Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ice Ice Baby!

It's that time of year for ice on and in the aircraft. Last year, we in HEMS crashed a machine due to liquid water (rain) getting into the skyward facing engine air inlet - which was covered by a particulate (dirt) barrier.
As temps dropped throughout the night, the liquid turned to ice. The crew launched on a flight, and the ice underneath the filter broke loose and got sucked into the turbine a short time after takeoff. The ice destroyed the engine and the aircraft did not autorotate successfully.

A warm hangar would have helped...

A special notice about this is here...

While installing inlet covers is a pain, if a hangar is not available, and it is going to rain on your aircraft as the temperatures drop, it may be something to consider. We at this base are going to have to go out and run the aircraft each cold morning to defrost the blades, or suffer a delay upon activation for a ground run and visual check of the rotor blades. If there is frost on the cars in the parking lot, there is frost on the blades...

safe flights...


  1. "Capt Easy" advises
    "- Talk to the other pilots where you work to learn the local weather patterns, and be very conservative with weather calls, especially at night.

    - Keep your blades and flight controls clean. The flight control thing goes beyond what's exposed. Watch for moisture that has run down and frozen below the top of the cowling.

    - Don't be afraid to turn around or land if you run into weather. If you do land, don't just land in the middle of nowhere in the winter. Land where you and the crew can get to somewhere warm.

    - Whiteout can happen on takeoff as well as landing. Take your time and learn how to deal with the snow you're going to kick up.

    - Be aware of how slippery landing pads, and LZs can be. People can and will slip and skids can freeze to the ground.

    - Snow can hide obstacles. Be careful of where you land.

    - Keep skid steps clean.

    - Keep your windshields clean.

    - Make sure your heat and defog systems work.

    Anything I missed? Steve McQueen car chase was on.

    - Oh, yeah - long johns, warn jacket, warm gloves (don't skimp), warm boots, warm hat, balaclavas are nice.

    OK, anything else?

  2. It will take 1 or 2 winters to learn the weather in a new area. Be very conservative in you weather forcast.

    The FAA says "If the information is made avalable to you" (VERY broad wipe of the brush) YOU should have known! Translated means "You BETTER know"

    I use to tell new hire pilots, "I can hire anyone to fly the helicopter...I need someone that can bring it back or know when to NOT GO"

    Plan ahead..before, and DURING the flight. Don't GO into bad weather..STOP, LAND, turn around.

    If you are on Goggles, If you can't fly OUTSIDE the goggles... DON'T fly WITH them.

    IF you catch yourself lowering the collective or slowing down at night..you are already wrong. Do something positive to get right. LAND or turn around if you can. (If it is better behind you..and it may not be..then LAND NOW)

    When I hired on at this last job. I could tell during the interview the guy was going to hire me. Right before he was going to offer me the job, I said "I need to say one more thing...I know we have company minimums, FAA minimums and I have my minimums. If I decide to not go, or to land, or to turn around on a flight ..I will. You just need to know that now. He hired me.

    With any new job you will be on probation for some period of time.

    As far as I am concerned, the Company is ALWAYS on Probation. You never know when the mode of operation may change and you may be ask to do something stupid. Don't. Never bend on that one!

    I know there are a lot of stupid sayings in Aviation. But this is a good one.

    "It is better to be on the ground, wishing you were flying. Than to be flying, wishing you were on the ground."

    Take care and be safe.


Tell us what you think. If you are involved in helicopter emergency medical services / air ambulances, this is your community. Please refrain from posting profanity, or comments that might be considered libelous or slanderous.