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Long Lining?

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Here's to opening a can of worms. With an eye to safety and litigation, should we be long lining with single engine helicopters? The PIC is ultimately responsible for the operation of the aircraft within the manufacturers specifications and current laws of the land. The aircraft manual sets limits for vne, gross weight, power train limitations, etc. It also clearly illustrates the height/velocity diagram. A couple of things here, one, when the engine quits at cruise and 1000 feet, with proper inputs and a bit of luck, you have a reasonable chance of walking away. Same aircraft at the top of 150' of line setting a bag and the odds are not good. Two, should there be legal action from insurance, families, or maybe your company following this scenario and any lawyer will point out to the judge that the pilot was knowingly ignoring the aircraft limitations. " We have always done this" is not an acceptable legal defence. The law would apply equally to flying over gross or trying to loop a 206. We mentor beginning pilots not to be pressured into situations that are beyond their capabilities. Is it wise for anyone to willingly fly an aircraft beyond its capabilities?

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I know several people who have walked away from engine failures in the hover with a long line on. The helicopters didn't always fair well mind you but it isnt the death sentence you make it out to be...


Alot of people seem to think the height velocity diagram is a limit that cannot be exceeded which is of course not true. We do many things besides long lining that bring us into the shaded area and the point of this graph is to make sure we are aware of the added risk and don't accumulate it uneccessarily.


Why do we need more laws to tell us what we can and cannot do? Personally I feel perfectly safe with a longline on in a single engine machine. Its certainly more dificult and there is added risk, but that cannot be avoided all the time. Besides, I don't think adding a second engine is going to do alot to increase the safety margin. There aren't alot of helicopters, and almost no intermediates that will hover with a gross weight load on one engine. It just increases the cost to the operator, which increases the cost to the customer, which results in less flying.


Statistically the safest helicopter in the world is still a single engine 206b.

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The H/V curve is not a limitation, that is why it is sometimes called the Avoid Curve. Most manufacturers state that prolonged operation in the shaded area is to be avoided.


As far as longlining goes, if you timed it, your time in the avoid curve is probably small compared to some operations which are deliberately prolonged such as Insulator washing or power line inspections.


It will be interesting to see what legal fall-out there will be from the Cranbrook accident.


So if you are in the avoid area for a prolonged period, how should you mitigate the added risk? A second engine makes sense. As long as you operate the aircraft within the WAT limits then you should have enough power to fly away having dropped the load. Very few twins will have single engine fly away performance at max gross.


There are many and varied articles on single v twin, CAT A operations and Performance Class 1.


Search away.

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The previous two posters said it well.


The HV diagram is not a legal limit. That is why it isn't in the limitations section, it's in the performance section.


You can safely hover auto from those heights if you do it right.


I have spent most of my career on long-lines and I actually feel safer doing that kind of work. The scary and annoying work is when you are having to stuff your aircraft into tight crappy unprepared confined areas all day. It's much easier to avoid blade or tail rotor strikes when you are above the trees all day on a line.


Just my 2 cents.

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The Cranbrook incident was one the thoughts that started this post. Obviously builders are serious about the "avoid" part and consequences. Also good point about more dangerous spots to be than long lining when hovering. As illustrated above, why do it? I have been there for hundreds of hours but now am questioning the wisdom in this and whether to rethink the jobs I take on. Just saying

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If you find the statistics published somewhere feel free to post them but from what recall its something like: 85% of helicopter accidents are pilot error

10% of helicopter accidents are mechanical (non engine) failures

5% of helicopter accidents are engine related. Also in this 5% group are twin engine helicopters where both engines failed.



Engines aren't the biggest elephant in the room...

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There is always going to be some kind of danger involved with our jobs. No getting away from the elephant in the room, all we can do is be aware of the risks involved and try to minimize them the best we can.


If you are aware of the risks and don't feel they are worth it, then by all means you should be looking for a niche in the industry that has a risk level that you feel you can control better.


The Cranbrook incident is different than the long lining height velocity issue. Flight over built up areas is a whole different issue because you are putting people on the ground at risk not yourself.


You can decide that long lining is too dangerous and move on and get your IFR and fly to offshore rigs, but that has risks too as we have all seen. I would be curious to see how many fatal accidents are actually caused by a helicopter being on top of a long line in that H/V danger area. I am guessing that it would be pretty low, but that's just my guess.

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I'm not a huge fan of long-lining and I have no trouble with saying that, but it is mostly due to my lack of skill at doing it. I can embarras myself and that is about it.


When it comes to the Cranbrook accident, then we are talking a whole different ball of wax. 2-3 minutes in the 'avoid' area of the curve vs. the entire FLIGHT in that area.


I have done my fair share of powerline inspections, and I learned a lot from that accident, in particularily about the regulatory side of low level over built up area.


One day I'm sure I too will become an OK long-line pilot, but until then, I'll just limit my time in the curve to what is necessary.




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