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Training as a crew - the vexed question of what seat you should occupy in an LPC/OPC

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Training as a crew - the vexed question of what seat you should occupy in an LPC/OPC

Old 18th Apr 2015, 07:19
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Training as a crew - the vexed question of what seat you should occupy in an LPC/OPC

The fixed wing world and particularly the airline world has long recognised a need for pilots to be qualified to operate the aircraft from each of the crew stations. They may hold a LHS qualification a RHS qualification and for some training staff both LHS and RHS qualifications.

This has not been the norm for the helicopter fraternity although in some jurisdictions training staff are required to alternate their Proficiency Checks between L and RHS.

When conducting a type rating on a twin-engine turbine helicopter the crew station is a critical part of the course design. The course may be Single or Multi Pilot if the aircraft can be operated single crew, It must be MP if the aircraft requires two crew at all times.

Under EASA regulations there is no such thing as a co-pilot rating – one where the candidate is qualified only to occupy the co-pilot’s station. Other jurisdictions may have a different approach but it is not possible to ignore the fact that where the cockpit design is focussed on the RHS it may not be possible to operate effectively (easily) from the co-pilot station should the captain become incapacitated.

This mixture of priorities presents us with a potentially confusing picture, If the pilot undergoing a proficiency check holds a SP Type Rating achieved at an EASA ATO then he MUST conduct his test in the RHS. However if his normal crew station is the LHS because he is employed as a co-pilot the he will forever train and be tested in the one crew station he never occupies during his day-to-day work. This is illogical and will do nothing to improve his workplace performance or prepare him for a situation where his captain is incapacitated. He may then not be able to easily access the parking brake, the rotor brake and some switches that are not duplicated on his side of the cockpit without removing his seat harness. If required to operate the aircraft from the LHS he must adjust to the different instrument configuration (critical to a stable and strong instrument scan strategy) and the different visual cues when landing, particularly if the landing is offshore.

So the questions we have to ask are:

1. Do we train as a crew and remain in the normal designated crew station throughout? OR
2. Do we continue to train all those with a SP TR in the RHS?

What would the regulator in your jurisdiction say? Which compromise is acceptable, train as a crew and ignore the SP TR requirements with regard to RHS or train forever in the RHS and ignore the implications for the day-to-day operation?

Evidence Based Training favours Crew Training so that crew members occupy their normal station throughout. If we are to progress this excellent concept then we need to review our attitude to the conduct of proficiency checks. Your views are welcome.

G
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 14:30
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12 month combined PC/OPC flown in RHS seat. Intermediate 6 month OPC flown from LHS.
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 16:46
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MB

Originally Posted by misterbonkers View Post
12 month combined PC/OPC flown in RHS seat. Intermediate 6 month OPC flown from LHS.
Jurisdiction please. ..... EASE, FAA etc ?

Thanks

G.
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 17:16
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Listed in Standards Document 14 (H) 3.10
Think that covers your question.
Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill, or the Authority may
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 17:42
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It is not an issue in the S92 for some companies I am aware of.
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 17:54
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Under EASA you'll find the appropriate requirements are stated in ORO.FC.235

Even though there are no licensing rules, there are operator requirements which should be complied with post Skills test, including the completion of an OPC. Hopefully the ATO structures it training program such that the students are exposed to both LHS and RHS operations in both PF and PM roles.
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 18:36
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My authority has no interest in the matter, sit anywhere you want. You can fly or be PIC in either seat, no special demonstration or training required. Sounds like a self-created mountain out of a molehill by airline washouts that ended up in (the horror) helicopters.
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 19:36
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Geoff, you need to get out more.
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Old 18th Apr 2015, 20:40
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QTG

Originally Posted by QTG View Post
Geoff, you need to get out more.
You're probably right but first I have to get my head around how the various corners of the world deal with what seems at first to be something simple but can end up being more complicated than we would all like.

G.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 01:50
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IME checkrides are normally flown in the right seat, but can be in the left. I've done checkrides with the check pilot in the jumpseat, and the crew being checked in the front seats, with no particular requirement, it's up the to crew to decide where they will sit. In normal operations, the crew changes seats regularly, often swapping each day, sometimes on other schedules, as mutually agreed. As a captain I really preferred the left seat if the weather was going to be a big factor, because I would rather let the cojo fly while I watch him/her, instead of having to concentrate on flying the machine. In any case, in the US it's a moot point, as there is no regulation concerning who must be in what seat.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 06:36
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Gomer

Thanks for the info. In EASAland we have a distinction between single pilot and multi-crew operations and to operate in the latter mode you need to have been trained and certificated accordingly. The training and certification requires that the pilot demonstrates that he can identify when his colleague has been incapacitated and fly the aircraft to safety. If the cockpit has been optimised for RHS operation then operating from the LHS may not be straightforward and rehearsal/practice necessary at least in order that the crew are aware what can and cannot be done when the guy in the RHS is incapacitated. If checks are always carried out in the RHS then any difficulties that may exist will never come to light as it will always be the guy in the LHS who has to 'play dead'.

You may think that this is a piffling issue hardly worthy of your time but as all AOC/CAT operators and ATO's are keen to comply with the regs it will be difficult to ensure that copilots are adequately trained in their normal crew station. Imagine that the RHS pilot becomes disoriented and the LHS pilot is forced to take over but then fails to regain control. The subsequent analysis of the accident may conclude that the copilot in the LHS had never been given training in IMC from his normal crew station and because the instrument layout is reversed on his side he may have had difficulties with his instrument scan. My experience is that helicopter pilot instrument skills are often found to be marginal so anything that detracts from optimum performance must be considered important, particularly in the recovery from unusual attitudes. As I write these lines I could just imagine them being written by the man from AAIB. There may have been one or two previous accidents in which this was indeed a factor but this detailed understanding of the situation was not considered. (Morecambe Bay??).

When a recent incident in one corner of the world was analysed it turned out that the LHS pilot was landing but both his experience was low and his training in the sim was always RHS. Was this a factor in his misjudgement of the (very poor) landing captured on the platform CCTV?

In our business it is sometimes very small and seemingly inconsequential things that create a hole in the Swiss cheese. I'm trying to understand what the situation is with regard to training standards across the various jurisdictions. It seems that some are quite specific and other take no regard of the issues raised. I ask a simple question - should we train in the crew station we normally occupy? Even if the answer is "Yes at least 50% of training should be in the normal crew station," then we can perhaps begin to understand the issues surrounding the questions I have raised.

G.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 12:55
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While every helicopter I've flown requires the pilot to be in the right seat for solo flight, none is impossible to fly from the right seat if the controls are installed, and there is no rating for left seat only. For aircraft requiring two pilots, both have to be qualified to fly from either seat. There is no requirement for a pilot to die on a checkride, although it's not unheard of. The PF is simply told to act as if incapacitated, and the other pilot takes control. Either pilot, in either seat, could be required to take control, and it's assumed that he can fly the aircraft, he just has to recognize the incapacity and take control. It's a CRM issue. AFAIK that's not a regulatory requirement, because it doesn't happen on every checkride.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 13:49
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Gomer

That's where we differ. It is mandatory for EASA check rides for Multi Crew certification. With no formal structure there will be no supporting documentation. That's when you find out that in the accident report that whilst one TRE would take the opportunity to test the copilot during the captain's LPC another would not. It turned out that when the captain collapsed at the controls the copilot had never had to fly an ILS, land, taxi and shutdown from the left hand seat and had a real struggle to achieve it. During the high stress situation and in a bit of a panic the copilot inadvertently pickled off the AP's instead of putting the FD to S/By (happens all the time in the sim) became disoriented lost control and that was that.

Fanciful? A 'black swan' event. Maybe but as Arnold Palmer once said after downing a 50 foot putt when a commentator remarked "that was real lucky". "Yes," he replied,"and the more I practice the luckier I get."

G.

PS. I once lost a dear friend who collapsed whilst training in IMC in a Sea King. Fortunately his safety pilot was able to return the aircraft safely but unfortunately Mike never regained consciousness and died the following day. He was 25 years old. A very sad day. So you can see, for me such things are not so fanciful.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 15:15
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Originally Posted by Geoffersincornwall View Post
That's where we differ. It is mandatory for EASA check rides for Multi Crew certification. With no formal structure there will be no supporting documentation. That's when you find out that in the accident report that whilst one TRE would take the opportunity to test the copilot during the captain's LPC another would not. It turned out that when the captain collapsed at the controls the copilot had never had to fly an ILS, land, taxi and shutdown from the left hand seat and had a real struggle to achieve it. During the high stress situation and in a bit of a panic the copilot inadvertently pickled off the AP's instead of putting the FD to S/By (happens all the time in the sim) became disoriented lost control and that was that.

Fanciful? A 'black swan' event. Maybe but as Arnold Palmer once said after downing a 50 foot putt when a commentator remarked "that was real lucky". "Yes," he replied,"and the more I practice the luckier I get."

G.

PS. I once lost a dear friend who collapsed whilst training in IMC in a Sea King. Fortunately his safety pilot was able to return the aircraft safely but unfortunately Mike never regained consciousness and died the following day. He was 25 years old. A very sad day. So you can see, for me such things are not so fanciful.
Geoffers, for many of us this is a non-issue because our system has not created it. This is clearly not a single-pilot issue so I'll concentrate on the multi. In Canada, military and civil (all rotary wing), at no time was I working in an operation that limited copilots to the LHS. It was not until I was working for a European company that this concept raised it's [IMHO] ugly head.

In our world (left of the Atlantic) it is very simple: the captain sits in the seat he chooses. There is no 'qualification' for this because he has been doing this from the time he was endorsed on the type, P1 or P2. I understand there are types with limitations to the controls installed on each side and as a PIC I considered that, and the P2's experience, the role to be flown, and who would be landing, when choosing my seat. My captain did the same when I was P2.

In the manner I am accustomed to conducting IFR operations your example amazes me! Both PFA and PMA's should be practiced in training. The PM landing an approach from minimums should be normal. In the offshore and EMS roles I often knew that a landing at the helideck/pad would be flown from a particular seat and organized the crew accordingly. If that meant a challenging left seat landing then (at my discretion) the 200-hour copilot would be in the right seat for the start, he flew the trip except for that difficult landing, and flew back. We also regularly swap PF/PNF duties leg to leg on longer trips.

Is the North Sea operating so differently?

As an aside, I too had a friend become incapacitated in flight. I was the LHS pilot. He did recover. I agree there is a heightened level of stress from the unusualness of the situation as well as the difference in workflow and feeling of helplessness.

Why do certain jurisdictions insist on creating ever more rigid systems that push themselves further away from real life?
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 15:56
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Thumbs down

It's not the topic of this thread but I would like to say that in my opinion the EASA differentiation between SP and MP is ridiculous.

I have flown a type of helicopters in MP operations. And I have the AS332 SP type rating. So I have demonstrated that I can fly it safely without any help. But I need to attend a MP course in Superpuma and pass a skill test to fly it with the help of a copilot. I can't imagine why. I can fly the Superpuma and I can handle copilots! What more else I have to know???

Sometimes I think that all this excessive regulations are intended only as a measure to keep the aviation bubble fed.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 16:12
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P & A

I guess this is one of those corners of our world where perceptions are very different according to the jurisdictions involved.

You perhaps can imagine my concern when I was asked to investigate some horrible offshore landings caught on CCTV in far off part of the globe. The problem seemed to be copilot oriented so I began to look more deeply into it.

The pilots concerned had generally obtained their TR at a US or European ATO. In Europe for sure the pilot would have received his rating, SP or MP, in the RHS so there was perception that the LPC/OPC should also be conducted in the RHS ( I have yet to clarify if this is actually required or whether there is flexibility here). In order to prepare for the LPC/OPC the copilot would occupy the RHS in his recurrent training 'rehearsal' and when his turn for any LOFT training would do the same.

Given that the line training given was set at the minimum it was them quite possible that the poor guy had never actually received any simulator schooling on the niceties of the offshore approach and landing from his normal crew station.

Now you can call me an old fusspot that's wasting everyone's time but I reckon if I can ensure that the recurrent training received is both relevant and sufficient then we may be able to make a difference. To do that I have to better understand what is happening out there.

There is also the possibility that having been scared to death by a newbie the captain is solving the problem with cross-cockpit landings. Either way I need to understand this situation better and feedback like yours is adding to my understanding and is greatly appreciated.

In particular the question arises when you have to accept a LHS landing by your 200 hour newbie because you took a HEMS shout that took you to a difficult and unexpected location. That can be a test of nerves for that sort of landing means that you inevitably will not be able to see the landing area. (don't let on about that - just our little secret, I would hate the bears to know that we can't see that helideck if the copilot is doing the landing.) Can you imagine the captain of a 747 announcing to his passengers on final approach to Heathrow "well ladies and gentleman we are shortly landing at our destination so I'm handing over to the co pilot because I won't be able to see the runway." :-)

G
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 16:24
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Geoffers - EASA Land.

It's a requirement that the PC is normally conducted in the seat occupied for P1 functions.

So if, as a trainer, you need to function from the opposite seat too (a qual valid for 12 months) you can alternate as per my listing.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 16:50
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Mister B.

Thanks for that. It's all very well to have rules but then you have to fight your way through the AMC's to understand the whole picture.

G.
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 18:46
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Hi Misterbonkers

It's a requirement that the PC is normally conducted in the seat occupied for P1 functions.
I'm working from memory here so I can't quote the EASA regs exactly but I think you have added the words 'for P1 functions' yourself. The regs just say 'from the normally occupied seat' - that leaves things rather open for discussion. A co-pilot would normally occupy the left seat, a Captain would normally occupy the right seat, a TRI might normally spend more time in the left than the right so could normally occupy either seat.

We operate single pilot helicopters in both SP and MP role so as a matter of course, the initial SP LST is carried out in the RHS, the MP LST is usually carried out in the LHS; however, if the two tests are combined and are carried out in the RHS, the MP OPC is carried out in the LHS. Essentially, we try and cover every combination and permutation!

There is also a requirement to alternate OPCs between seats if the pilot is required to operate from either seat.

Hope that helps Geoffers.

TeeS
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Old 20th Apr 2015, 18:56
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Hi Pilot and Apprentice

It's not that set in stone this side of the pond, we have one operations where we swap captain and co-pilot between seats on most rotations. This was introduced for reasons specific to that operations but as long as both pilots are OPCed in alternate seats every six months there is nothing to prevent that happening.

Cheers

TeeS
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