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What's Causing Our High Helicopter Accident Rate And What Can We Do To Reduce It?


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Might as well weigh in here for my first post. Not sure I can buy the '"apathy" idea. It's not something I've observed much of in quite a few years in the business. What I have seen too much of, however, is complacency.

 

Like most human activities, flying lends itself to the ultimate establishment of some degree of confidence. As this 'settles in' there's an all too natural tendency towards becoming complacent about the activity in general and, in our business, this includes safety measures.

 

Many auto drivers, for example, can tend to relax their use of seatbelts, often until they're jolted back to the wisdom of useage by a ticket or a related injury or death to someone close to them.

 

The recent spate of tragic accidents in the industry will no doubt dispell complacency among many - most likely those who knew the people lost. And then a cycle towards complacency will begin again, perhaps modified for some of us - let's hope.

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My 'apathy' assessment was directly related to how this topic has generated so little interest. I thought my initial observation woud generate at least one comment.

 

Now that was are discussing it, what I see is a lot of guys getting tired of holding the line against constant pressure to bend the rules from all sides and just give up. It's easy to do, and I'm falling victim to it myself. Check pilots tired of trying to enforce a standard only to be overruled by operational necessity for instance.

 

If operating class 1 is inconvenient, then go class 2. If we're losing too much payload, redefine hostile environment. On and on......

 

Bullett's tongue-in-cheek comment above has a lot of truth hidden in the margins.

 

Me, I'm tired of trying to pass on what I've learned the hard way only to get a blank stare that says "why would I go to all that extra work?"

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Swamp 76: I agree with your post and now people will understand why I left HEPAC. To many smart ***** sitting on the sidelines with only their own interest and sarcasm for input. My idea of a forum is to provide insight into the industry for people to learn as a whole and not to be contradicted at every sentence for information provided to help.

 

Don :censored:

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Brent, interesting question. With only a peripheral understanding of current civil ops, I'm not sure I sense there is something that has suddenly changed overnight in how guys do things. Sometimes it's schiBe timing, that's it. It would also be interesting to look sideways at mil ops and ask why guys recently are racking up hull losses in operations at a rate noticeably higher than caused through actual enemy action. What's being done differently (if anything) now than a few years ago?

 

Swamp brings up an excellent point, and it's not just limited to the civy side of r/w aviation -- regulatory/managerial application of predominantly f/w rules onto r/w ops. Some folks seems to think that r/w is only a smaller subset of f/w operations and them come up with a bunch of regulations/policies that broadbrush the operations and don't let r/w ops happen in the most effective way. Weather limits that appear to give flex in some areas (reduced IFR alternate requirements) take away in others (greater fuel reserves), providing confusion and just repackaging restrictions in a different form...getting slightly better, but still not optimal.

 

Bullet, things have changed since you left: 1) Many of the machines operate with a MEL, and I can in fact fly with a DG, inverter, many other components u/s with an appropriate ops restriction (e.g. VFR only, etc...). and 2) Federal policy directs full reporting, including publicly available CF Flight Safety Investigation Reports as well as archival, current and special reporting. Not sure it can get any more transparent than that.

 

Sorry friend, I'm going to have to take you to task on this one, though:

...The other aspect to consider is the operations types. Contrary to many personal opinions, there is a humongous difference between flying mil ops and civie ops. You can< for all intents and urposes, take as much time as you want slinging a howitzer into postion. Now yoyu apply the same to slinging drills/siesmic bags, power generators, etc, etc, into position and one can easily see that time is money. A Whole different stress inducing scenario. Plus there's the whole, well if you won't do it, I can get Joe Smoe down the road to do it!

 

I think you're taking some liberty with the "time is money" mentality here implying that if you're not making a profit, you've got all the time in the world to do your thing. I really don't think that's fair or accurate. Guys doing dust-off after a TIC (troops in contact) or dropping a QRF (quick reaction force) in to help back up some guys pinned down, can't decide to come back later. I certainly didn't read into Brent's question that he was getting anywhere near the "business case vs not-profit types" juxtaposition. I read that he was asking about potential drivers that might be affecting a potential increase in occurrences. BM's comments back to Brent were pretty fair as well.

 

On the flip side, Brent, I think your first sentence about f/w mishap rate would lead to not flying is not a fair statement to make. Keep in mind the cyclical nature of events. There have been good times and bad since the beginning of aviation.

 

No matter the trends, factors, etc... my continued thoughts and prayers go to family, friends and comrades of those lost in recent aviation mishaps, no matter the community.

 

Cheers

 

AV8

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest Bullet Remington
Bullet, things have changed since you left: 1) Many of the machines operate with a MEL, and I can in fact fly with a DG, inverter, many other components u/s with an appropriate ops restriction (e.g. VFR only, etc...). and 2) Federal policy directs full reporting, including publicly available CF Flight Safety Investigation Reports as well as archival, current and special reporting. Not sure it can get any more transparent than that.

 

Sorry friend, I'm going to have to take you to task on this one, though:

 

 

I think you're taking some liberty with the "time is money" mentality here implying that if you're not making a profit, you've got all the time in the world to do your thing. I really don't think that's fair or accurate. Guys doing dust-off after a TIC (troops in contact) or dropping a QRF (quick reaction force) in to help back up some guys pinned down, can't decide to come back later. I certainly didn't read into Brent's question that he was getting anywhere near the "business case vs not-profit types" juxtaposition. I read that he was asking about potential drivers that might be affecting a potential increase in occurrences. BM's comments back to Brent were pretty fair as well.

 

 

Cheers

 

AV8

 

AV8:

 

No question that things have changed considerably since I pulled the pin! The access of information dictated the requirement that Flight Incident/Safety reports and findings be made public. Of course all these new youngsters joining the forces ( The Base Commander at CYZX- the Navigator - was still going to West Kings High School when I was last in Greenwood with his Old Man!!) and consequentky some of them played a major role in "reforming" the military ops mentality. Having said that, it still has a ways to go to catch up with the long - haired side! :lol:

 

As for the military MELs, I was involved in that proposal before I retired. It was a hard sell. And, I suspect there are still some that feel the AC Commander is smarter then the Engineers and he/she still has the authority to make the final decision ( And rightly so). However, there are still some that want everything "like new" and still snag a perfectly good serviceable machine. Then again, there are those that use alot of CDF and are a great bunch to work with. Not all are the same! - Not Unlike the long-haired side!! ( CDF = Common Dog Fugg!!)

 

As for taking me to task, feel free to do so at any time, its been done by Commanders of Caommands, so have at her!! Having been exposed to both sides of the Fling Wing and Plank worlds, I don't believe I am nor was taking any liberties with respect to my statement. I certainly wasn't inferring that there is more time to do a task in the military compared to the civie side. I was however,impling that ON AVERAGE, the ex-mil pilots comming out of the Mil Fling wing world has little concept of the civie side of things. Hence, their sense of priority is lacking - initially. Some catch on fast - some don't and end up back in. Hence mystatements.

 

If you've taken them as a personal affront, don't! Having said that, I stand by my statements. Time is money. And without belittleing what Mil drivers do, what the civie driver does is completly different. The mil driver don't refuel, can't do a real DI, don't tie down the machine, don't clean it, and MOST couldn't refuel it if they ran out of fuel. The sense of urgency of the civie driver is essentially vastly different from that of a mnil driver's priorities.

 

The mil driver is not exposed to the same pressures that a civie driver is. Civie driver don't do it, he's gone. the mil driver is sent for counceling and more training.

 

There is a major difference, and from my personal experience, these things exert pressures on the civie drivers that the mil drivers don't get to experience. Then again,there's not alot of long hair drivers that have had to do dust offs nor night dips over the Atlantic IFR with that wonky Sea Pig panel!!

 

So essentiall, comparing military ops to civie ops is like these civie folks who try and compare the demise of the Sea Pigs to the civie S61's. Apples and Oranges - no m atter how you look at it!!

 

Now you folks be carefull, ya hear??

 

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...The mil driver don't refuel, can't do a real DI, don't tie down the machine, don't clean it, and MOST couldn't refuel it if they ran out of fuel...

 

BR, that was my only issue with your earlier statement. I am by no means an exception, and I do all of that: fuel, pre-flights and full B-release, tie-down/moor...heck, I even windex my windows between flights (and especially at night, inside and out...better for the nogs.) We live by the MEL as well.

 

No doubt many pressures on the civy side too, and I appreciate those, not through having experienced the pressures first hand, but in keeping myself familiarized on what the issues are for you guys like through this forum. No doubt that most mil drivers look like fish out of water when they get into strange country....a small site perhaps, especially if they do something dumb like clog up a pump and piss off all the other guys. Some folks are understanding, some will even go out of their way to help (to the folks at Alpine in Canmore, you folks are great people!)

 

In the end, BR, it's all good -- fly safe!

 

Cheers

AV8

 

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Guest Bullet Remington
BR, that was my only issue with your earlier statement. I am by no means an exception, and I do all of that: fuel, pre-flights and full B-release, tie-down/moor...heck, I even windex my windows between flights (and especially at night, inside and out...better for the nogs.) We live by the MEL as well.

 

No doubt many pressures on the civy side too, and I appreciate those, not through having experienced the pressures first hand, but in keeping myself familiarized on what the issues are for you guys like through this forum. No doubt that most mil drivers look like fish out of water when they get into strange country....a small site perhaps, especially if they do something dumb like clog up a pump and piss off all the other guys. Some folks are understanding, some will even go out of their way to help (to the folks at Alpine in Canmore, you folks are great people!)

 

In the end, BR, it's all good -- fly safe!

 

Cheers

AV8

 

AV8

 

You ARE the exception! Granted, the Fling Wing MilDrivers are starting to understand that they are much more employable IF they get some training before they get out. The short comings I listed are Not necessarily the fault of the mil driver. The military has instilled the Pilot/officer and the mechanic/grunt / low life, non -commisioned subserviant mentality. :down:

 

Fortunely this is going the way of the DoDo bird and drivers going into the civie market are seeking exposure from the mechs BEFORE they get out! :rolleyes:

 

I recall a former Major getting out at Shearwater, getting a job flying yhe Civie SK61 doing the dewline survey. He made the grevious error of assumimng that his rank followed him to the civilian industry and ORDERED me to clean his cockpit and windscreens!! He left and reenlisted three days after I told him and offered to prove to him that a 15": cresent wrench COULD disappear up the rectal area of an assine driver! <_<

 

He later retired and went to work for TCCA in the enforcement section, along with an old cantankerous fellow engineer, whom I'm sure kept him on the straingt and narrow!! :shock:

 

But youy are right, As long as you all don't get yer six shot to **** and back, you bring the machine home, and you get the boys outa harms way... everything is good in my world! And that matters to me!

 

And if you all get out, I don't have a problem working with and teaching mil drivers how to operate in the civie world! Worked with many an ex mil driver! Most are good. Worked with a lot of long hair drivers...most are good there too!

 

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For Canukaav8tor & Bullet R:

 

The two largest original companies in Canada were Spartan Air Services & Okanogan Helicopters, both started by ex-military pilots. One in the east and the other in the west. Work for one or the other at the time, was the same.

 

The origin of most pilots in the late fifties and early sixties was from the military, Canadian, US Army and French, (Piaseki Types. All excellent pilots with no larger than life ego's. There were no actual flight schools then, the civvie pilots were given a twenty five hour endorsement on their fixed wing CP license.

 

AME's came from the military or served an apprenticeship program for a minimum three years, practical was on the job. Theory you had to learn yourself.

 

The military pilot does not have to explain to his passengers or crew why he is doing a certain maneuver.

 

On civvie street you have to explain everything, you are still the one with the final word as far as the aircraft is concerned, but you have to abide by the customers wishes, he is the one paying the bill.

 

I remember being on the Mid-Canada Line in 1956 with the Navy on S-55's (after a 4 month tour on the Labrador on the Dew-Line) and the following year as a civvie being in the same place the following year with Spartan operating Vertol 42A and out of 18 people there 13 were ex-navy. My bosses then were Larry Camphaug RIP, (Viking) Joe Sangiminou (Bell), Pete Peterson (Helair). Larry was ex Navy, Pete and Joe ex-US Army.

 

In the early 70's, Jimmie's Lagoon especially, ex-Vietnam pilots started to show up. Good pilots but, had to be taught how to deal with customers and what a torque and temp guage was.

 

Most of the large companies were training some pilots with F/W experience and the the flight schools started in the off season.

 

In the eightie's the downturn really started with the exploration crisis and then deregulation to add to the already difficult times and becoming a non entity under the so called AIR TAXI industry. You certainly can't blame "Ghost Busters."

 

Then comes the ninetie's and things start to pick up, but with de-regulation, every Tom, George and Harry operating helicopters and cutting throats on the local level, things are not that great.

 

Without having read the book or seen the video, the only person to see the light was Craig Dobbin RIP.

 

He sold Canadian Helicopters domestic section and moved CHC into the offshore market. I think with all the cut throat operation in Canada, including our esteemed Airline Industry, Craig is looking down and having one helluva good laugh.

 

Can you imagine a person with a formal grade school education, no aviation background, becoming the largest helicopter operator in the world.

 

I think it's a combination of aptitude, attitude and vision.

 

So, getting back to military/civvie scenario, I think it all boils down to adaptation.

 

Cheers, Don

 

 

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