Flying through

Saturday, 24 May 2014

HeliRussia 2014

Outside the Crocus Expo
Aviamarket Heliport booth
HeliRussia 2014 took place at the Crocus Expo in Moscow 22-24th May.

Very interesting show including the biggest ever sale of Robinsons to Russia. Heliport bought 20 R44s and R66s, making it the largest purchaser of R66s and holding 15% of the market.

Kurt Robinson was at the show to hand over the keys of the 500th R66 bought to its new owner.

For more see the Autumn issue of Helicopter Life magazine.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

EC175 makes strides

EC175 flying in to the Trump Golf Course
Invited by Airbus Helicopters to fly the EC175 at the Trump Golf Course near Aberdeen. Got up at 4.30 am to make the 7.15 flight out of Heathrow, so when the weather looked poor I did feel rather disheartened. However, I'm a pilot so we are used to disappointment!

We had an interesting briefing from Airbus Helicopters Oil and Gas Sales Director Michael Melaye, who promoted the benefits of the EC175 over its competitors: better range, it is increasing its useful load by 300 kgs, lower vibrations and compliance with the CAA regulations Cap 1145.
I later talked to pilot Alain di Bianca, who I flew with many years ago in the EC130 at what was then MacAlpines. He has been involved in much of the design process and he says it is a very pilot centred helicopter with all the switches and dials (well actually it is flat screen Helionix avionics but you know what I mean) in the right places.
Sounds good. Hopefully, in the future I might get a flight... until then I'll just have to believe what they say.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Rotorway continues to surprise

A day of tests at Street Farm and a very interesting day. One helicopter I flew had a few eccentricities, which is perhaps the norm in home-built machines.
Firstly, on start-up it backfires as though someone had put a bomb in its exhaust. Slightly alarming.
Secondly, when the student pressed the PTT to talk to ATC the RPM dropped to zero! This is only an electrical fault, but certainly gets the heart pumping first time you see it.
Thirdly, and this is definitely its most exciting fault: when closing the throttle in autorotation the engine really stops. And, because all is quiet anyway (no engine) the only way of telling that the engine has stopped is by watching the oil pressure, which had dropped to zero.
We did an in-flight restart, and with a couple of grudging goes it did finally start; but these things do get ones concentration.

Rest of the flight and the other test was completely normal and without problems. Lovely day for flying too, light winds and warm and sunny.
A school of Rotorways

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Teaching and Examining on the Rotorway Helicopter Types

Now a fully licenced Rotorway pilot, I have started doing examining and some instruction on the types of Rotorway (162F and Exec 90). As ever you learn far more on the job than you do when you are training.
It seems to me that the real reason the Rotorway has a bad reputation is not that there is anything wrong with the machine, but merely that it is underpowered. My first test was on a 162F Rotorway based in the South of England. The pilot was relatively experienced, the day cool and the wind light. We had a excellent flight in the Hampshire area with no problems, and the student passed without issue.
The next time I flew one of the Rotorways I was teaching. It was again a 162F and one that is known as being a ‘good one’ with a relatively powerful engine. The weather was cool, but there was a wind of 18 knots. Now for most helicopters 18 knots of wind is going to be worth looking at, but not an intrinstic problem. However, with the Rotorway, even the more powerful types, you do not want to turn downwind in such a wind.
We had full fuel and were close to the all-up-weight of the machine. I took off, with a slight cross wind, and immediately lost RPM. I managed to turn into wind, but could not get the RPM back up. This was partly because I had the collective too high, but being near to the ground I found it hard to bring it down, even though I knew theoretically I was over-pitching and hence needed to bring down the collective before I could bring up the RPM. I was also losing tail rotor authority and hence pedal usage. It took several landings and take-offs, and even a shut down, before I managed to resolve the problem, which was initiated by my own cack-handedness, but nonetheless presaged a potentially bigger problem.
However, never call me a quick learner. I then took off into the local area for a flight. Fine in itself but the nicest take-off run without any trees was downwind, and yes, I was indeed stupid enough to take-off down wind. Thanks to the relatively airflow, the fact that this was quite a powerful 162F and that we had the space I did not put the nose into the ground. But wiser consideration after the event made me realise I would have been much better off taking off into wind, even given the presence of trees and wires.
I am told that flying the Rotorway makes you a better pilot and I am starting to see why.