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AS332L2 Ditching off Shetland: 23rd August 2013

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AS332L2 Ditching off Shetland: 23rd August 2013

Old 18th Nov 2013, 21:40
  #2261 (permalink)  
 
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Shawn,

In the very early days of the S-76A Sim out in the swamps of the Sikorsky facility we had few interesting situations within the Sim Computers Models that could be quite interesting.

One was the six inch difference in the Taxi Way Height somewhere on the airfield model. One could be taxiing along sweet as life itself and you either got a hell of bump when you drove off the Curb or a real smack when you drove into it. Patching that particular "Pot Hole" took a lot of work for our guy dedicated to resolving so many of the issues.

Later we discovered the "Black Hole of Pahokee" which was really interesting.

While flying around the Pahokee area which had a nice Instrument Procedure we used quite often....there was sometimes the impression you had flown into a mountain or had a mid-air collision it was so violent.

The results could be quite entertaining as the Computers all went crazy, various systems and gauges quite working....but nothing in a rational normal manner.

For training purposes it was great as no one in the Sim knew it was coming or what the results would be and we were left to cope with the results.

Taking the Instructor out of the Loop is not a good thing as a standard practice but inputting a random malfunction in at some point in the flight can work too. That should be the Instructors task....not some Wally set at a desk somewhere playing "What Happens If I Push This Button?".
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 07:52
  #2262 (permalink)  
 
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HC,

I'm interested to learn what you think the development path should be for those aspiring to fly over the NS?

Clearly not everyone who chooses to aim for that is minted and some spend many years in other lines of work in order to be able to fund their training and survive on bare essentials during the time that takes.

I would imagine to make such a life decision one believes one has the necessary qualities in respect of personality, aptitude, motivation and much more besides; however sounds like that may not always be the case come the time to fly. So how can those heading in that direction discover before embarking on such a journey in the first place whether they indeed do have what it takes, or the ability to develop it?

Also I'm sure there are some, who have been reading this thread every other day since it started, that would want to know if we are likely to see a shift in the employment requirements or approach of the main operators around the NS; do you envisage any changes in this regard further to this accident?

best wishes
Lozz.
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 09:22
  #2263 (permalink)  
 
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Lozz, probably a bit off topic but I will give you my best answer, bearing in mind I have now retired from the industry. First, a bit of history: I came from the fortunate era when sponsored courses abounded. Bristow recruitment policy (onto their sponsored courses I mean) was as follows:

Have a PPL(A) - shows you have some interest and aptitude in flying

Have a good few O levels and an A level in a science or maths based subject (these were the days before everyone got an A grade A level by birthright!).
Pass an interview
Pass some physical co-ordination/aptitude and group working tests (at Hamble, which at the time was the BA flying school)

I don't know what the success rate was to reach the end of this process, but once on it, most people completed the sponsored course and gained employment in Bristow. Our course for instance had a 10/10 success rate, and it was rare for more than 1/10 to fail.

Those people now form the backbone of Bristow ops department ie are the trainers, chief trainers, head of flight ops etc.

Winding forward 30 years we had a big recruitment drive recently. Lots of people knocking on the door with still-damp CPL(H)/IR in hand. We were desperate for new pilots but I think the acceptance rate was something like 10%. One or two of those turned out to be "problem people". I wasn't directly involved in recruitment, but I heard that a lot were incapable of flying a pretty mundane instrument approach in the Sim without ending up upside down etc. Obviously procedural approaches in strange sim, with no experience other than a IR test under your belt, is hard work. But that some were quite good at it, whilst many were hopeless, means it was not an unreasonable test.

At interview I believe quite a number were plain weird. A lot were uncertain whether they wanted to relocate to Aberdeen long term. Some were trying to play off the different operators all of whom were recruiting. Etc etc. I don't think we were particularly picky but a lot of people were obviously unsuitable.

So none of that really answers your question! It perhaps gives you an idea of the problems faced by the employers.

I would say that you need to be reasonably well educated preferably with A levels in maths/science subjects. A degree in an engineering-type subject always goes down well. You need good verbal and written communication skills. No text-speak please! Good interview technique (plenty of interview technique coaching establishments out there these days). A little bit of experience beyond a basic licence / IR because just like a car, passing your driving test doesn't really mean you can drive, but once out there on your own experiencing a wider range of roads and conditions, your driving rapidly improves. In terms of IF I think there is value in flying procedural instrument approaches, from proper approach plates (jep or Airad), on a PC flight sim. At the very least, its a very cheap way to hopefully make a difference.

But I suspect, when you consider that these days schools and even colleges are churning out folk who, according to industry, are often unemployable, that it is your personal demeanour rather than your flying that is the most important thing to worry about - after all, you have passed a test for your flying, but not for your personality! As a really really big generalisation, it seems to be the case that the chap who has struggled financially to get his licence, is better motivated than the chap whose rich daddy has coughed up for one as a birthday present.

As to future developments, sorry I am now out of the industry and all I know is that Bristow realises that it may be worth reverting to the process I mentioned right at the beginning, and having more sponsored courses, since the investment pays off in the long term.

Hope that is slightly helpful!

Editing to add that CRM is very important these days. I don't know if any foundation CRM is covered for basic licence issue - probably not, in which case perhaps a CRM course should be considered prior to application. Not only would this look good, the issues covered, whilst perhaps looking a bit touchy feely mumbo jumbo-ish, in fact are very useful and really do make a difference. You are going from single pilot to multi pilot, and having a colleague with poor CRM strapped up close and personal to you for 8 hours is a most unpleasant experience!

Last edited by HeliComparator; 19th Nov 2013 at 12:26.
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 09:55
  #2264 (permalink)  
 
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Very helpful and much appreciated, by not only myself but I'm sure others lurking on this thread HC.

I particularly like the idea of using a flight sim s/w to practice procedural instrument approaches.

Back to the books and lurking for now.

Cheers!

Lozz.

P.S. Edited to add, further to HC's edit above, that certainly one ground school provider includes a CRM course by default.
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 12:07
  #2265 (permalink)  
 
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On the note of CRM courses I was fortunate to be put through one which was a turning point not only in my professional life but personal too. If you want a quality CRM course try LMQ in Gatwick, I did the CRMI and I cannot tell you what specifically but I came out a different person heading in the right direction. It helped a "problem child" turn a corner so it can also help you steer in the right direction from the start.

Back on topic then.

Si
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 19:54
  #2266 (permalink)  
 
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When these latter unfortunates, because of one urge or another, actually make an ascension, they neither anticipate nor relish the event and they drive their machines with the same graceless labor they inflict upon the family vehicle.
So right Sasless. In my decades of flying with hundreds of pilots of different nationalities and enthnic origins I have found out that there are:--

Pilots who love flying and you cannot keep them away from an aircraft.
Pilots that enjoy flying because it's a great way to earn a living.
Pilots who tolerate being a pilot but who are always nm the look out for a more rewarding career in another occupation.
Pilots who do not like flying but do it because it pays the bills.
Then the ones I admire the most; pilots that are afraid of flying but it is all they can do.

I've met them all and they all make the same mistakes, as I used to, because we are all human beings.

'Let he who is without guilt cast the first stone.'
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Old 19th Nov 2013, 20:19
  #2267 (permalink)  
 
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Or in my case....Too lazy to work....and too nervous to steal.
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Old 20th Nov 2013, 07:26
  #2268 (permalink)  
 
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Or in my case....Too lazy to work....and too nervous to steal.
Ringing bells there...
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Old 20th Nov 2013, 09:03
  #2269 (permalink)  
 
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The contention that this or other accidents in the last few years is related directly or indirectly to a less intelligent crop of pilots is dismaying to say the least. What evidence is there for this? I cannot recall, in any form whatsoever, the suggestion, in any accident report, that this is a relevant point. More still, as a broad impression (supported also by personal knowledge of the single fatal accident where I knew PF well), accident candidates are likely to be highly intelligent. But of course, intelligence doesn't cause accidents, and a bit less of it doesn't seem to either (assuming there was any merit in the point in the first place, which I doubt). Hazardous attitudes or a lack of flying discipline, bad or inadequate training, fatigue, poor communication, poor procedures and so on are the primary cause of accidents.

People who really should know better were taking the discussion for a bit of a walz in the woods here.
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Old 20th Nov 2013, 09:36
  #2270 (permalink)  
 
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TT that charge is probably levelled at me, so I shall answer.

I don't think anyone has mentioned intelligence. A pilot needs the manual skill and co-ordination to be able to fly a helicopter. There are some very intelligent people who are hopeless at that, and some thickos who are very good at that. Of course few are born with this innate skill, they have to be trained and again I don't think there is any correlation between intelligence and rate of learning or final skill level.

But in modern helicopters with complex systems and where the pilot primarily interacts with the helicopter via those systems, more than via stick, rudder and collective, a whole new skill set is required. Again there are some classicly thick people who seem to find "getting inside the head" of these systems quite easy, and some highly intelligent people who are hopelessly impractical and struggle to even understand how a light switch works. As a massive generalisation, perhaps those at the higher end of the intelligence spectrum might find this skill a bit easier, but intelligence is certainly not a suitable metric for determine this in advance.

As I have said before, the major problem seems to relate to the large amount of time and effort devoted to selecting, teaching and checking pilots based on manual flying skills, whereas relatively very little time and effort is devoted to selecting, teaching and checking pilots on this now predominant skill set of complex system comprehension.

I will admit that the relevance of this to this specific accident is questionable, but this thread has widened to take in the whole recent accident history and state of the N Sea / oil and gas helicopter industry. Those at the sharp end are aware of a number of recent "near miss" events where automation confusion was the primary factor, even though they are not in the public domain and so not advertised here.

For me, the bottom line is that I wouldn't want to be a passenger flown by a pilot who was not quite sure what will happen to the flight path when he moves the cyclic, collective or pedals. Fortunately the current selection, training and testing regime ensures that this is not the expected case.

But these days, I also wouldn't want to be a passenger flown by a pilot who was not quite sure what will happen to the flight path when he presses some buttons on the autopilot/FMS/EFIS system. And I mean under the whole flight envelope, without or with reasonably foreseeable partial failures.

He probably is pretty confident pressing buttons within a reasonably small envelope of what behaviour lurks in the software, but typically these days he doesn't have any idea about the whole gamut of available behaviour lurking within the software, and I find that scary!
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Old 20th Nov 2013, 12:58
  #2271 (permalink)  
 
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The FAA has just figured out that, in the airline industry, automation dependence has become too common.

Is this becoming true in the helicopter industry? (Or in certain segments of it?) Is this accident a threshold event?

I have no idea, but that thought may be worth following.
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 02:44
  #2272 (permalink)  
 
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A good question.
What kind of aircraft? Are you just lowering the collective or are you pulling the "trigger" and lowering the collective? Are you manipulating the trim switch on the collective?

The " Hollywood " answer is that the helicopter would explode in a fireball that would put the Bikini nuclear tests to shame.

"Humour" answer - 7 of 10 captains would slap you upside the head with the OPS manual.

reality depending on the aircraft is that probably the collective trim would go to full travel and then the collective trim would give up and alt should decouple.
In a 225 you will descend and you will get advisory chevrons on the FND. until you release the colective - order will be restored and the ac will return to the altitude selected the autopilot will not decouple..

Last edited by albatross; 21st Nov 2013 at 03:51.
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 08:48
  #2273 (permalink)  
 
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Don't know about the command course but I have flown with some crusty commanders in the good old daze who got their CRM course from the John Wayne movie - "The High and the Mighty" during which John slaps Robert Stack into submission.


"Sit down, strap in, shut up, gear up, gear down and if i want your opinion i will tell you what it is!"

Cheers.
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 12:29
  #2274 (permalink)  
 
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Albatross.....you should remember it was the Co-Pilot who slapped the Captain back to reality! A classic example of CRM if there has ever been one!


Lone......we thrashed that topic around about 75 pages ago.

What is interesting is....assuming my alcohol ravaged brain is working right today....is the FAA's position is directly opposite to Double Bogey's view that more effort needs to be dedicated to teaching the AFCS and FMS.

If I have it twisted up....my apologies to DB....but at one point that argument was made by someone.....perhaps it was Geoffers. No matter....Geoffers and DB seem to be our leading experts on Sims and training...with HC coming a close third.

Not indicting who it was....just pointing out the polarity of views shown here.....and the breadth of discussions we have had on so many topics.
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 16:05
  #2275 (permalink)  
 
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I think it would be foolish to assume that the issues with helicopters and airliners are identical. At least in helicopters we manually fly an inherently severely unstable beast (albeit with autopilot stability assistance) for every takeoff and landing (which lets face it are the tricky bits - any idiot can fly in the cruise) and compared to many airline pilots our number of takeoffs and landings per year are much much greater, and more varied. We have to demonstrate that we can fly without any artificial stability every 6 months / year at which point, compared to an airliner, a helicopter is a wild bucking beast (well, it is when I fly it anyway!).

Certainly in both cases, the pilots must know what will happen when they move the flight controls, and what will happen when they press buttons on the automation, but I think loss of manual flying skill is less of an issue on RW than FW. The wrong mental attitude, where automation dependency results in a delay to take manual control or drop down a level of automation, I agree is an issue for both but that is not the same as loss of manual flying skill.

When we first got the EC225, people coming from the 332L really struggled with being at ease with the automation. I used to make them fly a VFR circuits using the automation / datum beep switches etc - not because that's a good way to fly a circuit, but to get them familiar with the various modes and controls. They hated it and just wanted to fly it manually, and I was like the a John Wayne character beating them over the head to make them do it. But gradually they became more accustomed to it, then they loved it, and finally, 6 or so years later, we started to notice signs of automation dependency. So it is a fine balance to be sufficiently comfortable in the use of the automation to make best use out of it, to becoming dependant and thus reluctant to revert to a lower level of automation or manual flight. I still think we are some way behind the airlines in this area though - but we have to make sure we don't catch up with them.
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 17:47
  #2276 (permalink)  
 
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6 or so years later, we started to notice signs of automation dependency.
Thus, it is an issue.

Properly diagnosed and treated....it becomes an non-issue until the next relapse.
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 18:18
  #2277 (permalink)  
 
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The FAA report that underlies the press coverage linked by Lonewolf_50 has now been released with a summarising factsheet (that contains a link to the full report).

Fact Sheet ? Report on the Operational Use of Flight Path Management Systems

The report, "Report on the Operational Use of Flight Path Management Systems" is some 267 pages long with 29 findings and 18 recommendations.

"The findings address:
Many of the sources of safety and operational risk mitigation in the current aviation system;
Equipment design, pilot training and qualification, and airspace operations; and Lessons learned from the analyses of different sources of safety and operational data."

On a quick scan of the contents page there is quite a lot in there from the fixed wing world across a broad front relating to Flight Path Management not just automation.

It should allow the helicopter world to aid its reviews of similar issues.
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Old 21st Nov 2013, 18:33
  #2278 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
Thus, it is an issue.
Err yes, that's what I said! Shall I call you "Polly"?
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Old 22nd Nov 2013, 15:43
  #2279 (permalink)  
 
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I don't think Sasless has had his feet nailed to the perch to stop him shuffling off this mortal coil yet

Or is he just pining for the fjords???
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Old 22nd Nov 2013, 18:13
  #2280 (permalink)  
 
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I think it would be foolish to assume that the issues with helicopters and airliners are identical. At least in helicopters we manually fly an inherently severely unstable beast (albeit with autopilot stability assistance) for every takeoff and landing (which lets face it are the tricky bits - any idiot can fly in the cruise) and compared to many airline pilots our number of takeoffs and landings per year are much much greater, and more varied. We have to demonstrate that we can fly without any artificial stability every 6 months / year at which point, compared to an airliner, a helicopter is a wild bucking beast (well, it is when I fly it anyway!).

Certainly in both cases, the pilots must know what will happen when they move the flight controls, and what will happen when they press buttons on the automation, but I think loss of manual flying skill is less of an issue on RW than FW. The wrong mental attitude, where automation dependency results in a delay to take manual control or drop down a level of automation, I agree is an issue for both but that is not the same as loss of manual flying skill.
Call me Polly....but I will call you Foggy.

You must have some Labor Politician in you HC as you can use a hundred words where five or six would suffice.and appear to be on both sides of the issue while doing so.
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