The EASA is considering increasing the time in which a pilot is expected to respond to engine failure in a single-engine helicopter, to align certification standards with real-world human performance. The new standard, if adopted, would require helicopters to be designed so that the pilot has more time to respond before a decay in rotor rpm takes the machine into hazardous dynamic territory. A study by Dutch aerospace research center NLR shows that this would add weight and cost.
The pilot of a Eurocopter EC130 helicopter said she was on day-visual approach to Nevada’s Boulder City Municipal Airport when the engine flamed out on a post-maintenance flight. In the January 1 incident, the aircraft was still 200 feet in the air when a “low fuel pressure” indicator light illuminated followed by the engine shutting down. The pilot attempted an autorotation but didn’t have enough forward speed to complete the maneuver. The tailboom hit the ground first followed by the main skids, which quickly separated from the airframe, resulting in substantial damage.
The new Sikorsky S-76D medium twin recently performed high-altitude takeoff and landing tests at Colorado’s Lake County Airport, the helicopter manufacturer announced last week. The trials, which took place at almost 10,000 feet msl, were part of a so-called envelope-expansion program.
The Eurocopter X3 hybrid made its record-breaking speed run just 10 days before the opening of the Paris Air Show, so it was not surprising that the EADS company brought both the unique aircraft and its crew to the Le Bourget biennial event. On June 7, the X3 flew at 255 knots in level flight and 263 knots in a dive, besting the previous record set by the Sikorsky X2 in September 2010 (250 knots level and 260 knots in descent).
Completing a safe landing after a power failure or autorotation requires regular training, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) reminds helicopter students and flight instructors.
On April 9, the NTSB held a public meeting to discuss the crash of a LifeNet helicopter in Mosby, Mo., on Aug. 26, 2011. The Eurocopter AS350B2 ran out of fuel, according to the NTSB, and the pilot failed “to successfully enter an autorotation when the engine lost power due to fuel exhaustion.” What the pilot did not do, the Board explained, is move the cyclic control aft when the engine failed.
Several helicopter EMS accidents occurred over the last couple of months in the U.S.
Two Las Vegas Police Department flight officers, both flight instructors, sustained minor injuries on September 24, when their MD 369 helicopter landed hard during a VFR practice autorotation during a training mission at the North Las Vegas Airport (KVGT). The senior officer flying said the helicopter entered a high vertical sink rate before he could stop it. The helicopter was destroyed when it rolled on its right side after striking terrain. The tailboom quickly separated.
FOCUS on…AUTOROTATION TRAINING “Infrequent autorotation training is dangerous,” said Chad Oakley, chief pilot at the Bell Academy, yesterday at a Heli-Expo training session called, “Autorotations, Reality Exposed.” Other participants at the one-hour session–pilots, instructors, and representatives from the FAA, NTSB, OEMs, and several fleet operators–agreed.
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