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SAR S-92 Missing Ireland

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SAR S-92 Missing Ireland

Old 18th Mar 2017, 12:36
  #241 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Ireland
Posts: 381
The Flying Ireland article gives a good indication of the navigation equipment on-board the Irish S-92s.

It appears to indicate that the FMS system is identical across the fleet but is it possible there might be some small differences between the various aircraft in the fleet? Four aircraft came from the previous UK contract while one came direct from the factory in the USA (having been acquired specifically for the Irish operation).

Also, is the information stored in the FMS of each aircraft identical? If the aircraft are rotated around the various bases after coming in for maintenance, can there be different information stored in each FMS as the crews at a particular base add information to the system as best suited to their needs and the area of the country where they carry out the majority of their flying?

Say, for example, an S-92, having been based at Waterford for a considerable period of time, goes to Dublin for scheduled maintenance. It comes out of maintenance and is assigned to the Dublin SAR operation (R116). Its FMS may contain information optimized for work in the south eastern region of the country (having been inputted by the Waterford crews) and may lack many of the way-points that are programmed into the Shannon or Sligo-based machines by their respective crews. Could the crew of R116 have found themselves flying an unfamiliar aircraft (from an FMS point of view) towards an area they were not familiar with?
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 12:55
  #242 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
Just a reader on the thread, but couldn't let this pass without comment. Insular and arrogant heh? HC, you come across as the most opinionated, insular, arrogant, strident, know it all on this forum. Yes, I know you have experience, but how about a little humility. You're just one among equals.
Well said.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 13:02
  #243 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
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To comment on some aspects of earlier posts first:

Did the crew think that the fuel was at Blackrock? There would be plenty of reference material at the planning stage and in flight to indicate where the fuel was.

As regards a mistake in FMS planning; if that had been made initially, the crew would not have disregarded the fact that one was on an inlet and one was an island, this would have been apparent as they coast out.

Would the crew have considered the elements of the required letdown on the west coast either at the planning stage or latest in the cruise and then have briefed them in detail? Absolutely!

The flight to Black Rock would seem to have been planned from close to the outset, as a known point of approach offshore around which they would manoeuver and approach Blacksod from the SW.

The next few questions are an attempt to gain insight into the SAR perspective:

Would the aim have been to descend inbound Blackrock from the east to obtain visual contact with the surface at around 200ft and then proceed to turn back towards the fuel at Blacksod?

The transition to contact flying may or may not have been achieved but what would a SAR crew be expected to do if surface contact was either never achieved or subsequently lost?

What would the SOP be for this?

Do SAROPS procedures allow continuation IMC below MSA after such types of letdown?

Would a gradual turn towards the lighthouse at Blackrock to regain visual contact be the natural thing to do?

I note that a track from Blackrock to Blacksod passes close to another island, Duvillaun More. From a SAR point of view, would this be preferable to a left turn overhead Blackrock to establish on a NEly 9nm final for Blacksod?

I know there are many ways to skin a cat but I’m trying to get a SAR perspective, considering the additional technology and SAR flight limitations available whilst on ops.

Last edited by Loquatious; 18th Mar 2017 at 16:10.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 13:07
  #244 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2001
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Not frequented PPRuNe for a while but I'm not surprised to see the usual egos locking horns! Personally, I think HC has every right to question the justification for, and risk aspects of providing top-cover on SAR missions. In the past, comms-relay was a big factor and that isn't such an issue with modern comms suites.

I know for a fact that, occasionally, the decision to launch a top-cover asset is made by someone who doesn't necessarily have experience as a SAR operator. The decision can be made because another asset is available so why not use it? Clearly, it's a great capability with which to enhance a long-range job and will always give the crews a warm fuzzy feeling.

Like any scenario where the boundaries of risk-taking are being explored, it often takes a tragic incident to question current practices and evolve safe operating procedures. If it was one of my loved ones that had been lost I would have no problem with people challenging the status quo.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 13:10
  #245 (permalink)  
 
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I don't know whether this is relevant because we do not know what they where attempting to do towards the later part of the flight. However, Weather Radar can be tricky to set up correctly to pick up obstacles on the surface of the sea, especially if a turn is involved at sufficient height that when the turn is complete the radar sweep is now looking over the top of the obstacles. Or in other words, the descent angle from the helicopter is too steep for the radar to sweep the flight trajectory.

I managed to "miss" the Miller Platform doing just this positioning for an ARA to the BRAE A. A knee trembler when I saw the Miller go by my window not to far below me.

I struggle to accept though that with a well trained crew like SAR, three of them navigating and looking at screens, in a high workload flight phase like the final positioning and descent, that they could end up making the same mistake I did.

If I was tasked with that let-down I would have used the BLACKROCK island as well for my IP and transition onward from there to the bay, but then again I am not sure how tight you can make a let down pattern in the BLACK SOD bay and I am not SAR.

Maybe Crab can let us know what the "standard" approach (excuse the pun) to a problem like this let-down in the bay would normally be for a SAR crew.

It seems very reasonable to me what they did in terms of the flight path, and maybe the close proximity of the wreckage to the island could just be a misleading red herring, in that they were doing a solid procedure and something went wrong as the got close to the island.

As an Aviator who has spent a long time over the sea, bored, lonely and eating mainly crap meals, I would not criticise the SAR Community for anything as they have always been my last hope should something go tits up with me chopper.!!

DB
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 13:18
  #246 (permalink)  
 
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I think challenging the strategies and protocols of the SAR community and further, suggesting that a top-cover (mutual support) helicopter should not be there because it is "taking a risk" is nonsense.

The principle of top-cover and mutual support is fairly easy to grasp if you consider that when these boys and girls are tasked on these long distance jobs is not because it is bright and sunny. Their ability to securely conduct their operation is supported by the top-cover asset for a whole host of reasons and not just because someone has or has not fitted a SAT Comm.

What this crew were doing should have been fairly routine for them and whatever has happened should not immediately start calling to question the solid mutual support protocols for other crews who are tasked in hideous conditions on a very long bungy.

If is was me bobbing about in the oggin, a long way from home, I would be very happy to know that the Rescue Helicopter has a solid support and communication via whatever means necessary as it comes to get me.

Sorry HC but this thread needs some balance to stay on topic and the SAR crews deserve more of our support than I think you are giving them right now. Play nice in the sandpit!
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 13:32
  #247 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by DOUBLE BOGEY View Post
I think challenging the strategies and protocols of the SAR community and further, suggesting that a top-cover (mutual support) helicopter should not be there because it is "taking a risk" is nonsense.

The principle of top-cover and mutual support is fairly easy to grasp if you consider that when these boys and girls are tasked on these long distance jobs is not because it is bright and sunny. Their ability to securely conduct their operation is supported by the top-cover asset for a whole host of reasons and not just because someone has or has not fitted a SAT Comm.

What this crew were doing should have been fairly routine for them and whatever has happened should not immediately start calling to question the solid mutual support protocols for other crews who are tasked in hideous conditions on a very long bungy.

If is was me bobbing about in the oggin, a long way from home, I would be very happy to know that the Rescue Helicopter has a solid support and communication via whatever means necessary as it comes to get me.

Sorry HC but this thread needs some balance to stay on topic and the SAR crews deserve more of our support than I think you are giving them right now. Play nice in the sandpit!
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 13:37
  #248 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
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I am new here but I live in the West of Ireland.

The issue of Topcover appears to be that it's provided by the Irish Air Corps using fixed wing. I understand that this stems from not wanting to tie up another Helicopter & leave cover thin for the rest of the Island. Plus a fixed wing will have a longer range, & loiter ability.

There is probably some politics here. The IAC used to provide SAR. They wanted to continue but it would of needed a big investment, so the government decided to contract it out.

An illustration of the thin resources is it took 5 hours to get a fixed wing airborne after the incident. Another "unspoken" aspect is whether the other helicopter, on route back from rescuing a casualty, passed close to the site as there were reports of a strobe being seen.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 13:51
  #249 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2001
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[QUOTE]I think challenging the strategies and protocols of the SAR community and further, suggesting that a top-cover (mutual support) helicopter should not be there because it is "taking a risk" is nonsense.[QUOTE]

I for one wasn't suggesting that a top-cover aircraft shouldn't have been there. My perspective, for what it's worth, is that it's healthy to occasionally challenge practices that have been routine for some time. The merits of a top-cover aircraft are obvious. The process whereby the decision to launch a second aircraft is made is what I feel merits consideration. This is by no means criticising an aviation community which demands the utmost respect, merely healthy debate.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 14:13
  #250 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
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The whole 'top cover isn't required due to SATCOM' is a bit of a non-argument in my opinion.

SATCOM is far from perfect and even the most modern systems can still suffer from delays, drop-outs, lack of clarity and all the other issues anyone who's used them much will know about.

In a hover at 50 feet hundreds of miles out to sea it's a much nicer option to have LOS VHF comms at the press of a button with someone sitting above you watching instead of -

'Engine failure, does anyone have the number for the ARCC handy?

0044... splosh.

Please hang up and try again'
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 14:49
  #251 (permalink)  
 
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I don't know whether this is relevant because we do not know what they where attempting to do towards the later part of the flight. However, Weather Radar can be tricky to set up correctly to pick up obstacles on the surface of the sea, especially if a turn is involved at sufficient height that when the turn is complete the radar sweep is now looking over the top of the obstacles. Or in other words, the descent angle from the helicopter is too steep for the radar to sweep the flight trajectory.
SAR helicopters use a search radar for let downs - not a weather radar. A different animal. In conjunction with FLIR and EGPWS the resulting picture is very accurate and large buoys can be detected easily. A cliff face or island would be obvious. Particularly so from 200 feet which is the level at which the helicopter would be 2 miles from the target.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 15:03
  #252 (permalink)  
 
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FC80 - top cover (fixed wing) here would have been IMC and probably heard a landing call. Switch off, all safe. A satellite tracking system could have pinpointed the final tracked position if you paid for the more frequent 20 sec burst and had a true flight follower covering the SAR flight and seeing the last report probably just short of the HLS.

Especially relevant when ELT's etc fail to deploy / activate. You have an immediate position and can engage RCC. Of course mutual support would provide a rescue possibility but fixed wing only possibly air-drop a survival raft / kit. Depends upon your budget. CHC uses SkyTrac extensively in the rest of the world - it works well.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 15:39
  #253 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Same again View Post
SAR helicopters use a search radar for let downs - not a weather radar. A different animal. In conjunction with FLIR and EGPWS the resulting picture is very accurate and large buoys can be detected easily. A cliff face or island would be obvious. Particularly so from 200 feet which is the level at which the helicopter would be 2 miles from the target.
Not sure what you mean precisely, but the SAR S92 uses the Honeywell Primus wx radar: https://aerocontent.honeywell.com/ae...1A_for_SAR.pdf
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 15:44
  #254 (permalink)  
 
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DB - I don't know the CHC SOPs and I don't know how good their radar is (not a search radar I'm pretty sure though, that was what we had on the SK) but an IP over 10 Nm away from the intended LS is rather extreme.

We used to let down from MSA well within 5 Nm and the final trans down from 200' was at about 1.25nm.

There may well have been other factors such as radar contacts as I explained earlier that may have affected their letdown procedure.

IIRC the S-92 has the facility to mark a target on top at 1000' (or whatever the required height is) and then complete a fully automatic letdown to the hover.

As for continuing IMC below MSA, we had special dispensation to do so because of the accuracy of the radar and the crew composition (dedicated radar operator) - again I know not what the CG AOC permits.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 16:01
  #255 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by FC80 View Post
The whole 'top cover isn't required due to SATCOM' is a bit of a non-argument in my opinion.

SATCOM is far from perfect and even the most modern systems can still suffer from delays, drop-outs, lack of clarity and all the other issues anyone who's used them much will know about.

In a hover at 50 feet hundreds of miles out to sea it's a much nicer option to have LOS VHF comms at the press of a button with someone sitting above you watching instead of -

'Engine failure, does anyone have the number for the ARCC handy?

0044... splosh.

Please hang up and try again'

Agreed.

In the UK, we are still mourning the loss of a world-class electronics suite and a working bomb-bay overhead.

Meanwhile, still messing with improvisations seven years later and no clarity on the SAR role of the next generation of MPA. No amount of armchair comms toys can replace the on-scene presence of skilled aviation professionals with good maritime tools at their disposal.

The warm fuzzy feeling that Crab referred to earlier is known to be available in a variety of strengths.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 16:03
  #256 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
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DB

Why would you have used Blackrock for an IP for the approach to Blacksod out of interest? It would have added 10 mins to flight time (when you need fuel), is 300ft elevation and has presumably similar lighting to the Blacksod refuelling destination lighthouse, which is also surrounded by flattish ground? On another point, anyone know if Blacksod had any weather reporting? And if not, given its function as a remote refuelling base, surely it should do for the relatively modest cost involved? What weather would the crew have had to best indicated what to expect at Blacksod?
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 16:05
  #257 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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If the crew were letting down to Blackrock to get visual underneath then the track they took seems reasonable for a straight in approach into wind (based on the info from the map from a previous post. Now, looking at that map, they appear to have gone around to the north-west, either because they didn't have sufficient visual references or because of a technical problem (which we still don't know at this stage of course).

What is puzzling me is why they took a left turn back towards Blackrock downwind & possibly low level especially at night? If the cloud base was 300-400ft & the lighthouse being 300ft above sea level on blackrock then there was a chance they wouldn't have seen it from the last known position just short of the island. Could it have been a case of being in a very vulnerable position, i.e; Vortex Ring? low forward indicated airspeed with a tail wind descending towards a very big wall of rocks & realising what was going on but then being too late when trying to pull power - too close to the ground?

Or some sort of technical problem either at a similar time of potential Vortex ring state (which would be extremely unfortunate) or from the initial go-around worsening?

RIP to such a talented & experienced crew... very sad time for all
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 16:20
  #258 (permalink)  
 
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Not sure what you mean precisely, but the SAR S92 uses the Honeywell Primus wx radar:
Operated in the sea search mode for let downs. DB was talking about WX radar.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 16:20
  #259 (permalink)  
 
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BM,

Just a what If.....assume the Crew was going to use Blackrock for an IP for a let down to Blacksod....and had a Technical issue it may have caused a need to amend their plan to perform a precautionary landing at Blackrock.

At this point anything is possible......and all of these questions should begin to be answered if the CVR/Data Recorders can be recovered and are in good condition.
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Old 18th Mar 2017, 16:33
  #260 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Guys if any of you wish to leave a message of condolence check out the fan page for Rescue 115 where there is all the info on Rescue 116, hard to believe but over a million people have visited the page since the accident.link below


https://www.facebook.com/SAR115/


Granuaile getting equipment including submersible loaded in Galway Harbour


https://twitter.com/fcorby/status/843094580220313600
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