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Poor weather options

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Poor weather options

Old 21st Mar 2010, 20:55
  #1 (permalink)  
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Poor weather options

Just happened to be operating with Port Talbot ILB yesterday in Swansea Bay in rather poor weather - vis 1500m OVC at 200' in mist and -DZ - we used an internal radar letdown to get there.

On Swansea's frequency during our time there was a light piston helo grovelling around the coast to get to Pembrey at below 200' and another helo at 2000' planning to do a GPS letdown into Pembrey.

Now is it me or do both of those ideas seem to be accidents waiting to happen? The forecast was poor, the actual was poor - we were working moderately hard in a multi-crew aircraft designed to operate in such conditions - yet both these pilots pushed on instead of cancelling or turning back.

More by luck than judgement - and I assume they got where they were intending to go because D&D didn't call us to search for them - both flights were completed - I wonder if either pilot gave themselves a good talking to after the event.

One can only hope that the 'I learned about flying from that' lessons are actually being passed on.

A GPS letdown over the sea or coast when there is no discernable horizon below and very poor vis and cloudbase is almost suicidal because you have absolutely no idea what is beneath/in front of you, not to mention being illegal. Bimbling around at 200' in the same sh8te weather following a coast is an invitation to CFIT that sadly many have taken up and regretted.

Be professional in your aviating please because I really don't want to have to pick up the pieces.

Rant over.
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Old 21st Mar 2010, 21:01
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A GPS letdown over the sea or coast when there is no discernable horizon below and very poor vis and cloudbase is almost suicidal because you have absolutely no idea what is beneath/in front of you, not to mention being illegal.
Not sensible, agreed, but why do you say it's illegal?
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Old 21st Mar 2010, 21:08
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My guess is the pilot and/or aircraft was not certified for it.
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Old 21st Mar 2010, 22:04
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Bimbling around at 200' in the same sh8te weather following a coast is an invitation to CFIT that sadly many have taken up and regretted.
I don't see why. As you know helicopters can fly slow enough to enable the pilot to see ahead. You gave the vis as 1500 m. More than enough.

and I assume they got where they were intending to go because D&D didn't call us to search for them - both flights were completed
So why the rant?
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Old 21st Mar 2010, 22:14
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Suggest you read a few AAIB reports Chopjock and you'll see it's not as simple as that.

Cheers

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Old 21st Mar 2010, 22:25
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Crab - I agree with you. At the risk of being flamed (again) I assume the piston driver is a PPL and also assume he or she has relatively low hours when compared with a highly trained and experienced professional, operating appropriate gear.

I've lost two mates flying light pistons in IMC suffering from "I'll be alright'itus" and I've read about many more senseless fatal accidents caused by P1 errors of judgment when it comes to weather.

I don't get it either.
TTB
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Old 21st Mar 2010, 22:36
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Suggest you read a few AAIB reports Chopjock and you'll see it's not as simple as that.
I read ALL of them thank you.

I've lost two mates flying light pistons in IMC suffering from "I'll be alright'itus"
Sorry to hear that. Good job this piston jockey was not IMC then.
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Old 21st Mar 2010, 22:37
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A few years ago I was unfortunate enough to have to re-do the exams having allowed my IR to lapse for too long.

On the crammer's course were two chaps who were CPLs from the charter world hoping to move up; they clearly knew each other and on several occasions made jokes about how there were actually no limits whatsoever on an ILS.

Now I might have been mistaken in drawing the conclusion from what they said [in great detail] that here were chaps flogging around in unstabilised aircraft doing IFR approaches on CAT flights without IRs to below published minima. Perhaps they were just bull$hitting. Personally......
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 01:02
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As you know helicopters can fly slow enough to enable the pilot to see ahead. You gave the vis as 1500 m. More than enough.
Well therein lies the problem. When the speed gets too low, you are now in the territory of added controllability issues, an armful of collective, high power settings, and oh by the way - you got here because you couldn't see anything clearly out of the window! This is Swiss Cheese hole alignment 101. When the visibility precludes a safe comfortable forward speed you don't just slow down, you go down and land, assuming you didn't have the basic airmanship skills to avoid the situation in the first place by making a professional decision about the weather before you took off.

Like [email protected] alludes, when the mission puts you in that situation, you mitigate the risk as much as possible with tactics, techniques and procedures that keep you safer for longer when coupled with the correct equipment and training. To find yourself there for no good reason is inexcusable, and whereas 1500m viz might seem like a summer's day to some (although not many of the professional aviators I know would make such a statement), 1500m is well below what any sensible PPL in a piston single would require for safe execution and completion of a flight for pleasure alone.

It's never about how many limits you can bust and still live - it's about knowing your own personal limits, staying safe, and operating with same level of professionalism and decision making skills as any pilot in any cockpit. PPL's should be smart too.
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 06:19
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"As you know helicopters can fly slow enough to enable the pilot to see ahead. You gave the vis as 1500 m. More than enough."

That doesn't mean that you have to do it. Below a certain speed (which in a Dauphin is 76 kts, but which more generally is 45), the stabilising surfaces aren't working. If you are a typical PPL who thinks that the instrument appreciation that you get on your course is the equivalent of an instrument rating, and that was over two years ago so you are definitely not current, you will be dead in about 178 seconds (Australian figures) if you suddenly pop into an unseen bit of cloud.

Because of the above, my own personal limit is speed based rather than vis-based - if I'm having trouble at 60 kts, that's when I put it on the ground.

Phil
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 08:46
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From memory something like 46% of UK fatal helicopter accidents in the last 12 yrs involved flight in a degraded visual environment. That doesn't mean the pilots of all of those aircraft ever got themselves into cloud, just that most of them didn't know which way up they were.

There is one example where the pilot said on the RT something like 'everything's gone white' and yet the eye witnesses never lost sight of him from the ground. Was he IMC (by the Uk definition) yes he was, was he in cloud ? No. Do his family members really give toss about the technical definitions ? I don't know but I doubt it, splitting hairs over he legality of a flight is interesting sometimes but when it comes to stopping people killing themselves it serves no useful purpose. It is possible to be safe and illegal but it is also possible to legal and unsafe.

Yes its possible to do both of the things crab mentions (quite legally most of the time) I believe, however as one of my safety evening slides says 'just because you can doesn't mean you should' .

Sadly as a product of the current training environment, there are pilots out there who think that 180 degree turn on instruments are a panacea, one recent accident report proves that they are not.

Paco the '178 seconds to live video' I had in the round 1 / 2 safety presentation (thanks to you) and a very learned gentleman with a North Sea and CAA background suggested I take it out, for reasons something like 'it gives the impression that you would last that long in an unstabilised helicopter which you almost certainly would not !' Speaks volumes. I have lost the email so these are my words for the impression I got from him.

I can see why Crab is having a rant (about the light piston anyway, not knowing what kit was in the twin its difficult to comment) , it is after all he and his coworkers who will have to go an pick up the piceces initially
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 09:18
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The Vale of Evesham is a good place to see some pressonitist-ists although due to the time of day when they appear, most seem to be of the gethomeitist species variety.

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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 09:35
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CAP 773 and safetysense leaflet 25 give chapter and verse on GPS approaches and stress repeatedly that only published approaches can be used.

Even if there is a published approach to Pembrey - all GPS approaches are by definition Non Precision Approaches - how many that you know have a MDH of 200 or below?

I suspect the aircraft in question did have appropriate equipment and an instrument rated pilot so he should know better than to even consider an adhoc approach - especially when Cardiff was an available div with radar/ILS available and better weather. Fortunately for him he got a better weather report from his intended destination but, unless there were some big holes in the cloud, would have still had to perform an IMC descent to cloudbreak well below SAlt.
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 10:05
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Chopjock
This is a forum for professional pilots. Clearly, you are not one, neither by qualification, nor (more significantly) by attitude. If you read all the AAIB reports, you'll be aware of the number of incidents caused by unqualified pilots getting into poor Wx. TBH, if the flippancy of your post is reflected in your attitude to safe flying, then I reckon it's only a matter of time before Crab, or one of his colleagues, is called out to scrape you off a hillside somewhere.
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 10:34
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Operating Helicopters Safely in a Degraded Visual Environment.
How Can Helicopters Operate More Safely in Day / Night and Adverse Atmospheric Conditions

RAes Conference Wednesday 16 - Thursday 17 June 2010

"In the context of General Aviation, one of the greatest flight safety risks for both pleasure flying and the smaller commercial operators is unintended flight into Instrument Meteorological Condition (IMC) at low altitude, often when flying at dusk or by night. Failure to divert to an alternate destination or land when faced with deteriorating weather and a DVE is too often a prime causal factor in fatal accidents in this sector of helicopter operations."

More info here or register to attend here

Last edited by TRC; 22nd Mar 2010 at 10:36. Reason: Cut and paste nonsense
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 11:18
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Two's in
Well therein lies the problem. When the speed gets too low, you are now in the territory of added controllability issues, an armful of collective, high power settings, and oh by the way - you got here because you couldn't see anything clearly out of the window!
With 1500m vis I should expect to at least maintain 40kts. That's hardly an armful of collective. In fact in the Enstrom that's the min power flight speed.

Paco
That doesn't mean that you have to do it.
Agreed

toptobottom
If you read all the AAIB reports, you'll be aware of the number of incidents caused by unqualified pilots getting into poor Wx.
Also qualified pilots.

TBH, if the flippancy of your post is reflected in your attitude to safe flying, then I reckon it's only a matter of time before Crab, or one of his colleagues, is called out to scrape you off a hillside somewhere.
My "flippancy" is your opinion. My opinion is that a vis of 1500m is adequate to see where you are going(even at 60kts), and perfectly safe if done so within your limitations. (In this case, flying alongside a cliff which has ideal visual references). What, no one here has ever done that?.
Why is it that just because a pilot is flying a piston, low level in vfr conditions and a low cloud base, he is automatically assumed to be a ppl and will therefore inadvertently go imc and crash?
I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but is this hysteria or what?
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 11:29
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I thought the orignal post was very pertinent. Certainly not "hysteria".
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 11:38
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Isn't there a rule that says you have to be at 500ft AGL?

I am a professional pilot and I now publicly state that 1500m/200ft scares the sh**t out of me.
Stay home.

Why even this discussion?

1500m in HZ with absolutely no clouds like I have everyday now is a different story.
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 12:15
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Good job this piston jockey was not IMC then.
True, but at 1500m/200ft in mist, you've only got to glance at the ASI/altimeter/whatever for a second and you're in it, and in unexpected IMC in those conditions, you're as good as dead.

There is no law that prohibits anyone from executing an approach when the ceiling is below MDH
Hmmm...isn't there something that says, thou shall not descend below 1000' on an approach if the airfield is below your minimums?
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Old 22nd Mar 2010, 12:23
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Hmmm...isn't there something that says, thou shall not descend below 1000' on an approach if the airfield is below your minimums?
It's an 'approach ban' and only relates to RVR - not cloud base/ceiling.
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