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Yet Another Fatal Wirestrike

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Yet Another Fatal Wirestrike

Old 17th Dec 2021, 21:36
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One instance where having a CVR fitted would not have helped. I am not making that point flippantly - trying to determine the reason(s) it was flown that way will rely on more than just examining a transcript.
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Old 17th Dec 2021, 22:47
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Originally Posted by FH1100 Pilot View Post
So I guess that means that you'll never fly a helicopter ever again. I'm personally happy about that, and I'd wager that the rest of the industry is too.
I'm not tracking, chief.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 08:24
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Originally Posted by Hilico View Post
One instance where having a CVR fitted would not have helped. I am not making that point flippantly - trying to determine the reason(s) it was flown that way will rely on more than just examining a transcript.
There aren’t new ways to kill yourself in an aircraft.
There shouldn’t be surprise about these fatalities, the reasons are almost always the same: supreme confidence in your own abilities coupled with having got away with it before.
Not everyone will have realised how close they got to shuffling off their mortal coil and instead pat themselves on the back (or get patted on the back) for a job well done. Different personality types process situations differently. Our faults are baked in at birth.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 16:17
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Any casual perusal of Aircraft Accident databases will demonstrate that fatal accidents are no respecter of experience or flight time. The only flight that will kill you is the next one you take. The only mistake that will kill you is the next one you make. There are established accident models that show complacency is a very cyclical thing, the organization I flew with assumed you were fairly unsafe up until the first 500 hours, and then after that, every 500 hour cycle was time to remind pilots they were at greater risk of having an accident. This accident had all the classic hallmarks - speed inappropriate to visibility, height inappropriate to speed. If he knew the route he didn't remember the wires, if he didn't know the route he should have anticipated the wires. Nothing complex here, just another tragic statistic that will continue to grow.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 18:07
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Originally Posted by Two's in View Post
Any casual perusal of Aircraft Accident databases will demonstrate that fatal accidents are no respecter of experience or flight time. The only flight that will kill you is the next one you take. The only mistake that will kill you is the next one you make.
There are mistakes and then there is behavior that borders on the suicidal. You may get away with the "mistake" of flying low level and high speed in the fog a few times but you will have a very short career.
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 22:45
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Originally Posted by Two's in View Post
Any casual perusal of Aircraft Accident databases will demonstrate that fatal accidents are no respecter of experience or flight time.
Why do companies want to hire pilots with a lot of experience? I did some casual perusing and searched "aircraft accidents by experience level". The first thing that popped up was this from the American Journal of Epidemiology. It's 19 years old but I'd say still relevant.

An excerpt:

"Flight experience, as measured by total flight time at baseline, showed a significant protective effect against the risk of crash involvement. With adjustment for age, pilots who had 5,000–9,999 hours of total flight time at baseline had a 57% lower risk of a crash than their less experienced counterparts (relative risk = 0.43, 95% confidence interval: 0.21, 0.87)."

https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/157/10/874/290156
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Old 18th Dec 2021, 22:56
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Those wires would have been on a chart.

obviously a lot of bandwidth would have been devoted to looking outside but it seems not a lot was given to flight planning…
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 01:38
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Originally Posted by Fun_police View Post
Those wires would have been on a chart.

obviously a lot of bandwidth would have been devoted to looking outside but it seems not a lot was given to flight planning…
How long will it be before one of the “EFB” apps for iPad actively warns you, if you are approaching a charted obstacle below a safe height - like a data base TAWS?
We have two fantastic app’s in Australia that warn you when approaching “airspace” etc allready.

Not talking “certified”, or fool proof, but having your iPad turn red and say “Warning, warning” might save someone.
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 02:36
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Garmin Pilot, which I fly with, does that for both obstacles and terrain, but not power lines. If you are exploiting your 1/2 mile vis./clear of clouds, U.S. class G privileges at an appropriate speed, terrain warnings have to be off because you are generally so low terrain warnings are continuous, and obstacles, i.e. radio towers, are rarely a surprise. Power lines, on the other hand, continue to be a near invisible and serious threat.

However, the modern Garmin GTN series panel navigators can be equipped with HTAWS that includes a substantial U.S. power line obstacle database. It's been available for years. I've not had the opportunity to fly with that technology, unfortunately, so can't speak to it personally.
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 17:03
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If the 407 pilot was going VFR from Baton Rouge to Lakefront, New Orleans, he'd want to intercept the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain and then scoot just north of New Orleans International. His plan probably looked something like this.



Even a casual glance at the New Orleans chart would show the big powerline cutting north/south across the western part of the lake, just east of where I-55 and I-10 merge. It is unbelievable that a pilot who was familiar with that area would *not* know about it. New Orleans is a tricky place to fly around. There are powerplants and refineries and all kinds of obstacles that can trip up a helicopter pilot. The nearest tower of that powerline south of I-10 is about 500 feet from the roadway. The next tower is out over the water(!), about 250 feet north of the Interstate. The wires themselves were not marked, and I'd bet that they were invisible until just before impact. Not a good situation.

The other thing is that we know that inland fog is never universally even. It can be patchy...thicker in some spots, thinner in others. This particular day was not a "zero/zero" fogged-in, can't-see-sh*t, sort of day. Dash cam video of the event shows fairly good visibility on the ground. Maybe the pilot had good ground contact and it was sunny above, and maybe he thought he was doing okay. Who knows. I haven't seen any info on how fast he was going, so I'm not sure where people are getting some of the numbers they're reporting.

Those of us who fly for a living don't get to turn down flights just because we're not feeling it, or just because we think the weather might be (or become) too bad to fly. If the weather is above "minimums," we go flying (unless there's a huge squall line or "something" that's definitely coming that would make launching unsafe). You can't really say, "Well...ahhhh...there might be some fog between here and there, and so I'd rather just cancel the flight today, boss." You won't be a professional pilot for long if you do that more than once or twice.

Our (usually non-pilot) bosses are generally not dumb; most of the time they're familiar with basic-VFR minimums as they apply to airplanes and helicopters here in the U.S., and they expect us to be capable of flying in them. If the weather is "generally" flyable, our bosses expect us to fly and use our superior judgment to not crash and kill them. And that's what we do. Most of the time.

At PHI, our over-water cross-country weather minimums were 500/3. The problem is, even 500/3 can turn into zero-zero very unexpectedly. I was once flying along at 500', fat dumb and happy under a very dark overcast. Visibility underneath was, like, ten miles or more. All of a sudden, the clouds in my area let loose and I was suddenly engulfed in heavy rain. With my vast 2,500 hours of experience, I said something profound like, "ZOIKS!" They hadn't taught us about that in training. The forward viz was so bad that I honestly considered popping the floats and setting it down on the water. But luckily I was over a shallow part of the Gulf of Mexico and a platform soon appeared - on which I landed. That was 1987. In the following years, I have diverted around weather, done a 180, and even landed in a field or two to wait out an improvement. I'd like to say that I always maintained nice and comfortable "VFR" conditions throughout my flying career, but it just ain't so. We fly helicopters. And helicopters sometimes fly in some crappy weather.

To say, "Well I would never fly in such bad weather as that 407 pilot!"makes the person talking (or writing) sound foolish and silly. Of course you would, if you're really a commercial helicopter pilot. The key is to do something else before it gets so bad that you hit something. The unfortunate 407 pilot did not, and sadly he paid the ultimate price. He's not the first, and probably won't be the last.
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 17:33
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Originally Posted by FH1100 Pilot View Post
New Orleans is a tricky place to fly around.
New Orleans is not a tricky place to fly around and after reading the rest of your post, I'm as amazed as you are that you're still alive.
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Old 19th Dec 2021, 20:50
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Originally Posted by FH1100 Pilot View Post
Those of us who fly for a living don't get to turn down flights just because we're not feeling it, or just because we think the weather might be (or become) too bad to fly.
Not quite true. Pick your employer carefully.
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Old 20th Dec 2021, 00:12
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There but for the Grace of God go I

I would think that all of us that spent any time as PIC flying helicopters can tell a story how by some miracle they didn't die on one particular day. I learned my lesson back in 1986 flying an R22 not to fool with the weather and that lesson stayed in the forefront of my brain for thousands of hours since.


Joshua seemed like a giving person. RIP Marine
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Old 20th Dec 2021, 02:22
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Anybody with experience with power line warning systems such as this?

https://www.safeflight.com/helicopte...ine-detection/
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Old 20th Dec 2021, 06:10
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Yeah, I've flown with them on a HEMS AW139. They do warn of power lines, including any that you're flying over or near. Hence when you're flying in a city, it goes off most of the time and just becomes a nuisance.

Best system to avoid power lines is to include them in a HTAWS database to provide specific and detailed warnings of any wires coming up.
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Old 20th Dec 2021, 12:27
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Frankly, it never ceases to amaze me how people can be so bloody stupid - yes, sometimes you get caught out by the weather, yes there are pressures to get the job done, yes we are human and make mistakes - BUT, that flight at low level in an obstruction rich environment in such poor weather was STUPID - plain and simple.

If you go down then slow down - I have hovertaxied in cloud and fog to get a job done and gone under and over wires - it can be done safely if you do it slowly and know when to say NO.
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Old 20th Dec 2021, 18:53
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Originally Posted by FH1100 Pilot View Post
If the 407 pilot was going VFR from Baton Rouge to Lakefront, New Orleans, he'd want to intercept the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain and then scoot just north of New Orleans International. His plan probably looked something like this.



Even a casual glance at the New Orleans chart would show the big powerline cutting north/south across the western part of the lake, just east of where I-55 and I-10 merge. It is unbelievable that a pilot who was familiar with that area would *not* know about it. New Orleans is a tricky place to fly around. There are powerplants and refineries and all kinds of obstacles that can trip up a helicopter pilot. The nearest tower of that powerline south of I-10 is about 500 feet from the roadway. The next tower is out over the water(!), about 250 feet north of the Interstate. The wires themselves were not marked, and I'd bet that they were invisible until just before impact. Not a good situation.

The other thing is that we know that inland fog is never universally even. It can be patchy...thicker in some spots, thinner in others. This particular day was not a "zero/zero" fogged-in, can't-see-sh*t, sort of day. Dash cam video of the event shows fairly good visibility on the ground. Maybe the pilot had good ground contact and it was sunny above, and maybe he thought he was doing okay. Who knows. I haven't seen any info on how fast he was going, so I'm not sure where people are getting some of the numbers they're reporting.

Those of us who fly for a living don't get to turn down flights just because we're not feeling it, or just because we think the weather might be (or become) too bad to fly. If the weather is above "minimums," we go flying (unless there's a huge squall line or "something" that's definitely coming that would make launching unsafe). You can't really say, "Well...ahhhh...there might be some fog between here and there, and so I'd rather just cancel the flight today, boss." You won't be a professional pilot for long if you do that more than once or twice.

Our (usually non-pilot) bosses are generally not dumb; most of the time they're familiar with basic-VFR minimums as they apply to airplanes and helicopters here in the U.S., and they expect us to be capable of flying in them. If the weather is "generally" flyable, our bosses expect us to fly and use our superior judgment to not crash and kill them. And that's what we do. Most of the time.

At PHI, our over-water cross-country weather minimums were 500/3. The problem is, even 500/3 can turn into zero-zero very unexpectedly. I was once flying along at 500', fat dumb and happy under a very dark overcast. Visibility underneath was, like, ten miles or more. All of a sudden, the clouds in my area let loose and I was suddenly engulfed in heavy rain. With my vast 2,500 hours of experience, I said something profound like, "ZOIKS!" They hadn't taught us about that in training. The forward viz was so bad that I honestly considered popping the floats and setting it down on the water. But luckily I was over a shallow part of the Gulf of Mexico and a platform soon appeared - on which I landed. That was 1987. In the following years, I have diverted around weather, done a 180, and even landed in a field or two to wait out an improvement. I'd like to say that I always maintained nice and comfortable "VFR" conditions throughout my flying career, but it just ain't so. We fly helicopters. And helicopters sometimes fly in some crappy weather.

To say, "Well I would never fly in such bad weather as that 407 pilot!"makes the person talking (or writing) sound foolish and silly. Of course you would, if you're really a commercial helicopter pilot. The key is to do something else before it gets so bad that you hit something. The unfortunate 407 pilot did not, and sadly he paid the ultimate price. He's not the first, and probably won't be the last.

There’s no function to give you a “ like” on here so I’ll just have to type it.
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Old 21st Dec 2021, 08:43
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Frankly, it never ceases to amaze me how people can be so bloody stupid - yes, sometimes you get caught out by the weather, yes there are pressures to get the job done, yes we are human and make mistakes - BUT, that flight at low level in an obstruction rich environment in such poor weather was STUPID - plain and simple.

If you go down then slow down - I have hovertaxied in cloud and fog to get a job done and gone under and over wires - it can be done safely if you do it slowly and know when to say NO.
Couldn't agree more.
Cultures get created (Kobe Bryant crash being another case in point) where safety is a box ticking exercise, that justifies tackling any flight no matter what.
All the fellow cowboys out there can then find plenty of reasons why it wasn't the pilot's fault and shrug their shoulders.
That's why we will keep getting statistics, there are just so many that will read this and be thinking I've done worse, or I would have succeeded.

The only saving grace here is that no one else got to pay for such stupidity, apart from the insurer, who I can only hope repudiates the claim.




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Old 21st Dec 2021, 09:08
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The only saving grace here is that no one else got to pay for such stupidity, apart from the insurer, who I can only hope repudiates the claim.
Apart from his family, sadly paying a very large price.

Completely agree about the pseudo-safety culture - box-ticking does not make for safe flying.
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Old 21st Dec 2021, 09:22
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
Apart from his family, sadly paying a very large price.
It’s tragic how the family is always forgotten.
When the lawyers and insurers come looking at the estate to pay for the mistake, it can leave loved ones destitute trying to fight it.
The pain continues long after the crispy bits are scraped off the sidewalk.
It’s worth remembering this before testing how pointy the pointy end of the risk envelope really is.
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