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Missing Twin Squirrel: Wales/Ireland

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Missing Twin Squirrel: Wales/Ireland

Old 1st Apr 2017, 22:24
  #201 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK
Age: 62
Posts: 913
You are certainly not VFR! if your viz is less than 1000m then you are either in cloud or in fog - take your pick. The answer is to have turned back earlier or landed when there was an option.
Sounds like you saying there is no option to land when the vis is less than 1000m (with the surface in sight). That's nuts!
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Old 1st Apr 2017, 23:29
  #202 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: yorkshire uk
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I think we must be misunderstanding crab ...as I agree , hover taxiing in 1000 m viz should not be too onerous .
You really only need about 50-100m of viz to be able to taxi safely I would have said , on gentle ground . ( this is not a recommendation but just what you could do as part of your finding a safe place to land ) However add in the different high odd angles of a mountain side and then throw in a good dose of turbulence etc you may find yourself running out of power when downwind and running out of ability to control it .
An awful lot of this talk about minimums is FW and just confusing the issue . We don't have to be 1000 ft agl flying over Wales !!
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 01:11
  #203 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: York
Posts: 685

Unless you've changed, you're a drone pilot? Maybe a PPL(H)?

Professional helicopter pilots are expressing opinions here. Perhaps they've more extensive experience of flying at low level, in poor weather than you?? Maybe they've flown SAR/support heli/RN/AAC helicopters in such conditions?

Perhaps we should weight their opinions, and yours, as such?


Last edited by 4468; 2nd Apr 2017 at 01:27.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 06:55
  #204 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: UK and MALTA
Age: 57
Posts: 1,220
Ah now the big penny begins to drop!

Does anyone really believe either a PPL or a Fare paying passenger or YOU! The Pilot should be swanning around in COCIS conditions.

Incredulously Nigel is now telling how we can all hover taxi in fog!

With the sole exception of life saving missions (and even those harbour a paradox) everyone else should only be allowed to fly in reasonable conditions that provide a more than reasonable chance of seeing and avoiding obstacles.

For the idiots on this thread advocating the option to climb IMC, you need to read the IFR rules. Thou shalt not be in IMC below 1000 above the surface unless taking off and landing (and that must be at an approved location using an approved procedure) or on a route notified by the Authority for that purpose.

Inadvertent IMC requires a climb immediately to MSA. However, this is not a option one is allowed to exploit to manage Flight in poor weather. It is a full blown emergency procedure that may still result in CFIT until MSA is achieved and also assumes the VFR planning Included the calculation of MSA. Furthermore, even for a seasoned experienced commercial pilot, converting VFR to IFR, without it considered at the planning stage is a massive recipe for disaster.

As most of you know DB loves rules and supports the Regulator 100%. However in this area the regulator has not delivered a sensible framework that in my view would save quite a few Darwinian candidates from their own stupidity. Not all but at least some.

The terrible irony here is the monotonous consistency of these incidents and the dumb postings that follows them. On the LBAL thread that one descended into willy waving and professional pilots advocating the answer as a towering type takeoff. There is no such approval for this take off onshore in civilian operations.

4468 read your post again. You start by claiming it is often perfectly safe to fly in weather so marginal........ and then go on to explain how difficult is is to stay VMC in such conditions. Also inadvertent IMC is not an option. It's an Emergency.

Last edited by DOUBLE BOGEY; 2nd Apr 2017 at 07:11.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 08:34
  #205 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2000
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Chopjock - we were talking in the context of being in the mountains where there isn't anywhere suitable to land so getting to the point where you are forced to hover taxi in limited vis means you made the wrong decision some time previously and should have turned back or landed then.

Nigel - I think I get what you are saying but why would you hover taxi in 50 -100m vis? Just don't go flying. As per the previous paragraph if you are forced into hovertaxiing in such ridiculous conditions then you f**ked up making your decisions about continued flight earlier in the scenario.

Having done many planned and unplanned VFR to IFR aborts, I agree with DB, not something you take lightly.
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 2nd Apr 2017, 09:13
  #206 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Top of the World
Posts: 87
Rest in Peace the poor innocent victims (PAX)

Weather flying is serious, commercial or private don't matter none; if not taken seriously surely You'll end up dead

Please think ahead, plan ahead; get it on the ground early & go have a pint or three, rather than delaying, delaying & ending up with a bend machine, worse still end up dead

Never gamble with poor weather, don't second guess, if Your not sure then your in the wrong place already. I'm just saying (my opinion)

This horrific prang shows very poor judgement & decision making regarding shite weather & leaving it all too late to get it on the ground safely

Happy Landings
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 09:14
  #207 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Outside in the cold distance
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This accident seems sadly reminiscent of the Malibu Mirage crash in Somerset in Nov 15 - that also involved a family travelling to an event in unsuitable weather.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 09:40
  #208 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Cumbria
Posts: 228
I would add there would have been many opportunities to land in the valley apart playing fields, flat fields in the valley bed. As I see it the pilot kept pressing on and left it too late to land, entered IMC, climbed, drifted off the westerley heading taking him into the Rhinogs. had he maintained a westerley heading and climbed he probably would have cleared the terrain, but what his gameplan thereafter would have been, who knows.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 10:19
  #209 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Before I got my instrument rating (as a FW PPl) I once found myself inadvertently in a white out. My post here is to emphasise just how quickly things happen - I was a pretty experienced flyer but within seconds I nearly killed myself (and my wife who was with me). It's not a time for quiet contemplation of options as some on here seem to think.
funfly is offline  
Old 2nd Apr 2017, 11:15
  #210 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Europe
Posts: 508
The elevation and photo of the crash site is interesting and I think casts some doubt on whether this was a simple case of a VFR flight with loss of control following inadvertent IMC entry in poor weather.

The impact location at a ? reported 2300ft is only just below the peaks in the area and much (? circa 1500 ft) higher than the valley that the aircraft presumably flew over a few miles before it crashed. If this aircraft was VFR, it is hard to see why the pilot would not have followed this low valley, south to Dolgellau and then west to the coast at Barmouth - the cloud base and visibility was likely to have been far better. Again, assuming he was VFR, he had somehow got himself to south of Trawsfynydd and given the equally hilly terrain to the east that he had passed, the weather had not been so bad that he had not been able to get himself this far.

To hit the mountain where he did, if he was VFR, it would seem most likely that the cloudbase was far higher here than many have presumed, perhaps around 2000ft. The pilot could well have thought that he just had to clear this mountain peak and then 3 miles later he could descend rapidly towards the coast at Llanbedr. With this scenario, he can't quite make it, climbs into IMC, loses control and crashes. But if the weather was this good, why would he had not just have chosen an easy cruise down the valley to the coast?

The view that seems to generally assumed to be the case by most posters here is that this pilot was groping along trying to maintain VMC, which would have meant a much lower cloudbase - elevation was down to less than 400ft in the valley that he had just crossed, so if his height was say 300ft that might have meant a cloudbase of 700ft AMSL. The idea that the pilot got into IMC inadvertently and lost control of the aircraft, yet managed to climb over 1000ft before crashing is unlikely I think - with this heavy, low powered aircraft, that would have taken a couple of minutes of solid controlled climbing and I'm sure most of these IMC LOC accidents occur within seconds not minutes.

I feel that a more likely possibility is that this pilot was deliberately flying IMC - and hit the mountain top. It seems likely that this AS355 was IFR equipped, or IFR of sorts, and putting to one side whether the pilot had an IR or not, he may well have been comfortable flying IMC, engaging the autopilot and flying in IMC. Indeed a previous poster mentioned he was at 2700ft earlier in the flight - if correct, given the weather, he would probably have been IMC then.

So if he was IMC, why might he have hit the mountain top? Clearly he may have had a mechanical failure, though this is statistically least likely. Another possibility is that he encountered icing and either descended too quickly in panic, or simply could not maintain altitude with ice on a heavy 355. Or may anti-icing was not on and an engine or two flamed out - Alton Towers memories. Then he could have had a gyro or autopilot problem which was not noticed. Or instead of having ALT engaged, had VS and that was actually in slight down so caused an unrecognised gradual descent. And finally of course he could mis-read the chart and descended a bit too soon for the coast and to get VMC.

So in summary I think there is a lot more to consider before people start making assumptions about the cause of this accident and what should happen as a result. Something that happens too much following aircraft accidents is that a lot of generalisations are made and not enough focus on actually understanding what specifically caused the accident.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 11:25
  #211 (permalink)  
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Sadly brings to mind two other helicopter accidents, one in the Lakes about five years back and the other at Ben Rhydding (Harrogate) nine years ago. Not exactly parallel but both likely to have been cases of PPLs flying beyond their competences.

Sad, peace to the family involved in this recent accident.....
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 11:49
  #212 (permalink)  
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Did he initially fly out over Caernarfon Bay and return back eastwards or did the crash occur on an initial westerly heading?
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 12:51
  #213 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: s england
Posts: 189
Have you ever taxied in 50m?
How about hover taxiing up a mountain in turbulence in v poor vis?
I've done both the former was in a 150m aircraft and needed a follow me truck on an airfield. Luckily I was part of a 3 pilot crew and it was difficult to go at more than 5kts.
The second event was with a v experienced 18,000hr colleague with a crewman hanging out of the door. We were only there because our pax had broken regs and quite likely would have perished if we hadnt got them.
Strong winds, high terrain, turbulence and as has just been mentioned potential icing ( and yes I've had rotor icing forcing a descent IMC) is an environment not suitable for
a 355 in anyone's hands. IMHO.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 13:13
  #214 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Lancashire, England
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I was cured of "pressonitis" years ago while flying VFR [no IFR] with the odd very broken and scattered cumulus, minding my own business at about 2000' [No high ground within MILES]. I started to descend gently to keep the ground clearly in sight and thought "Another 10 seconds of this and I'm turning back". About 6 seconds later ALL visual reference had gone. All I could think of as I started a turn was "How high are the wind turbines I know are round here somewhere?", while my sphincter gripped the seat.
All happened so fast it was terrifying. Looking back I could see NO dense cloud anywhere!
Bravo Alpha One is offline  
Old 2nd Apr 2017, 14:09
  #215 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: here and there
Posts: 12
Was a FW sunday afternoon cavok warrior many moons ago, been following this awful story with interest. I also "play" flight sim.....
Just set up a 50 mtr low vis sim session with a heli near some hills...my goodness I now realise how utterly terrifying this type of scenario would be for the uninitiated driver.
More regs?
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 14:24
  #216 (permalink)  
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Rotorspeed - the only thing we can be sure of is that they crashed into the hillside and therefore you can be pretty sure it wasn't visible to them.

I agree it probably isn't a LOC IMC, more likely not flying high enough but I don't think the zero degree isotherm was that low, IIRC it was around 6 -8000' that day.

The weather in the area was lots of stratus with bases around 3 -400' - he may have encountered this some time earlier and elected to climb IMC, hoping for cloudbreak the other side of the hills.

Whatever the reason, he just wasn't high enough for the terrain to be flying IMC.
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 2nd Apr 2017, 15:00
  #217 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Europe
Posts: 508
Yes agree Crab. And hoped someone would know where the 0 deg was - certainly not icing then if as high as 6k. Maybe it was as simple as flying IMC but just not high enough. The GPS trail the AAIB normally seem to get should make it fairly clear, if it was straight in or meandering. Assuming it's recoverable.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 16:27
  #218 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: s england
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Originally Posted by rotorspeed View Post
Yes agree Crab. And hoped someone would know where the 0 deg was - certainly not icing then if as high as 6k. Maybe it was as simple as flying IMC but just not high enough. The GPS trail the AAIB normally seem to get should make it fairly clear, if it was straight in or meandering. Assuming it's recoverable.
If the zero degree isotherm was at 6000' then it's quite possible to get ice at 2500' . Add frontal or cb activity and then icing is even more of a possibility. Then of course there's turbulence and downdraights.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 17:26
  #219 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
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As someone wrote in an earlier post, the crux of this (I suspect) is the apparent absence of a Plan B/C for the intended flight. Diverting to Valley and getting a taxi to Holyhead and a ferry across to Dublin is an obvious Plan B but had this been discussed and was there time left before the Christening? Turning back and getting a Ryanair/Easy flight to Dublin was also a valid alternate plan.
It seems outrageous but 5 people have died because the weather over the Welsh mountains was a lot worse than the weather around Milton Keynes and nobody had anticipated it.
What an absolute tragedy.
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Old 2nd Apr 2017, 17:31
  #220 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2008
Location: St Johns, Newfoundland,Canada
Posts: 330
I don't understand why CFIT accidents in IMC are still happening VFR rotary. Especially in Blighty. If this is what this accident turns out to be. As Vertical Freedom said, land and go have a pint or three. Having flown in the UK, landing spots are a bloody luxury, compared to what we have in Canada.
I fly in some of the most extreme weather and harshest environments in the World. Fuel caches very far and few, often at the limit of the aircrafts range. Slowing down or hover taxiing around not really an option unless you want to run out of fuel. Landing spots often hard to find over the Boreal Forest or the mountains in Baffin or High Arctic. Temps maybe -40c and below. SAR often many hours away. A restart on the aircraft probably not possible without APU and plug ins for Tanis heaters. A very very hard decision to land and wait.
A few years back, Xmas eve, my 50th birthday on Xmas day and a party awaiting. heading home to base from a very remote drill camp in a B2 Astar. 44nm from civilization and a few brews after a hard six week tour, got caught in some nasty WX, low vis, icing ya di ya. Press on itis, you bet, thoughts of a good piss up after six weeks, yep. Did I, nope. Landed, shut down and spent Xmas and bday singing to myself in the middle of a frozen swamp for 18hrs. Least I did make it home eventually. Although the wifey and guests had finished off the booze....hey ho.... Better to be alive and miserable for a few hours I figure. Wasn't the first time, won't be the last.
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