Into the Ice

This March I had the pleasure of being the pilot for a research expedition to the ice just east of Greenland, led by the Institute of Marine Research.

We landed onboard the Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker KV Svalbard in Tromsø, then steamed west for roughly 750nm to the West Ice. We were close enough to the coast of Greenland to see land in the distance most of the time.

Our objective was threefold.

1. Locate Harp and Hooded seal breeding patches.

2. Place GPS markers around the patches. This would make it easier for the fixed-wing asset responsible for aerial photography to locate the seals. The pictures from that is used to count the seal pups.

3. Staging. Flying transects through the patch where the researchers note the age of the pups. This is possible due to how fast the seals grow over a limited period of time. Harp pups are left to fend for themselves after 12 days, and Hood pups after 5.

We only had 6 days in the ice, so we were quite busy when the weather was on our side. Unfortunately the last round of staging had to be cancelled due to extremely poor visibility and low ceiling.

Though a short trip, it was a really nice experience, and I would like to thank all those who participated.

Cameras and Cockpits

I’m frequently asked about how I’m able to capture some of my pictures when I’m flying. In this post I’ll try to explain how, and the considerations I take to do so safely. First of all I want to make it clear that one should always follow company procedures and policies and any regulation that may apply. However if no such guidelines are in place in your company, or you are flying recreationally,  these are some basic principles that I adhere to. I’ll admit when I started out in this game I wasn’t as disciplined as I am now, but that is also why I have denied requests from various helicopter media sources to have pictures published that are not in line with what I stand for now. Continue reading

The making of an AW101

In episode 6 of Ultimate Processes by Insight TV you get a behind the scenes look at the making of one of the SAR AW101s being made for Norway. This series aircraft will be the most advanced rescue helicopters in the world when completed. The show also sheds some light on the basic principles of helicopter flight. Click the image to be forwarded to the episode.

Capture

 

Flight Risk Assessment Tool (FRAT)

Using a flight risk assessment tools is a great way of making flight crew and operations depts. aware of the risk level associated with a flight or series of flights. The concept is to run through a list prior to flight of items given a predetermined value, then seeing what it all adds up to. The forms are usually customizable to allow each operator to set the various values and alert levels for the total sum. Depending on the sum a flight may require supervisor approval or reassessment. This will keep you ahead the aircraft in terms of what risks may be lurking and make you aware of the expected risk level.

The items on the list may include crew composition and experience, crew rest, Wx conditions, airport environment, MEL-items and so on. The list can be modified to suit any operation be it airline long-haul or helicopter external load operations. I would really recommend those of you who are not familiar with the concept to check it out.

Links of interest:
USHST FRAT introduction (pdf)

Preflight Mitigators FRAT (one of the solutions I have been testing)

There are many available solutions out there, many are free, so google it an see what you can find.