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Over Weight, Pooped Out, Out Of Sight

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Please refer to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada's Aviation

Safety Recommendation regarding Georgian Express Flight 126.


This is what happens when standard weights are used. Ten people are

dead. I have seen numerous overloaded helicopters struggle to become

airborne. Some pilots justified this by using the argument of

standard weights.


I must say that I feel TC itself bears some responsibility for these

deaths. It is highly likely that the standard weight procedure was

adopted because aviation managements whined that it was too onerous

to calculate gross weight exactly. Why TC could not understand the

elementary statistical fact that the passenger load for small aircraft

does not meet the criteria for minimum sample size for averages to be

valid is a mystery.


There are two other facets of helicopter operation that deserve serious

consideration. One is the VFR minimums of one-half mile and clear of

cloud. This is too low. The minimums should be at least a kilometer

and a half with a ceiling of one hundred meters. Here is a tip for

experts in human psychology at TC. If you think that 1/2 mile is the

minimum safe visibility for helicopter flight, the limit should be set

at one mile because, human nature being what it is, you can bet that

many will bust the limit regularly.


The other is flight time limitations. Fourteen hours a day for forty-

two days is not right. Recently, the fatality of a garbage truck driver was

attributed in part to fatigue. Fatigue in a garbage truck driver for crying

out loud. Apparently, he had worked several overtime shifts.


It may not happen very often, but people will be seriously injured or

die because of these rules. But perhaps a death here and there is

acceptable .... NOT. This is not war you know.


Here is a chance for the boys who have bought into this proactive

safety thing to avert disasters before they happen.


Perhaps Contrail has a little more on the ball than some of you are

willing to admit.

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JM: I watched a Single Otter on floats proceed to a take off run on a long lake, after using 3/4 of the lake he became airborne and was gradually climbing, then he came over land and went into the tree's.

He was overloaded when he left the dock, about a quarter of the rear part of the floats where under water.


What Smart-*** forgot to take into his airmanship calculation, was the air density.


He was being paid by the mile, so go figure. Lac Attilla, James Bay.


Helicopter pilots on the other hand have no excuse for taking of over loaded unless they want to.


Pick the helicopter up into a hover and knowing the power settings of your machine you can easily calculate whether you can take of or not.

This method does not require weighing everything in the helicopter.

Most helicopter pilots know there machine well enough to calculate over weight by 25-50 lbs.


It takes so much power to hover and you have to have enough power to move from a hover to translation lift.


If you have to go out vertically, you will probably make more than one trip, depending on the height.


Fixed wing use lift going down the runway or lake.


Helicopters use power to get into translational lift, they donot have the luxury of extending the take off run.


Contrail means well, but is mis-directed.




Cheers< Don

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Some pilots consider themselves heroes when they push the weather and many accidents have happened because of this. Would these accidents still have happened if the minimums were 1 mile instead of 1/2 a mile?? Pobably, Who knows?


Why are some operators tolerating these pilots pushing the weather in the first place? The problem isn't only the pilot but also the operator that allows this to happen. Why don't safety consultants ban these operators from flying for their customers?

Also, how many operators actually have accurate weigh scales at their facility to weigh customers and cargo? We probably can't practicaly take scales in the field but if a lot of our flying is done from a base, wouldn't it help if the loads were accurately weighed before being loaded?

As far as T.C. and the use of standard weights for passengers, it's really irrelevant what T.C.'s stance is because each pilot should be calculating the actual weight of each passenger as part of their pre-flight weight & balance calculation(assuming the passengers don't lie when being asked how much they weigh!) and as Blackmack said, a pilot should know when he's overloaded before he takes off.

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When I was up in VIH's Sandspit base a few years ago, they had purchased a set of cattle scales and fixed a 5 x 5 platform to it. The scales cost about $2500 bucks and were digital. Very accurate and allowed 6 pax to stand on it so no one person was weighed only the group. Worked well with cargo also as you could load a pallet after you zeroed out the pallet weight.

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Blackmac is right, as helicopter drivers we have the advantage of "weighing" the load in the hover, i.e. N1/Ng required to hover with said load. With a little experience you should have a pretty good idea how much more power it will take to achieve translation over level ground or to vertical out of a 50ft. hole.

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Thank-you for that Blackmac.......and from a retired MoT person yet :up: . That's the very first thing I noticed about helicopters when I transitioned-over...........no "Stall Horn" and so "Stall Light". The second thing I noticed was their absence again when the A/S moved below 50MPH and my anal orifice started to twitch closed. A forced smile proved to be no comfort whatsoever. Chewing my gum faster didn't help either :unsure: .


Seldom, if ever, have I personally ever seen a scale of any type ready for the appropriate "weighing" of equipment or passengers at landing pads "custom-cut" while working forest fires or a host of other similar worksites. I've also considered anyone who uses the "supposed" weights stated by Mot to be an idiot with a death wish. They are stated and issued to be used with common sense and if one should find himself alive in a tangled wreckage someday AND TSB should determine that your a/c was over-gross, then you can expect the Regulatory bodies to stick that AIP and the stated "average" weights up your ***. Over-gross is overgross and the term "FBI" wasn't coined for no reason at all. The vast majority of my passengers in the last 20 years, including a combat theatre, have exceeded the new weights given as well as the old numbers. I didn't use those numbers flying Otters in F/W either because I wasn't stupid enough to believe I had the same tolerances as a 747 either. My "fudge factor" or room for error was one **** of a lot tighter than his.


Visibility and height rules? They can make them whatever they wish to make them and EVERYONE knows that the determining factors in the majority of cases, WHEN OUT OF VIEW, will be the "experience factor", the "little voice" factor and the tightening of "thy as*hole" factor. In SOME cases and conditions, even the 1 mile vis and 100 meters is TOO little. What's the "Limits" for common sense?

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I agree with you. Those were just rough figures being used by a person that knows his machine.


204B at sea level you can hover at seventy five feet and do pedal turns with full fuel and pax's. Don't try it in a 206B.


I have never seen an insurance company come out in the bush and check ANYTHING after an accident or incident. Unless there is somebody killed you might not even get TSB.


Let's be realistic and not beat this thing to death.


Cheers, Don

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Can you tell me that if the OAT is minus five Celsius, your elevation is 1000 feet, there is a five knot wind on the nose and you are using 94% torque to hover how much your JetRanger weighs? I thought not.


Can you tell me that if the OAT is plus fifteen Celsius, your elevation is 5000 feet, there is no wind and you are using 94% torque to hover how much your JetRanger weighs? I thought not.


The issue is not whether or not you can take-off and remain within limits. The issue is how much the helicopter weighs.


If you use the 'give it a try' method to estimate the weight of your helicopter and you crash as a result of being overgross, do you really think TC, the family of any injured or killed or the insurance company will have any sympathy for you? The answer is no. You will be hung out to dry my friend and rightly so. What is the matter? Can you not add? Are you so lazy that you cannot take the time to determine your gross weight? It is your job. You are negligent if you do not do it.

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