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-   -   Mont Blanc helicopter rescue (https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/617060-mont-blanc-helicopter-rescue.html)

Tango and Cash 9th Jan 2019 17:14

Hero since it worked, zero if it had gone poorly.

gazpad 9th Jan 2019 17:29

I'm wondering about the clearance he estimated to have and actually had left with the rotortip... 10, 20 maybe 30 centimeters? If this is your comfortzone I'm impressed.

Bell_ringer 9th Jan 2019 18:03


Originally Posted by gazpad (Post 10356241)
I'm wondering about the clearance he estimated to have and actually had left with the rotortip... 10, 20 maybe 30 centimeters? If this is your comfortzone I'm impressed.

Mobile phone videos leave much to be desired when trying to guage perspective and depth.
It may look a lot worse than it is.
Probably too much to consider that the crew are professionals using their judgment.

[email protected] 9th Jan 2019 19:50


Probably too much to consider that the crew are professionals using their judgment.
There is no doubt about that nor that the flying is anything but skillful - is their decision to operate nose in when you have a winch justified though?

There is so little margin for error that a person with a hurty knee really doesn't justify the exposure of the aircraft and crew like that (nose-in) when a safer alternative is readily available.

if speed was of the essence - casualty bleeding out or needing CPR for example - then I might have a different opinion but there was no urgent lifesaving here.

bront 10th Jan 2019 00:53

May be they have the pointy things on the front of the skids to make it easier to judge if they will have clearance or not. If the top of the pointy thing is going to touch first then no but if the bottom or the whole thing then good to go. To me it looks like the driver has done this many times before and it's all in a days work. I fly a BK and my normal landings are slower than this, so I take my hat off to this guy. Beautiful, silky smooth piece of flying in my opinion.

Tickle 10th Jan 2019 01:37

Amazing flying indeed! Are there sensors available much like parking sensors on cars which can indicate how close to something ahead the helicopter is?

NRDK 10th Jan 2019 03:26

When the 'Proverbial *^"! hits the fan' as it eventually does... well lets say it will be messy.:ugh:

John Eacott 10th Jan 2019 05:15

Having done similar pick ups in the Australian Alps during searches in my BK I have little issue with the nose-in pickup, it was done smartly without fuss and IMO safely. It could be argued that a winch of three persons would expose the aircraft unnecessarily in the hover over hostile terrain for a longer period than it took for a stable hover pickup.

Picking at nits, I would prefer to see all on the hoist recovered into the cabin before leaving a hover. Let alone the spirited pedal turn and fly away as the double winch passes the skids; but that may be deemed acceptable by the operator and is only an observation from one who knows of fatals where the winch weight has separated from the winch and dropped too far to the surface.

Photonic 10th Jan 2019 05:15

I keep thinking about the granite boulder or rock face that might be just a few inches below the snow layer. On the other hand, without more context, it could be that this pilot knows the area very well and it's perfectly safe. One video isn't enough information.

Same again 10th Jan 2019 05:25

Wonder if the crew did their HAPS checks, 3 H's and E's and were safe single engine throughout? Good job they are French and EASA rules do not apply ;-) If I had flown away over a drop of what looks like many 000's of ft with winchman and cas dangling on the wire there would have been an interesting debrief.

[email protected] 10th Jan 2019 06:32


It could be argued that a winch of three persons would expose the aircraft unnecessarily in the hover over hostile terrain for a longer period than it took for a stable hover pickup.
but an engine failure (or many other malfunctions) from a winching hover is easily managed with a gentle flyaway - not so from the nose-in position

gazpad 10th Jan 2019 06:58


Originally Posted by Bell_ringer (Post 10356280)


Mobile phone videos leave much to be desired when trying to guage perspective and depth.
It may look a lot worse than it is.
Probably too much to consider that the crew are professionals using their judgment.

No doubts about the competence of the crew flying, it looks smooth and precise.

I agree it is difficult to estimate the clearance from the video!

What I read from the discussion is that a short contact of the the rotortip with an uncompacted soft snow surface doesnt necessarily stop the machine from flying as long as there are no rocks?

Regarding autopilot malfunction, do you leave the AP/SAS on for a maneuver like that?

Thanks for the insight from the professionals, I'm just a PPL student who gets nervous with less like 1.5 meters rotor clearance on my S300.

I'm still impressed like an amateur driver watching a racedriver taking a corner at three times my speed.

misterbonkers 10th Jan 2019 07:03

Same Again; Police Ops and SAR are a State activity under EASA therefore CAT/SPO requirements need not apply. Itís only the UK that has a law about flying in accordance with CAT. So itís nothing to do with been ĎFrenchí.

Iíd argue that the quicker option shown here is less exposure than prolonged high hovering? If any of you ski you will have seen a number of nose in rescues like this.

Its a steep slope to say the least; would you want to try and control a 120kg casualty on a stretcher down it to a flatter spot on skis/crampons with unknown snow depths? Itís hard work to say the least.

cattletruck 10th Jan 2019 07:50

Watch this over and over a few times and concluded that they've done it before many times as the execution was very good - and the weather was ideal for being on the piste.

Regarding losing an engine, I guess you can weigh the risk with the time spent in that configuration (less than a minute), I guess there would be more risk on a day like that of someone coming down the mountain for a look and not seeing the rotating bits.

Groquik 10th Jan 2019 08:09

some facts on the operations here
with google translate

and "en francais" with 3 videos (skipped by google translate)

[email protected] 10th Jan 2019 08:32


The nose of the helicopter is stuck to the snowy slope. The blades of the EC 145 of the gendarmerie graze the white coat.
That might be a little too close for comfort for some.

Two winching evolutions (a double lift and a single lift) to put the team down on the slope is hardly excessive exposure.

Nige321 10th Jan 2019 09:00

Now on the BBC with an interview with the pilot...

helimutt 10th Jan 2019 09:24


Originally Posted by gazpad (Post 10356716)
No doubts about the competence of the crew flying, it looks smooth and precise.

I agree it is difficult to estimate the clearance from the video!

What I read from the discussion is that a short contact of the the rotortip with an uncompacted soft snow surface doesnt necessarily stop the machine from flying as long as there are no rocks?

Regarding autopilot malfunction, do you leave the AP/SAS on for a maneuver like that?

Thanks for the insight from the professionals, I'm just a PPL student who gets nervous with less like 1.5 meters rotor clearance on my S300.

I'm still impressed like an amateur driver watching a racedriver taking a corner at three times my speed.


My worry with your statement is that you're happy for less than a 1.5m rotor tip clearance as a PPL. As an ATPL I wouldn't use 1.5m as a comfortable clearance unless doing a job like the above. But seriously, you might want to revise your clearance figures upwards somewhat. I hope you never have a blade contact with anything as your insurer will have a field day after reading your comment above. Just saying. As for AP, yes they'll be in use with SAS im sure.

gazpad 10th Jan 2019 10:15


Originally Posted by helimutt (Post 10356828)
My worry with your statement is that you're happy for less than a 1.5m rotor tip clearance as a PPL. As an ATPL I wouldn't use 1.5m as a comfortable clearance unless doing a job like the above. But seriously, you might want to revise your clearance figures upwards somewhat. I hope you never have a blade contact with anything as your insurer will have a field day after reading your comment above. Just saying. As for AP, yes they'll be in use with SAS im sure.

Thank you for your answer.

My happiness with clearance starts to go down actually around 4-5m. As soon as I get closer than 2-3m to anything with my rotor, I feel the severe urge to fly away from it. At 1.5m I would be probably already in deep panic.
This is for a calm wind day. With some wind or even worse with gusts my panic might as well start at 4-5 meters, impairing how smooth my control inputs are. Of course I hope to never have blade contact with anything as well.

megan 10th Jan 2019 10:24

Isn't it wonderful how we jump in criticising a crew without having the facts that prompted them to act as they did.


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