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Taking risks when you don't have to - Single engine

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Taking risks when you don't have to - Single engine

Old 28th Jan 2003, 13:56
  #1 (permalink)  
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Taking risks when you don't have to - Single engine

Reading the thread about the Antarctic ditching prompts me to ask where do you pitch the risks of single engine ops when you have the choice?
The question applies more to the choices you have when pleasure flying, not commercial ops.
My point is that, if as reported, the R44 was not equipped with floats I'm fascinated by the decision to fly a single engine piston over a murderously cold sea.
I will not fly my B47 over water and even go around mature woodland. I have the choice as a PPL and the short detour isn't a problem. I find so many pilots think the engine will never ever stop and just because it hasn't happened to them it leads to overconfidence and complete trust that it never will. I wouldn't survive an engine-off into packed mature woodland and would find myself in 50' of water before I could get out of a sinking 47. The passenger would have no chance. All that flight manual bull about tipping it on its side to slow the rotors - you must be joking, it would sink like the lump of metal it is. Anything with no inherent bouyancy (especially with doors open as per manual...!) like the 47, H300 or R22 would not stay on the surface for a second.

I repeat, my caution over always avoiding hostile terrain with a single engine can't apply to you pros, but as a PPL(H) am I alone in taking no unecessary chances, when you have the choice?

Although you said you wanted to discuss single-engine flying in general rather than the recent specific incident, you mentioned that incident more than once and made a comment about the pilots so it's not surprising people responded.
I've deleted those references and the posts which followed to avoid any further confusion.

Comments about s/e flying in general here.

Comments about the Antarctic incident on the thread currently running.

Last edited by Heliport; 28th Jan 2003 at 16:47.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 14:21
  #2 (permalink)  
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Flying around mature woodland is OK if you are only at 1000' AGL.

Try flying a bit higher !

Last edited by Heliport; 28th Jan 2003 at 16:48.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 18:52
  #3 (permalink)  
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"I'm fascinated by a decision to fly a single engine piston over a murderously cold sea."
Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt etc. It was a chance I was prepared to take after weighing up the risks. I fully accepted that, if the engine stopped, the chances of survival were virtually nil. Until the rules changed, many of the older ferry pilots didn't even carry a life-raft. They thought the chances of ditching, launching the life-raft and being able to climb into it in the North Atlantic were so remote that it was a waste of weight. They preferred to utilise the available weight carrying extra fuel.

Of course there are risks flying s/e over a hostile cold sea for long distances, but it's a personal decision everyone has to make for themselves. In my case, the opportunity to ferry an aircraft from Thruxton to Texas was irresistable.
Would I make the same decision again?
Yes, definitely. The excitement (and some last minute misgivings) when setting off; flying low-level over the Greenland ice-cap; flying over icebergs on the approach to Narsassuaq; the 'Is that land, or cloud, in the distance? approaching Canada; 'It's land!'; the "Made it!" elation on landing safely at Goose Bay.
The same flight's been done by thousands of times, ferry pilots do it several times a year, it's no special achievement - but it's special to me, and I'll have those memories for ever.
Would I do it again?
Well, I've done it now so, maybe not. But, who knows?
Come to think of it, that was in a fixed-wing. If I was offered such a flight in a helicopter with a professional pilot .......... yes, I'd jump at it.

"I repeat, my caution over always avoiding hostile terrain with a single engine can't apply to you pros"
It does apply equally to professionals, many of whom fly s/e helicopters. Generalisations are always dangerous, but I think professionals are generally much more safety-conscious than PPLs. I'm only a PPL but I've been lucky to fly quite often with professionals, and never fail to learn something from them. They know more than we do, they know enough to see potential hazards we might not think about. They are conscious of the risks associated with engine failure - even when flying twins.
A year or so ago, I flew a twin with an experienced ATPL/TRE/IRE (and occasional contributor to Rotorheads) who, after a briefing, kindly allowed me to take off. As we climbed away en route, a voice from the back saying: "Typical single-engine pilot's take-off" caused much mirth amongst the three ATPLs on board. I realised the laughter was at my expense, but I didn't understand why. It wasn't my best departure, but it was my first effort in a new type etc.
The explanation: "Twin engine pilots take-off expecting one engine to fail; single-engine pilots always assume it won't!"
Oh well, another lesson learned from the professionals. :o

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 28th Jan 2003 at 19:02.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 20:08
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Sensible choice? The only sensible choice is not to fly single-engine at all.
D'you really think you've got a fighting chance of getting an R22 into autorotation if the engine quits cold? A rattlesnake on speed might, but I wouldn't bet on it.
I get edgy crossing the Channel, even in summer. Cross the Atlantic? You've got bigger cojones than me mate. Round the world in an R44? I'll leave that to people like Jenny Murray and Q Smith.
The question of choice is a curious one. I sometimes think private aviators, who pay to fly because they must, have less choice than professionals, who can often be jaded and cynical and who could happily walk away from flying.
So if you're sensible, and you have the choice, stay on the ground. Me, I'm crackers.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 20:36
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Not fair lawyer

lawyer, you disapoint me, as a PPL I would of expected more from you, the 'Big boys' get the twins cause they earned it, they are expensive and the singles 'hand grenades' are all us pesants can come through on like most in a honest profession! I agree with some of what you say, howver at the end of the day, when you own a few million dollars or more of rotary precision your attitude may differ....
And T'ant.. Where have you been training in R22's. dont tell me you also terminate and join needles at 500 agl? They were made to make it to the ground.
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 20:56
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Its called ADVENTURE.
I would do it in a heartbeat but would also have a plan for something to go wrong. Obviously those two did and they had a good one cause it worked perfect.
It has nothing to do with one or two engines or none at all.
Unfortunately it is largely the domain of rich PPL's and not us working mugs....
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Old 28th Jan 2003, 22:31
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too young to die

I'm trying to follow.
What was/were your point(s)?
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 08:54
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I often think pilots, and regulators for that matter, miss the point when considering single engined helicopters versus twins as being inherantly less safe. After all, however many engines you've got, you've still only got one main gearbox, one T/R, one pitch change link to each rotor blade etc. There are a long list of components you only have one of that if they fail, you're going to die, quickly! Why get so worked up about the need for more engines. J
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 10:23
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When does a helicopter pilot become a "professional" it certainly has absolutely NOTHING to do with switching from PPL to CPL.
It also has nothing to do with hours, or money.
Just what is it...................?
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 10:59
  #10 (permalink)  
Nick Lappos
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I believe that Lawyer is speaking for the concept that all risks must be weighed, and blind adherence to absolute elimination of one risk (ie, never ever never even THINK about being in a place where an engine failure can't be easily handled) is not wise. No absolute is wise.

Weighing risks is what we do well, telling others how we weigh them we do fairly poorly. You will see that most folks who successfully operate their machines follow no absolutes.

Singles are quite safe, very efficient, and not sub-standard.
Old 29th Jan 2003, 11:00
  #11 (permalink)  
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Having read a lot of the accident reports, it appears that it is not the engine failure that seems to kill as much as not getting the lever down and thereby losing rotor speed and in the case of the R22 the main rotor striking the tail rotor.
Also reading the reports, a large percentage of engine failures appear to occur on just 1 type due to carb iceing.
I have a lot of confidence in my 1 donkey but I am alway's ready for it to go pear shaped (said touching wood!).
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 13:51
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Yes you are correct....CFIT is the main culprit.......then collisions and then component failures [From memory I think thats about correct.......], and a bunch full of engines would'nt help you there......

But Hey........I have had two engine failures....one in a PT6 as a result of Turbine Rub and the other in a 1S1 with a bearing failure........and guess what, the second engine was real handy.

The laws of average were against me I guess.........singles are something I reflect back on.........shows I am getting Old!!
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 15:37
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On topic but slightly off...

I don't know "Q" (which is a very 007 type nickname eh! what!)

But what my mates and I would like to know is how the posy photo at the NORTH pole came about.
It was seen in all the right mags and there is nobody at the controls.
Two conclusions come to mind:
A) The controls are frictioned, engine running with both of them outside the a/c setting up for the photo. I will leave the judgement up to you fellas on that one.
B) The engine is shutdown and the rotors are winding down during the piccie. If this is true, then that is a bit silly....

Whats the story morning glory?
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 16:11
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....and thinking more laterally, an engine failure never killed anyone, unless pieces of it hit the unfortunate person. The blades stalling and coming off don't kill either. The sudden stop at the bottom of the uncontrolled descent usually does it. How can we do something about that?
Old 29th Jan 2003, 16:31
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2002
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Posts: 112

Leaving the rotors running? surely not.......

My first ever helicopter flight was as a passenger over Mount cook in New Zealand in around 1984/5. We landing high on the mountain on a ridge, and the helicoper sank in up to its belly in the snow on the apex of the ridge.

We all got out for a walk, including the pilot, leaving the engine running. I was too young and stupid to realise how dangerous it was.

If I knew how to, I would post the photo.

Maybe they still do it??????
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 17:14
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Flying Lawyer,

Out of interest (and this is a genuine question, as I've only ever flown the R22), what was the difference in takeoff techniques that the ATPLs were referring to?



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Old 29th Jan 2003, 18:59
  #17 (permalink)  
sandy helmet
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I agree with Nick in that its a question of risk assessment and management, which most pilots, either consciously or subconsciously, are constantly doing (or should be doing). The outcome of a decision is influenced by experience and knowledge.
mixed with comfort levels and external (e.g.job) pressures.

Just a couple of personal examples - My first season flying fires in Canada, in the beginning I nearly killed myself flying too close to smoke and fog.

After a few hundred hours flying in the bush I was comfortably doing IA with crews in an R44 (I know hard to believe) in +35, bombing around low level in 1/8 to 1/4 vis in smoke. Why?? It was being done, you developed a comfort level, and if you didn't do it, someone else would be earning flight pay instead of you.
So with the experience and knowledge gained, in tandem with your newly acquired comfort levels and pressure to get the job done, you reassess risk, and push the boundaries, and I think this is where its starts getting dangerous. How far do you push it; until you scare yourself silly (lucky), or become a statistic (not so lucky).

On the other hand I've also flown with a bunch of ex-mil Brit pilots 'pas mal', very experienced solid bunch, who however, with most of their time on twins, were very skittish about climbing into a single to do over water and off-airport ops, while the 'single' lads with considerably less experience were happily climbing in whistling 'hi ho, hi ho'.

To DBChopper

In a single takeoff profile you accelerate to Vy, then climb to safe altitude whilst in a twin you accelerate to VToss, a target speed, (Critical Decision Point), before which if you lose an engine, you can safely abort the takeoff, or, if reached, allows you to continue climb on a reduced rate to Vy and safe altitude. Twin Cat A profiles I think have been well addressed recently, so you can check back the threads.
Old 29th Jan 2003, 20:00
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2000
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DB Chopper
I think I must have subconsciously ignored the risk of engine failure because it was a twin. When I reached transitional lift, I allowed the helicopter to climb too quickly . Having two engines doesn’t mean you can ignore the consequences of one failing - as Sandy Helmet has explained.
BTW, my error produced amusement and a bit of leg-pulling, not a sudden 'I have control!! It wasn't that bad.

too young to die
I didn’t intend to be disloyal to my fellow PPLs, and hope I wasn’t. It would be surprising if qualified professionals (commercial and instructors) weren’t in general better pilots than us. They’ve been trained to a higher standard, usually fly many more hours, and operate in places and conditions we generally don’t. It would be a little worrying if they hadn’t learned a few things over the years. For most PPLs (and I certainly include myself) most of our effort/concentration is taken up flying the helicopter; for professionals, flying the helicopter is a given - they operate. Big difference.
I entirely accept that some PPLs have a truly ‘professional’ approach to their flying and fly like professionals. But I can think of only two with whom I’ve flown. Ironically, I met each of them when I defended them against CAA prosecutions! One found himself caught up in a ‘Nimby’ campaign against a helipad at a South Coast boatyard (CAA withdrew the prosecution during the trial); the other was the pilot in the much-publicised Norfolk hotel incident where a lady claimed she was “blown through the air” by downwash (CAA withdrew their ‘reckless’ allegation during the trial.)

Good question - but I can’t answer it.
Isn’t it a little like an elephant?
Difficult to describe, but you know when you see one!

Last edited by Flying Lawyer; 29th Jan 2003 at 20:29.
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Old 29th Jan 2003, 20:18
  #19 (permalink)  
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Flying Lawyer and Sandy Helmet,

Thanks for the replies. I'll have a peek at the CAT A performance thread.


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Old 30th Jan 2003, 07:22
  #20 (permalink)  

Senis Semper Fidelis
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Could be too early , have I missed something here, how many of you people have kicked off by being taught in "twins", even the mil types start in single engine craft, some even carry on in them Ala 341/342, to say that singles are not safe full stop is surely being a llittle Po faced and bringing in type snobbery, long live the single and all of us who can afford to fly them, when great Aunt Maud pegs out I will try to move upwards to greater quantities of Donks till then I suppose the nasty old R44's and B206's will sadly have to do!
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