Fall Issue

The Magazine of Helicopter Association International

The Power of Procedure
Matt Callan 2018 Fall

Procedures exist so that you avoid repeating the accidents of others.

The high rate of helicopter flight–related mishaps in recent years is alarming. Yet, despite endless preaching and PowerPoint presentations, pilots continue to power perfectly good helicopters into the dirt.

Instead of telling you about why it’s important to fly safe, I’m going to ask you to focus on how to be safe. Here’s the secret: stop letting external factors influence your actions, properly weigh the risks before starting the engine(s), and most importantly—follow procedures!

It seems pilots and maintainers often fail to follow procedures, sometimes intentionally. This is referred to as procedural (intentional) noncompliance, or PiNC.

You can begin to see the severity of the problem when you consider the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group’s analysis of commercial jet airplane hull loss statistics from 1982–91.(1) “Boeing claimed that flying pilot adherence to procedures could have prevented 50 percent of the 232 fatal hull losses in that ten-year period.” Boeing further concluded that this figure would have been higher if the nonflying pilot’s failure to comply with procedures was included.

Procedures for checking aviation weather and filing flight plans are clearly delineated in FAA regulations. Yet, according to 2016 research, weather was a cause or contributing factor in 35 percent of fatal GA accidents, of which 60 percent occurred while instrument meteorological conditions were present.(2) How many of these mishaps could have been avoided if pilots had simply followed procedures?

In 2006, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) went so far as to write letters to all Australian pilots about their lack of adherence to mandatory procedures. The Australian regulator stated that flight crews “may also attempt non-standard procedures because they mistakenly believe they are safer than the approved, and legally mandatory, procedures.”(3) Ignoring procedures so that you can be safer runs counter to the common maxim that aviation regulations are written in blood—the regulations and the procedures they mandate exist precisely to prevent or avoid unsafe conditions.

This ROTOR features the debut appearance of a regular department: Recent Accidents & Incidents. In this issue, we list 43 rotary-wing accidents and incidents that have occurred between July 1, 2018, and September 30, 2018. Forty-three—in only three months! And that list draws mostly from the United States (although we will add coverage of other countries in the future).

In future columns, I and other writers will discuss additional ways to fly safe. But in the meantime, do yourself (and those you fly with) a favor: follow procedures!  

Endnotes:

1. Graeber and Moodi, “Understanding flight crew adherence to procedures: The procedural event analysis too (PEAT);” 1998.

2. Andrew J. Fultz & Walker S. Ashley. Physical Geography, 2016. “Fatal weather-related general aviation accidents in the United States.” http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02723646.2016.1211854.

3. CASA warns pilots: It’s deadly to ignore procedures; 26 June 2006; CASA.

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Hope You Like Our New Look
Matt Zuccaro 2018 Fall

The mission of HAI is to help you keep the rotors turning. My fellow staff members and I come to work each day to make that happen. One way we do this is to produce a robust HAI communications program that informs, entertains, connects, and promotes the international civil helicopter community. This is why we produce ROTOR, ROTOR Daily, and the HAI website—and why we have instituted major changes in each.

As you read this issue of ROTOR, you may have noticed its new design. But the changes are more than skin deep. In addition to choosing new paper, fonts, and logo, we have made a concerted effort to bring you more stories “from the field,” where the skids break ground contact and the rotors are turning.

At the same time, we have updated our website, rotor.org, with advanced technology and a fresh new look. We want to provide you, our member or customer, with the most current, relevant information that will assist you in your day-to-day activities. We also wanted to create a website that you could navigate easily and find what you’re looking for. If you haven’t done so in a while, visit rotor.org. I think you’ll be pleased.

Another of our publications is our daily e-newsletter, ROTOR Daily. This round-up of all of the day’s news for the international helicopter community is valuable reading for those in the vertical-lift business. You’ll also learn what HAI is doing to support our members and the industry. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend that you subscribe, for free, to ROTOR Daily so you stay abreast of news that can affect you. Visit rotor.org/subscribe to sign up.

Underpinning these recent changes is HAI’s new association management system. This complex software allows us to run many different processes, but it works best when the end user or customer (that’s you) never gives it a thought. While the upgrades to our database and related systems are important to us, it is mission critical that they provide you with the tools to easily manage your HAI membership, update your subscriptions, obtain safety information, register for HAI HELI-EXPO, or conduct any other business with HAI. This system also provides members with the opportunity to update their membership record to include every employee, so they too can access HAI publications, resources, and other benefits. 

Now that we’ve upgraded the technology that connects us to you, we want to stay in touch. We want to hear from you, our members and customers. This interaction should be a two-way street, and I’d like HAI to do more listening. You don’t exist for us; we exist for you, to enhance your ability to operate safely, efficiently, and as part of an economically sustainable industry.

Our effectiveness when we advocate on your behalf is enhanced when you share what’s happening in your operating environment. When you call about an issue with crash-resistant fuel tanks or want to recognize an extraordinary colleague with a Salute to Excellence nomination, we learn about conditions in the field. And if it’s important to you, then it’s important to us.

I hope you find the changes we have made beneficial and relevant to your operations. I would sincerely appreciate it if you would let me know what you think of them—either way, positive or negative. Are we moving in the right direction to better serve your needs? Do you have any suggestions that would add further value for you?

Send me your thoughts about our new look or anything else that’s on your mind. Let me know at tailrotor@aol.com. As always, fly safe, fly neighborly—and keep those rotors turning!

Best Regards,

Matt

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The Win-Win of a CASS Program
Harold Summers 2018 Fall

Evaluating your maintenance performance leads to safer, more efficient operations.

As stated in 14 CFR 135.431, Part 135 operators who operate aircraft with at least 10 passenger seats are required to set up and maintain Continuing Analysis and Surveillance (CASS) programs. The CASS program ensures the overall effectiveness of an operator’s inspection and maintenance activities by collecting data on their performance and analyzing and correcting deficiencies. It will also help operators to identify hazards and to structure control measures to minimize risks, thereby increasing the safety of their operations.

Your CASS program should contain the following elements to ensure that your maintenance activities are carried out effectively and in full regulatory compliance:

  • Gather the data necessary to evaluate the performance of your maintenance activities
  • Identify deficiencies and positive or negative trends
  • Facilitate in making appropriate revisions and modifications when necessary.

Inputs into a CASS program generally come from two sources: performance information from aircraft and engines, and the results of a systematic audit of maintenance activities.

Performance Analysis

Data sources for this part may include inspection forms, minimum equipment list items, pilot reports, scheduled and unscheduled component removals, service difficulty reports, engine performance data, and reports from flight-data monitoring or health and usage monitoring systems.

Problems that affect or could affect airworthiness or the safety of passengers and crew must be given top priority and the root cause determined and corrected ASAP. Put a system in place so that urgent issues are reported to the appropriate levels of management in a timely manner, and make sure everyone understands when it is appropriate to use the emergency response channel for their reports.

Nonemergency items that affect safety can be sorted into those that require short-term or long-term monitoring. They will also need to be prioritized according to their severity and likelihood, and analyzed for subsequent corrective action. Problems not related to safety can be prioritized according to scope, financial impact, convenience, or accepted as part of the cost of operation with no corrective action required.

Audit Function

The audit function needs to include at least the following areas: removed component condition/evaluation and follow-up, review of the administrative and supervisory aspects of the maintenance program (both internal and vendor), and ensuring regulatory and policy compliance.

It has been estimated that in 65 to 70 percent of all maintenance-related incidents and accidents, failure to follow approved policies and procedures was a major contributing factor. In addition to the potential for a serious accident to occur, failure to comply with appropriate documentation frequently places the operator and maintenance personnel in a position of regulatory noncompliance and all of the associated problems that come with it.

A good audit program is one that is structured to provide a continuous audit of the maintenance system to ensure that everyone, at all levels, who is connected with the system are in compliance with:

  • All applicable government regulations
  • OEM policies, procedures, and maintenance instructions
  • Your customers’ required or recommended policies and procedures
  • Your own company’s policies and procedures
  • Industry standards.

As the Part 135 operator, you are responsible for ensuring that all external suppliers and vendors also are in compliance with all applicable government regulations. This means that your outside suppliers and vendors must be included in your audit program, as you need to gather the relevant information that substantiates their compliance.

The audit program should ensure that:

  • All technical data are current and readily available to the user
  • All maintenance is performed in accordance with the methods, standards, and techniques specified in the appropriate technical data
  • All maintenance documentation, such as inspection forms, work orders, and so on, are regularly reviewed for completeness, accuracy, and proper entries
  • All airworthiness releases are properly executed by the appropriate individuals
  • All carry-over/deferred maintenance items are properly handled
  • The receiving department identifies and inspects parts and materials in accordance with regulations and best practices
  • All shelf-life items are properly controlled
  • Procedures for the calibration and control of tools and equipment are in place and being followed
  • Housekeeping requirements are being met to ensure a safe working place.

While you may not be required to run a CASS program, there can be significant benefit for operators who use 14 CFR Part 135, Subpart J, Mainte­nance, Preventive Maintenance, and Alterations, as a template for developing their own maintenance quality assurance program.  

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Happy 70th Anniversary!
ROTOR Staff 2018 Fall

On December 13, 1948, just under three years after the first helicopter was certificated for civilian use in the United States, 15 men and one woman gathered in Burbank, California, at the offices of AF Helicopters. This group of risk-taking entrepreneurs who had invested in the potential of a brand-new aviation technology formed the Helicopter Council—a group that is today known as Helicopter Association International (HAI).

The purpose of the Helicopter Council, in part, was “promoting the interests of helicopter operators, for mutual cooperation and aid.” Since that momentous meeting, our organization has gone through a series of name changes. However, HAI’s current mission still remains fixed on our members: “To provide its members with services that directly benefit their operations, and to advance the international helicopter community by providing programs that enhance safety, encourage professionalism and economic viability while promoting the unique contributions vertical flight offers society.”

Today, HAI continues to promote the helicopter industry and safe flight, supported by a nine-member Board of Directors elected from member companies. Also assisting the association are 13 committees made up of volunteers who come together to address current problems and issues affecting our industry. HAI HELI-EXPO® remains the largest helicopter trade show and exposition in the world, attended by thousands of exhibitors and attendees every year.

Starting with a single person in the 1960s, HAI’s staff today includes more than 40 people dedicated to assisting our members in promoting the safety, efficiency, and profitability of helicopter operations around the world. HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro, a 50-year veteran pilot and aviation executive, and a former chairman of the association, has led HAI since 2005.

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Chris Hill Named HAI Director of Safety
ROTOR Staff 2018 Fall

HAI is pleased to announce the hiring of Chris Hill as director of safety. In this position, Chris is responsible for managing the association’s existing aviation safety programs and for developing new safety initiatives to benefit HAI’s membership and the international helicopter community.

“We are grateful to find someone of Chris’s caliber to fill our director of safety position,” says HAI president and CEO Matthew Zuccaro. “I’m looking forward to working with Chris to confront the safety issues affecting our industry.”

Chris comes to HAI with more than 32 years of rotary-wing and operational aviation safety experience. After serving as a helicopter pilot in the US Army and Coast Guard, Chris served in numerous roles supporting Coast Guard aviation safety, operations, logistics, and acquisitions. He also has extensive commercial offshore experience operating from multiple platform and vessel types in the Gulf of Mexico.

For the past five years, Chris served at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as the service’s civilian aviation safety manager. He served as a safety officer, flight standardization officer, and instructor pilot in three operational assignments. He has an ATP helicopter rating with more than 5,000 flight hours in 12 commercial and military rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.

“I am honored to be a part of the HAI team, working with our members, operators, and safety professionals around the world,” says Chris. “As the director of safety, my primary focus will be to help enhance and integrate safety cultures and leading practices that can benefit all industry stakeholders.

“I will be serving as the staff liaison for the Safety and Unmanned Aircraft Systems Committees,” Chris continues. “As we work together to continue improving our safety programs and services, I really look forward to getting creative ideas and constructive feedback from our industry committees, members, and others to ensure that we continue to address the highest priority safety issues and concerns.”

A native of California and Texas, he graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a bachelor’s in professional aeronautics in 1989 and a master’s in aeronautical science in 1998.

Chris is married and has a son and two daughters. His wife, Allison, is a manager at VectorCSP, based in Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Colten is an account manager at Metropolitan Press in Dallas; Naomi attends Chapman University in Orange, California; and Sophia attends Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia.

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What is the greatest threat to the helicopter industry?
ROTOR Staff 2018 Fall

Competition for qualified helicopter aviation professionals, combined with a decreasing pool of new entries into the professions, is driving up personnel costs. The experience shortage will impact safety when “old hands” are no longer available to instruct and train students. This trend will eventually make rotary-wing services economically unsupportable when compared to autonomous vehicles and alternate transportation services.

Rick Kenin
Chief Operating Officer–Transport
Boston MedFlight

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Preparing for Winter Operations
Harold Summers 2018 Fall

The cold temperatures that winter brings can be more than a nuisance for helicopter operations.

1. Review guidance for cold-weather operations. Most OEMs, both airframe and engine, have published guidance relating to the conduct of operations when conditions are near, at, or below freezing temperatures. The FAA has also published various guidance in the form of SAFOs, SAIBs, and other communications. Schedule some time to review these and ensure you are operating in compliance.

2. Check for moisture. A key issue affecting safety of flight is the accumulation of moisture in fuel systems, engine control systems, and almost any type of sensing system. Temperature changes can affect the amount or location of water accumulation. Does your aircraft require the use of a fuel additive such as Prist or something similar? If so, under what conditions?

3. Conduct a safety stand-down. Hold a safety stand-down to review your company’s SOPs, as well as industry best practices. Include both maintenance and operations personnel. Everyone needs to be on the safety team!

4. Learn from your mistakes. If you have any past company history relating to cold-weather operations, talk about what happened, why did it happen, and how we will avoid it happening again. We aren’t inventing new ways to have accidents, so let’s learn from our old ones.

5. Help the new guys. If you have new pilots or maintenance technicians on staff, be mindful that they may not have experience operating in your environment. Make sure they get the extra training or oversight they need. An operation where 98 percent of your colleagues know the right way to do things is not acceptable.

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Tom Prevot of Uber Elevate
Dan Reed 2018 Fall

Tom Prevot of Uber Elevate talks about his company’s ambitious plans to reconfigure urban air traffic.

Uber Elevate is developing a vertical-lift low-altitude passenger shuttle system that it hopes will do in the air what its popular shared-ride service, Uber, has done on the ground in cities around the world. It’s aiming for a 2023 launch in two U.S. metro areas (Los Angeles and Dallas–Fort Worth) and one yet-to-be-named international city. But a lot has to happen first. So ROTOR asked Dr. Tom Prevot, director of engineering/airspace systems for Uber Elevate, about the, um “road” ahead.

What are biggest challenges that must be overcome for Elevate to hit its target launch date of 2023?

Prevot: We are creating an all-electric transportation system, so rapid advancement of battery technology—which is making great strides already—is critical.

Another is airspace integration. What will it take to make sure these aircraft can operate safely in the low-altitude airspace over cities that over time will become full of such vehicles?

And the third is public acceptance, which will very much be tied to the noise issue and also to people accepting these airplanes flying relatively low over people’s heads, even if they do so very quietly.

What about the partners you’ll need to finance, build, and operate this system?

We believe this is kind of the next “Big Thing,” if you’ll allow me to use that term: a new mode of transportation that presents different options to the congestion on the streets in big cities. There’s lots of growth and profit potential for our partners operating these aircraft or building and operating the infrastructure. We’ve already got five well-respected partners who want very much to be a part of this future: Bell, Embraer, Pipistrel, Aurora, and Karem.

How do you plan to guarantee the safety of the system?

We envision there eventually being many thousands of eVTOL [electric vertical take-off and landing] aircraft in the system. The existing traffic management system can’t handle that for a lot of technical reasons. And a single controller today can safely handle only about 18 aircraft at once.

You can’t just keep on adding more controllers because the existing system is not designed to grow that way. So we are looking at new ways of managing this low-altitude urban air traffic that would be much more reliable than the existing technology that was created in the ’50s and ’60s.

How far along is the FAA and industry in creating such a control and licensing regime?

Even within the current situation, we could operate by 2023 using a human pilot and in visual flight rule conditions. Longer term, we see this system migrating to unmanned flight operations. But we don’t really require any rule changes to start operating in 2023.

How much will you charge for a ride?

When we start operating, we think we can operate at sort of a comparable price to our BLACK (luxury car) service. Very quickly thereafter, we think we can get the price down to something comparable to Uber X. We also believe the batteries are something that over time the price point will come down on.

Eventually we think we’ll be able to offer an economy (Elevate) service, certainly below what the price of a helicopter ride is today, and comparable to the cost of owning and operating a car. We are talking about eventually getting the cost of this transportation down to less than a dollar per mile.

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