View Full Version : Heliocopter in nasty visibility

G&T ice n slice
25th Aug 2008, 17:20
This is only for curiosity as I always thought helicopters had really restrictive flying conditions imposed on them...

I think Westlakes will know exactly where I am trying to describe

at about 16:45 local Cumbria time
clattery helicopter just passed overhead Distington (actually over the Lillyhall dump, going south along the ridge on which Pica sits) towards the sea/Whitehaven going over Low Moresby)

I knows he wuz low because I can't see Pica (on the ridge above me sits at 170metres asl according to the o.s. map)

weather is 8/8 at (say) 125+ but below 170 metres rain & mist vis about 1000metre

Def not nice wx I wud have thought.

Should he been flying in all that ??

west lakes
25th Aug 2008, 17:33
and it's even worse now

Was out and about at approx 15:00, Dent completely obscured (gives a clue where I am)

I didn't even hear him so must have passed north of me

25th Aug 2008, 17:55
Heliocopters can only fly in bright sunshine.

However, helicopters can fly in much shittier weather (VFR) than fixed wing; visibility less than 1,500m at a speed which is reasonable in view of the visibility (and less than 3,000 ft).



tony draper
25th Aug 2008, 17:59
You overlook summat,perhaps twer nice out when the lad took it up?:confused:

25th Aug 2008, 18:10
Whirly, may I suggest you re read the ANO as helicopters now need 1500M flight vis to comply with the VFR's. Still pilots down to pilot to assess this outside of a control zone though.

eastern wiseguy
25th Aug 2008, 18:26
helicopters now need 1500M

Not if it is one of Auntie Betty's:)

west lakes
25th Aug 2008, 18:36
Not if it is one of Auntie Betty's

I know one of hers was around earlier, exercising with MRT in Wasdale then to Carlisle for fuel, Boulmer based.

I wonder if the one G&T heard was one I know is based a few miles south of Cockermouth

25th Aug 2008, 18:44
SilentHandover, I shall now consider my wrists slapped. 1,500m is still pretty shitty weather!



25th Aug 2008, 19:10
Okay, I am confused here. (Those who know me will not be surprised by this.) Cannot civilian helicopters fly IFR in England? If pilot certified and helicopter properly equipped of course.

25th Aug 2008, 19:16
Night Vision Goggles-ATN Viper (http://www.nightvisiongear.co.uk/Night-Vision-Goggles-NVG-ATNViper.htm)

25th Aug 2008, 19:56
Con-Pilot, yes of course they can and do, especially in winter on the North Sea.

25th Aug 2008, 19:57
What if it wasn't at night?

25th Aug 2008, 20:01
Cannot civilian helicopters fly IFR in England? If pilot certified and helicopter properly equipped of course.
Yep! But not usually as low as claimed here!



25th Aug 2008, 20:14
Yep! But not usually as low as claimed here!

Okay, I thought so, thanks. :ok:

25th Aug 2008, 20:37
I don't see (ha!) what the problem is. Helicopters should have way lower minima than fixed wing. After all, if they ever got lost or confused, they could just stop and then descend slowly :8

25th Aug 2008, 21:03
and there lies the ignorance of non helicopter pilots. (apart from the fact most heli pilots may seem somewhat confused)
1/. helicopters don't always just go straight up and down.
2/. If IFR you should be above MSA if you're in IMC
3/. People die in helicopter accidents when they push the limits like the story above.
4/. Doesn't necessarily have to be winter for North Sea to be IFR/IMC (saturday was bad all morning in certain sectors)

25th Aug 2008, 21:15
I was once told (in response to a question addressed to the military low-flying 'hotline') that the Chinook that had hedge-hopped past our house (albeit in a low-flying corridor) "was cleared to fly down to ground level".
(Shortly afterwards 'advisory' instructions were issued after a couple of incidents involving 'spooked' horses where, I believe, at least one rider received serious injuries after being thrown, for transit flights to be made at higher altitude.)
What are the regulations for non-military helicopters WRT altitude (and what about Police and Air Ambulances?)?
What if you have a helipad on your land?

25th Aug 2008, 21:44
I believe that somewhere in the ANO it states private helipads require no special permissions unless used for more that 28 days in a year. Also provision of emergency equipment and emergency access.

25th Aug 2008, 21:49
There are no restrictions on altitude, because that implies above sea level. However the pilot of any aircraft in transit, rotary winged or not, must obey the 500 foot rule which is in effect an avoid "bubble" from anywhere a person might be expected to be encountered (Person, vehicle, vessel or structure is the terminology used in the Air Navigation Order). It does not apply to an aircraft taking off or landing.

Police helicopters are mainly exempt, or at least are allowed to operate under much less restrictive rules.

G&T ice n slice
25th Aug 2008, 22:38
Thanks for the replies.

I wonder if he was the Air Ambulance? Couldn't identify the type & viz was so bad couldn't distinguish colour- except was dark paintjob. Think was a 'medium' twin.

And you're right - suspect wx wasn't that bad on departure from some point north of here as wx was roughly coming in from s.s.e.

Westlakes knows the stuff we get - sort of brownish seamist that blows up the valley of the Lowca/Distington beck usually seems to get worse around about the "plough house" on the A595

So was quite possibly better to the north of here and also to the south around/over Whitehaven.

Were you in Westlakes, Westlakes? !

I guess he just came upon the wx but had enough viz to keep going through.

Also maybe my cloudbase guesstimate could be out a bit, but def couldn't see the top of the North/South ridge on which Pica sits and that is 170-180M ASL ((I am at 80M ASL)) so I am guessing he passed over at about 100M AGL. Certainly was a LOT lower than usual.

As long as he got where he was going safely that's all that counts really.



25th Aug 2008, 23:04
it states private helipads require no special permissions unless used for more that 28 days in a year

Same rule applies, more or less, in England & Wales at least, to any use of land, eg landing strip for fixed wing, car boot sales etc etc. But you mustn't break any other laws such as the ANO governing what you are doing.

west lakes
25th Aug 2008, 23:12
G&T PM for you

25th Aug 2008, 23:15

25th Aug 2008, 23:31

G&T ice n slice
26th Aug 2008, 22:49
Thanks for the info Westlakes.

Looking at the photos by G-CPTN I'm guessing it was the air ambulance

By the time I got outside I found him in the murk I could only see him going away from me so with that dark green tail area....

Mind you it's a bit spooky thinking that IF you have a nasty accident up here & they have to wisk you off to Carlisle or Newcastle you end up relying on being airlifted out in the usual cr*p weather we have up here.

Hey ho

26th Aug 2008, 23:04
G-HEMS was reported landing at Newcastle Freeman Hospital today @ 14.05.
Freeman specialises in heart and lung transplants though they do perform other operations. There is no A&E department.

west lakes
26th Aug 2008, 23:09
Cumbria - DAUPHIN

http://www.greatnorthairambulance.co.uk/cms/thesite/public/uploads/uploadsbank/1171987022_281.jpgThe Dauphin is now 18 years old and started life as the original London Air Ambulance. It is a very capable machine and is able to fly at night and in cloud, making it very useful for rapid transfers in most weathers.

Its retractable wheels give it a fast cruise speed of 150 knots. Endurance is generally 2.5 hours. The large cabin can seat 5 plus stretcher which allows relatives / parents to fly if need be.

The medical crew is normally a doctor and paramedic


Great North Air Ambulance Service - The Helicopters (http://www.greatnorthairambulance.co.uk/pages/aircraft)

I guess that makes it IFR capable