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Winter Ops

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As winter is rapidly engulfing most of Canada, I thought it might be a good time to inquire about winter ops.


I am a long time Vancouver boy who is only in his second year of 'real' northern Alberta winters. Last winter I did not fly much but this winter is already shaping up to be alot more active.


Certainly winter ops requires a little more effort on flight planning, with an emphasis on what to carry for survival gear and such.


So if anyone has any specific advice or tips which may help someone else make this winter's flying a more 'inhabitable', then please post your thoughts.


I've included some questions/tips I think might be helpful:


Question: Aside from the manufacturer's flight manual on operating limits, does your company have a policy on flying in temps below -20°C?


Question: What should be included on your winter survival gear list?


Tip: Jet A is only good to -17.8°C. If you have to use Jet A around/below that temperature and you are leaving the helicopter out overnight, you had better have some good body covers and a few buddy heaters (i.e. in the Bell 206, place a buddy heater aimed directly at the fuel control).


Tip: Perform a good seating check prior when landing in areas with large snowpacks. Reduce the throttle slowly.


Tip: After parking outside overnight, be sure to check that your skids are not frozen to the ground (i.e. give the stinger a shake if you're in a light -- I don't think that'll do much good in a Bell 205).


Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated! :up:

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Rotorboy ------


1) Some companies have a limit for temps flown and some don't. With Labour rules and Unions involved nowadays, they also have their own standards. As a result of those rulings, you will find increasingly that they'll be shutting down before you will. Personally, my limits are -40 to -45, but ONLY for a medical emergency. Other than that I'm loosing interest at -35 because if you have to 'camp out' for the night or longer, someone's loosing some digits or worse. Passengers do not fly with me in the wintertime dressed like 'Philadelphia lawyers'. I've had customers 'walk on me' because of it, but that's the way it IS period. Brogue shoes or Rockports are no good 50 miles north of Wabbasca, AB at -30.....nor is your $1,500 cashmere overcoat.....and maybe my fancy new a/c battery just went flat and "how well can you gather firewood for the fire tonite?"


2) Transmissions just love heaters overnight also because they got oil in them too and seals, etc., etc..


3) Survival gear? Your company should have one and the list of what's supposed to be in there you should know. Other than that, look at the list and make pretend that this next flight is going to result in you not making it back home and you are going to spend at least 7 days down in the bitter cold. Weigh the extra and compromise on what you can't take.


4) Concerns about the skids freezing to the ground? Do what your F/W peers do with their a/c skiis......lay down some boards or small logs...and still lift off gently in the AM.


5) I'll say nothing about Jet A, Prist or dirty tailbooms..........because that will put me on a rant and show more of my age again. :lol:


6) Lastly, DO NOT skip breakfast or that first warm meal before you go. I did once upon a time and lived to think about that missed meal for 10 days....all day long.

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Guest Angry Egg Driver

In our winter seismic ops we work in temperatures down to -35 all the time.I always let the machine warm up for a few extra minutes on the first start.And I like to put the buddy heaters in between cycles to keep things warm.On ferry flights I always have my sleeping bag in the back.

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Having some heaters in the cockpiit is important too, saves wear and tear on the intsruments and at anything less than -35 or so, N1's and the like seem to misbehave.


Somebody mentioned the dress code of your clients - I consider this one of the MOST important things in winter, especially when operations are a long way from civilization. No one gets in the machine without proper winter attire, and if they're not wearing it, it doesn't count. Having long John's, snow pants and a good coat do you no good with two broken legs and a broken arm - you'll never get them on with a femur that's splintered. I'm not about to pull the heorics of that Canadian Forces Herc driver in the Arctic a few years ago and give up my own clothing.


I have a question to add, how do you most effectively warm a tail rotor gear box?



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If available, I prefer my a/c to go out the door of the hangar on bitter cold mornings and STAY OUT until the day is done. I've seen too many radio problems result from pushing a/c in and out of the hangar on bitter cold days. I've pulled King radios out and seen the frost that had developed on the contact points at the back and since that time, if it goes out, it stays out and weird, cold morning radio problems disappeared for me. ONE Master for the radios also helps this problem because little plastic/bakelite knobs and 'thingys' don't like -30 degree temps either. In-cockpit heaters are great also, but usually I'm lucky to have an outlet for the one by the tranny AND one for the FC. Also if I have any kind of APU available, that first start in the day is ALWAYS an APU start and if I can arrange it, I prefer it to be like that year 'round. I've yet to put a heater anywhere near the T/R gearbox and never had any problems. The joke used to be that you could tell what kind of temps a/c operated in during the winter, by the 'weeping' of T/R gearboxes that went on in the warmer days of spring.

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i pack my own survival gear on top what in the A/C. Wear ur winter gear... after the fact u might not to be able to put it on.......if u work below the tree line matches in ur pocket.....I have matches everywhere and i don`t smoke..u might not have access to ur A/C.....above the tree line make sure u survivalstove bottle is filled and the stove is working. At minus 35 windchill minus 50...banged up broken arm or leg try to lite that thing...littler challange try to lite the stove with one hand....LOL so if u take a maschine over u stove is there and Now it is working. Also I like a good Shovel...like the one they use for till sampling......minus 20 thats not cold.....lol come to the Arctic I show u cold.......If ur in a blizzard...for 3 days check for snow accumultation under the drive shaft couling....oil cooler....and so on.....ice on the controlsshurface??? check ur tailboom after a snowstorm....engine pan does not drain try a heater in ur bagage compartment....make sure u have lots of fuel at any given time....Ur Honda genset.....mind..it will shut down on low oil.....so always have some oil....jet oil works too if u have too....there is so much more.....practice to build a showcave......everyhting u familar with.....so much easier to do when u hurt and cold......

Remember survival is in ur head....don`t give up......

there is only one thing U HAVE to do.....come home at night to ur famely...... :shock:

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Keep your hands covered, use good gloves when outside, and for pete sake wear a cap or a wool hat!!


Use the buddy system, and watch what your "partner in crime" is doing, and look fir obvious signs of dehydration and frostbite if you work outside for any length of time.


Frostbite are those white spots you see, and dehydration is easy to spot in spots of urine. Darkish yellow/brown is bad.


Remember you loose liquids quicker in the cold.

If you can at all avoid it, don't sweat either. Sweat will leave a layer of water/fluid close to the skin, and this will freeze! Also wear wool closest to the skin if possible, since it will be warm, even if it is wet.


Dress in layers if you have to stay outside for any length of time, and fleece is great! If you sweat in fleece, take it off, let it freeze and beat the frost out of it!


My rule of thumb: Dress for the environment your flying in, not the environment in the cockpit!!

Hope that gives you a few pointers :up:

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