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Winter Op's


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This morning it's -28c here and I told the boys they would have to wait till it warms up before we do any flyin (Bell 206).


Yesterday was -22 all day and the Casey heater had a hard time keeping a comfortable temperature in the machine but it was tolerable.


In fact when I put the first squirt of fuel -Jet B- into the tank my fuel gage shot up to 75 gallons and stayed there for 3 hours, in light of the fact we are not to be flying this machine at minimum fuel due to the recent fuel rectification program F@%K up I was not comfortable with the situation.


The machine is being kept outside (with the required heaters and covers of course) but the rest of the helicopter is cold soaked and I imagine the T/R gear box oil etc is a little on the thick side and that can't be good for the seals and such.


I'm out of here for home tomorrow :D but was just wondering if some of you with experience in the colder climates could pass on some experiences and recomendations.



Iceman (literally!)


Edited due to spelling errors!

Edited by Iceman
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I have flown many winters in a 206 with the closest hangar being hundreds of miles away. I don't think -28 is actually that cold but it depends on where you're going and what you're doing. You have to always think about contingency plans if the engine quits or even something minor occurs that may ground you (dead battery, chip light, hydraulic problem, etc). Something pretty uneventful close to a town or with a truck handy can be pretty major in the middle of nowhere at really cold temperatures. A jetranger with passengers can't really carry much in the way of survival gear either, so everyone has to have certain minimum items with them (proper clothing specifically... and good footwear).


I have never had a problem with the tail rotor seals leaking and have started the machine below -40 dozens and dozens of times. I think that by the time the transmission temperature is in the green the tailrotor should be there too... but since I have never heard of a problem with the TRGB from cold weather ops, I suspect it's not a big issue.


There is a limitation in the maintenance manual regarding oil temperature for an Allison 250. You're not supposed to start with an oil temp below -40... but if you have covers and heaters this should never be an issue.


I was moving diamond drills one time and the temperature had not climbed above -30 for over a month and, in fact, was below -40 many days. The drillers asked me if it was "warm" in the cockpit with the bleed air heater on... I responded that it was in fact a very balmy -27 inside when it was -40 outside... so it was better than nothing.


On that job all I had was the bleed air heater and it surely has to define the meaning of inadequate. To make it work I blocked all the heater ducts in the cabin except for the one behind the pilot's seat. To this one I attached a piece of scat (sp?) hose and ran the hose up over the seat into the longline bubble (it wasn't cut out). I used a little bungy cord attached to my seat belt to hold the hose pointed at the bubble in an attempt to see a little better.


At first I would put all the heat on the windscreen as I was approaching the spot where the drill was being moved to. Then, on short final, I would turn off the defogger and turn the heater on full. I would quickly wipe the frost off the bubble (shavings of frost wafting around all over the cabin... quite pretty actually) to give the heater a headstart, and then I'd get my head in the bubble, deliver the load, pull pitch, switch off the heater, turn on the defogger, wipe the window (wafting frost shavings all over again) and go get another load, where the process would start all over again.


So it went, more or less without a hitch, for a week or two. Then, one day, I was coming in to deliver the 3-cylinder aircooled diesel (which was never designed to be flown with a 206... no matter what they say). I switched the heat from the window defogger to the scat hose in the longline bubble, wiped the frost off and squeezed my head in there (barely... see thread about over-sized melons). Just as the drillers were trying to line up the motor with the hydraulic power pack it plugs into, the little bungy holding the scat hose pointing down at the bubble broke. The hose popped up and lodged in the seam between my helmet and my head. Of course I was now at full power trying to hold the motor up in the air for the drillers, so the hot air coming out of that hose was unbelievable. I don't know how they couldn't have heard me screaming. Anyway, I managed to hold it long enough that the motor was put in place and away I went.


I had a blister the size of a golf ball on my head and was awakened every night for a couple of weeks every time I rolled over... 'cause my pillow would stick to me and peel off as I readjusted. It ended up looking like it was covered in the world's largest cornflakes (sort of like the Thing from the Fanatastic Four).


So back to the original thread about how cold is too cold... An Astar has a limitation at -40... so that makes it pretty easy with that decision. With an aircraft that isn't limited to -40 you have to use your own judgement weighing all the factors. Personally I have never had to say it was too cold because I've never seen it below about -45 (I have been there for temps lower than this but was not asked to fly in them). I think it would have to be pretty important to get me to fly below -45... like a medevac or something. But I don't believe in making blanket statements so I'd decide at the time what was right.




One more thing Iceman... I noticed re-reading your post that you mention "comfortable temperature" inside the cabin. In my experience that is almost impossible in a 206 in the winter. If you have a Janitrol, Casey and bleed air it might work but I doubt it. The passengers have to dress as if they're still outside and that goes for you too. One problem is if you're waiting for guys and you've shutdown somewhere. Once you get the cab cold soaked it's almost impossible to get the windows cleared when the passengers get in. It's good to keep it warmed up (if you can) or start it a few minutes before they get to the machine to give the heater a chance to start clearing the window. If it's just too cold that you can't see where you're going then you need to park the chopper or think of some way to get the job done safely.

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Well it warmed up to -25 and I just got back from flying a couple hours and it wasent too bad, my main concern was the erronius (sp) fuel indications which were way off again for the first hour. Been on this contract for the past 4 seasons and never felt this way about the cold before, guess the 6 months last winter flying in the Caribbean spoiled me. :D


I better git back to work.



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good lord, HV, that sounds miserable!

that's worse than my longlining out the door of a 500 at -42 'cause my old boss was too dumb to put bubble windows in the machines.

i'm now limited to -40 in the astar and would seriously have to consider the go/no go decision (especially with pax on board) at anything less than -35 in case something goes south and have to sleep in the sticks.

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Guest bag swinnger

Its been a weird one for me so far and its not even cold yet! The highs here are around -16 -18 and have had, eng fire lights, tail rotor chip lights, frozen airspeed indicator, fluctuating torque gauge at idle, oat guage's not working.... and one trucker that backed up to the batt shack/generator and drove away while the trailer was still plugged in to the astar! good thing I had the 140ft cord wrapped around the skid gear or I may have had to explain why there were new holes in the engine cowling, transmission cowling, squirrell cheek and pilots door $$$


Shaggy- I bet you will soon be wishing that you were flying in mexico again this winter!

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I've done many years of winter seismic. I've seen days where it was -48, had to wait for it to warm up to -40 before we could go flying.

We use an EC-40 heater. Fill with Jet-B, plug it in, turn it on. The aircraft stays toasty.

Dress accordingly.

The A-Star has an awesome heating system.

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