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GOM Trio of Losses Air Log / PHI / ERA??

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GOM Trio of Losses Air Log / PHI / ERA??

Old 26th Nov 2008, 20:32
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GOM Trio of Losses Air Log / PHI / ERA??

Any truth that:

a) Air Log had a S-76 fire its floats and touch/almost touch the sea while on approach a few weeks ago and recover to a rig after a major overtorque
b) PHI had an S-76 blown over offshore again a week or so ago
c) ERA had an EC135 ditch yesterday in the GOM
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Old 26th Nov 2008, 21:47
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NO, only some truth.
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 00:11
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S76C++ N871AL. Apparently it encountered a column of downward air and didn't touch the sea (but nearly did) hovered, managed to land on the rig Initial cause is said to be a downdraft from a squall on final approach.

Don't know about PHI and ERA.

Last edited by leading edge; 29th Nov 2008 at 23:29.
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 02:02
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Shot of N871AL after the un-eventful landing.


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Old 27th Nov 2008, 02:35
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Like the Loch Ness monster, the ever elusive helicopter swallowing microburst makes yet another tantalizing appearance. Seems to be the raison du jour for helicopters trying to kiss the ocean. So in this one, just how far down did they manage to droop the NR?

Any of the passengers complain about the Disney ride, or did the pilots tell them that they had to wash bugs off the belly to make an appropriately clean appearance on the deck?
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 09:03
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I reckon you would have to have nads of steel to call that an "uneventful landing" !!
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Old 27th Nov 2008, 11:16
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Plod,

Please? GOM pilots are Men of Iron! The Women too!

Back in history, a current Bristow Pilot then flying for a Houston based operator, did the same kind of thing.....the pax jettisoned a cabin window and the aircraft flew for several months with a piece of plywood in place for the missing window.

Please note the aircraft remained in operation without missing a revenue flight....including the one during which the event occurred. But then one had to know something about a guy named Felton Baker to understand that kind of thing.

I actually did half an interview at that place. We got interrupted by a phone call...I was told to take a half hour coffee break....walked out into the maintenance hangar....quickly ascertained what was going on...and legged it at a high rate of knots.

A few years later....I observed an engineer taking a hack saw to a rotor blade....cutting it in half mid-span....when asked...his reply was simply "This is one scrap blade Felton Baker ain't gonna get to use."

One is left to form one's own opinion about that operator.

At least Air Log will take the proper actions to ensure the aircraft is safe to fly.....investigate the mishap and take some action to prevent it from happening again.
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Old 28th Nov 2008, 08:56
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GOM Incidents

ERA Helicopters didn't ditch one this week. They had a hard landing of an EC135. Minimal damage.
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 23:15
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"The crew never stopped flying the aircraft. This... averted a potential disaster"

This statement, apparently issued by Air Logistics management after reading PPRuNe or similar sites is doing the rounds among GOM customers:

It has come to our attention that erroneous information is being circulated concerning an aircraft event in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico involving an Air Logistics helicopter. Below are the facts related to the event.

On Friday, November 14, 2008, at 0600, an Air Logistics Sikorsky S-76C++ departed Galliano with eight passengers heading to Garden Banks 462. This drilling-rig crew change was the first of two flights scheduled that day to the same location.

The flight crew completed the required flight planning, including checking current weather and the area forecast. The forecast indicated isolated rain showers, some possibly heavy, some possible lightning and the potential for winds in the 35 knot range – in short, a typical November weather forecast for the deep Gulf of Mexico. The fuel planning was completed and the crew departed with the fuel required for the flight with an additional 45-minute reserve. Additional fuel was available on the rig if needed. The weather allowed the flight to be conducted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). En-route altitudes were in the 1200 foot range. The flight would take approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes. The crew monitored the weather conditions en route and received flight-following reports.

Approximately five minutes prior to landing, the crew called the rig and received a “green deck” signal, indicating permission to land. The Pilot in Command (PIC) asked for and received the updated weather report from the rig. Upon arrival in the lease block, the crew encountered increasing heavy rain showers as they circled the rig to position the aircraft for a landing into the wind.

Playback of the aircraft’s Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) recorded the crew conducting standard callouts of airspeed and altitude, and indicated good crew coordination. After the aircraft was positioned into the wind and stabilized on approach, the PIC transferred the controls to the Second in Command (SIC), who would have the best view of the approach path into the wind. On final approach but still safely away from the structure, the aircraft encountered a severe downdraft along with an extremely heavy rain shower that forced the aircraft to descend below the level of the helideck. The SIC increased power; however, the severe downdraft continued to force the aircraft to descend.

As a precaution, the crew inflated the aircraft emergency floats. The aircraft came to a controlled hover below the level of the helideck and safely away from the structure. The aircraft’s descent was arrested within a few feet of the water. The crew never stopped flying the aircraft. This action averted a potential disaster.

With the severe downdraft subsided, the crew safely returned the aircraft to the heliport and all passengers disembarked unharmed. The data from the aircraft’s CVR and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) was secured that afternoon and returned to New Iberia for analysis. The data showed that the aircraft experienced no exceedances. The decision to bring the aircraft back by boat was due to the fact that the emergency floats had been inflated and could not be repacked at the rig. There was no visual evidence of damage to the aircraft nor at anytime did the aircraft enter the water during the event.
It begs a few questions.
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Old 30th Nov 2008, 09:48
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Yes - just a few questions!

IIRC the last Air Logistics accident at the end of last year involved pressing on in bad weather and an uncontrolled descent on approach.

Quote:
The forecast indicated isolated rain showers, some possibly heavy, some possible lightning and the potential for winds in the 35 knot range – in short, a typical November weather forecast for the deep Gulf of Mexico.

The weather allowed the flight to be conducted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

The flight would take approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes. Approximately five minutes prior to landing, the crew called the rig and received a “green deck” signal, indicating permission to land. The Pilot in Command (PIC) asked for and received the updated weather report from the rig.

Upon arrival in the lease block, the crew encountered increasing heavy rain showers as they circled the rig to position the aircraft for a landing into the wind.

On final approach but still safely away from the structure, the aircraft encountered a severe downdraft along with an extremely heavy rain shower that forced the aircraft to descend below the level of the helideck. The SIC increased power; however, the severe downdraft continued to force the aircraft to descend.

As a precaution, the crew inflated the aircraft emergency floats.

The aircraft’s descent was arrested within a few feet of the water.

The crew never stopped flying the aircraft. This action averted a potential disaster.

With the severe downdraft subsided, the crew safely returned the aircraft to the heliport ( returned?? they had not arrived) and all passengers disembarked unharmed.

There was no visual evidence of damage to the aircraft nor at anytime did the aircraft enter the water during the event. (luckily)
Though this does not give any details of remedial actions, surely someone is busy looking at the Ops Manual.

Last edited by Shell Management; 30th Nov 2008 at 10:05.
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Old 30th Nov 2008, 11:53
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Absent the downdraft....possibly some turbulence....and it sounds like a regular Rainy Season day in Nigeria....but without any weather forecasting or weather reporting.

Of course all flight operations in Rainy Season in Nigeria are done.....IFR?

Gimmee a Break Here....Shell!
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Old 30th Nov 2008, 16:03
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AFTER flying into a thunderstorm, the crew did magnificantly, IMHO. The aircraft flew under an active thunderstorm, a very very bad idea, and was subjected to what has been called a "wet microburst". Lucky, hail didn't shoot the helo down. The core downdraft in a thunderstorm can be beyond the climb performance of a good helicopter, easily 2500 fpm or more, sometimes 5,000 fpm. The saving grace is that the downdraft turns horizontal at the sea surface (otherwise it would bore a hole!)
Here is a discussion, a poor one that does not explain the role of the thunderstorm in the microburst formation, but with excellent illustrations:
Microburst - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here is a Thunderstorm sketch:


Here is a microburst photo:

A shot of the shelf cloud that marks the outer edge of the downdraft that has been turned sideward by the surface:



Clues to Thunderstorm probability: Lightning forecast. That huge downdraft is a big Van De Graf generator, and the only way that the charge build-up to cause lightning can be generated. A nice site on lightniong:
Lightning

The Ops solution?
1) "Flight within 3 miles of an active thunderstorm is prohibited"
2) "WX Radar to be used to identify and avoid all Thunderstorm activity."

Last edited by rjsquirrel; 30th Nov 2008 at 16:30.
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Old 30th Nov 2008, 19:59
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RJS

AFTER flying into a thunderstorm, the crew did magnificantly, IMHO.
Rarely a truer word written here and glad to see some one is thinking about prevention not just making excuses like some.

Though we are in the debt of SASless for at least setting a benchmark for Air Logistics to aspire to - ie Nigeria ( and I don't mean the ill fated ALI attempt).

Perhaps thats why Bristow moved a hard nosed manager from Lagos to cut out the cancer of his two predecessors. I say cancer, though a chronic, inflammatory, demyelinating disease that effects the ability to communicate would be a better description of the last few years. There is no known cure for MS however. Treatment simply attempt to return function after an attack, prevent new attacks, and prevent disability.
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 01:45
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The crew never stopped flying the aircraft.
Like this comment specially, and thank god for they did not just "stop flying", not the right moment to choose to go on a strike
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 02:05
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Bob Hoover once said that if a crash is inevitable, then the pilot should fly the aircraft as far into the crash as possible. Or something to that effect.
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 03:03
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Porky pies. Re-read AIM/FAR 7-1-27. A "severe downdraft" below the level of an average deck isn't supported by current knowledge of weather. The downward force starts to transition to horizontal below 1000'-3000'. It would be nonexistent below 100'

You'll have to find some other bogeyman. Like maybe zeroing out the airspeed from a wind vector changing to a tailwind, and some subsequent vortex ring condition.

Takes nothing away from the pilots for getting it up to the deck through. And after reading about one case after another where the aircraft ditched without inflating floats, its good to see they remembered where the float button was.

Or.... maybe not, and another porky pie or two. Looking at the photo it looks like the aircraft was equipped with auto-inflate sensors on the belly. Maybe they dipped it in the ocean long enough for the floats to inflate after all, despite what the pilots and the Air Log announcement said. A Gus (Grissom) moment.
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 03:14
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I guess I wouldn't rely on the FAR/ AIM as the gospel of weather.
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 03:25
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I remember back in 1975 I was flying Shell senior staff back to Doha for the annual Christmas party in a S62. It had no radar, no sas, no anything. The weather was black ahead & so I flew at about 500 ft underneath the cloud. Suddenly the 62 shot upwards & even with no collective & closed throttle, the climb rate was off the vsi in full auto. At about 6000 ft, in pitch blackness, the storm tossed the 62 out the side & started dropping. Applying full power, the ROD was off the vsi. I yelled at the pax to prepare for ditching as I simply had no control, just kept the AH level. We broke cloud at around 100 ft & regained control at 25 ft. At this point I decided to return to Halul & stuff the Christmas party. Guess what, no senior executive complained about missing the party!
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 11:36
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Any of ya'll that have gone through FSI's Fort Worth Bell Center training have had the opportunity to experience a Microburst on approach. (If your operator allowed such variance from the prescribed operator dogma....). Few availed themselves for such chances to learn unfortunately.

A current Oil Company Aviation Advisor had that opportunity while a line pilot for an operator who looked down its very long nose at FSI and what it had to offer....attending only because required to by the customer.

In cahoots with an old Alaska flying buddy....we keyed in the Dallas-Fort Worth weather model that duplicated the American Airlines Crash of a DC-10.

The Microburst hit very late in the approach....I was so glad my young friend was driving.

Our young line pilot friend was quite surprised that he could not maintain height control despite pulling lots of power...and prepared to ride the wagon down accepting his fate. Sasless here....suggested he slow to Vbroc, pull max Q....and see what happened....he did.....we still headed down. He again was prepared to ride the wagon into the ground. I suggested he pull the collective up until the MR drooped...but he said we were at max power already. Sasless...reached down and pulled the collective up until the MR drooped....and coined my signature statement...."Limits are for normal operations asshole!"

We broke out...skimmed along what could have been corn stalks...missed hitting the ground by what felt like were mere inches...and then slowly climbed away regaining normal control.

I was impressed by the experience.....and much happier my young friend was driving.

Years later he admitted he failed to "appreciate" the experience at the time. Something about Sasless's teaching style I think he said.....but later in life admitted to himself it had been an eye opening experience....the flying part I assume.

Moral to the story.....you don't have to know why something is going wrong....but you are riding the wagon it is happening to. Far better you bend something by exceeding a limitation if it prevents a crash. Far more damage occurs when the aircraft smacks the surface at speed and out of control.

Our young lad was a product of the North Sea....had never seen real turbulence....thunderstorms were a very unusual occurrence...and he had never experienced an out of control aircraft.....and his training failed him.

"Thinking" was not the strong point of that operator's culture in those days....compliance to checklists, procedure, and briefs were.

If you suffer from "Dipped Shoulder Syndrome"....perhaps you might make item one on all your checklists....."Fly the Aircraft".....Step Two...."Think"....Step Three..."Fly the Aircraft".....then leap off into the action items after a suitable delay for the first three steps to take good effect.

Before we hang, draw, and quarter this Air Log crew.....lets consider how many airline crews do something similar despite all the aids to flying that exist at airports.

After all....these guys were just like the rest of us...out in the middle of the Oggin....with no aids. Which situation is it easier to make that mistake? Would you have made a similar attempt....how many times have you done so in the past and got away with it?
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Old 1st Dec 2008, 11:49
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GOM Trio of Losses Air Log / PHI / ERA??

SASless

You are absolut right
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