sure this was a women cfi that used to train at Hai in concord..... I have seen here before and was told by many, she was a wonderful person and flight instructor....... it is weird to think back to somebody you once knew of and seen and then hear about them passing..... Just like John lancaster, I didn't know him personally, but i have read many of his posts and talked to him pm. knew of his name and all of the great things people said about him... Then the next thing you hear, they are gone, some helicopter accident for many different reasons..... and everyone can say they would have acted different than john, they would of aborted the flight, or they would have caught this mechanical error, but in all honesty you don't know, you cant say for sure what you would have done in this case, you were not there, you did not have the same experiences they did, you don't know what was going on when the accident happened and you don't know what your brain would have done in that situation...... Its kindof like saying, you would have prevented your own heart attack or acted differently. but we just don't know, but in either case, its sad to hear about someone you knew of dying, I wish their families the best.....

 

someone enlighten me, if this was the girl instructor who trained at both Hai's.....

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Most of us here are renters or students and have no idea when or what maintenance is done.

 

Here's an idea. Start getting interested in it! Ask the engineers and mechanics! Look at the mx logs!

 

but unless that nut is almost off or something else is really glaring at me the chances are not good of me catching it.

 

The more you look, the more anomolies you will notice. You will get a sense of when something doesn't look right. Something in your subconcious will alert you before your mind registers what it is. This is why, the more you look, the quicker you become.

 

Maybe that's why to students it seems as if their instructor's preflights are so quick...and to instructors, it is gruelling waiting for a student to finish a pre-flight. (Not that I would ever pressure the student to hurry.)

 

Here's food for thought! - The more complex your aircraft, the less of a pre-flight you do. I haven't done a thorough preflight in the last 1500 hrs of flying. Walk-arounds to my best ability yes, but nothing like the ones I did on the Schweizer and R22! The engineers do the daily thorough inspection. There is really not much I can / am authorised to do at my company, other than kick the tyres, check sight glasses, cowl fasteners etc..etc..

 

Despite this, I ALWAYS do what I can, and there have been times when my simple walkround has found stuff. So it is not futile.

 

We put a great deal of trust in others. We do what we can to minimise the risks, but still our lives are in the hands of others. This thread is a perfect example of that fact. We have to live with it.

 

Joker

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Here's an idea. Start getting interested in it! Ask the engineers and mechanics! Look at the mx logs!

 

 

joker,

 

I think what the others are trying to say, is that we are rookies, and are in the process of building up our skills, so that we can be proficient, and notice when something is really wrong...

 

I have to agree with gerhart in a way, if something is not starring at me, saying I'm wrong, I will probably overlook it or assume that is the way it is suppossed to be.. remember, learning to become a private pilot, does not include the maint. specs and every possible thing that can be wrong... Preflight yes, but the knowledge at the private pilots level is not really in depth and doesn't consentrate on the mechanical aspect of how the helicopter is engineered and what is exceptable or not... like how much play is too much on ball links and swash plates,, you test it by feel in a pre flight, you do not get out the measuring gage, to measure if it is within specs or not.... The maintnance and preflight while learning is slow at first and builds over time. I can tell if the torque stripe isn't lined up and if the wire is missing or unplugged, but diagnosing mechanical problems in the mechanics job and we have to learn to trust them...... Most of the students are really conserned with flying the helicopter instead of diagnosing and finding problems...

 

Now don't get me wrong,, all student pilots should be able to understand and do a good pre flight, since its what you learn first, They should always do what they can to make sure the aircraft is in flying condition. but a private pilot with 20 years experience is going to know alot more than a newer private pilot, in all aspects of flight, mechanics, maintance and normal operating parts and how to diagnose problems... I am just stating that flying helicopters, maintaining them and diagnosing problems comes with time and I couldn't tell you if the blades were really ok for flight or not, unless it was something yelling at me with red tape, saying fix me..... Lose nuts are always going to be hard to find and see if you don't feel them and mark them with torque stripe... The nut can even be tight and not move but still be way too loose for flight. Its like trying to judge how tight your lug nuts are on your car. if they don't budge, they must be tight enough for my car to drive....

 

The maintnance problems, norms and mechanics will just come with time and talking with many differnt mechanics...

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Maybe this is a good motto:

 

"Never trust your mechanic."

 

That is what I'm getting out of this. The work was done and I assume signed off. I haven't seen the logbooks, but I assume there was a record of a 100/300 hour inspection. There are a million different possibilities here, but it may have needed a supervisory sign off as well. It was then flown on a mx release flight where presumably a CFI looked at it, did a ops check flight and again, presumably, an attachment security check and the heli was released for service.

 

I don't know what is involved in a 100/300 hr inspection on a R44, so hopefully someone can enlighten me. Is the removal of control rods standard on a 300 hour inspection? What else is done on a 300hr inspection? Is it expected that a pilot will go over every detail of that work and act as an IA? Or should we expect that the work was done as described?

 

Examination of the flight control system revealed that the right forward servo to swash plate push/pull tube fitting was disconnected and the attach hardware (bolt, lock nut, two washers, pal nut) was missing. The left forward servo to swash plate push/pull fitting was connected; however, the lock nut was found partially engaged on the bolt threads and the torque was "finger tight"; no pal nut was noted. The aft servo and push/pull tube fitting was secured with the appropriate hardware.

 

Thats like saying the gas man said he put gas in your helicopter, and he really didn't. then you take off and crash and die....

 

I disagree with this analogy as there is a fuel quantity indicator to reference after fuel is added. As I said once, I'm not familiar with the location of the front control rods on a 44 nor do I know how easy they are to see on a pre-flight. I also am not familiar with what the flight manual suggests as normal procedures for a pre-flight. (Can someone let me know what it says for this component?) But I am pretty sure a specific procedure is outlined on removal ant re-installation of control rods, and it seems those steps were not followed.

 

I don't want it to seem I am anti-mechanic. Some of my best friends are mechanics. (I say in a humorous way as that type of statement is usually indicative of a lie. But truthfully, they are.) I respect all facets of aviation and our chosen paths. I tend to know my fellow pilots by first name, as I do mechanics, and management and ATC that I use regularly. I also expect us all to do our jobs. Of course I recognize that we are all human and make mistakes, but some are negligent. Anyone that knows me personally knows I am hard on those that screw up, myself included. I don't take joy in reprimanding people, but I don't think we have a high margin for error. I fail to see how leaving two of three control rods partially attached is someone doing their job.

 

When ATC messes up a pilot pays

 

When MX messes up a pilot pays

 

When a pilot messes up a pilot pays

 

 

I also think a pre-flight is the last chance to catch the helicopter trying to kill you, but what is reasonable? Maybe now some people will be looking harder at their control rod attaching hardware. That implies that they hadn't before so I find it offensive that something that could have caught any one of us out is now being looked at as the pilots being negligent. Could they have caught it? I don't know how hard it is to see this attachment, so maybe they could have. Hindsight is 20/20. But the bottom line is they are catching someone else's screw up.

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I also think a pre-flight is the last chance to catch the helicopter trying to kill you, but what is reasonable? Maybe now some people will be looking harder at their control rod attaching hardware. That implies that they hadn't before so I find it offensive that something that could have caught any one of us out is now being looked at as the pilots being negligent. Could they have caught it? I don't know how hard it is to see this attachment, so maybe they could have. Hindsight is 20/20. But the bottom line is they are catching someone else's screw up.

Where is anyone saying the pilots were negligent? It doesn't look that way to me. There's a saying in the military that safety regulations are written in blood. The best mechanics can have a bad day just like the best pilot. The point I wanted to make here is this is something to learn from. I now know of 2 accidents where flight control was lost due to locknuts not being properly installed, leaning towards 3 if the recent report stands (it is preliminary, after all). Some of these are in areas that are hard to see and take some extra effort. That helps me decide what areas I need to pay more attention to on my own preflights. Your milage may vary...

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Where is anyone saying the pilots were negligent? It doesn't look that way to me.

 

 

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I thought by your heading "Do a good preflight........" was an implication that these two did not do a good one. Several responses seem, to me, to echo that sentiment. If that isn't the case, then I'm sorry.

 

what im saying is the mechanic said it was done, flew it, and the cfi and student must have not looked and just assumed it was done.... so its kindof both of their faults

 

I think a well done preflight should of cought the hardware being loose.

 

Again, I am sincerely asking: is this a hard to see attatchmment on a 44 and what does the RFM suggest as a preflight action?

 

By all means, I hope peolpe learn something from this unfortunate event, but I don't think this should be another instance of "Pilot error".

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This is a sad event...my prayers go out to the families and friends involved...

 

I know I will be asking questions about these connections and how to thoroughly inspect them during pre-flight. I will also become very interested in the maintenance of the aircraft as I continue my training. Thanks for the posts...

 

Better to ask than to wish you did...

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GofG

I also think a pre-flight is the last chance to catch the helicopter trying to kill you,

How true, always do pre flight even if the rotors have just stopped, if I did not know the helio and pilot I will not fly until rotors stoped and check done.

Have drawn flack on occasion for this but its my life.

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Again, I am sincerely asking: is this a hard to see attatchmment on a 44 and what does the RFM suggest as a preflight action?

 

By all means, I hope peolpe learn something from this unfortunate event, but I don't think this should be another instance of "Pilot error".

I was flying this morning but the mechanics weren't available (I'm not going to just wander over and start digging through one of the R44's). Tuesday I'll see if I can get a checkout on where the actuators are. I know the hydraulic accumulator(pump) is visible through a panel and from the POH it looks like everything should be accessible, but when I go in Tuesday I'll check for sure. I'll update the forum when I know. And for the record, I didn't mean to imply negligence or fault on the part of the pilots in this case. I doubt that the findings of the NTSB are going to point to the pilots, we'll see in a year or so when they release the probable cause report. I just meant what I said - Do a good preflight - this could have been any of us..
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"Again, I am sincerely asking: is this a hard to see attatchmment on a 44 and what does the RFM suggest as a preflight action?"

 

Yes. It's very difficult to see the rear servo but it can be seen just about, as for inspected well a lot depends on sunlight at the time, during the day i can often really struggle to see the attachement clearly and it is actually easier at night with a flashlight.

 

The other two servos may be possible to see with a mirror and a flash light but otherwise they are hidden away behind the aux fuel tank.

 

Cant remember offhand but i think from memory the RFM preflight mentions the hydraulic pump telatemp and the hydraulic fluid level. I'll check tomorrow.

 

I also thought the title of this thread and some of the responses implied that preflight might have stopped this accident. It is not possible to preflight every component of a helicopter.

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