Flying through

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Autorotations and confined areas in H369

We were attempting to see if we could change the autorotation characteristics of the H369, by varying the speed and RPM.
In the manual it says:
"to reduce the rate of descent or extend the gliding distance, operate at minimum rpm - maintain rotor between 420 and 523 by use of collective control."
To do this, and to keep the engine from coming back in (which would mean you return to powered flight) you must close the throttle to idle. Then you can play with collective pitch.

It also explains: - rotor rpm is 485 + 5rpm at 2250 lbs, sea level and 60 knots.
Rotor speed will decrease 10 rpm for every 100 lb reduction in gross weight and increase 6.5 rpm for each 1000 foot in DA (density altitude).

We started with autorotations at 60- 80 knots and full down collective, rpm around 523. The rate of descent was between 1500 fpm and 2000 fpm - ie fast . The we began varying the RPM.

We were at sea level and the temperature was around 20 degrees C. We could change the speed easily, but even raising the collective quite significantly kept the rpm around 490, it did not seem keep to go lower. However, at 490 rpm, assuming the VSI and altimeter were fairly accurate, we were losing less than 500 fpm, as we glided around and almost seemed to hover.
Changing the rpm, even from 520 (we cannot tell 3 rpm) to 490 (30 rpm) had a huge effect on the rate of descent.

Teaching on the H369/MD500

G & GCCUO at Oxford
Had a very interesting training day, today.
First, when we were doing the pre-start checks there was no 'clicking' sound from the automatic relight, which seem to indicate it was not working. I rang an engineer to find out why this would happen - but he was at Silverstone awaiting the Grand Prix - so busy. Tomas got out and went back to the engine bay, to check if he could see anything loose. Nothing obvious.
We decided to start up and hover for a while anyway - should we have any problems we would only be in the hover.
We started up, and taxied out - called immediately by the tower - our engine bay canopy was open and flapping. Stop and fix.
I jumped out and fastened it. Shows two things: one, that it cannot be seen from the instructor's seat, and two, that it is very easy to forget to do things when you get distracted.
Having fastened the canopy, I got back in the cockpit and called the tower that it was done. However, they said - no - shut down it must be properly checked. I agreed and we did so.
After we had shut-down the Airfield Manager came over. Taking off without properly closing the canopy is an MO (Minor incident?) and thus must be logged and properly checked in case the hinges had been affected. I checked them, they were OK, we had not, after all, taxied very far. No problem.

When we did our pre-start-up checks the automatic relight clicking was working again, so probably it is a bit like recycling your computer!
Then, we did a hot-engine start-up - good practice for Tomas. Here, because the engine is already around 350 degrees C, you must reduce the TOT to before 150 degrees C before putting in the fuel, to avoid a hot engine-start.
You understand the difference - one we are talking of a pre-start engine heat of about 350 degrees C, the other is what you want to avoid, the engine temperature going over 810 degrees centigrade for 10 seconds, and even more over 927 degrees C for more than a second.
When you do see the temperature heading up there (usually when there is a low powered or faulty battery) it does make your heart pump!
Started up without incident, and flew away for some more autorotation and confined area practice.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Flying in Devon, UK

Flying Egg in Devon, Swimbridge
Does no one in Devon fly? Or is it that they do not fly low level? Airbox 250 maps stop at Axminster and thereafter have a vaguely dismissive green colour - flying be not done here where the non-wings live, oh ah - ! I tried to get a Map7 (as it is called) at Goodwood but they didn't have one. So, I thought, well I'll get one in Exeter, since we are going there for fuel, they are bound to have one.
But although they did not have an uptodate one, they did have a 2011 one, and gave it to me for free. So, thanks, that was very kind and even though Plymouth no longer has an airport... it was very useful.

Great place to fly Devon. I can't imagine why everyone isn't flying there - it was brilliant, uncrowded and absolutely beautiful. And nice place to practice sloping ground landings for real. This picture shows the least sloping part of the whole local area!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

H369/500 training two Kenyans day two

GCCUO at Goodwood airfield
Nice morning doing 360 autos, low level flying, circuits etc.

In the afternoon Tomas Sorenson arrived to join Al Llewelyn and me. His helicopter is being painted at Edmundson at Thruxton so we thought we would fly over there and see how it was looking. In my typically hopeless way I just assumed they would be there - no need to call.
Nice flight over there, through Solent CTA and Boscombe Down. Land at Heli north and taxy to the heli parking area.
However, I should have called. As we walked over it was clear there were no dogs outside the painting hangar... no dogs usually means no owners... heigh ho. No owners!
Silly old me. We will visit again tomorrow!

This beautifully painted Gazelle was next to us at Goodwood.

Big thanks to the guys at Goodwood for pushing the 500 in and out of the hangar. It is a heavy machine!

Training at Goodwood on the H500 day one

Preparatory to training two Kenyan lads on the H500, I went up to Wolverhampton to pick it up, to bring it down to Goodwood.
Pushed out of hangar etc... signed out, checked out.
Ready to start - ignite - chug chug chug N1 can hardly get itself up to 13%.
Flat battery.
I rang the owner - busy - call back.
We went into the cafe (we are pilots - where else) and there were the police - who have an EC135.
The police kindly agreed to lend us their APU (Auxilliary Power Unit), however this runs from mains power and that meant three extension cable connections from the power source. Whether it was the connections or the strength of their battery it was hard to say - but UO chugged some more and would not fire.

The police wondered about the battery on their heavylifter. Then had a brilliant idea. PNG next door had an APU and an engineer who knew about 500s, should there be a further problem. It was the answer. New APU attached and BINGO, UO sprang into life.

Many many thanks to all the guys at HelfPenny Green. I could see a week's work going down the drain and being replaced by some long days in the engineering hangar/cafe waiting!

Flew on to High Wycombe as one of the lads used to have a British 500 rating and we needed to spend some time at an ATO to get the licence regenerated. Now at Goodwood. More later.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Examining on the Loach

Loach in its hangar
Today, it was back to the day job! Examining a very good student on the OH-06 Loach (older version of the H369). He should be good - he is an A2 RAF instructor on the Bell 212s (Griffen.)
We flew from the pad up to Blackpool via various upper airwork sites and it was a very enjoyable flight including 360 autorotations, quick stops (RAF style) and confined landings.
Needless to say he passed.

Anyone interested might want to look out for the Loach and its co worker the Huey on the airshow circuit.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Paris Le Bourget Air Show day two

James Wang with Project Zero
Day two at Paris, Le Bourget Air Show. Interesting talk with James Wang the innovator of Project Zero a helicopter technology test bed. Choosing the shape of the test bed he apparently said: helicopters have been flying for 60 years and the shape has not changed at all - why don't we try something new.
The test bed, which flew remotely, is powered by batteries stacked in-line, with an electric motor and individually accuated blades. The body and the blades are composite - although with metal where necessary, eg on the electric motor and the rivets etc.
The project flew 6 months ago and since then has been the design team's secret (some 20 people). However, current circumstances (they say) which presumably means the India bribery scandal, has led to them bringing the project to Paris to get some positive PR.

More in the Summer issue of Helicopter Life magazine.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Paris Le Bourget Air Show

Soon to be unveiled Turbomeca engine
Day One at the Paris Le Bourget Air Show, and you have to give Bell a prize for this one. They and Turbomeca have produced what was probably the only interesting thing at the show - speaking from a helicopter viewpoint - the New JetRanger to be....

Turbomeca have made the Arrius R2 engine specially to meet the necessities of the new Bell Short Light Single helicopter. Or the JetRanger Lite.
So far we have been told that it will use some of the dynamic parts of the B206 - ie it will be a teetering head and use the same gear box, but that many parts including the cockpit, skids and, I think John Garrison said, the fuselage will to totally new. Garrison declined to name the helicopter - that will be done at HeliExpo, but he did say that the engine will be fully tested by the beginning of 2014 and they hope to do text flights in 2014 and have certification after that as soon as... It will almost certainly be on the same type rating.

Well done Bell.
Arrius R2 engine

Other than that there has not been much new at the show. We were told some more about the Relentless - see the Summer edition of Helicopter Life magazine - and the V22 is doing well.

Eurocopter and AgustaWestland have briefings tomorrow - so maybe a couple of 'almost new's from there...
Sikorsky is not here - but they are busy with tenders - more of that later -

No MD, but they don't do Paris do they.

Friday, 14 June 2013

H369 Proficiency Check

After trying for three months to get my proficiency check on the H369 done today we finally succeeded. It was an early start - left London at 7 for a three and a half hour drive to Devon, but definitely worth it. The H500 is such a great machine to fly, so powerful, so manoeuverable and just such a lovely beastie. We had to do two hours and they were both full of interesting stuff.
Autos were excellent on the little bird (hoho) and I learnt a new way to deal with stuck pedals if the problem happens when you have just taken off. Keeping the yaw left and using it as you turn into wind and slow, then bring in the power and see the machine straighten.
The 500 is based at the examiner's house and what a nice set-up he has with his hangar in the garden - could hardly be better.
We did the airfield work at Dunkeswell. I'd never been there before but it is a lovely, energetic but not too busy little airfield. Well worth a visit and also had a good restaurant.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Sky Watch, Civil Air Patrol

Xenon gyrocopter from Poland
Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol uses entirely private pilots on a volunteer basis. This is especially true in Scotland, where there is only one government funded police helicopter, and where funds are being rescinded rather than increased.
In Scotland, the civil air patrol have two gyrocopters and an R22. All the pilots are ex-military and their work is mostly observation, looking for lost mountain climbers, SAR and any work where they can aid the police.
There are also two gyrocopters in Cumbria doing the same work.
Sky Watch gives briefings and training sessions to new pilots and will send an experience pilot with newbies, to help navigation and advise where necessary. They will also arrange mountain flying courses.
There are currently 200 gyrocopters in the UK, many of whom are working in some capacity with the Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol.