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-   -   Helmets - Should you? and Which? (https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/110753-helmets-should-you.html)

Ewan Whosearmy 20th Nov 2000 20:13

Helmets - Should you? and Which?
I just wanted to know what the general feeling is amongst CPL(H)'s towards wearing Flight Helmets in civilian flight operations.

The CPL's I have spoken to share a common indifference towards a relatively inexpensive piece of kit which could save lives and/or eyesight in an emergency.

Whilst I am aware that in the UK at least the emergency services mandate the use of Flight Helmets (ALpha?), no one else seems to be that fussed.

Gven the benefits on offer, is it not time that there is an initiative to start thinking 'safety first'?

HOGE 20th Nov 2000 21:19

Yes, if only for the hearing protection. Mind you, then all the passengers will want one.

PurplePitot 20th Nov 2000 22:25

My 'Safety First' campaign starts with not crashing in the first place. I know where your coming from but on a hot day sat in a jetbox in shirtsleeves, open neck and helmet! I cannot see it ever catching on. Some of the young ladies on their way to Ladies Day at Ascot might definately have something to say about it!

HOGE 21st Nov 2000 00:00

Especially, if you were only wearing shirtsleeves, open neck and a helmet. I find trousers useful when in public!!

fishboy 21st Nov 2000 00:24

What about the safety of passengers? If a nice big bird comes through the windshield at 100 kts, it might be nice to be wearing a helmet.
Always difficult when dealing with VIP transport and they are asking: where's mine? or: why is that necessary?

ShyTorque 21st Nov 2000 01:09

I have only ever flown without a helmet when for some reason one has not been available.

I spent the whole time feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable without one, even at OATs up to the high 30's Centigrade and high humidity.

It's probably just what you are used to.

Oops sorry disregard. Just reread the original post - I'm not a CPL. Why don't ATPLs count?

[This message has been edited by ShyTorque (edited 20 November 2000).]

PurplePitot 21st Nov 2000 01:10

Sorry, I meant that some of those young ladies might object strongly to sticking their expensive hairdo into a smelly, greasy, sweaty, distinctly used helmet.......

HOGE 21st Nov 2000 01:46

a wirebrush and dettol will cure that, purplepitot!

floppyjock 21st Nov 2000 03:47

Fishboy. I agree, I had a birdstike in a gazelle a few years ago. A sparrow got me right between the eyes. Luckily I had just put my visor down. I was sat in the back at the time. It went between the two crew in the front without touching them and I was covered in bird guts and perspex.

rotorque 21st Nov 2000 09:42

I reckon that a distinction should be made as the type of work involved. Most pilots in Australia will use a helmet for airial work applications. For offshore, police or emergency work it is also the norm.

There is often some contention as to whether a scenic flight or general charter pilot should wear a helmet. The thinking is that it may scare the **** out of the passengers if they see the driver wearing a bone dome. I tend to agree. but I guess accidents do happen.

Personally I don't wear a helmet on a normal passenger carrying charter, but find it uncomfortable not to wear one when I have a door off.

As to the temperature issue, we were often working in 45 degree heat chasing cows around and I never once thought that I would be more comfortable without the helmet on. Obviously the type of helmet plays a vital role in this.

Some contractual jobs require the passengers to be wearing helmets. On large government contracts the pax are issued with their own, and it is then 'unusual' if you don't wear one.

Purplepitot - No disrespect intended, but everyone 'plans' not to crash in the first place. Some day, you and I may not have the choice.
With that in mind, if a scenic pilot wants to wear a helmet then go for it.


Randy_g 21st Nov 2000 12:10

My own personal preference is to wear a helmet whenever I'm flying, no matter what operation or weather. It offers me better hearing protection, as well as protecting whats in my skull. (although some might argue that there isn't much in there to protect. :) ) I've worn it during sightseeing flights, and have never had anyone comment. I have been asked by a few customers why I wear the bucket. I answered them that although the risk of an accident is very low, I prefer to reduce my personal risk a little lower. I also mention that it offers me better hearing protection. If my wearing a helmet is going to terrify a passenger, then they were more than likely scared in the first place.

Yeah it is hotter than a ball cap, but I can deal with that. In the winter it is much more comfortable, and in fact, it beats the hell out of a toque. (woolen cap to those who don't speak Canadian. ;) ) Frankly, I find headsets uncomfortable when I wear one for any length of time. I guess I'm just a big pansy. :) Oh well I can live with that.


A professional isn't determined by the aircraft they fly, but by their attitude, and by their actions.


Ewan Whosearmy 21st Nov 2000 15:07


ATPL's do of course count! I was just being lazy

BTW, where are you based (US?)


Point taken about not crashing in the first place, but there may come a day when you have no choice. Similarly birds (of the featherd variety) tend to have a habit of not being considerate enough to get out of your way on EVERY occasion.

I can understand that pax with fluffy hair-do's aren't going to want to wear a bone dome, but let that be at least a CHOICE for them to make.


This is exactly the kind of example that gives food for thought

The Nr Fairy 21st Nov 2000 16:29

I did hear of an accident in the RAF where a Whirlwind or Wessex, on start up for an engine test or some other similar low risk task, developed such triffic ground resonance that it shook itself to bits, before even getting airborne.

The reporter got clocked on the back fo the head with a bit of blade, and mentioned that if he hadn't had his bone dome on he wouldn't have been writing the article.

That said, I don't wear one, but I guess in a Robbo you pays your money and takes your choice . . .

I got bored with "WhoNeedsRunways"

4Rvibes 22nd Nov 2000 00:27

Nr Fairy,You fly a Robbo you need a WHOLE BODY HELMET (in titanium if poss)
A wee joke fairy-boy

offshoreigor 22nd Nov 2000 08:30

EwanWhoesarmy, I found this in a back issue of TC's Aviation Safety Vortex:

Are Helmets a Good Investment?
You Bet They Are!

All hazards were identified in a thorough reconnaissance of the job site prior to landing and the identified hazards were again reviewed on the ground before starting the work. The sky was clear, wind calm, temperature 12C and humidity 32%.

The spray job was in a rectangular 40-acre field with a power line on the west side running north and south and a row of mature trees on the north and south sides running east and west. A barbed wire fence surrounded the entire field.

The field was seeded to corn and the crop was about three inches high. The circumference of the field is bordered by a 30- to 40- ft. strip of barley. The chemical used that day was MCPA and we were using an ultra-low-volume application.

All equipment was tested before starting the work and both the helicopter and spray gear were operating as expected.

I flew one orientation pass from south to north (the longest side of the rectangular field), noting the power line, which was about 50 ft. away on my left. I turned right, away from the power line, and started to apply the product to the field. I had made three passes when I realised that I did not have enough product to do another full pass.

Because of the trees at either end of the field, I decided to spray a headland pass to give me more room to pull up at the treed end of the field. I figured I had enough product remaining to do one headland pass before heading back to refill.

I pulled up and flew out of the field to determine how best to approach the headland pass. Flying to the west would bring me too close to the power line at a high rate of speed, so I decided to fly away from the power line. I manoeuvred into position with the power line behind me. I had settled into what I thought was a stable hover but, as I moved slowly forward, I heard a loud bang and the helicopter started spinning violently. I closed the throttle and prepared for impact.

When all the parts stopped moving, I found myself partway outside the cockpit door opening (both doors had been removed) restrained by my seat belt. The top of the door frame had landed on the temple area of the left side of my head with enough impact force to dent the top of the very rigid door frame. I was firmly pinned under the machine between the door frame and the ground. I undid the chin strap and slid out of the helmet with little effort, as the helmet did not deform or compress enough to trap my head. There was a large black impact mark on the helmet but no visible damage. There is no doubt in my mind that my helmet saved me from serious injury and quite probably death.

When I originally considered purchasing a helmet, I was somewhat deterred by the price. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was the prudent thing to do and now of course, I’m glad I made the choice—the right choice—to buy one.

We have a rigid policy in our company—no one will ride in or fly our helicopter without a helmet. We provide a generic style for our passengers to wear. We will not hire pilots unless they have and agree to wear proper head protection. I discussed this policy with another operator and he indicated that he felt he couldn’t legally force his pilots to wear helmets—something to do with their freedom of choice. Be that as it may, we remain resolved in our decision that it is our freedom of choice that helmets are mandatory if aircrew want to work with us.

Helmets save lives. In this pilot’s opinion, there is no acceptable substitute.

John Baswick

Cheers, OffshoreIgor http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/eek.gif

Ewan Whosearmy 22nd Nov 2000 15:23


Very interesting article, thanks for posting it. Do you yourself wear a bone dome?

Nomads 23rd Nov 2000 00:22

I have been wearing a CGF Gallet helmet(lightweight) for most of this year (after trying Alpha and Gentex)with David Clark built in and I am very happy with it. I fly mainly corporate and although you get the obvious questions(ie. why do you wear one and we don't? etc. they do seem to understand that it is not only for my safety but for theirs as well I fly single pilot Ops.). It certainly improves in regard to hearing protection than the normal headset.
I also have a dark visor fitted and use this a lot even when the sun isn't out it's alot easier than trying to get your sunglasses out everytime.
Safe flying.....

[This message has been edited by Nomads (edited 22 November 2000).]

fishboy 23rd Nov 2000 19:35

Nomad, I have the same helmet and real happy with it. Your point about the safety of passengers is the same I tried to point out earlier. I read a report about a guy flying a jetranger a couple of years ago. A swan, or something similar got him full in the face! he lost the use of one eye and was pretty badly bruised, he did land the aircraft. Had he not been wearing a helmet he would have probably lost both eyes, control of the aircraft, his, and his passengers lives, in that order.

The Nr Fairy 24th Nov 2000 14:56

I think this guy would have survived, if he'd been wearing a bone dome. Of course, it might have helpd if he'd been strapped in before he started as well.


I got bored with "WhoNeedsRunways"

[This message has been edited by The Nr Fairy (edited 24 November 2000).]

syd_rapac 25th Nov 2000 06:32

The use of helmets in other than pure RPT ops should be mandatory for both the pax and crew for a number of reasons.
1. the other person wearing the helmet might just be able to get you out of the wreckage prior to it lighting off.
2. The helmet usually provides a higher degree of hearing protection.Eh what did you say? Yes I fly helicopters, no I'm not in the artillery I just talk loud.
3. If you fly with the clear visor down you have a far greater chance of surviving a birdstrike or FOD in the eye.
4. Final point is that you don't necessarily have to crash to sustain a disabling head injury. Am aware of one crewdog that had his helmet split due to the pilot taking some extreme avoiding action to avoid bits of a yacht during a winch job.
In Dunnunda a number of helicopter users are providing helmets ( Gentex or similar) to their staff in particularly high risk enviroments, typically bushfire and national park work. The ground pounders are also being encouraged to wear their normal helmet (complete with fully fastened chinstrap so it doesn't blow off.)The chainsaw helmets with integral earmuffs and chin strap are becoming more popular. Some operating companies also supply helmets for higher risk task's however I would be reluctant to put on a helmet that is full of someone elses old sweat! Also if the helmet doesn't fit properly it can rotate forward if something does go wrong, effectively putting the lights out with the visor breaking your nose.

Best summarised as " Dont need the head, dont need a helmet" For Helo ops don't leave the ground without one.


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