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Leave helicopter rotor running

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Leave helicopter rotor running

Old 29th Jul 2020, 06:50
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Leave helicopter rotor running

I came across a few video in the past where the pilot left the cockpit without shutting down and now came across this http://www.aias.gov.ro/images/public..._YR-DEX_EN.pdf

Is this common practice to leave an helicopter when operating at remote location? Is the only motivation there to save start/shutdown cycle for the airframe?
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 07:11
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Sometimes you don't want to chance it with a dicky battery, a broken start solenoid, a rising tide, trouble re-starting at altitude, reluctant engine to start when hot, or a lot of reasons.

It isn't great airmanship, but sometimes you do what you gotta do. Friction up the cyclic, apply collective lock, roll down to idle, make sure disc is level, spend as little time as possible out of the cockpit.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 07:44
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Back when I lived in New Zealand, guy in the South Island put
down for a "comfort break". Left engine running. As he got
out the aircraft decided to go off on it's own.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 10:02
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Yeah, happened in Oz too in the 80s, lad in an R22 needed a hose, put it onto an uneven rock on top of a cliff, and stepped off the skid (shoulda kept standing on the skid.) It started to hop a little, he rapidly replaced the hose and tried to grab the aircraft by the struts and engine mounts, it kept hopping towards the edge, and he suddenly thought "WTF am I doing?" and let it go.

It took a while for his mates to realise he was missing, and some more time to find the wreckage at the bottom of the cliff. Not sure what they felt when they saw him on the top of the cliff, whether it was relief at him being safe, or thoughts of murder for letting it happen.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 11:25
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If you search you will find pages of discussions on this topic in this forum
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 11:57
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I do not agree at all
At least you admitted isn't a great airmanship, but it is never an excuse

Originally Posted by Ascend Charlie View Post
It isn't great airmanship, but sometimes you do what you gotta do. Friction up the cyclic, apply collective lock, roll down to idle, make sure disc is level, spend as little time as possible out of the cockpit.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 12:54
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Extremely common in the US utility world. Powerline construction, Aerial Saw, Ag etc where rotors are turning and aircraft are hot fueled all day.
Of course you could shut down each time you come in but by the time you get your 2 minute cool down and roll of the throttle somebody is calling for material, dropped something etc etc and need you urgently.
Iíve always felt comfortable getting out of the 500.
The Astar not so much as the cyclic wanders. Bell 206 and mediums were okay also. Always know your surface, skids level and heels not in soft soil. Make sure your have a secure LZ that the general public canít walk into

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Old 29th Jul 2020, 13:37
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Originally Posted by hookes_joint View Post
Extremely common in the US utility world.
Well, that's rarely a good yardstick for anything.
Many regulators have made it a legal requirement to have a pilot at the controls when the blades are turning, for good reason.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 14:00
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Correct.

Originally Posted by Bell_ringer View Post
Many regulators have made it a legal requirement to have a pilot at the controls when the blades are turning, for good reason.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 14:16
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Well, that's rarely a good yardstick for anything.


With the hours flown and the number of helicopters operating daily I would say itís the global yardstick. Both good and bad.

Many regulators have made it a legal requirement to have a pilot at the controls when the blades are turning, for good reason.

Best practice and safest option always.

My company has ops specs approved by the regulators to allow pilot to exit the aircraft with blades turning. Just normal part of our operation. Always the pilots personal decision when to and when not too.

Last edited by hookes_joint; 29th Jul 2020 at 14:52.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 15:08
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Originally Posted by HeliboyDreamer View Post
I came across a few video in the past where the pilot left the cockpit without shutting down and now came across this http://www.aias.gov.ro/images/public..._YR-DEX_EN.pdf

Is this common practice to leave an helicopter when operating at remote location? Is the only motivation there to save start/shutdown cycle for the airframe?
This is not a getting-out-while-running accident. It's a pilot-is-a-dumbass accident.

What pilot with even half a brain gets out with the throttle up at full and the controls unsecured?? A very stupid pilot, that's who. I'd this nitwit had applied some common sense tasks, this "accident" never would've happened. Don't paint getting out while running as being dangerous! because of the actions of a few idiots.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 15:54
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Like many Rotary Wing operating scenarios, just take a few seconds to ask yourself 2 simple questions:

1. Do I really need to do this?
2. What's the worst thing that could happen?

It provides a very simple form of self governance.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 18:42
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Originally Posted by Ascend Charlie View Post
roll down to idle
Are you sure about that?
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 19:16
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Why indeed not?
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 21:03
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I was watching an R44 rotors running on the pad with two Chinese tourists in the back in North Island New Zealand a few years ago. Suddenly out pops the pilot and walks back to the office some 50m away. I watch with interest as the helicopter sits with its rotors turning gently rocking backwards and forwards with the somewhat anxious looking tourists in the back seat, he returns after about 6 or 7 minutes jumps in and they fly off. I suspect words might have been had with the operators if it had been in EASA land over that. Saying that I have left a heli with the rotors turning for five minutes half way up a mountain where you would not want to be in a position where you couldn't start it again..... but not with tourists in the back.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 21:41
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If you want to get really worried, our law in NZ actually allows us to Hot Refuel, with Pax onboard and no pilot at the controls...

Wouldn't do that myself, but i get out of the helicopter with rotors running hundreds of times every year. Sometimes i have to refuel myself, sometimes just to stretch the legs. If you actually looked at all the times that Ag/Utility pilots jumped in and out then you would probably find that, if done correctly, then it is a perfectly safe thing to do, it is just the few idiots that leave the helicopter running at 100% and hop out, tend to ruin it for everyone.
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Old 29th Jul 2020, 21:52
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I saw similar to this in NZ. We were on holiday and had just parked on a corner of the public car park at an airfield (my young sons wanted to look at the aircraft; it was a wet and windy day so we stayed in the car). As we stopped, a single Squirrel landed ten metres from us on the airport grass, adjacent to an unlocked gate in the one metre high fence. The pilot put the rotors to idle then to my increasing surprise got out, unloaded luggage and his two passengers and then all three of them went out of the airfield through the gate into the car park, with the pilot carrying the luggage. They went into an adjacent building and he was gone for quite some time (well over ten minutes), leaving the aircraft running, completely unattended. Anyone could have approached it through the gate, or even got in (I felt like I should get in and chop the engine for him). Because it was a gusty day I soon became concerned that the rotors might flap and strike the tail boom, or worse. I reversed my car away to put a bit more space between us. The pilot eventually walked back out to the helicopter, strapped in, flung the throttle forwards, lifted off very rapidly and swung to his left around the tail, right into the path of another helicopter passing behind him, causing both to take avoiding action. Totally ignorant, amateurish behaviour.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 03:09
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Leaving the controls with rotors turning has a time and place... I have done it myself thousands of times without incident, safely and legally.

3 minutes to load passengers, 6 minute flight, 3 minutes to unload passengers and secure cabin, 3 minute return flight. Booked in 15 minute blocks all day. Starting up and shutting down every time not possible with that aircraft within the 15 minute window. For most the flights are already "too expensive". Passengers briefed beforehand including not approaching the running aircraft without the pilot and to stay seated until instructed.

Despite the briefing and pre landing brief I had a guy ignoring both briefings, hop out and make a beeline back towards the tail... I suspect shutting down wouldn't have made much difference in that case.. perhaps the extra delay of shutting down rather than control locks and frictions might have prevented me from intercepting him?

I have seen people take the piss too... years ago I watched a guy land an R22 in a campground, walk into the hotel and chat for 20 minutes or so with the 22 idling away... plenty of people / kids / dogs wandering around the campground. It's illegal to leave the controls of a robinson here with or without locks as its prohibited in the POH. Stupid and totally unnecessary.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 05:21
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You have to wonder, if the job can't be done without leaving the ac unattended, why another crew member isn't used?
aaah sorry, forgot $$$
Hot-fueling is also legal here. but the PIC stays at the controls and the +1 goes to keep an eye on proceedings.

Much like flying, I am sure this happens many times without issue, apart from those where it doesn't.
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Old 30th Jul 2020, 09:57
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why another crew member isn't used?
When you are out in the bush fighting fires, there is no capacity for carrying another person in the aircraft - otherwise you are dropping 90kg less water. And when you are directed to go to another fire, and then refuel at a bunch of drums sitting there by themselves, you aren't able to get your ground crew to gallop over to this new place to pump your fuel for you.

Every second counts in a fire. Our country had its worst ever rolling series of fires in 2019/2020, so when you are out of gas, you plop down next to the drums, roll down to idle and start pumping. When full of fuel, empty your bladder on the skid, get back in and go to work.

Yes I hear your little safety alarm going off, but it can be done effectively.

Airmanship is defined as the safe and efficient use of an aircraft, both in the air, and on the ground.

Sometimes, being safe means being largely inefficient, but being efficient (in this case) isn't as unsafe as you paint it to be.
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