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Removing Structural Menbers In Flight (almost)


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So there I was... Inverted... In thick smoke... Still climbing!!!!

 

Seriously, we had a pilot the other day who was hot fueling themselves.. which is against company policy (but besides the point here)... As they were taking on fuel, the door on the opposite side disappeared...

 

Said pilot ran around the aircraft and found one of the client's supervisory staff giving a course to a couple of brand new (to helicopters) guys on how to remove the ambulance door. The pilot informed the guy that he had best never again approach the helicopter while it was running without permission from the pilot and then asked what he thought he was doing removing the ambulance door while the machine was running... The guy told the pilot that he/she obviously "was new to logging" because "you often have to do a toe in and the guys on the hill have to remove the door while you keep power on"... Needless to say the pilot was shocked and stunned... As am I...

 

So, I brought this up at a management meeting... Several of our long term, high time, pilots ("used to fly the 201's and the 202's" guys), seemed to think this was perfectly normal and wondered what the problem was...

 

I was always taught that it was a never-ever to remove the door with the aircraft running.. let alone doing a friggin' toe-in!!!!!!!!!

 

Is this common?? I have done medevacs in the triple digits and I have never even considered it...

 

We phoned Bell to ask them if it was ok to remove the door with the blades turning (as the supplement makes no mention of it)... They didn't believe we were serious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Through multiple people at Bell we couldn't get anybody (at first) to understand this was going on... We have now heard that some guys (hopefully not with us) have even flown with the post removed!!! What goes on in this industry some times?

 

This doesn't fall under the notwithstanding clause that allows the pilot to longline firefighters out of the trees with their Bambi Bucket, or to fly at night single engine when doing an emergency medevac. The pilot's first responsibility is to the aircraft (the theory being that if you keep it safe, it'll keep you safe) and then the passengers and crew and then the public, etc... Bell is flabbergasted that people are removing a main structural member with the engines running... as am I... But I partially blame Bell for not mentioning any prohibitions in the RFM... But still... How many guys have done this and how many think it's ok? I really want to know... I'm buying Guinness at the next get together for anybody who responds to my survey...

 

HV

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Sounds like the same old story...you know the one...the last guy that was here...have seen lots of strange s#*t going on in the field over the last 30 years and when you ask them were they got the idea from it usually didn't come out of any manual...oh buddy does it all the time...is that the buddy thats plastered all over the side of some mountain now...not going to name names but I have some storys that would freak out the best of them...this guy that I am talking about IS plastered on the side of a rock in beautiful BC...usally comes out in the bar after a long day or week of fire fighting and usually starts with...did you see what the f#@k the guy from bla..bla bla did...how about the time I saw a super puma slinging fuel IFR out to a fire camp that had a half dozen machines sitting in...here comes a net..hanging out of the clouds..someone yells to get on the radio before ten drums of jet B end up on top of a couple of 204's..he punches off the net into a lake...now we are going swimming for it...I said what is the panic to get fuel here..we can't fly in the fog anyways...but I guess someone asked and someone said sure..no problem :shock: :blink:

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Maaaayyybbeee while on the ground running, but certainly NOT while flying!!

 

I would be surprised if you could get it off and on again while doing a toe in. There must be a fair amount of flex in the cabin roof if it is missing.

 

But, if we have always done it that way, it must be OK.... :down:

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uhmmm...uhhhh...wow.

 

Brings a couple of things to mind.

 

The medivac door handle should be witness-wired in order to provide a quick visual indicator to the pilot during his DI that the door post mechanism is actually fully engaged, and the door post is secure. Thin copper wire is the norm, it breaks easily when you turn the handle. Lock wire should never be used (JFYI).

 

Training for pilots on the use of the medivac door and litter kit should be included in thier Elementary Mtc training. As should medivac kit outs for all types of helicopters he/she is current on. Yep even for the old outdated B201's an B202's!

 

Anytime that post is removed while the aircraft is running, it should require an inspection to ensure the deck hasn't warped / cracked etc and the door fits as it should. I have never found a reference for inspection criteria for "A/C running while medivac door post removed", but from Bells reaction to the scenario I can see why. CYA here.

 

I can say that I have had to deal with customers performing elementary mtc on company aircraft in the past. It always garnered a pretty strong reaction from me.

Most times, once I explained to them that aside from the possible damage they can cause, the liability that they exposed themselves to by removing equipment from the helicopter was Gimongously Huge-antic.

 

Anytime something like that happens I normaly dispatch me or an engineer that looks like me to do an inspection of the aircraft and affected equipment, and to provide a brief explanation to the customer whilst they have thier heels together.. Keeps the helicopter / pilot / passengers safe, and more to the point, makes a point.

 

BTW, Bell doesn't specifically state in the FM that passengers cannot ride in the cargo hold either, but I bet your pilots and customers can put that common sense together. ( I mean other than the odd child- laden Tikanogin of course <G>)

 

cheers,

RTR

 

 

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uhmmm...uhhhh...wow.

 

BTW, Bell doesn't specifically state in the FM that passengers cannot ride in the cargo hold either, but I bet your pilots and customers can put that common sense together. ( I mean other than the odd child- laden Tikanogin of course <G>)

 

cheers,

RTR

 

Ha ah aha ahha hahaha ha aha h.... Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh......

 

HV

 

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Sooooo.....just to be the devils advocate here...Is it better to sling the patient in the logging companies basket stretcher (without class D gear) to the log landing where you can land and take out the door post off after shutting down or do a toe in while hot loading the stretcher and taking off the door post :blink: ???

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Sooooo.....just to be the devils advocate here...Is it better to sling the patient in the logging companies basket stretcher (without class D gear) to the log landing where you can land and take out the door post off after shutting down or do a toe in while hot loading the stretcher and taking off the door post :blink: ???

 

I knew somebody would ask that so let's examine the whole thing...

 

Why can you longline somebody in a stretcher or Billy Pugh Basket to a landing without certified gear or any training? The same reason that you can stick your babmbi bucket on the ground in a fire and let guys climb in... to save lives... period...

 

However, none of those options endanger the helicopter and the pilot is taking on the responsibility himself. If something happens, like an engine failure, or something more major or minor, that results in the person on the end of the longline being killed or made worse... I wouldn't want to be wearing the shoes of that pilot...

 

A basic part of flying, going back to the 30's, if not even earlier, is that you take care of the aircraft first and foremost. Under no circumstances would you ever risk the machine for any reason. It's one thing to break the law, using your judgement at the time, in order to save somebody, but quite another to knowingly risk the machine.

 

When it comes to medevacs, the pilot's job is to fly the helicopter. Period. When everybody else is panicking, the pilot needs to calmly do his job as if it's just another flight. That's why many medical organizations, in Professional EMS Ops, will give no information to the flight crew regarding the status of the patient. It should never be a factor in how the pilot decides what to do next. We've all heard the stories of the pilot who crashes doing a medevac, killing everybody, while trying to save somebody else... heroic yes, but often tragic and many times not very smart,

 

Now, there's a difference for us in the single engine VFR world because we have some flexibility on deciding to cross water, or fly at night, or to land at the Dawson Creek Hospital in a 205, to save the life of one of our co-workers. TC or the RCMP are unlikely to charge somebody that took on additional risk to themselves (in the eyes of the law) to save somebody. However... I don't see any circumstances that allow a pilot to train a hill crew to remove a structural member of the helicopter. For one thing, it's illegal for the pilot to even train ground crew for this task as TC has made it an AME's job to train pilots... and you must have this training in order to do it.

 

I know some people will now be thinking "what about time when somebody's injured?"... and this is valid. But, if you land at a hospital, whether on the roof or in the grass, the personnel there will not come near the helicopter until nothing is moving... that's a hard and fast rule that I've never seen broken since it was implemented (in BC anyway). In one of the above mentioned instances, we had a driller that was struck on the head by lightning. His heart was stopped and he wasn't breathing. They threw him in the back of a 205 in really crappy weather (way below 1/2 mile) and flew him to Dawson Creek. The pilot opted to land at the hospital to get him in to help as soon as possible. The helipad there was decommissioned and was considered "unsafe"... by whom we're not sure. Anyway, the hospital staff were quite irate and told the pilot to "take him to the airport... there's an ambulance there"... They literally wanted him to start up, take off and fly AWAY from the hospital to meet an ambulance at the airport. True Story. Driller lived... pilot was called "A Rogue Helicopter Pilot" in the local press. My point here is that you need to do the best possible job you can but joining in the panic won't help... unlike on TV they won't panic at the hospital... not 'til after coffee break...

 

I have now heard from some people and I'm getting different perceptions. One guy told me that he was working on the coast for the last 6 years, and you "often" have to get the crew to load a patient with the machine running and holding power on a pad... Another guy just sent me an email and said he had been flying over 20 years on the coast and had never, ever had his door off on a 206 while it was running... although he had been asked before and had always refused...

 

I know it's a bit of a moral quandary, and if you were taught it was ok, and have done it, it's tough to change your ideas... I was taught from day one it was not ok and the manufacturer concurs... so I won't do it...

 

HV

 

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Sometimes a little perspective change is needed with things like this.

 

It's not just about getting the injured person to the hospital. It's about getting everyone there safely. Most times they don't toss the broken guy in the back seat, and off you go with just you and him on board.

 

Take a chance, toe in with power, have someone untrained remove the door and load the victim and then climb in while someone else is re-assembling the helicopter, while you dilegently keep'er flying. That's Awesome!

 

Meanwhile, the door post wasn't properly installed (or left off!), your in a partially assembled B206 on the side of a mountain at 4500' in downflow (just the way my life works) with 3 souls on board, and you have probably 2 or 3 people crouching down beside your skids expecting you to depart. There are now possibly 5 people at considerable risk.

 

I dunno about you, but to me that's alot of people to put at risk. I'm not saying I wouldn't get that guy off the mountain, but that scenario wouldn't even be considered.

 

I'm with HV on this one. The idea is to get him safely to the H. Not kill him and his co-horts.

 

RTR

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Guest bag swinnger

I posted this back in 2003 in another thread but I will cut and paste it here. it was a VIH machine in about 1995 it was a very steep mountain side pad and was almost a total catastrophy. I was learning big lessons even before I was pilot.

 

 

Yes I remember it well it was the first day working on a heli logging job on vancouver island. (before I was a pilot) I was the new first aid attendant and had never before been in a helicopter. We were 10 minutes into the day and a call came in of a man down with a possible back injury. as I climbed in the old 206 I remember thinking hey this is cool, followed a few minutes later by the pilot saying ok get out! My first flight and also my first hover exit so of course it was on to a steep mountain slope to load up my first patient! once loaded into the basket the patient was picked up by long line. as we steered the basket in about a three foot hover, about two hundred yards over the fallen timber to the closest mountain pad where the 206 landed. Then we pulled the door and post off to slide the patient in on the back board. The door was handed to one of the guys who turned and put the door over his head and proceeded to walk up hill in the direction of the blades (still spinning at idle). as the pilot is yelling at the top of his lungs, the only person that could hear him was the first aid guy sitting in the back recieving the patient (thats me) luckily this fellow with the door in his hands figured out what he was doing wrong because he stopped within a few inches of impact. once the door and post were re attached the pilot lifted off the high pad and turns around to say, where are we going. To wich I reply where is the closest hospital, and away we went. once I had a moment to collect my thoughts and think about all that had just happend with the steep learning curve that I was going through, I new that this crazy buissness was just what I was looking for, and I was hooked on helicopters! :D

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