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EC-135 crashes into ocean near Port Hedland off Western Australias Pilbara coast

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EC-135 crashes into ocean near Port Hedland off Western Australias Pilbara coast

Old 24th Mar 2018, 05:49
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Originally Posted by Tibbsy
I'm not aware of any MPT operations using NVG in Australia
This seems to be a perfect application for an IFR capable machine and pilot flown under the NVFR on ANVIS.
I've done MPT unaided with little IFR training before, it is very scary on occasion and dangerous always. I still have flash backs.
Coming of a brightly lit deck unadided, facing away from shore on a moonless night...give it a go.
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 06:19
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Originally Posted by Unregistered_
This seems to be a perfect application for an IFR capable machine and pilot flown under the NVFR on ANVIS.
I've done MPT unaided with little IFR training before, it is very scary on occasion and dangerous always. I still have flash backs.
Coming of a brightly lit deck unadided, facing away from shore on a moonless night...give it a go.
Hear, hear .... likewise, having done plenty of both M/E IFR & S/E NVFR MPT ... I can attest to the view that these operations have been some of the most demanding flying in my 30 plus years. As we tragically saw 12 months ago off the Irish coast, it doesn't matter how many engines / instruments / navigation aids / crew members / etc, etc, .... if you can't SEE, things can go badly wrong. The ANVIS technology is there ... it's not rocket science. Get them, use them .... it's safer!
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 09:01
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And if the cause of this accident turns out to be disorientation due to trying to fly VFR in what, by some (including me), is considered either an IFR or NVG environment..........what then?

Can this job be performed VFR? Clearly it can but the demands on the pilot are very high.

Should it be performed VFR? In the last century there wasn't much option but we are in 2018 not 1978 and all the technology to make this a much safer operation is there - it will just cost more - but not as much as the loss of an aircraft and crew!
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 11:32
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Nescafe wrote

.... timing the descent to the vessel as it arrives at the missed approach point of a purpose designed RNAV.
with a half decent autopilot (no idea about the equipment in this 135) that's a good practical idea. It would at least establish some good basic principals.

never found night take offs a big drama though even in my old 206 days with tiny AH, set power and attitude and climb away.
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 11:38
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Faulty RADALT maybe
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 11:51
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It would at least establish some good basic principals.
So an inexperienced pilot is going to set up a GPS approach on a random moving target. From my experience of Bridge Navigation Officers if you set up a predicted position 30 minutes before arrival you are lucky if you can see it!
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 11:53
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Originally Posted by heli1980
Faulty RADALT maybe
As far as I know, approaches are flown on barometric altitude. Presumably there will be a cross check between barometric altitude and radar altitude at some point during the over-water approach phase and any discrepancy noted. The two instruments are usually within close agreement, say 50'.
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 12:02
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So an inexperienced pilot is going to set up a GPS approach on a random moving target.
I donít think any one said that.

What actually happens is HNZís very experienced two crew ops will select the published RNAV approach to Seabouy, and hold until the timing is accurate for them to commence the approach and meet the vessel at the missed approach point.

No one mentioned inexperienced pilots or random moving targets but you, and nothing could be further from the truth.
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 12:27
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I thought we were discussing single pilot VFR at night. The MPT operations I have flown involve positioning the pilot before it arrives at the port shipping lanes and it is underway.

Usually around 04.00 hrs. local.
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 12:36
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Originally Posted by gulliBell
As far as I know, approaches are flown on barometric altitude. Presumably there will be a cross check between barometric altitude and radar altitude at some point during the over-water approach phase and any discrepancy noted. The two instruments are usually within close agreement, say 50'.
It was a VFR approach and not an approach with a plate.

I thought the RADALT would be the final instrument as itís accurate and the altimeter is based on QNH based on a station on land or an area.

So could an error in the RADALT cause this crash if it was over or under reading?
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 12:56
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Originally Posted by heli1980
..So could an error in the RADALT cause this crash if it was over or under reading?
I wouldn't think so, not on a visual approach. The RADALT is normally "bugged" to trigger an aural and visual warning on attaining the selected reference height, which is the main purpose of its existence. If the crew were following the barometric altitude, and through diversion of attention or whatever missed passing through their intended altitude, and the RADALT had failed or wasn't configured properly, then the holes in the Swiss cheese are starting to line up.

My guess is they were flying a visual approach and just didn't see the water before flying into it. I might have done that once before, but the clue that plugged the holes in the Swiss cheese was the salt spray appearing on the windshield in the pitch dark blackness of night which rapidly focussed my attention. Point being, if I wasn't looking outside, which you're supposed to be doing most of the time during a visual approach, then I wouldn't have noticed the salt spray.
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 13:12
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Originally Posted by Brother
with a half decent autopilot (no idea about the equipment in this 135) that's a good practical idea.
This EC 135 was equipped with autopilot ( see pic )


https://goo.gl/images/7GUGkf


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Old 24th Mar 2018, 13:29
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Jeez, not much width to spare either side of the skids to fit the 135 on that trolley! I wouldn't be comfortable landing on that.
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 16:09
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Anyone who doesn't set the bar alt to match the radalt over the water and check it regularly is setting themselves up for a problem at night.

What use is the bar alt when you are making an approach to the deck of a vessel that could be 50 - 200' above the water?

I'm pretty sure the 135 has a baralt hold and possibly a rad alt hold in the AFCS so flying into the water shouldn't be possible in the cruise.

Did this one have 3 axis or 4 axis AP?
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Old 24th Mar 2018, 16:23
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Originally Posted by [email protected]

I'm pretty sure the 135 has a baralt hold and possibly a rad alt hold in the AFCS so flying into the water shouldn't be possible in the cruise.

Did this one have 3 axis or 4 axis AP?
3-axis AP and no rad alt hold

4 axis AP only for the new H135 Helionix

skadi
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Old 25th Mar 2018, 02:09
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Lets put this whole thing in to perspective, Port Hedland has been conducting marine pilot transfer for nearly 50 years. All single engine helicopters , without loss of life or machine.

A new operator took over April 1st with new modern EC135 helicopters and less than a year managed to reverse this safety record.
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Old 25th Mar 2018, 03:05
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without loss of life or machine
The only accident on the west coast I seem to recall, memory may err, was a 206 that slid off the side of a ship into the oggin. Don't recall the port, Karratha?
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Old 25th Mar 2018, 05:08
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Originally Posted by megan
Was a mates first job on leaving the Navy in the late 70's early 80's, had the IMC experience of Wessex to fall back on. Did the engineering as well. John will know, the NVFR a class 4 instrument rating at the time?
Sure was: Class 4, that takes me back to the old IRE days and testing some applicants for that and Class 2

Regardless of the differing opinions on MPT standards, most jobs can be considered stepping stones to move on somewhere else so to imply that pilots doing MPT aren't up to scratch with what they do remains, to me, somewhat demeaning. I won't even go into what used to be acceptable norms in both the NS and early NW Shelf operations, but times have been known to change and lessons learned as well as forgotten. The earlier observation about 50 years fatality free in single pilot single engine against one year twin engine and in this case twin pilot is a very moot point.
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Old 25th Mar 2018, 05:13
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The first shipload of ore left Hedland in the last week of April 1966.
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Old 29th Mar 2018, 18:16
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The debate about what is a night VFR has been going on forever.
Many do not even understand what is real night flying because nobody teach you what it is to fly in pitch black area and deal with all black hole illusion you will face.
Until you are in those situations, it is difficult to understand how hard and dangerous it is.

Any night flight done outside lit area is an instrument flight. We don't have to call it an IFR flight, but procedures are required to make sure you do not get caught and unfortunately, it is very easy to get caught.
It will be interesting to see what kind of procedure they were following in this case.
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