| 2020 Quarter 3

The Magazine of Helicopter Association International

About This Issue
ROTOR Staff 2020 Q3

On the Cover: Aviation photographer Dan Sweet (who also has a day job as HAI’s director of public relations and communications) photographed HAI Board of Directors Chair Stacy Sheard at the Fanatics hangar at Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL) on Jun. 8, 2020. An AW139 captain who flies corporate transport, Sheard is also an energetic networker with a passion for helping veterans and, well, just about anybody. She has a personal message to HAI members here, and her profile begins here.

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HAI on Social
ROTOR Staff 2020 Q3

Reach the beach! According to comments on social media, challenging landings at austere locations, like this one performed by an Airbus H145 operated by Scandinavian AirAmbulance, occur more often than we might think.

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Van Horn Aviation's Bell 206B
Mark Bennett 2020 Q3
FlyOver: Bonneville Dam
Mark Bennett 2020 Q3
Advocating for You
By Cade Clark and John Shea 2020 Q3

Legislative Update

As the HAI government affairs team, John Shea and I represent your ­interests to your elected representatives, advocating for a legal and regulatory environ­ment that will enhance the growth and stability of our industry. I find the inner workings of congressional committees or the tortuous path of a bill through the system to be fascinating. However, I’m often told that I’m using that word incorrectly; I probably meant “frustrating” or “incomprehensible” or “dysfunctional.”

However, with a global economy and political systems reacting to a pandemic and less than 90 days until a US national election, it’s only natural if your interest in politics is heightened (maybe not to the level of “fascinating”) in recognition of these legislators’ very real ability to enact laws that affect us. For some recent examples of how the US government COVID relief programs have benefited the vertical flight industry, please see Figure 1 or visit the Legislative Action Center.

As of this writing, Congress is in the middle of intense negotiations over what the next COVID relief package will look like (see the “Legislative Spotlight” section, below). However, as important as that is, there’s some other vital work Congress must address in a very short time frame. One must-do is averting a government shutdown.

Congressional spending is authorized through the end of September. The House has finished its work on the majority of the 12 FY 2020–21 appropriations bills (Homeland Security and legislative branch appropriations have made it out of committee but haven’t yet received a House vote). Due to partisan disagreement, however, those bills aren’t expected to reach the president’s desk.

In the Senate, the appropriations process has stalled because of disagreements over proposed amendments to the bills. As a result, it’s increasingly likely that Congress will need to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded past Sep. 30, 2020. With the recent deliberations on the next COVID relief package stalled, Congress very well could be coming back from August recess with just weeks to deal with funding the government and the relief package, making for a very complicated September. 

While the COVID relief and appropriations bills inch forward, politicians are also deep into reelection activity. In the Senate, 35 seats are up for election: 12 Democrat and 23 Repub­lican. However, if Democrats net just 4 of those 23 Republican seats without losing any of their own, they’ll take control of the Senate.

Over in the House, election politics are making for some interesting races. Several incumbents face high-profile primaries, with some already out of a job. The GOP released a list of more than 50 targeted seats, including 30 districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016. Democrats aim to protect their freshmen, listing 42 competitive seats they intend to aggressively defend. Most of these freshmen seats are in suburban areas that have experienced rapid, diverse population growth in recent years. Democrats are also recruiting top-tier candidates to take on Republican incumbents.

The census provides a fascinating angle of political intrigue. Based on the recent analysis of the census count, 17 states may see a change in their number of congressional seats. It’s likely Texas, Florida, and North Carolina will gain seats while Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania will lose a seat. This situation will come into play in the 2022 midterm congressional elections.

If this process isn’t fascinating, I don’t know what is. Congress is in the middle of deciding important policies that will impact our industry. HAI continues to advocate on your behalf to keep the rotors turning.

– Cade Clark

HAI’s VP of government affairs, Cade Clark has directed association advocacy programs for nearly 20 years. Growing up, he worked at an FBO where Cade learned to fly, washed planes, got in the mechanics’ way, idolized the old-timers and their stories, and deepened his love for all things general aviation.


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Making Safety Simple (but Effective)
Zac Noble 2020 Q3

Putting safety first isn't as hard as it looks.

One of the worst parts about reading accident reports is seeing how the accident chain was forged, link by link, especially as you know what the final result will be. If it were a horror movie, you would yell at the screen, “Stop scud running!” or, “Find a landing site now!”

I recently witnessed the opposite, where an accident chain unraveled before my eyes. I saw an aviator gather facts and then make an informed decision to not go flying that day—despite his own desire to fly, and a little joshing and peer pressure from an airport comrade.

Aeronautical decision-making is the cornerstone to safe flight operations. There are many components to it, but it’s ultimately where the pilot in command measures his or her ability and confidence to successfully complete a safe flight against the risks of that flight. Although we talk about the go/no-go decision, there are actually many decisions involved, because a pilot is always evaluating current conditions and considering options or adjustments to the flight plan.

Changing flight conditions can be mechanical items such as a sudden drop in oil pressure or loss of electrical power. Pilots also have to evaluate adjustments to their environment, such as changing weather conditions or transitioning from day to night. To help determine the risks involved in continued flight, we use tools such as experience, airman ratings, aircraft capability and equipment, and weather forecasts. And there are additional safety tools that we sometimes don’t use enough, such as ATC assistance, PIREPs, and preflight risk assessments.

One of the most challenging decisions for a pilot is to accept current local weather conditions as they are—not as we would like them to be, not as they are 5 miles away, and not as they will be in one hour’s time. I don’t know why that is. It should be an easy decision. 

When I was a new helicopter air ambulance pilot, I was eager to prove my worth to the company. On my first day shift after completing company-required training, I was relieving the base lead pilot who was coming off the night shift. We discussed the night’s activities, and he passed me the handheld radio and told me to have fun.

Not long after, I received a flight request for a hospital transfer patient. I answered that radio call, “Stand by, I’m checking wx.” However, having recently reviewed the weather as part of the shift change, I already knew what conditions were: absolute crap, with summer fog in Virginia along the Potomac River.
The lead pilot, who was still in the room, walked over, took the radio from me, and said, “This is how you do this.” He responded, “[Call sign] declined for weather.”

It really is that simple. It’s hard to say no, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Back to my good aeronautical decision-making moment a few weeks ago: The weather from the AWOS was 1,400 feet overcast and greater than 6 miles visibility, with a light breeze. By all accounts, it was OK weather, although probably not what you want for a long cross-country trip.

I wanted to fly my aircraft because I had upgraded some avionics and was eager to try them out. My machine is IFR certified and nicely equipped with all kinds of pilot information systems and a fully coupled autopilot. I am IFR trained, current, and proficient.

My airport comrade didn’t feel as confident as I did. His aircraft is a nice machine also and well equipped, but he doesn’t have an autopilot. He is IFR trained but not current or proficient.

I told him I’d send a PIREP when I got airborne to confirm or deny the AWOS report. The numbers were accurate as reported.

My pilot friend declined to fly that day. After considering all the data he put into his decision-making machine (his brain), he came up with a solution that recommended not flying.

When I returned from flying, we discussed his decision. I did rib him a little over it because that’s what we army and marine vets do. But in the end, I made a point to tell him, “Good job on sticking to your decision and what’s right for you.”

On that day, my faith in how the aeronautical decision-making process can work was restored. My airport comrade had made his go/no-go decision by taking into consideration the weather, his machine, his ratings, his ability, and mostly, his confidence in a safe outcome. He wasn’t afraid to say the conditions weren’t right for him to fly that day. It really is that simple.

Fugere tutum!

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Practice Makes Perfect
David Jack Kenny 2020 Q3

Three ditching survivors acknowledge owing their lives to underwater egress training.

When there are only seconds in which to respond, thorough drilling in the appropriate procedures can be crucial to successfully confronting a life-threatening emergency. With no time to puzzle out a response or even read a checklist, survival depends not just on remembering the correct sequence of steps but on having practiced it recently and often enough to execute it precisely and without hesitation—in a situation certain to be more ­chaotic and frightening than the typical training environment.

In its final report on the Jan. 28, 2019, ditching of a Sikorsky S-64E during firefighting operations in Victoria, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) noted that

each crewmember recalled the rehearsed drills from their helicopter underwater escape training (HUET). They identified their seat belt and nearest exit to orientate themselves in the aircraft. They all waited until the last moment to draw a breath, and did not unbuckle and exit the helicopter until [its] motion had ceased. The crew reported that it was not possible to see anything underwater, and that jet fuel contamination was present…. HUET enabled the crew to act rationally and decisively when submerged in the cockpit and to use the regularly-practiced drills to escape the aircraft.

The report also credits the provision of a helmet cord-release mechanism with facilitating their escape, as 

neither pilot unplugged their helmet. However, the extension cords from the aircraft to the helmet plug allowed the plug to release, preventing the helmets from snaring the pilots.

Both pilots and the crew chief in the rear-facing aft-stick seat were able to inflate their life jackets, reach shore under their own power, and hike through “dense bush” to a road, where they were rescued.

The Aircraft and Crew

Built by Sikorsky as an S-64 in 1969, the accident aircraft had been upgraded to an S-64E Aircrane. Subsequently operated by Erickson Inc. and registered as N173AC, it boasted two 4,500–shaft horsepower Pratt & Whitney engines and had been fitted with a 2,650-gallon water tank and flexible pond snorkel for water-bombing missions. The snorkel’s dedicated high-pressure pump could fill the tank in about 30 seconds, requiring only about a 45-second hover. Erickson’s website advertises that the S-64E can drop up to 25,000 gallons per hour from a dip site suitably close to the drop site.

Describing the crew as experienced would be a substantial understatement. The more senior of the two pilots had flown helicopters for 44 years, including 20 years operating the S-64 and 20 years fighting fires in Australia. On the accident flight, he was serving as ­second-in-command (SIC), the pilots having switched positions at the end of every two-hour duty cycle. The pilot-in-command (PIC) had 18 years of helicopter experience, 4 of them in the S-64, and the crew chief’s 34 years as a helicopter engineer included 26 “maintaining and developing the S-64.”

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Recent Accidents & Incidents
ROTOR Staff 2020 Q3

The rotorcraft accidents and incidents listed below occurred between Apr. 1 and Jun. 30, 2020. The accident details shown below are preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. All information was obtained through the official websites listed below, where you can learn more details about each event.

Australia – Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
Britain – Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB)
Canada – Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSBC)
New Zealand – Transport Accident Investigation Commission of New Zealand (TAIC)
United States – National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

April 2020

Robinson R22
Seymour, TX, USA
Apr. 6, 2020 | NTSB CEN20CA144
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Agricultural flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage after tail rotor struck tree branch during agricultural operation.

Robinson R44
Hillsboro, OR, USA
Apr. 6, 2020 | NTSB WPR20LA119
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Personal flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage after loss of engine power and autorotation to paved taxiway.

Aérospatiale SA 341
Fort Myers, FL, USA
Apr. 9, 2020 | NTSB ERA20CA181
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | General aviation flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage consistent with hard landing.

Garlick UH-1H
Curepto, Chile
Apr. 20, 2020 | NTSB ERA20WA154
0 injuries, 1 fatality | Flight type unknown
No description available.

Sikorsky S-61
Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan
Apr. 20, 2020 | NTSB DCA20LA100
3 injuries, 0 fatalities | Air taxi flight
Helicopter experienced loss of control in flight and rolled onto its side during emergency landing.

Bell 206L-1
Moa Island, Queensland, Australia
Apr. 22, 2020 | ATSB AO-2020-023
3 injuries, 0 fatalities | Commercial flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain for undetermined reasons.

Robinson R22
Caldwell, ID, USA
Apr. 22, 2020 | NTSB WPR20CA140
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Instructional flight
Helicopter experienced hard landing during autorotation training.

Bell UH-1H
Mesa, AZ, USA
Apr. 24, 2020 | NTSB WPR20LA130
1 injuries, 1 fatality | General aviation flight
Helicopter impacted terrain after in-flight separation of tail rotor and loss of control.

Hughes 369
Pylesville, MD, USA
Apr. 25, 2020 | NTSB ERA20LA160
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | External load flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage after loss of engine power and an autorotative landing and rollover.

May 2020

MD Helicopters MD 369E
Houston, TX, USA
May 2, 2020 | NTSB CEN20LA167
1 injury, 1 fatality | Search-and-rescue flight
Helicopter impacted building and terrain during evening search-and-rescue mission.

Bell UH-1N
Baghdad, Iraq
May 10, 2020 | NTSB ERA20CA191
Injuries unknown, fatalities unknown | Flight type unknown
No description available.

Bell OH-58C
Livingston, NY, USA
May 14, 2020 | NTSB ERA20CA184
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Personal flight
Helicopter struck a tree and impacted terrain while performing nighttime low-altitude maneuvers.

RotorWay Exec
Rochester, IN, USA
May 16, 2020 | NTSB CEN20CA180
1 injury, 0 fatalities | Personal flight
Helicopter experienced loss of control in flight, resulting in dynamic rollover and main rotor damage.

Bell OH-58A
West Branch, MI, USA
May 20, 2020 | NTSB CEN20LA187
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Personal flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage during precautionary autorotative landing.

Bell 206
Elko, NV, USA
May 30, 2020 | NTSB WPR20CA162
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | General aviation flight
Helicopter struck a fence, impacted terrain, and rolled over following loss of control in flight.

Schweizer 269C-1
Ozark, AL, USA
May 30, 2020 | NTSB ERA20LA197
0 injuries, 1 fatality | Instructional flight
Helicopter lost power for undetermined reasons, impacted terrain, and was destroyed.

June 2020

Bell 206
Fairfield, CA, USA
Jun. 2, 2020 | NTSB WPR20LA163
0 injuries, 3 fatalities | External load flight
During human external cargo operation, helicopter struck a power line, impacted terrain, and rolled downhill.

Enstrom 480
Murphy, ID, USA
Jun. 4, 2020 | NTSB WPR20CA171
Injuries unknown, fatalities unknown | Agricultural flight
No description available.

Bell 47G
Atoka, TN, USA
Jun. 14, 2020 | NTSB ERA20LA216
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Personal flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage following total loss of engine power and autorotative landing.

Robinson R22
El Campo, TX, USA
Jun. 16, 2020 | NTSB CEN20CA230
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Agricultural flight
Helicopter impacted terrain during low-altitude aerial application.

Bell 206
Gauteng, South Africa
Jun. 17, 2020 | NTSB WPR20WA186
0 injuries, 2 fatalities | General aviation flight
No description available.

Robinson R66
Pikeville, NC, USA
Jun. 18, 2020 | NTSB ERA20LA220
0 injuries, 1 fatality | Agricultural flight
Helicopter struck nonenergized wire and impacted terrain during low-altitude aerial application.

Leonardo AW139
Dayboro, Queensland, Australia
Jun. 20, 2020 | ATSB AO-2020-031
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Air medical flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage when its main rotor blades struck a tree during winching operations.

Schweizer 269C
Sheffield, TX, USA
Jun. 21, 2020 | NTSB CEN20CA240
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Aerial observation flight
Helicopter sustained substantial damage after striking a fence and impacting terrain during low-altitude inspection flight.

Bell 407
Long Marston, England
Jun. 24, 2020 | NTSB CEN20WA246
0 injuries, 0 fatalities | Commercial flight
No description available.

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