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AS332L2 Ditching off Shetland: 23rd August 2013

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AS332L2 Ditching off Shetland: 23rd August 2013

Old 14th Sep 2013, 11:41
  #1701 (permalink)  
 
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Pilot experience versus competence

Maybe it's time to raise the minimums for co-pilots BEFORE starting off in Offshore flying. Maybe 1500 TT PIC in helicopters would be a good number, at least you'd have decent manipulation skills. I've always been surprised at how low the experience required levels are for Co-pilots all over the world when you are flying in one of the most demanding environments (IFR, Night over water etc)...
It is a misconception to believe that a pilot with umpteen thousand hours is much better than one with only a few hundred. It all depends on the way in which each pilot has been trained, the way in which each pilot applies him/herself, the way in which competence is maintained and verified etc, etc...
Which pilot would be better suited to offshore, multi crew operations? A pilot with 2000 hours crop spraying on Bell 47s who converts to a CPL/ATPL on an EC225, or a pilot who goes straight from a CPL training course, completes a full IR course, then converts onto the EC225 and is monitored and managed through a robust training process?

I recently visited a location where a senior captain with more than 20000 hours had been responsible for several very serious accidents due to lack of competence, thankfully none of them fatal! I've seen various other similar cases which fly in the face of experience versus competence.

A robust system should be in place to assess a new pilot's capabilities. They should then be assigned appropriate training to bring them up to the appropriate standard before initial line training on non-revenue flights. After this decreasing levels of supervision should be implemented to bring them on until they are eventually released to fly with any captain.
This process has been successfully applied by a number of operators for many years.

Lights blue touch paper, stands back and waits for the bang............................
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 11:51
  #1702 (permalink)  
 
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fatuous comments such as "more manual flying required", even though some of the events occurred on an R22!
Indeed, but a few years herding african wild game in an R22 would probably improve the skills of some button pushers.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:08
  #1703 (permalink)  
 
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fatuous comments such as "more manual flying required"
There's none so blind as those who will not see.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:12
  #1704 (permalink)  
 
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OK, more training and practice too expensive and not relevant to todays whizzocopters so - if more automation is the only safe answer why not go the whole way?
Surely the answer is ultimately RPV's 'flown' by operators sat in air conditioned comfort somewhere, it needn't be Aberdeen, it could be Mumbai. Four axis, quadrupled AP's, no chance of disorientation, no human factors like fatigue and boredom or lack of manual skills. On a typical winter NS night the 'pilot' could be sitting on a veranda sipping non-alcoholic cocktails in perfect safety. One operator should be able to handle a couple of RPV's at once when they get to senior operator level. Think of the improved safety and cost savings, once the bears got used to the idea.

Last edited by Al-bert; 14th Sep 2013 at 12:23.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:24
  #1705 (permalink)  
 
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My point is that those with a Luddite agenda are in danger of hijacking the thread. We don't know why the second pilot in each of these cases didn't take control and rectify the situation. A lack of confidence, quite probably. But to equate that to a lack of manual flying practice is a wild leap of (biased) faith, especially in an industry where manual flying skill are utilised for every takeoff and landing where, especially offshore each one is different and potentially challenging.

Those harking back to more manual flying are doing so because its all they know. These days we need to be more intelligent about it, and realised that the detail of what went wrong and more importantly why, will be different in each of these two cases. To imagine that flying a few more manual NPAs is going to fix it, is pathetic and counterproductive. So there.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:29
  #1706 (permalink)  
 
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Fairesrdriver

Every NS pilot,including the newest co-pilots, is capable of flying any mission with the AP coupled modes disengaged.

To infer that this does not happen to military trained pilots. Utter and complete rubbish:

1. The Blackpool accident aircraft was operated by two highly experienced ex military pilots who spent nearly all of their offshore flight time uncoupled.

2. The worse real UA I have been presented with, at night, accidentally set up by a highly experienced ex military pilot.

3. The ETAP ditching, flown into the sea by a highly experienced ex military pilot - the DAFCS with full envelope protection was not even deployed. The aircraft was bing hand flown.

I am an ex military pilot myself.

This phenomenon, if we can call it that, has happened to all manner of pilots with vastly differing experience bases and levels. No one is immune and if you think you are......Swiss cheese hole waiting for alignment alert!!

All offshore approaches, from the HDP to the helidecks are flown uncoupled. Day and Night. The coupler is only used to get the helicopter to the HDP. Even in an EC225.

This final act of flying, is a demanding and intensive skill requirement that is archieved by every NS pilot just like it is all over the world. There are no hiding places for poor handling skills especially at night.

General handling ability is not the culprit here. Specific skill sets, as yet unidentified, maybe.

Fareast Driver - I am guessing Australia. Do not confuse the benign conditions around your island with the demanding environment of the North Sea.

Throughout this progression, training and awareness on the AFCS and the coupler has always been poor. The rules concerning when and how I should use it, non existent. Lets try fixing this shit before we abandon the AFCS in favour of "Hand Flying" - which history proves, provides no protection AT ALL from these events.

I have had two nasty UAs on the NS. Both were reported to my Company as required by law. FDM precludes any attempt for crews to "hide" this kind of event. I do not believe they go unreported BUT they are very rare events, most of which result in accidents.

DB

Last edited by DOUBLE BOGEY; 14th Sep 2013 at 12:32.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:31
  #1707 (permalink)  
 
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HC,
I think that you might be the dinosaur here! Doing more of the same isn't working is it? Plenty of people with all sorts of experience have offered suggestions which you disdain. We have all flown with varying degrees of automation - some of us have even been to rigs without it. Continuing to do more of the same and expecting a different result is, I'm told, a sign of insanity.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:37
  #1708 (permalink)  
 
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DB

Throughout this progression, training and awareness on the AFCS and the coupler has always been poor. The rules concerning when and how I should use it, non existent. Lets try fixing this shit before we abandon the AFCS in favour of "Hand Flying" - which history proves, provides no protection AT ALL from these events.
totally agree, with rest of your post too! From an outsider perspective (un-clouded by co policy and financial constraints) more time (and cash) must be set aside for continuation training if things are going to change.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:40
  #1709 (permalink)  
 
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HC

But to equate that to a lack of manual flying practice is a wild leap of (biased) faith
But that's exactly what the Cougar report said. His 1000 hours had almost all been spent in coupled flight and he didn't feel as though his manual flying skills were up to the job of taking control from the commander.

It's not a question of thread hijacking, it's a case of closely examining the experiences of others and seeing whether any of their shortcomings apply in the UK. If there are inexperienced pilots in the North Sea whose manual flying time is minimal compared to the time they spend in coupled flight then it appears as though they may well do. More manual flying required. In an aircraft!
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:47
  #1710 (permalink)  
 
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Albert, you have offered no tangible advice at all in any of your posts. All you do is bleat on endlessly about manual flying skills. The average NS pilot,including the low time co-pilots, take-off, navigate and land, routinely in weather beyond your military SAR limits.

You are beginning to read like the worst kind of Troll, sanctimonious and arrogant. If that is what you aimed for...well done.

EDITED - having read you very last post - at last, you seem to understand. Please ignore all the above but stay on message now!!

Last edited by DOUBLE BOGEY; 14th Sep 2013 at 12:50.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:55
  #1711 (permalink)  
 
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Fareast Driver - I am guessing Australia.
Sorry; not all Australia. North and Central America, Europe, North Africa, Persian Gulf, the Indian sub continent, Malaysia, China, Australia and the South Pacific.

Plus eighteen years in the North Sea.

I'll back out now.

Last edited by Fareastdriver; 14th Sep 2013 at 12:56.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 12:58
  #1712 (permalink)  
 
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I have to agree with DB....and take issue with HC.

DB....are you familiar with the Flight Operations in Alaska out of Deadhorse and the weather they fly in up there? The folks in Canada flying out of Newfie Land also encounter some interesting weather. Don't think the North Sea is the worst place on earth for Offshore Flying.....there are places that make it look pretty mild. The Chukchi Sea area is far more remote and much more inhospitable than the North Sea. US Operators out of Deadhorse have been doing IFR Underslung work as a routine mission for Decades.

One of the dangers of running your own Cadet Program and then bringing those young pilots into the system is that it affords a great chance of limiting the "world view" of the organization. Bluntly put....it is incestuous and can lead to Blinder Vision.

That one 5000 Hour pilot failed to cut the mustard does not confirm the wisdom of hiring low hour pilots with minimum qualifications. If you did that.....would you ever hire an ex-military pilot?

I have in the past made comments over the quality of North Sea junior pilots sent to Nigeria to get "Command" time before rotating back to the North Sea as Captains.....most of whom were Cadets who had moved along in the system. Some of these young guys were selected for Training Positions as well.

If you want to teach a singular proprietary method....that is exactly the way to do it I guess....you take a kid and mold him to exactly fit the mold, repeat the Company mantra, and everyone is happy as the system is then self duplicating.

Sadly, if you have built in problems for any reason....those problems are very well entrenched and inflict a great expense before they are seen to be wrong and thus are very hard to change.

I believe in broadening the Gene Pool....by drawing a widely varied pool of pilots, train them to your standards and procedures, and if they cannot adapt then down the road they go. At the same time, it pays to remember there many paths to Salvation and some are better than others. The trick is being wise enough to embrace the different but better even if it is from an "Outsider".

HC's system has those built in problems just as every large Operator has...as over time the end result is a group of folks that see but one way to do things and that begets a bit of arrogance that is counter productive at times.

His outfit has done a great job of training Airline Pilots over the years so it would seem other Operators don't mind bringing in North Sea Helicopter pilots into the fixed wing Airline business which in my mind completely shoots down this notion we should train and retain our own pilots so we have a nice homogenous pool of people working for us.

Are we confusing ability for experience HC?

5,000 hours of Ag work certainly would not be a good foundation for North Sea Offshore flying would it? I can assure you any amount of North Sea Offshore flying does not set you up to be able to Longline or fly Forest Fires.

Last edited by SASless; 14th Sep 2013 at 13:09.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 13:01
  #1713 (permalink)  
 
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Satsuma, what the co-pilot said and what the co-pilot may have been capable of doing are two different things!!

However, what he describes is a lack of confidence that can ONLY be overcome by practising that individual particular skillset.

"More Manual Flying" does not address any specific skillsets. It is a generalisation serving no particular purpose.

Last edited by DOUBLE BOGEY; 14th Sep 2013 at 13:06.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 13:34
  #1714 (permalink)  
 
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Double Bogey - if you had taken the trouble to read my previous posts instead of jumping to your own pre-formed conclusions you would see that I have never actually advocated manual flying as a replacement for automation, merely that it would seem to be a 'dying art' constrained as you undoubtably are by costs. I think pilots benefit from continuation training. Taking off, navigating and landing are enough to retain manual skills? Are you serious? As for mil weather limits, I'm guessing you were never on RAF Seakings, unless your fog is thicker than our fog, or snow or windspeed!

Last edited by Al-bert; 14th Sep 2013 at 13:44.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 13:54
  #1715 (permalink)  
 
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Fareast Driver, I always maintain there is no substitute for experience and you must have it by the bucketload, having read you CV post.

I must therefore revisit your comments and force myself to find some merit or reasoning in them. I have to say you have not made the job easy!!

I am surprised that you seem unaware that so many CFITs have occurred also to Military pilots. I hope you can see from my last post that there are no stereotypes in these events.

I have never, ever witnessed a pilot over relying on the AFCS. in fact what I see is the absolute polar opposite of this. Under reliance, spawned by poor systems knowledge and inadequate basic AFCS and recurrent AFCS training is what I see, every day, every training mission.

All offshore types have different AFCS systems with different capabilities and different traps for the unwary. Like any system or machine it is only as good as the person using it. In terms of training for these systems one size definitely will not fit all.

The latest Eurcopter DAFCS is light years ahead of anything else being produced by Sikorsky and AW. Provided the aircraft is coupled in IAS, or ALT, or V/S or indeed any combination thereof, the aircraft will not descend below 150 feet, OR reduce AS below 60 KIAS, without overridding actions from the pilots.

For you Fareastdrriver, who likes to fly manually. No problems. Even completely uncoupled the collective is still guarded for you by the DAFCS. Thus power is protected AEO which means you do not have to look inside to pull power any more. Just beep up and the collective stops at the first limit.

OEI and this power protection morphs into NR protection. Look outside to avoid all the obstacles and just pull like crazy until you hear the low rpm Beeps. Relax and the collective motors back down to maintain exactly the required OEI reference NR.

Fareastdriver, the EC225 will pay her respects, even to your Luddite appetites allowing you to enjoy your manual flying in a power/NR protected bubble.

This is the future. This is what we need. This us why the EC225 is so important right now.

However, even the EC225 cannot fully protect the passengers from poor crew training as graphically demonstrated in the ETAP ditching. Someone up front has to engage the DAFCS to deploy the flight envelope protections.

A perfectly serviceable EC225 with full flight envelope, power and NR protection HANDFLOWN INTO THE SEA BY EN EX MILITARY PILOT because he failed to deploy the one thing that would have saved him, one tiny little button 24 inches from his face.

And what about the co-pilot sat next to him. He stated that he knew the approach was f*cked up but felt incapable of doing anything about it. All he had to do was say "I have control" and press one tiny little button 2 inches from his left thumb and he could have immediatley closed his eyes for 10 f*cking minutes and they would have been home for tea and medals with only a bruised ego and and interesting FDM trace to explain.

Can you see it now Fareastdriver?

Can you understand now what this thread is about?

Manual flying is the very core of the problem. Too much of it, in shite weather, at the most inappropriate ends of the flight envelope. Sadly this is aided and abetted by too little time spent learning the automatics AND most appallingly, if adequate time was spent learning the automatics THE AIRCRAFT WOULD NEVER, EVER end up at the edge of the envelope in this first place.

Do you see it now Fareastdriver!!

There is none so blind that cannot see!!

Last edited by DOUBLE BOGEY; 14th Sep 2013 at 14:01.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 15:06
  #1716 (permalink)  
 
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And what about the co-pilot sat next to him. He stated that he knew the approach was f*cked up but felt incapable of doing anything about it.
Cougar 491, Cougar C-GQCH, Bond ETAP. Developing theme there.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 15:08
  #1717 (permalink)  
 
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So, to continue DB, the solution to your problem is? Come on, it's as clear as day despite my rose tinted misted specs - could it be more training for all? For co's and captains, until it is second nature to use ALL the f'king gizmo's. Two sim trips a year or whatever it is isn't enough is it? Now convince the bean counters.

and btw, I don't know of a CFIT in RAF SAR during my 22 years in that particular role.

Last edited by Al-bert; 14th Sep 2013 at 15:12.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 15:48
  #1718 (permalink)  
 
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Probably not just training to use all the gizmo's, but more importantly, training in proper decision making. Both for Captains and Copilots.

Decide what mode to use, when and how, knowing what to look for and decide when it does not do what is expected, analyse why and decide on a course of action, possibly to intervene and prevent a situation from developing into something lethal.
In order to make sound decisions, one needs to know the system, but also when hand flying might be more appropriate (i.e. because it gives quicker responses than many a/p systems would).

So perhaps a different approach in training, more away from training for the test?
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 15:52
  #1719 (permalink)  
 
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So, we fly manually and we have CFIT. We use the automatics (maybe incorrectly) and we have CFIT. We have had more manual CFITs than automatic ones thus far, but we need to understand that the new generation APs have only really been with us for 8 years out of say 40 years of NS flying.

Let's extrapolate the 8 years of data to 40 years and see where it could get us to with CFIT if we change nothing. At least we have quantified our risk a little. Then we can make a better assessment of the blend of skills that we should be recruiting, training and flying.

I am far from a luddite but was forced into luddite tendancies in my early career because we didn't even have heading or height hold in the S-76A then again we were shuttling a lot of the time, and it was all single pilot in the early 80s.

But what we did have, and something for which I was and will always be grateful and respectful was some very structured single pilot and two crew line training by some experienced LTCs, something which stood me in very good stead for the many hours and nights I spent in the RHS.
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Old 14th Sep 2013, 16:43
  #1720 (permalink)  
 
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DB - you have written some excellent stuff on this thread and I agree with probably 99.9% of it but this remark
The average NS pilot,including the low time co-pilots, take-off, navigate and land, routinely in weather beyond your military SAR limits.
is absolutely untrue - our training limits are COCISS by day and night over the sea and 1000m overland - there are no operational limits!
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