Good news for all of us with helicopter anxiety

it’s nice to know that they don’t ALWAYS crash killing all aboard…

[B]Oilfield Services Helicopter Ditches in North Sea[/B]

By gCaptain Staff On October 22, 2012

An oil-services helicopter crashed into the North Sea Monday with 19 people on board, the U.K. coastguard and the operating company said Monday. No one was killed.

After a major search-and-rescue operation, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said all those on board were accounted for.

The MCA said the helicopter was believed to be on its way from Aberdeen to the West Phoenix drilling rig in the Laggan and Tormore fields that are operated by Total SA (TOT).

Separately, operator CHC Helicopter confirmed an “incident” involving one of its aircraft at 1530 local time approximately 50 kilometers southwest of Shetland, an archipelago that marks the division of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.

According to its website, CHC operates Sikorsky, Agusta-Westland and Eurocopter helicopters in the U.K.

I wonder what the cause was and what the weather was like at the time?

I am just very relieved for all those aboard and for their families.

btw, I don’t have helicopter anxiety really but just don’t like knowing that they can’t glide! I always will take a bird over a crewboat…those are what are truly “inhuman”. Is there any crewboat company that has at least coffee for their passengers? I have yet to find one.

they can glide but that requires the blades to be still on and going around

[QUOTE=powerabout;86512]they can glide but that requires the blades to be still on and going around[/QUOTE]

I know about autorotate but that’s a very iffy proposition that requires pretty much everything be perfect to be pulled off successfully and it is not something that helicopter pilots ever get to actually practice doing in real life. Not like taking an airplane into a stall and recovering or just cutting power and gliding for awhile.

Any record of helos being able to autorotate to the surface in the GoM ever? Seems like when things go wrong, the birds just fall from the sky like a shot duck!

.

developments today…looks like the gearboxes might be the culprit!

[B]North Sea Helicopter Operators Suspend Flights of the Super Puma[/B]

By gCaptain Staff On October 24, 2012

Two helicopter operators that transport workers to oil rigs in the North Sea have suspended flights using Super Puma aircraft after one was forced to ditch on Monday.

CHC Helicopter and Bond Aviation took the decision after a Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma ditched south west of Shetland, an archipelago that marks the division of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.

All 17 passengers and two crew, who had been on their way to Total SA‘s (TOT) West Phoenix rig, were rescued safely.

But the incident has raised fresh fears about the Super Puma, coming as it did just days after the findings of an investigation into a May crash recommended that the manufacturer, Eurocopter, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. NV (EAD.FR), review the design of the main gearbox lubrication system. In April 2009 some 16 people died when a Super Puma aircraft belonging to Bond Aviation crashed.

Nick Mair, CHC’s regional vice president, Western North Sea, said: “The right thing to do is hold all scheduled flights using Super Puma/EC225 aircraft pending receipt of further technical information,” adding that the Air Accident Investigation Branch is conducting a full enquiry into the cause of the incident.

In a statement, Bond said it has “taken the decision to delay a return to operations of the AS332L2 and EC225 Super Puma helicopters until more detailed information is available.”

A statement from Step Change in Safety, a group that comprises representatives from industry, regulators and trade unions, said it will meet in the near future to share preliminary information.

and it’s called the Super Puma, forever now known as the Super Dupa

I had a pretty good experience on a CH-53 in the Marine Corps. We loaded up our gear and took a seat. It was just me and one other guy getting dropped off on a hill in 29 Palms, CA. There is usually a small hydraulic leak near the middle of the fuselage, and that day my partner noticed there was no leak… Well the old saying goes If its not leaking, its not flying, so it made me a bit edgy so I strapped in real tight or as tight as a seatbelt gets. Sure enough about 30 seconds in things goes south. Strange unpleasant sounds- shuttered- hard banking-then silence----- BOOM hard landing and the ramp drops. Crew chief tells us to get the hell out then…FIRE-more fire and smoke… That was the last flight for that bird. Autorotation is pretty normal and they train a lot for it. Autorotation saves lives, but its scarry as hell.

pilots practice autorotations all the time i agree
I have done several as a passenger in R22, 500’s ( not the bigger ones as used offshore)and you cant tell the difference, the chopper still desends at the same rate you would fly down
its one of those misnomers that people all assume no engine drops like a stone, just like the glide path for a cessna and a jumbo is about the same, although one is going a lot faster

[QUOTE=powerabout;86575]pilots practice autorotations all the time i agree
I have done several as a passenger in R22, 500’s ( not the bigger ones as used offshore)and you cant tell the difference, the chopper still desends at the same rate you would fly down
its one of those misnomers that people all assume no engine drops like a stone, just like the glide path for a cessna and a jumbo is about the same, although one is going a lot faster[/QUOTE]

I guess this is my error, but I didn’t think that they’d risk doing an autorotate deliberately since if the chopper didn’t react as planned, there wouldn’t be a recovery if the turbines didn’t relight quickly. I am now going to spend a long while researching this one to learn more about how autorotation works. One big question is how does the pilot control the attitude or heading?

//youtu.be/4JqmoWAhv5g

Obviously I know that helicopters can do this but I think someone once said that based on pure physical principles a helicopter isn’t even supposed to be able to fly?

[QUOTE=c.captain;86471]i. Is there any crewboat company that has at least coffee for their passengers? I have yet to find one.[/QUOTE]

It is kind of hard to drink coffee when you are flying around the inside of a crew boat like a ping pong ball, and spending half of your time bouncing off the over head.

[QUOTE=ChiefRob;86578]It is kind of hard to drink coffee when you are flying around the inside of a crew boat like a ping pong ball, and spending half of your time bouncing off the over head.[/QUOTE]

Nyah…what kind of seaman are you? A real mariner can drink a cup of scalding Joe with his ship capsized!

One hand for your coffee and one for the ship…

I actually fly collective pitch RC Helicopters. I do auto landing fairly often.After you lose power for what ever reason. The big trick is to keep the rpm of the blade up for as long as possible, so you keep the pitch low(low lift, low drag). As the helicopter drops, air passes over the blades helping to keep the rpm up. The rotation of the main blade keeps the tail blade going providing control. At the last possible second bump the collective up and get some lift to slow the decent. If you bump the collective to early your blades will slow and lose lift to quickly at which point you hit the power or crash land.

[QUOTE=gatorzeroone;86589]I actually fly collective pitch RC Helicopters. I do auto landing fairly often.After you lose power for what ever reason. The big trick is to keep the rpm of the blade up for as long as possible, so you keep the pitch low(low lift, low drag). As the helicopter drops, air passes over the blades helping to keep the rpm up. The rotation of the main blade keeps the tail blade going providing control. At the last possible second bump the collective up and get some lift to slow the decent. If you bump the collective to early your blades will slow and lose lift to quickly at which point you hit the power or crash land.[/QUOTE]

What controls the collective if power is lost on a big chopper? Is it purely a direct mechanical connection? If so, how much arm strength would a man need to force the pitch of the blades to change to slow the descent?

also what controls the pitch of the tailrotor if there is no power? I understand that it is the same drive as the rotorblades but you have to be able to alter the pitch?

If everything is controlled with a seperate HPU, I can understand but then if that is also lost then how can autorotate be controlled? And if it is a gearbox blowing up, then nothing can be controlled or the rotorblades spin freely and you’ll fall from the sky like a dead duck!

yup on in being the gearbox

[B]Initial North Sea Ditch Investigation IDs Faulty Gear Box[/B]

By gCaptain Staff On October 25, 2012

CHC Helicopters operates a fleet of 28 Eurocopter EC225′s, pictured here, in Brazil, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway and UK. Photo: CHC Helicopters
An initial investigation into a helicopter crash in the North Sea earlier this week has found indications that the aircraft’s main gearbox lubrication system failed.

In a preliminary report, the Air Accident Investigation Branch said the crew of the Eurocopter EC225 LP Super Puma had to ditch into the North Sea after a subsequent warning indicating failure of the emergency lubrication system.

A report published last week by the AAIB into a crash in May this year, also involving a Super Puma, recommended that Eurocopter, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. NV (EAD.FR), review the design of the main gearbox emergency lubrication system.

In Monday’s incident the aircraft, operated by CHC Helicopter, was on its way from Aberdeen to the West Phoenix drilling rig when it ditched around 50 kilometers south of Shetland. All on board were rescued safely.

Immediately after the accident–the fourth involving a Super Puma in the North Sea area in four years–one-third of the helicopter fleet that transports oil workers to offshore North Sea fields has been removed from service. Operators CHC, Bond and Bristow also grounded their Super Puma fleets operating in Norway.

“The safety of our workforce is paramount and we need to be satisfied that those who travel to their place of work by helicopter, do so safely and return home again safely,” the Helicopter Safety Steering Group, a collective of flight operators, oil and gas operators, unions and safety regulators, said in a statement.

A detailed engineering investigation of the CHC aircraft is continuing with the assistance of the manufacturer and operator, AAIB said in a statement

is there any kind of clutch that allows a chopper pilot to just allow the blades to freewheel if the gears seize?

I am not sure for the full size helicopters, but I would think the spinning blades impart some sort of power to the hydraulic system, but for my little bird the servos control the collective. I’m not sure of the mechanics of it but it works thank god.

[QUOTE=c.captain;86598]What controls the collective if power is lost on a big chopper? Is it purely a direct mechanical connection? If so, how much arm strength would a man need to force the pitch of the blades to change to slow the descent?

also what controls the pitch of the tailrotor if there is no power? I understand that it is the same drive as the rotorblades but you have to be able to alter the pitch?

If everything is controlled with a seperate HPU, I can understand but then if that is also lost then how can autorotate be controlled? And if it is a gearbox blowing up, then nothing can be controlled or the rotorblades spin freely and you’ll fall from the sky like a dead duck![/QUOTE]

I was on a rig about 3 or 4 years ago. The Super Puma was our usual bird and remember the North Sea crashes around that time.

Both Super Pumas with gearbox problems.

Our contractor considered this a serious safety issue until it was fully investigated. Therefore from then on we did crew change on the Dauphin, much smaller. And refused to use the Super Pumas. From then on crew changes took 2 days of flights instead of one.

Ive flown on Super Pumas since then, under a different contractor for different rig, and I assumed this gearbox problem had been investigated and sorted out.

I will be rehearsing my HUET escape plan and cinching my belt a few extra notches if I see this one again on the LZ!

And yes, I think there is some sort of clutch in there somewhere. No1 turbine winds up, then No2. Then somehow they slowly rotate the blades and slip some kind of clutch to fully engage the turbines. Anyhow, this is what I think happens by looking over the pilots shoulder, and witnessing many takeoffs and landings.

I have been to helicopter crash rescue and firefighting school, and I know to ask the pilot where the emergency (disengage/clutch/brake?) for the blades and power in case there is a crash and the pilot is incapacitated, and where to stuff the nozzle of the extinguisher in a turbine that catches fire, ventilate and evacuate the cabin of the passengers and crew. But I can only help them if they make it to the helipad.