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.



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.

CRM Thoughts from Randy Mains

This was posted on Facebook a few days ago, and I think Randy has many good points. Below is his post that went with the video below. More information about Randy Mains here. 

I was sent an excellent video by Dan Faust that I plan to use as a case study in future CRM Instructor’s courses because it has excellent CRM and AMRM learning points. He made the valid statement when he said, “I thought you said the British were far ahead of the US in regards to flight standards. Not being sarcastic, just looking at the fog, cliffs, trees, and deciding to continue the flight.” His point is an excellent one and here is what I wrote back to Dan after I’d viewed it. Dan you bring up an excellent point. Continue reading

Procedural Compliance

Following procedures is critical to ensuring a safe flight!

This NTSB video on procedural compliance for flight crews, which is targeted at pilots, airline operations departments and aviation regulators, uses findings from seven commercial airplane accidents to show how deviations from standard operating procedures can initiate a chain of events that can lead to devastating consequences.

“Strengthening Procedural Compliance” is on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of critical safety improvements.


An Open Letter to Jeppesen

Dear Jeppesen!

Last year we spent a good couple of months trying to renew our chart subscriptions for our fleet of helicopters utilizing the Jeppesen Mobile FD app on iOS. Not the Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck VFR app mind you, but the one with the charts (great job naming them to avoid confusion btw). We had previously bought the subscriptions from a local retailer, but we felt it would be easier to buy directly from Jeppesen, since all we need is an activation key to activate the relevant chart subscription. Foolishly enough we believed this would be fairly easy in this day and age. Especially since all the subscriptions were listed on our online customer account. 

They were all listed there quite neatly, with a start date, and an expiry date. I figured we could click on a renew button on each of them, add our credit card details, and we’d be set for another 12 months. That was not the case though. There was a link above the list to renew services about to expire. I clicked that, thinking I’d be home free. Not so much though. In order to renew I needed an invoice I didn’t have, and that I wouldn’t receive. 

We contacted customer service to ask them how we could renew our electronic chart service. After about 30 e-mails back and forth I came to the conclusion that if it takes this volume of correspondance to answer a simle question, Jeppesen must have one of the biggest customer service departments in the world, good for you! Bad for us though, since after this lengthy period of sending e-mails, we were no closer to renewing the subscriptions. 

Ok, I thought, I’ll head online to Jeppesen online(JeppDirect) to order new subscriptions from there. No luck. Finding the correct area coverage was impossible. We sent customer service a new e-mail, this time trying to more or less say “we have money, you have a product, sell it to us please”. Still no joy. Sick and tired of it all we went back to the local retailer and bought new hardcopies with the magical activation codes on the back, then threw away the DVD’s (we only want the codes). At the same time we swore to do everything in our power to rid us of our Jeppesen dependency. The only backside to this is that we actually like your product, it is just that you are really quite terrible at selling it. 

That takes us to today. Our subscriptions are about to expire, and filled with optimism that Jeppesen has probably improved it’s online service in the last 12 months, we log in, only to be let down again. Ok, I figure, I’ll go to JeppDirect and buy from there, at least that HAS to have been improved in the last year. 

Bear with me on my quest through JeppDirect to buy new electronic charts for Scandinavia. I hit charts, and since this is a mobile service, I hit Mobile FliteDeck VFR (I know technically I need Jeppesen Mobile FD, but there is no such option, and I tried all other options for good measure). This brings me to the page for the Mobile FliteDeck VFR app, which I have no interest in. By a strike of luck I am able to find a link to the Mobile FliteDeck app. Finally! I scroll down and find “Purchase Coverages”, with a big green “Buy Now” button at the bottom. They did it, they improved since last year, I think to myself! When that button takes me back to the JeppDirect frontpage I realize I must be trapped in one of the nine levels of Jeppesen Hell. 

I search “Scandinavia electronic” and get one hit…on charts for all of Europe…a slight overkill seeing as we like it here in Norway, and very rarely visit our neighboring countries. 

One thing is for sure, if Netflix had made it this hard for their customers to renew their monthly subscription, they would be bankrupt a long time ago. Instead they have made it so easy for us to get access to their content, that we hardly notice the process at all. Again we are in a postion where we want your product, we have the money, but for some reason you do not want to sell it to us. We’re sorry if we have done anything in the past to hurt your feelings, Jeppesen, but we hope we can make up and become friends again. 

For the rest of you, feel free to support my post to Jeppesen by liking it here!

IHST Publication: 7 Decision Making Tips That Every Helicopter Pilot Needs to Know

For a complete list of fact sheets from IHST go here.

Contact: Tony Molinaro or (847) 294-7427

7 Decision-Making Tips That Every Helicopter Pilot Needs to Know

The following strategies can improve decision making. Training pilots on these solutions will allow them to make better choices before and during their flights.

Follow Standard Operations Procedures – SOPs are widely used throughout the commercial aviation community as a means to manage risk. The establishment of safety oriented SOPs (including personal and weather minimums) provides pilots with pre-planned responses that manage the risks and break the “chain of events” leading to accidents. To be effective, SOPs must be clear, concise and free of conflict. Use of SOPs is a form of “rule-based” behavior and is less error prone than “knowledge-based” behavior.

Conduct Pre-Flight Planning – Planning that is conducted prior to a flight in a low stress environment can enable a pilot to produce a safe strategy for the flight (i.e.: the pilot can be proactive and plan ahead to select a safe route and establish “decision points” during each flight phase). Collaborative decision-making with air traffic control, weather services, and other pilots will help to size up a general situation. Good pre-flight planning also reduces the workload once airborne.

Forget the Illusion of Plan B – Research has suggested that having a plan B safety net encourages continuation and possibly more risky behavior. Naturally it is easier to take a risk when you know that you can count on a plan B. Pilots however rarely assess their plan B properly; so the protection can be weaker than expected.

Learn Single-Pilot Resource Management – This is a practical way to teach pilots better decision-making and judgment strategies. Single-Pilot Resource Management is the capacity to manage all resources (both on-board the aircraft and from outside sources) available to the single-pilot prior to and during the flight to ensure a safe flight. It is a form of Crew Resource Management for single pilot operations. Single-Pilot Resource Management includes several components such as Aeronautical Decision Making, Risk Management, Task Management, Automation Management, Controlled Flight Into Terrain Awareness, and Situational Awareness. Single-Pilot Resource Management training helps the pilot to maintain situational awareness by managing the flight and navigation tasks and to enhance the social skills needed to communicate and interact, for instance, with air traffic control and passengers. Single-Pilot Resource Management training enables the pilot to accurately assess and manage risk and to make better decisions.

Practice Threat and Error Management – Training for Threat and Error Management training can be referred to as a form of ‘defensive flying’ for pilots. The objective of Threat and Error Management is to manage in an effective manner the risks stemming from threats and errors to ensure a safe flight. Undetected, unmanaged or mismanaged, threats and errors have the potential to impact the safety of the flight by creating Undesired Aircraft States, which usually can be recovered from, but if not properly managed, it can lead to accidents or incidents.

Get Some Simulator Training – Simulators can allow training decision-making in high stress, high workload situations with poor or conflicting information. Training scenarios can be tailored to the trainees needs. In addition, simulators allow exploration of the consequences of poor decisions without endangering the safety of the aircraft and its occupants.

Understand Good Decision-Making – As early as possible in their training, pilots should be made aware of the characteristics and limitations of human decision making. Trainers should emphasize the importance of maintaining Situational Awareness, of prioritizing responses to Undesired Aircraft States, and of contingency planning, i.e., “What if something goes wrong during the flight?”

How to Avoid Helicopter Wire Strikes

What you don’t see can kill, and does
| Business & Commercial Aviation

Wire strikes by helicopters happen often, and too frequently result in fatalities. The U.S. Helicopter Safety Team found that approximately 16% of all rotary-wing accidents involve wire or obstacle strikes. Meanwhile, an FAA study of wire-strike accidents between 1994 and 2004 found 41 of 124 of those involving civil helicopters were fatal. Combined, the accidents resulted in 65 fatalities, 45 serious injuries and 42 minor injuries.

These accidents included helicopters striking a power line, static wire, telephone wire, cable or a supporting structure such as a tower. Notably, 86% of the fatal accidents occurred in clear weather with good visibility.

Continue reading the article at the Business & Commercial Aviation website here.

Vortex Ring State – Vuichard Recovery Technique

I started looking into the Vuichard Recovery Technique a few months back and quickly realized the potential it has in making a recovery from Vortex Ring State at low height. Mr. Vuichard was most helpful in explaining the maneuver and the dynamics of it to me over the phone. Here is a link to a Rotor & Wing article about the phenomenon that is VRS and the Vuichard Recovery Technique.

Flying Through the Vortex

Flying building materials for a cabin near Fredrikstad.