Read More: HAI Does ATL
June 10, 2019

It takes a city to make a village, and it happens every year.

First come the crates. Cubes and tubes of every size, heft and, notably, point of origin. Some are beautifully crafted, with interesting woods, careful joinery, and on-brand markings. Others less so, with utilitarian materials and slapdash scrawls.

They arrive by truck, perhaps, or by train, steamship, or plane. From the loading dock, they are unceremoniously whisked to an appointed address and deposited on a bare concrete fl oor.

Soon this will be a bustling community, alive with people looking for their next deal or supplier, sure, but also with old friends and new, telling tales, catching up, planning for the year ahead.

But first come the crates.

Welcome to HAI HELI-EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


Read More: eVTOL 101
May 23, 2019

What you need to know about the "future of vertical flight."

The newest player in transportation technology is the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and its projected use for air taxis and urban air mobility (UAM).

At HAI HELI-EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, eVTOL appeared in everything from panel discussions and education sessions to prototypes on the show floor. One panel discussion, The Electric VTOL Revolution, hosted by the Vertical Flight Society, brought together leaders in eVTOL to discuss where the industry stands now and where it’s headed in the future.

Why eVTOL and UAM?

eVTOL describes any type of aircraft that takes off and lands vertically using electric or hybrid-electric propulsion. This covers everything from ultralights and personal air vehicles to future air-taxi models such as the Bell Nexus.

eVTOLs could be used in many missions that helicopters already do, from package delivery to disaster relief. But eVTOL designers and manufacturers point to the technology’s advantages over traditional aircraft: eVTOLs could be more cost-efficient to operate and could carry increased payloads, all while reducing noise.

UAM is only one future application for those vehicles. Like most new technologies, UAM is being developed to solve a problem: “If I live in a city with impossible automobile traffic that can’t support more ground transportation infrastructure, can I bring my daily commute to the sky to get around quickly and efficiently?”

Why Now?

“eVTOL has exciting potential that we think will revolutionize not only vertical flight, but society as a whole,” says Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society. “We have been examining the potential for eVTOL for six years, and it’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen—it’s a matter of when.”

Hirschberg explains that the time to explore and embrace this technology is now. “We are currently experiencing huge advances in electric motors and batteries, as well as the modernization of design tools, computer simulation of fuselages, and all aspects of flight control that we didn’t have five to 10 years ago,” says Hirschberg. “There has even been discussion about moving to performance-based regulations and certification for aircraft, which would be a major game changer.”

“We think about the question of ‘why now?’ a lot at Bell,” says Scott Drennan, vice president of Bell’s innovation team. “We see this as market demand and technology coming together at the same time.”

Read More: New Products from HAI HELI-EXPO 2019
May 23, 2019

Small businesses bring innovative products to the industry.

While news from large companies dominated the daily headlines at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019, the industry’s small-business ­innovators had their own stories to tell. From safety programs to inventive crew resource management solutions, new products and services supporting everyone from pilots and operators to OEMs made their debut on the show floor. Below is a sampling of the small-business creative spirit that keeps our industry growing.

New Services

HeliExperts International: Heliport Safety Certification

With no universal oversight regulations, heliports around the world vary considerably in level of safety. HeliExperts International (HEI) launched its Heliport Safety and Certification Program at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019 to address critical industry needs for increased heliport risk mitigation. Using best practices from the FAA, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and industry leaders, the program seeks to identify risks before they can cause an accident.

“Without standardized heliport regulations regarding heliport safety, the vast majority of heliports contain significant safety risks,” says HEI Managing Member Ray Syms, whose company has designed more than 850 heliports and audited more than 3,000. “The idea behind the program is to provide a solution for operators, insurance companies, and ­municipalities to determine if heliport risks are mitigated to the highest degree possible.” For more information, visit the company's website at www.heliexperts​​

Napoleon Engineering Services: Bearing Engineering

With OEM supply-chain headaches slowing deliveries, manufacturers are bringing more services in-house to meet customer deadlines. Napoleon Engineering Services offers a unique service: reverse engineering type-certified bearings in support of parts manufacturing approval authorization.

“Our mission is to remove barriers to supply chains due to the difficulty in obtaining bearings,” says Chris Napoleon, president and chief engineer at Napoleon Engineering Services. “We reduce lead times to 16–26 weeks, compared to OEM lead times that are typically 50–90 weeks.”

The company typically performs reverse engineering services in about six weeks, delivering a full technical packet for submission to the FAA. Napoleon Engineering also offers full bearing manufacturing capability with the ability to manufacture bearings with outside diameters between ¾ inch and 14 inches. For more information, visit  www.nes​

New Programs

Flightdocs: Cloud-Based Flight Operations Platform

Flightdocs unveiled its Flightdocs Operations tracking and communications platform. Flightdocs Operations integrates with the company’s popular Flightdocs HMX maintenance tracking platform, currently used by more than 200 operators for more than 1,000 helicopters, to create a complete end-to-end operations management solution for helicopter operators. The platform’s core functions include flight scheduling, service planning, crew and passenger management, customizable flight logs, and expense reporting, and includes a secure messenger communication tool.

“Flightdocs Operations is the modern, cloud-based, real-time mobile platform our customers have been requesting,” says Flightdocs President Greg Heine. According to Heine, 12 companies were already signed up for the program by the first day of HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019. For more information, visit

New Products

Eye in the Sky: Cockpit Data Recorder

In February 2015, the 18-year-old son of New Zealand helicopter legend Louisa “Choppy” Patterson was killed when the Robinson R44 he was riding in broke apart in midflight. In response to this tragedy, Patterson began developing Eye in the Sky, a durable and lightweight audio, video, and data in-flight recorder.

“The accident report said there was an in-flight break-up, but there was no determination of probable cause,” says Patterson, who is also CEO of Over the Top, a New Zealand–based air tour operator. “Had there been a product like Eye in the Sky onboard, there wouldn’t be as many questions [about the cause of the accident]. We could increase safety.”

The crash-resistant camera and data recorder captures HD video, high-resolution images, and data, including location (via GPS), airspeed, altitude, g-forces, pitch, roll, and yaw. The device’s SD card can hold 40 hours of data. The onboard battery continues to record after shutdown and immediate power loss. For more information, visit

Aviation Specialties Unlimited: Night-Vision Goggles

Once known as a reseller of night-vision products, as well as service and repair, Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Inc. (ASU) is now an OEM. The company introduced its new white phosphor E3 Lightweight Night Vision Goggles in Atlanta. Paired with the Aeronox mount and battery pack, the full system shaves 200 grams off standard night-vision goggle weights.

“Weight is a big concern, and it always comes back to haunt pilots as neck and back issues,” says ASU Chief Executive Officer Mike Atwood. “We listened to what pilots wanted and developed a lighter, more versatile goggle system with the expanded capabilities they need for mission success.”

In addition to its light weight, the new goggle system is easily repairable, fits multiple helmet styles, and features a retractable breakaway lanyard. For more information, visit the company’s website at www.asu​

Read More: HAI Salutes Excellence in Vertical Lift
May 23, 2019

Celebrating the best in vertical aviation.

Every day, on every continent, members of the vertical-lift community do amazing things with helicopters and other vertical-lift aircraft. They get jobs done that can’t be done any other way.

But for some, simply getting the job done is not enough. Whether in a single instance or throughout a career, these pilots, maintenance technicians, flight instructors, safety professionals, operators, and industry leaders from around the world excel—and set an example of excellence that inspires our industry.

For more than 50 years, HAI has encouraged and celebrated the highest standards of professionalism within the vertical-lift community through its Salute to Excellence Awards. The awards reflect outstanding achievements from across our industry.

At the 2019 Salute to Excellence Awards luncheon on March 6 during HAI HELI‑EXPO 2019 in Atlanta, the following honorees were recognized. HAI congratulates them and celebrates their contributions to our industry. Their passion for excellence is an inspiration to us all.

Nominations for the 2020 Salute to Excellence Awards, to be celebrated at HAI HELI‑EXPO 2020 in Anaheim, will be accepted beginning May 31, 2019. Visit for more information.

Read More: Rex Bishopp: Alaska Aviation Pioneer
May 20, 2019

Building the helicopter industry in America’s last frontier.

In an industry as young as ours, it’s not difficult to find pilots and maintenance technicians who have made historic contributions. That said, our Trailblazer for this issue of ROTOR is someone who was an influential figure in Alaska helicopter aviation without ever becoming a licensed pilot or mechanic.

Rex Bishopp, who passed away in 2018 at age 96, operated Alaska Helicopters for many years. He was also active in that state’s aviation community, working for safety, advocacy, and historic preservation. Before his death, Rex spoke with Martin J. Pociask of Helicopter Foundation International; this article is written from Pociask’s notes and other sources.

Read More: "Don't Let Anything Get in Your Way"
May 20, 2019

Helicopter Foundation International (HFI) scholarship winner Cory Oestreich’s desire to be in aviation started at a young age. Fascinated by the television show M*A*S*H, he loved to watch the helicopters.

As he grew older, that interest caused him to pursue a career in aviation. After Oestreich graduated high school, he attended a fixed-wing flight training program for two years at the University of Minnesota Crookston.

Realizing that his passion was for aviation maintenance, he transferred his credits to a two-year aviation maintenance technology (AMT) program at the Helena College University of Montana. He graduated in December 2017 with an Associate’s in Applied Science degree in AMT.

Oestreich participated in a couple of helicopter discovery flights and logged some flight hours with Hillsboro Aviation in Oregon. This led to a job with the US Forest Service helitack crew, Central Montana Helitack. He was a wildland firefighter as well as a helicopter crew member. Being in this position helped him make connections and build his network with a variety of helicopter companies.

Realizing the importance of continuing his training, Oestreich applied for and won the HFI Bill Sanderson AMT Scholarship. He used his scholarship to attend the Safran Arriel 2B/2B1 and 2D turboshaft engine maintenance course.

He is looking forward to continuing his training and plans to obtain his second-line maintenance qualification through Safran, as well as attend Airbus Helicopters factory training. Oestreich’s ultimate goal is to work for a helicopter air ambulance company.

When asked about his advice to those still working on their certification, he says, “Maintain an open mind first and foremost, and network whenever possible! Be willing to take less desirable jobs to eventually work your way up. Lastly, if aviation is what you want, just dive in headfirst and go for it. Don’t let anything get in your way.”

Read More: Meet Lisa Rezende
May 20, 2019

Lisa Rezende
Edinburg, Texas, USA

Quick Facts
First aviation job: 
Working for Air Florida Helicopter in Orlando, Florida
Current job: Air interdiction agent for US Customs and Border Protection
Favorite helicopter: Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk

Your current position?
I am a dual-rated pilot currently working as an air interdiction agent for US Customs and Border Protection and flying the Eurocopter AS350. Our mission is to be guardians of our nation’s border and to safeguard the American homeland, both at and beyond the border.

How did you get to where you are now?
When I was working for Air Florida Helicopters in Orlando, Florida, one of the pilots who worked there was a contractor for a military training program based out of Titusville, Florida. He saw me working about five different jobs at the same time to pay for my fixed-wing training.

As I completed my advanced ground certificate, he offered me a job to train Air Force pilots. He became my mentor in both aviation and in life. They eventually invested in my training to become a helicopter pilot with commercial, CFI, CFII, and NVG ratings.

Read More: Recent Accidents and Incidents
May 20, 2019

The rotorcraft accidents and incidents listed below occurred between January 1 and March 31, 2019. All details were obtained through the official websites listed below, where you can learn more details about each event.

January 2019

Robinson R22
Waterloo Station, NT, Australia
01-01-2019 | ATSB 201900001
No injuries | Personal flight
The aircraft collided with terrain shortly after liftoff.

Robinson R44 II
Ubatuba, SP, Brazil
01-01-2019 | NTSB ERA19WA088
3 injuries, 1 fatality | Noncommercial flight
No description available.

Bell 429
Melksham, WIL, United Kingdom
01-02-2019 | AAIB G-WLTS
No injuries | Type of flight unknown
Uncommanded yaw input and rotation on the ground.

Robinson R44
Santa Maria Island, FL, USA
01-02-2019 | NTSB GAA19CA124
No injuries | Commercial flight
No description available.

Robinson R44
Grace, ID, USA
01-03-2019 | NTSB GAA19CA110
No injuries| Personal flight
Main rotor blades struck power lines while maneuvering at low altitude.

Robinson R44
Barwon Heads, VC, Australia
01-06-2019 | ATSB 201900026
No injuries | Charter flight
Helicopter missed landing site and impacted water after misinterpretation of the wind direction.

Robinson R44
Carinda, NSW, Australia
01-07-2019 | ATSB 201900014
No injuries | Aerial work
Helicopter conducted forced landing and collided with terrain after pilot detected vibrations throughout helicopter followed by low RPM alarm.

Bell 206
Tindal Aerodrome, NT, Australia
01-08-2019 | ATSB 201900028
No injuries | Agricultural flight
Pilot conducted forced landing after engine failure, resulting in substantial damage.

Robinson R44
Uvalde, TX, USA
01-08-2019 | NTSB CEN19LA065
1 injury | Training flight
Shortly after takeoff for an autorotation, helicopter experienced a hard landing.

Bell 205A-1
Talbingo, NSW, Australia
01-10-2019 | ATSB AO-2019-003
1 injury | Aerial work
During sling load operations, the load released and struck the loadmaster.

Robinson R22
Jandakot Aerodrome, WA, Australia
01-10-2019 | ATSB 201900043
No injuries| Training flight
Loss of control during hover training because of unexpected wind resulted in helicopter colliding with terrain.

Aerospatiale AS350
Ponca City, OK, USA
01-11-2019 | NTSB CEN19LA068
No injuries | Positioning flight
Helicopter experienced dynamic rollover during landing and sustained substantial damage.

Bell 206
Yuma, AZ, USA
01-11-2019 | NTSB WPR19TA061
1 injury | Agricultural flight
The helicopter struck a transmission wire during an agricultural flight.

Bell 47G
Belen, NM, USA
01-11-2019 | NTSB CEN19LA067
No injuries | Personal flight
Helicopter collided with terrain during an emergency landing after experiencing unsafe main rotor speed. Main rotor blades subsequently impacted tail boom and tail rotor.

Bell 212
Slim Creek, BC, Canada
01-19-2019 | TCSB A19P0012
No injuries | Heli-skiing flight
No description available.

Eurocopter EC130
Mansfield, VC, Australia
01-19-2019 | ATSB AO-2019-005
No injuries | Personal flight
Helicopter began to yaw and roll to the left at an increasing rate during initial climb. The pilot initiated an emergency landing. Upon hitting the ground, the helicopter rolled over.

Aerospatiale AS350 B3
Lac Manouane, QC, Canada
01-23-2019 | TCSB A19Q0011
No injuries |Aerial observation flight
No description available.

Bell 206
Ashland, OR, USA
01-23-2019 | NTSB WPR19LA071
1 fatality| Aerial work
Helicopter collided with trees while maneuvering.

Sikorsky S-64E Skycrane
Jericho, VC, Australia
01-28-2019 | ATSB AO-2019-008
3 injuries | Firefighting flight
Helicopter impacted water during aerial fire-control operations.

Bell 407
Zaleski, OH, USA
01-29-2019 | NTSB CEN19FA072
3 fatalities | Air medical flight
Helicopter collided with forested, rising terrain during air medical operations.

Eurocopter AS350
Tampa, FL, USA
01-29-2019 | NTSB GAA19CA121
No injuries | Commercial flight
No description available.

Sikorsky S-92A
St. John’s, NL, Canada
01-31-2019 | TSBC A19A0007
No injuries | Training flight
Sling load released during operations.

February 2019

Bell 206
Barueri County, SP, Brazil
02-11-2019 | NTSB ERA19WA099
3 fatalities | Type of flight unknown
No description available.

Eurocopter AS350
Pigeon Valley, NSN, New Zealand
02-17-2019 | TAIC AO-2019-001
1 injury | Firefighting flight
Helicopter impacted terrain during emergency landing.

Robinson R44
Røldal, HVL, Norway
02-17-2019 | NTSB CEN19WA083
2 fatalities | Type of flight unknown
No description available.

Airbus AS350
Glennallen, AK, USA
02-18-2019 | NTSB GAA19CA139
No injuries | Charter flight
No description available.

Robinson R22
Clearwater, FL, USA
02-19-2019 | NTSB GAA19CA141
No injuries| Training flight
Helicopter skids caught on ground during hover training; helicopter subsequently rolled over.

MD 369
Kukuihaele, HI, USA
02-21-2019 | NTSB WPR19LA087
1 injury | Positioning flight
Pilot initiated forced landing after engine-out light illumination and alarm. During autorotational touchdown, the tail rotor assembly and left skid broke away, and the helicopter rolled to the left.

Sikorsky HH-60L
Tullahoma, TN, USA
02-28-2019 | NTSB ERA19TA110
2 injuries | Charter flight
Helicopter struck trees and terrain while flying during instrument meteorological conditions.

March 2019

Bell 407
Union Center, SD, USA
03-03-2019 | NTSB CEN19LA092
1 injury | Air medical flight
Ambulance drove toward helicopter during routine engine cooldown postlanding and impacted main rotor blades, resulting in substantial damage.

Hughes 369D
Talking Rock, GA, USA
03-05-2019 | NTSB ERA19FA118
1 fatality | External load flight
Wind conditions caused helicopter to impact trees and terrain during an aerial tree-trimming flight.

Bell UH-1B
Forks, WA, USA
03-08-2019 | NTSB WPR19FA091
1 fatality | External load flight
Helicopter collided with mountainous terrain during logging operation.

Bell 407
Galliano, LA, USA
03-10-2019 | NTSB CEN19FA095
2 fatalities | Charter flight
Helicopter impacted marsh after descending from cruise flight.

Bell OH-58A
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, USA
03-13-2019 | NTSB unallocated
No injuries | Law enforcement flight
Description not available.

Robinson R44
Bool Lagoon, SA, Australia
03-13-2019 | ATSB AO-2019-011
1 injury | Agricultural flight
Helicopter struck power line and then collided with terrain during aerial application work.

Schweizer TH-55
Keene, NH, USA
03-13-2019 | NTSB GAA19CA168
No injuries | Personal flight
Description not available.

MD 369HS
Newberg, OR, USA
03-17-2019 | NTSB unallocated
No injuries | Unknown flight type
Description not available.

Eurocopter AS350
Woomera, SA, Australia
03-20-2019 | ATSB AO-2019-015
1 fatality | Utility flight
During power line stringing operations, helicopter came into contact with a tower and subsequently collided with terrain.

Robinson R22
Madill, OK, USA
03-20-2019 | NTSB CEN19LA106
No injuries | Personal flight
Pilot initiated emergency landing after clutch warning light illumination and helicopter shuddering. The helicopter landed roughly during autorotation and rolled onto its side.

Airbus AS350 B3
Montgomery, TX, USA
03-27-2019 | NTSB CEN19FA109
0 injuries, 1 fatality | Firefighting flight
Description not available.

Bell 206B
Valley Center, CA, USA
03-29-2019 | NTSB GAA19CA186
No injuries | Agricultural flight
Description not available.

Bell 222
Montgomery, NY, USA
03-30-2019 | NTSB unallocated
No injuries | Unknown flight type
Description not available.

Read More: Too Much Fun
May 20, 2019

Did a pilot’s search for adventure lead to tragedy instead?

Aviation is exhilarating. The career paths that make up the industry’s pilot pipeline couldn’t be sustained if it weren’t. The steep expense of initial training, the long hours and low pay of flight instruction, the tedium and hazards of pipeline patrol, air tours, and offshore shuttles are all made tolerable by the innate joy of flight. If pilots occasionally indulge in the taste for the thrills that originally attracted them to flight training, well, that’s only human nature.

Of course, most of what’s considered safety culture consists of thwarting human nature, or at least restricting its scope for circumventing the rational mind’s efforts at risk assessment and mitigation. That’s the reasoning behind standard operating procedures that remove as many decisions as possible from the individuals who actually operate the aircraft.

The Flight

N74137 was an Airbus AS350 B3 air ambulance operating from Air Methods’ local base in Globe, Arizona. Early in the afternoon of December 15, 2015, it was dispatched to transport a cardiac patient from Globe to Mesa. The flight was crewed by a pilot, flight nurse, and flight paramedic. Conditions were characteristic of the Phoenix area in December: clear skies, light northwest winds, and essentially unlimited visibility.

The flight was short, about 25 minutes, and the patient remained stable throughout. After unloading him, the helicopter refueled at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (KIWA) before departing for home.

Data recovered from the aircraft’s onboard Appareo GAU2000 data logger, which obtained position and altitude data from its own internal GPS and airspeed and altitude readings from the helicopter’s pitot-static system, showed the helicopter initially traversing the area around Gold Canyon at about 500 feet above ground level (agl). As it approached the Superstition Mountains heading east-northeasterly, it climbed enough to begin skimming over the hills at altitudes ranging from more than 1,000 feet above the valley floors to as little as 240 feet above the peaks.

During the last three minutes of the flight it flew even lower, remaining below 800 feet agl and crossing ridgelines with less than 50 feet to spare. After traversing the rim of Rogers Canyon just 30 feet above a saddle, the ship descended and accelerated, following the canyon floor. Ground speed reached 148 knots at an altitude of no more than 300 feet agl as the helicopter tracked toward the next ridge.

The flight paramedic later recalled hearing the pilot say, “Oh, shit” and seeing him making “jerky fast hand movements” on the controls. After a hard right bank the paramedic likened to “try[ing] to do a U-turn at 60 miles an hour,” the aircraft hit the next ridgeline just below another saddle point at an altitude of 5,035 feet. It was 5:23 p.m.

The Pilot

The 51-year-old commercial pilot had logged 5,670 hours in a 25-year flying career. He was the Globe base’s safety officer, a role that the paramedic said he “took very seriously.” The pilot was well liked by his teammates, in part because of his willingness to help clean the aircraft and equipment after transports. The paramedic also described him as liking to fly lower than their other pilots, but “not like dangerously low or anything.”

The paramedic also mentioned the pilot’s service in the US Army, as did other flight crew at the Globe base. It would appear, however, that he didn’t fly for the army. His résumé cited no military flight experience, and the file assembled during the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation includes his honorable discharge with the explanation “Failure to qualify for flight training – no disability.” His civilian medical certificate required the use of corrective lenses.

The Flight Controls

The NTSB’s report makes particular note of the phenomenon of servo transparency, a condition in which the aerodynamic loads generated by the main rotor system exceed the forces produced by the aircraft’s hydraulic system. The difference “is transmitted back through the pilot’s collective and cyclic controls” and increases rapidly, potentially creating the impression that the controls have jammed. On helicopters like the AS350 with clockwise-turning main rotors, “it results in a right and aft cyclic motion accompanied by down collective movement.”

The amount of feedback is proportional to the severity of the maneuver that instigates it, but it “normally lasts less than 2 seconds when the pilot is aware of the conditions and relaxes the pressure on the controls”—not the most natural reaction to a mountain ridge rushing toward you at 250 feet per second. The paramedic’s impression of the flight’s final seconds was “Hard right. Lost altitude fast. See it coming. Then we just hit …”

Search and Rescue

The helicopter’s emergency locator transmitter was undamaged but did not activate … until the wreckage was moved onto a flatbed trailer during recovery.

The flight was tracked by satellite, but the staff at the national communications center failed to notice its disappearance for more than two hours. Some time after 7:30, they alerted Air Methods’ Operations Control Center, which launched a search. Company aircraft located the accident site at about 8:30 p.m., but because of the steep terrain and limited access had to summon another helicopter with hoist equipment to lower medics to the scene. The first rescuers reached the victims at 9:54, four and a half hours after the crash.

The pilot had stopped breathing shortly after impact. The paramedic found himself hanging in his straps outside the high side of the wreckage. His glasses and helmet “were gone.” He cut himself free with his trauma shears and dropped to the snow, falling into a stream of fuel leaking from the ruptured tanks. The flight nurse was conscious but badly hurt, pinned under the wreckage with the right skid across his throat and jaw. The paramedic’s own injuries left him unable to walk. They tried to use their mobile phones but couldn’t get a signal.

Temperatures dropped rapidly after the sun set, and both men began suffering from hypothermia. The flight nurse diagnosed himself with a collapsed lung, but his aspiration needles were in a pocket of his flight suit that was out of reach beneath the wreckage. His breathing became increasingly labored until he succumbed.

His autopsy showed multiple rib fractures with a left-sided flail chest (a serious condition where a segment of the rib cage becomes detached from the chest wall) and significant internal bleeding from intraabdominal injuries. His Injury Severity Score was graded as 22 (severe), and the NTSB concluded that “it is unlikely that he would have survived until help arrived even if the initial notification of the crash had occurred more rapidly.”

The paramedic was eventually able to signal the search aircraft with the light on his mobile phone. He survived and provided investigators with his account of the flight.

The Takeaway

It should go without saying: the purpose of satellite tracking is to guarantee immediate response when an aircraft can’t be accounted for. A prompt initiation of search-and-rescue efforts might have located the wreckage before sunset, making it easier for rescuers to reach the scene and minimizing hypothermia. Interviews with staff at the communications center suggested that unusually heavy volume in her sector might have overloaded the relatively inexperienced specialist tracking the flight, the kind of single-point failure institutional systems are presumably designed to prevent.

But of course there’d have been no need for search or rescue had the pilot chosen to cross the mountains at a conservative 1,000 feet above the peaks. Skies were clear, and the altitude records set by the AS350 B3 include landing on the summit of Mt. Everest, so neither the meteorological nor service ceiling was a factor.

From outside, one can see no practical reason to risk the ship and its crew by zipping 30 feet over ridgelines and racing down canyons at 150 knots. But as the paramedic recalled, “Each pilot has their own little route … I say they’re like surfers. They have their own little way they do things.” The accident pilot’s preferred route to Globe from the west passed “some rock formations … he just liked to fly by.”

Three days after the accident, Air Methods’ chief pilot issued a critical bulletin announcing a zero-tolerance policy for violations of the minimum VFR altitude standards set by the company’s General Operations Manual. Increasing consumer sales of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) were cited as a reason.

Read More: Training to the Individual
May 20, 2019

Flight instruction shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all.

A colleague of mine once told a story about a student pilot who could not be talked out of making large inputs to his helicopter controls. This never worked, of course, but the student kept making the same mistake, no matter how many times he was corrected. The student didn’t understand how to fix his mistake.

Finally, the instructor asked the student if he had a wife or a girlfriend. “Yes, I have a wife,” said the student. His instructor then asked, “When talking to your wife, if you yell, ‘This is what I want!’—does that communication style work well for you? Or do you get better results by saying a little, then waiting for her to say a little, and then talking back and forth?

“Just make small adjustments to the controls,” said the instructor. “If you communicate with the helicopter, then it will tell you what it needs.”

After this feedback, the student began to get the hang of making smaller control inputs. Whenever he overcorrected, his instructor would say, “Stop yelling at the helicopter.” Over time, the student was able to overcome the bad habit he had struggled with for so long.

We all have different personalities, backgrounds, and ways of viewing the world, and therefore, we all have different ways that we learn. For those of us who are flight instructors, it is our job to see our students as individuals and to find the techniques and strategies that work for them, while still providing the structure that ensures they have the skills and attitudes to be successful, safe pilots.

Not everyone must travel the same path, but we all need to end up at the same destination. Some students will be ready to be a PIC as soon as you give them the controls, while others will consistently rely on their instructor to give them permission to make decisions. Flight instructors must be flexible and able to work with differing personality types, while still enabling each student to reach their potential.

Not only will each student learn differently, but they may learn differently from day to day. A student may come in for a flight lesson tired from a poor night’s sleep. Or she may be worried about something unrelated to flight training. These are just a few of the situations that can affect a student’s ability to learn. Flight training is an excellent time to introduce the student pilot to the importance of human factors in aviation safety and the IMSAFE checklist.

As instructors, it is our job to first read the student’s performance. Are they distracted or tired? Have they prepared for the lesson? Are they having trouble with a particular maneuver?

Next, we must determine how to provide the student with the strategies they need to succeed. The strategy that works for one student may not work for another. That student who was having trouble with flight control inputs had been told many times that he was doing it wrong. But it wasn’t until his instructor told him how to fix the issue—in a way that student could understand and use—that the student could move ahead in his training.

Be aware of the need to adapt your teaching style to suit each student’s learning style. Think of this as a feature, not a bug, of the flight instructor’s job. Your ability to approach students as individuals will make you a better instructor and will reinforce your own knowledge of flight principles.

As your students progress and eventually become pilots and perhaps flight instructors themselves, the foundation that you laid during their training will affect not only what kind of pilot they become, but how they train their students, who will probably go on to teach other students, and so on. The way you teach will affect the industry for years to come.