Flying through

Thursday, 17 November 2011

November 12 2011, File a flight plan day

The discussion panel for helicopters in the 2012 Olmpics
It has been a quiet time for helicopters in the recent months. However, there is still the ongoing discussion about what helicopters and private aviation can and cannot do during the Olympic period. One thing all aircraft will have to do, if they wish to enter or leave the restricted area (they are not allow into the prohibited area around the actualy Olympic site) is file a flight plan.  So, to this end the CAA had a practice day on 12th November 2011, when anybody flying needed to file a flight plan. They are awaiting the results, but so far they seem very upbeat about the situation saying it proved a great success:
"Nearly 800 flight plans were filed by pilots as part of the File a Flight Plan Day practice on Saturday 12 November 2011, providing excellent data and feedback for both pilots and organisers. The Airspace & Safety Initiative (ASI) event encouraged GA pilots to file a test flight plan to familiarise themselves with the process and learn what they need to do next year to continue flying during the Olympics with the minimum of disruption."
Dawn Lindsey, from the CAA’s Directorate of Airspace Policy, said: “The response from pilots was excellent and I’d like to thank everyone for their efforts and feedback. Some people were so eager to participate that we had 12 flight plans submitted before the test even started!
“We learned some really valuable lessons around the RAF flight plan processing system, the automated flight planning systems currently available such as SkyDemon Light and some common flight plan errors that we can work on.”
All 788 flight plans received will now be analysed and full feedback will be provided later this year. Atlas Control and NATS will work with SkyDemon to further improve the interface between the systems and more educational material on successful flight planning will be published through ASI.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

HeliTech 2011 Day Three

Day three was a lot of fun, but not as busy as the previous days - it was also very hot - especially in the little cubbyhole at the back where the Helicopter Life booth was based, but for us it was a winning day with a load of new subscribers. That is always good news as it makes me feel people do like the magazine and it is worth doing.
Highlights of the day were hearing that the TLC helimover new version is likely to be finally out next year ... this has been a mamouth in the making and if it really comes out in 2012 it needs a special medal. The Gimbal Cabri which seems to be a winner, in their case the fight is whether the CAA will finally give it certification.
Then there is the question: when will the Robinson R66 finally get EASA certification. It was a good show and for more see the next issue of Helicopter Life: Christmas...

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Day Two HeliTech Duxford 2011

Lots of interesting things on day two - a presentation of the Cabri G2 by Bruno Gimbal to Cotswold Helicopters, who are going to use it in their school and also sell it in the UK. Interesting to see what happens there.
Also, a good talk on the growth of windfarms and how helicopters are used, complementary to sea vessels, to clean service and keep the wind turbines going, as well as rescuing injured men from the nacelles. Oil and gas experience has been very useful here.
Also interesting talks on the temporary SAR(H) in the UK. For more details on all these stories see Helicopter Life magazine in the Winter issue.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

HeliTech Day1

The first day at HeliTech was bustling with people and helicopters, many of whom flew in for the day. Lots of interest in Helicopter Life, which was good for me, and interesting new(ish) helicopters to look at, principally the Gimbal and the HAD-1T. Looks like I should be able to fly the Cabri Gimbal for an article in Helicopter Life, which is good news. Also, had a chat with the Russian Helicopter team about flying the Kamov, for a test flight for the magazine. Predictably, they wanted to know what they got in exchange - Russians still haven't mastered the art of PR. However, I remain hopeful. Day Two will have the windfarm conference and other excitements. See more tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

BGAD September 20th 2011

The Business and General Aviation Day at Cambridge Airport 2011.
Very interesting conference on the aviation side of the British Olympics in 2012. Basically, the government have fluffed it regarding helicopters - they could have used them to take VIPs into the Olympic Park, and in many other ways. Instead VIPs will have to take a 'slow boat' and a bus into these 'Green' Olympics. There may not even be any use of helicopters for photography and television presentation. Olympic committees have sidelined helicopters - not green enough but, as they will discover when they don't have them, rather useful.
The the whole Olympic aviation scene still appears to be a bit up in the air (forgive me!) Or to put it in a more earthy manner - pretty confused. It does seem though, that the only use of the modern machine the helicopter will be by the police and the emergency services. Perhaps we in the old world could just take a peak into Brazil and see how sometimes the new world is doing rather better with their helicopter understanding.

Goodwood Revival Day Two

Brantly, the only pre 1970 helicopter at the show
Dragonfly by De Haviland

Goodwood Revival 17th September 2011

Every year Lord March hosts the Goodwood Revival at the airfield - and anything pre 1964 is included. So there are old car races, bike racing, and many vintage aircraft - including this year the Brantly helicopter, one of the few helicopters to qualify.
Twenty helicopters (modern - well post 1970) flew in on the Saturday, and there was a display of five Spitfires - seen here flying over the helipark.
Most people dress in pre 70s style - there were a lot of 50s dressers - and a few 20s flappers. I had a 50s satin dress and coat which belonged to my grandmother...
Here I am looking rather joyful because I have finally got the umbrella up! It was rather a wet day but worth it to see the Schneider Trophy seaplane, the old Moths and the Memphis Belle. 

Friday, 16 September 2011

Helicopter Life Autumn 2011

Helicopter Life Autumn 2011 is now available. See the website: for details or on how to subscribe.

Articles include flying in Sâo Paulo; the USS Bataan support ship off Libya; heavy lifting in Greece and many other topics, including updates on recent happening in the helicopter world and shows to come.

Follow Helicopter Life or be square!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Jerez Airport 26th August 2011

Went to Jerez in southern Spain for two days to do skills test on two students who have just finished their helicopter ratings: Carlo Casentieri and Arno Demont.
Both guys flew extremely well and passed their licences, and we had some fun in the tests. Jerez is an excellent place to fly; there is always something interesting happening at the airport and the local area is full of helicopter-potential. For example, there is a huge lake with little islands scattered across it for pinacle landings, windfarms to use for advanced autorotations etc. Wonderful place.
Air Ambulance helicopter went on three trips while I was there
Carlo Casentieri who passed his test today
Arno Demont who passed today

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Interesting Times August 9th 2011

It is a strange time to be living in London, with fires everywhere and no certainty whether or not ones area will be safe the following night. The only good thing about having riots all over London is that they are showing how valuable the police helicopters are. In Peckham there have been two helicopters circling almost constantly, watch and filming the scene. I am glad to have them there, and I expect many others (although not the looters) are too.
This helicopter is not one of the police ones, but is the De Beres helicopter, making its way to one of the few helipads left in London. What a contrast to Sâo Paulo with its 215 registered helipads. Perhaps, when all the fires are out and London returns to some kind of sanity, it might be worth thinking if we couldn't use helicopters more effectively here if they had more places to land and refuel. Some good comes out of even situations as bad as this one: I hope.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Goodwood Free Landing fees July 2011

DH82A Tiger Moth at Goodwood in Sussex
This is the Tiger Moth G-APFU that I flew today, and indeed fly quite often, at Goodwood.

Good news - Goodwood is now reducing landing fees to zero for pre 1966 planes and helicopters flying to Goodwood on non event days and for non-revenue (ie private) flights.

Come fly - it won't be free but it is fun....

Goodwood July 2011

R44 on floats
Robinson R44 on floats -fixed floats like these reduce cruise speed by 10 knots, owing to the additional drag. However, they are for landing on water, not just for emergencies...

It has been suggested that is you wish to replace the floats it is more cost effective to buy a full new undercarriage rather than try and remove the floats from the R44.

Certainly looks cuddly!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Grupamento Aereo/Military Police Brazil July 2011

Colonel Ricardo Gambaroni with EMS
In Brazil the military police do all the EMS rescue work through the fire service. They also do the usual police work, with the exception of investigative work, which is done by the civil police.
The Fire Department is part of the military police.
One reason for military police doing EMS is the lack of qualified pilots outside the military. Colonel Gambaroni explains that the Brazilian military do not have short service commissions so that most pilots trained in the military will remain there for 25 years. Because of this the best trained and most experienced pilots tend to be still in the military.
In Brazil the military police have 180 aircraft; 120 helicopters and 60 fixed wing aircraft.
Technicians working on the AS350

Although the military police do not yet have any female pilots they did have applicants for the last intake. Sadly, none were successful. There are female technicians.
There are 100,000 employees in the Sao Paulo state police of which 87 are pilots and 400 are employed in the air support unit on 11 different bases through the state. There are 4 or 5 pilots working on each base.
View from the ops room at Campo de Marte
The Sao Paulo city base is at Campo de Marte. The advantage of the 11 bases is that anywhere in the state can be reached in 15 minutes, reducing the length of time a patient must wait to get to hospital.
Ab Initio Pilot training is done on a Schweizer 300, at Campo de Marte, further training is done on each base. At the moment most of the helicopters are AS350s, but in the future they will be buying EC135s and EC145s.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sao Paulo 20th July 2011

Paulista bicycle
I thought this bicycle 'art' was here because in a town of 16 million cars a bicycle would be the emblem of love, but I was wrong - it is a memorial.
This bicycle commemorates a young girl - around 20 years old - who was killed on her bicycle; run over by a car.

I wonder how many cyclists are killed by cars here.

The picture below, I think, explains a lot; both why it is a dangerous place of cyclists and why there are so many helicopters flying businessmen to work.
In spite of that, I love San Paulo - it has a great atmosphere and life is vibrant and fun; much of life seems to take place above the ground - swimming pools; gardens; helipads and life...

Jardin's street
Roof-top life

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Helicentro Sao Paulo, July 2011

Helicentro, in a quiet part of Sao Paulo, is owned and run by Ricardo Zuccolo. In 1994, using many tonnes of earth, he literally built up a hill for the heliport. This, he explained, was to allow the helipad to be above the neighbourhood both for safety and to reduce noise and pollution.
Helicentro was the first heliport in Sao Paulo. It started with the Agusta dealership, and, although that has moved to Helipark, it still has a maintenance centre for the helicopters based there.

Zuccolo has been the Brazilian distributor and service centre for MD since 2000, and is a keen pilot of the MD 500 series, 600s and the 902.
He says there is a huge potential market for the Explorer in Brazil, as it is tough, durable and cheap to run, making it particularly suitable for the police service in both their law enforcement and EMS roles.

Helicopters in Sao Paulo: Sikorsky/Schweizer, July 2011

Sikorsky has only two civilan markets here: off shore and training (with the Schweizer). In the military market, however, the Black Hawk is widely used.
As far as VIP helicopters are concerned, Sikorsky has only 1 S76 here which is owned by the Government of Sao Paulo. I was told that Sikorskies are too heavy for the helipads here, and that Agusta has that 'beautiful' market.

There are 104 turbine Sikorskies here, working off shore and mostly based at Macae City near Rio de Janeriro, with a few at Santos, near Sao Paulo. The oil and gas market, already well developed off Rio is in development in Sao Paulo, with, for example, the Brazilian company Lide selling 49% of its shares to the British company Bristow Helicopters.

For training the S300 is very popular but there are more schools using the R22 - cost of course.
There do not seem to be any training Enstroms here, although there were a few Enstrom 480s in the country, they do not appear to have had a good history here - with the exception of one or two in the countryside. My information on Enstroms is not particularly wide...

Helicopters in Sao Paulo: Bell, July 2011

Bell Helicopters at Helipark
Historically, Bell were market leaders in Brazil with 52% of the market in 1979, however by 2010 they only had 25% of the market, and dominance had been taken over by Eurocopter who had 39%.

Although new Bell Helicopters are occasionally bought, and the Bell 429 recieved Brazilian certification early this year, in most markets they lost dominance to other operators. In the utility market the AS350 and the R44 are preferred operators, while in the VIP market AgustaWestland is in the ascendant. Off shore Sikorsky and Agusta fight for dominance and Bell is again left behind. Sadly, this seems to be a familiar story for Bell all over the world.

Helicopters in Sao Paulo: Eurocopter, July 2011

Eurocopter started in Brazil in 1978, when Aerospatial (part of the present day Eurocopter) started Helibras in combination with a private local company. However, at the time Bell Helicopters were far more dominant in the local helicopter market.
Thirty or so years later this early interest in Brazil has paid off as Eurocopter have surpassed Bell, and the other helicopter manufacturers, to become the dominant helicopter company in the market with, in 2010, around 50% of the market share. Bell has the second largest fleet of helicopters in the country, mostly older helicopters, and Agusta has 120 helicopters, making it the third largest helicopter company here.
Eurcopter's market share increased in 2008 when they did a deal with the Brazilian Ministry of Defence to buy 50 EC725s. These EC725s will be built here in a newly built part of the Eurocopter factory at Itajuba.

Helicopters in Sao Paulo: Robinson. July 2011

Robinsons at Helipark outside Sao Paulo.

There are 300 R22s and R44s in Sao Paulo, and 450 in the whole of Brazil. A large percentage of the 1538 registered helicopters in the country.

I was told that when Marco Audi, the President of Audi Helicopters, heard that Robinson had brought out a small helicopter (the R22) he got onto the first flight to California to ask Frank Robinson for the dealership in Brazil. An extremely successful decision as history shows.

Comandante Hamilton's ENG R44 taking off from Helipark to monitor the traffic going in and out of Sao Paulo. Hamilton said he used to have a AS350, but when the Robinson company brought out the R44 he changed as the profit margin is so much better.

Sao Paulo Helicopters: AgustaWestland, July 2011.

AgustaWestlands at Helipark
AgustaWestland has a maintenance base and service centre at Helipark, Carapicuiba outside Sao Paulo.
Agusta is a growing company in Brazil with, so I was told, some 30 helicopters a year being bought for private owners who fly to their businesses in Sao Paulo.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Campo de Marte, Brazil 18th July 2011

Left to right: Vera Berthault, Rodrigo Duarte and Carolina Denardi, from ABRAPHE, the Helicopter Pilot's Association of Brazil.
Rodrigo, President of the Association, says that ABRAPHE tries to work as a mediator between the pilots and ANAC, the civil aviation authority.
Problems that exist here include the reduction of the number of helipads because of noise complaints, which has seriously reduced some pilot's livelihood, and the length of time it takes to revalidate a licence - anything up to 90 days.
These problems, Rodrigo explains, are not unique to Brazil but exist all over the helicopter world.
The 'Helicopter traffic lights' at Campo de Marte.
Campo de Marte is the 5th busiest airport in the world - according to its website - and consequently has to regulate its traffic on the ground. These traffic lights allow separation between helicopters, aeroplanes, and cars.

Gualter Garcez Pizzi, Commercial Director of Audi Helicopteros the Robinson dealer for San Paulo.
Audi have already got firm offers on 60 R66s, even though the first one is not yet in the country and certification is not due until next month. Pizzi says he could sell 20 right now if they were here and the delay is the speed of getting them from the factory. At present buyers will have to wait until November 2012.

Jorge Bitar Neto, owner of Helimarte taxi aereo, with Claudio Agostini.
Jorge started his air taxi firm in April 1999, but it began doing well in 2003, and since 2005 had increased exponentially. He started with one R22 and half a Bell 206 and now has six AS350s, three Bell 206s, two R44s and four fixed wing aircraft. He currently has just under 60 staff, of whom 19 are pilots. Although the original business was air taxi, he is now diversifing into various other areas including pipeline and external load. He was deeply involved in the rescue at Nova Friburgo, the mudslides in southeastern Brazil.

Helibras is Eurocopter's Brazilian wing based at Campo de Marte (they also have a factory at Itajuba). I am standing between Sergio Roxo, the Offshore Salesman and Carla Metne, the Marketing Manager.
Eurocopter has been doing very well in Brazil, and the whole of South America, in the last fifteen years, mostly because it has an established base in the country which all of the other big manufacturers lack. Other manufacturers have dealers but, as they explained, this is not at all the same as being part of the culture like Helibras.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Street art in Sao Paulo

Seen in Liberdade, SP
Sao Paulo has amazing street art and part of the popular culture. I even saw a girl with a Miro design tattooed on her arm.

This picture came from Liberdade (freedom in Portuguese), a Japanese part of Sao Paulo. The Japanese started coming to this area in 1912 and since 1950s the area has been growing exponentially. It now has the largest concentration of Japanese outside Japan.

I think street art must be 'legalised' as this man had no trouble with me taking a picture of him making his graffiti.

This piece was in the area near the university, between Liberdade and Avenue Paulista.

Some characters from the Sao Paulo helicopter scene

Pictured at Helipark
Pictured at Helipark after flying the Bell 430 this is:
left Andreia Zwetsch from Helipark, Claudio Agostini from Rotor & Wing, a US helicopter trade magazine, and Ernesto Klotzel, an engineer who worked with Hiller in Paolo Alto back in the era of the flying platform and the rotor tip jets. After retiring as an engineer he became an aviation journalist.

Sao Paulo, Brazil 17th July 2011

Comandante Hamilton 
This is Comandante Hamilton with his Robinson R44. Comandante started ENG (electronic news gathering) twenty years ago, the first in Sao Paulo. He now has a fleet of three helicopters and employs his son and two other pilots. He originally started with AS350s but moved to the R44 and was involved in the layout of the ENG R44.
Look out for Radio and Television Record S/A

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Sao Paulo, Brazil July 2011

Helipark Sao Paulo
This is Helipark in Sao Paulo. Helipark started 10 years ago and has grown to being the biggest heliport in Sao Paulo, if not in the world.
When we visited there were 170 clients but they are about to expand, building another two hangars twice the size of the current ones, this will mean another 200 helicopters in the new hangars and a potential for another 180 in the current hangars. WOW

Flying the Bell 430 in Sao Paulo

Aureo Bradley and me
This is the pilot of the Bell 430. It was particularly interesting to me because he comes from Recife in the north east of Brazil. My late husband, Hilaire Dubourcq, knew he had relations in Brazil but did not know where they were or how to trace them. Then, with the coming of Facebook, and a bit of luck, I did trace them - sadly, after he died - and they live in Recife. Nice coincidence ' eh.

Sao Paulo July 2011

Sao Paulo city, Brazil July 2011
I thought this was a particularly interesting photograph because it shows how close together all the helipads are - but, of course, since they are on high rises you cannot just walk from one pad to the next - still it must be interesting flying for pilots when they are all busy!

NB although there are 'only' four helipads in the picture it looks to me as though they might be able to use the other high rise for emergency landings...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Flying over Sao Paulo in a Bell 430 July 15 2011

Bell 430 at HeliPark
Went flying in the Bell 430 over Sao Paulo. Flew with Captain Bradley, in the back were 5 friends including Andreia Zwetsch, shown here with me and the Captain.
Amazing place - the traffic is terrible and estimates for the number of cars in SP differ from 16 million to 17.5 million - what is a mill and a half here or there? Coz of that helicopter travel is far more common than in other countries of the world. There are currently around 170 helicopters at Helipark and when they build the new hangars there will be another 200 or so... fantastic.
Helicidade Heliport in Sao Paulo
Estimates vary over the number of helipads in SP but I have been given the figures of 420 or 300 - so it is hard to say. I hope that by the time the article in Helicopter Life comes out I will have a more exact idea. But suffice to say there are a LOT and often, because they are on top of high rises, only metres between one and another.
There are also three large heliports - of which Helipark is much the largest - from where all these helicopters fly into SP

Sao Paulo 15th July 2011

Phone box in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They are known locally as 'the Big Ear'.

They are all over the place, in spite of mobile phones.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A couple more helicopters from San Jose dos Campos 2011

A training helicopter from Sao Paulo - we waited around for the owner of the school but he was busy giving presentations and didn't come back before we had to leave. But we did talk to a Ricardo Piccoli who sells Enstroms with Aerolink. He learnt to fly on the S300 in Sao Paulo although I'm not sure if it was on this helicopter - but it comes to the same thing dunne it. I'm not sure if it is possible to learn to fly on the Enstrom in Sao Paulo, but apparently it is quite hard to sell helicopters as the generally feeling is I want a helicopter if my friend has one, and I want the same type... Bit of one upmanship by the sound of it.. or perhaps one alongmanship..
This helicopter wasn't strictly speaking at the show, but was over the fence at the military part of the airfield... anyway it seems to be having something done to it but later one of the Squirrels/Astars etc went flying so it was either this one on a test flight or the one next door that is only slightly in the picture.

San Jose dos Campos: a few helicopters

There are a few helicopters here but not many, and it is a very small show, although the salesman from Hillsboro Helicopters in Oregon said the show was good for him already, and it was only the first day. He is selling training in the USA - well Hillsboro in Oregon - to Brazilians.
I was told a better show for helicopters is LABACE - like EBACE but the LA stands for Latin America - as Dan Quayle said many years ago a good place to improve your Latin... Anyway, this is one of the three helicopters I saw... more below..

San Jose dos Campos Fixed Wing

Disney land aeroplane
Aero Expo is more of a fixed wing than helicopter show but I learnt some interesting things - do you know what fixed wing pilots call helicopters? Rototards...

Registration in Brazil is PP - suitable for this one?
PT - presumably for the more agile aircraft and PR for those who sell the country's image well...

For ultralights the registration is PU - and I was told there are 3,000 ultralights in the country - taking then the Brazilian effect - halve everything you are told and divide by four - that is 300 or so...
This looks like a cross between and Piper Cub and a Cessna 150 on floats but it is actually a factory built ultralight belonging to the guy who helped build it in the factory - at least that is what I understood, although since I speak no Portuguese and only some limited Spanish it may have got confused in translation. Looked fun though and apparently there are lots of places to land a sea (river he insisted) plane in Brazil.
Ultralight on floats