A recent item on a flight-training debriefing tool contained serious factual errors. The item, “FlightSafety Upgrades Debriefing Tool,” (April 2004, page T4), reported that FlightSafety International had bought the FlightViz debriefing program from SimAuthor and developed a second generation of that product. The article leaves readers with the impression that the FlightSafety SimVu product cited in the article is based on FlightViz or that FlightViz has become the product of FlightSafety and assumed the name SimVu. SimAuthor informs us that it has not sold the FlightViz program to FlightSafety. That company purchased more than 100 copies of the FlightViz Debrief Software from 2000 through 2003, which SimAuthor said were integrated into FlightSafety simulators at various training centers. SimAuthor said FlightSafety did not purchase FlightViz source code or any intellectual property rights to FlightViz software beyond its executable form. Further, SimAuthor said, FlightSafety’s SimVu is not a derivative or improvement to FlightViz, which remains the product of SimAuthor.
For these reasons, we retract the item and its accompanying headline. We apologize for any inconvenience these errors caused for the companies involved and our readers.
MH-60 Sierra Training
I enjoy reading the articles in your magazine concerning issues across the helicopter field, both military and civilian. However, your article, “Command Authority,” contained some errors (May 2004, page 30). You say the U.S. Navy has training squadrons for the MH-60 Sierra on the East and the West Coast. Currently, there is only one such training unit, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Three (HC-3), which is located at NAS North Island in San Diego, Calif. You report the East Coast training squadron is forward-deployed to Guam. The squadron in Guam, Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Five (HC-5), is assigned as a forward shore-based squadron under Helicopter Tactical Wing, Pacific. (It is not an East Coast squadron). Its mission is the support of operations within the Northern Marianas and the Seventh Fleet, embarking detachments aboard various Military Sealift Command supply/ammunition ships and the USS Essex Expeditionary Strike Group. In addition, the squadron plays an integral role in fulfilling the U.S. Coast Guard’s airborne search and rescue requirements from Guam to Saipan.
As an H-46D pilot stationed at HC-5 from 1999 to 2003, I was sorry to see the “Phrog” retire. It was a sad sight to watch airframe by airframe being stripped down and carted off for scrap. I have fond memories of 270-deg. button hooks, quick sideflares and the “dance” from one deck to another during vertical replenishment missions. However, I feel better knowing that the MH-60S is much more reliable in terms of engine survivability and reduces much of the workload in terms of airframes and powerplants. But, the Phrog will be missed by all who flew and deployed with her.
Please note that, according to Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS), the Navy flies (or flew) several modelsof the H-46D—the the UH-, CH-, and HH-. You could find all three models in all five H-46D HC squadrons. The big difference is that the HH- model had a coupled Doppler used for night SAR missions.
Lt. John A. Lo, U.S. Navy
Wanted: The Right Attitude
Your “Rotorcraft’s Lifeblood” article on training was right on money (April 2004, page T2). I think all pilots would readily agree that training contributes to safety and better piloting skills. There are, however, some additional elements that factor into the sum of qualities that make good pilots better.
Flight training from ab initio up through advanced ratings and recurrent training devotes a lot of time to numbers, memorized procedures, and other “in the loop” pilot actions. Memorization and mastery of these drills is certainly a requirement for safe flight operations. There’s another side of the “good pilot” equation that most traditional flight instruction doesn’t completely address. What about a pilot’s attitude toward his or her flying duties and the lessons that can be learned from each flight?
Just because a pilot has achieved certain ratings or amassed a large number of flight hours doesn’t make him or her immune to accidents or unsafe operations. Good pilots not only demonstrate excellent flying skills, but they also approach their flying duties with a positive attitude toward their flying.
Back in my days as a factory pilot with Aerospatiale Helicopter Corp. (now American Eurocopter Corp.), I had ample opportunity to observe firsthand the flying skills of a number of pilots from all segments of our industry. One thing I quickly discovered was that the mere accumulation of flying hours did not necessarily indicate the competency of a pilot. I encountered so-called high-time pilots that required me on occasion to actually take over the controls to avoid an accident during factory transition-training sessions and new model demonstrations. By the same token, I also flew with lower time pilots who seemed to stay in the loop surprisingly well and quickly assimilated every instructional technique that I presented. I think the attitude with which these pilots approached their new aircraft learning experiences had a lot to do with how well the new information was absorbed and processed.
Flying is a lifetime learning experience and the good pilots out there recognize this fact. Training and learning is an ongoing process that should occur every time we climb into the cockpit. The process shouldn’t just be confined to formal training sessions.
Whether at the controls or flying as co-pilot, there is always something that can be learned from each and every flight. You can be really good at what you do, but I suspect you can always be better, especially when it comes to your flying duties. If pilots seek to stay on the front side of the learning curve, then ever better pilots will be at the controls for each takeoff. Your attitude toward your flight duties plays a big part in efforts to make the sky a safer place to practice (and it is an ongoing practice) our chosen profession and passion.
A Point of Contention
I find it amusing that Giovanni de Briganti states the Pentagon made a surprise decision to cancel the RAH-66 Comanche (“Wrong on Comanche,” May 2004, page 59). The writing has been on the wall at least two years.
Regarding the OH-58D, due to the constant restructuring of the doomed Comanche program, the timeline for the Kiowa Warrior has changed numerous times. The last restructuring I personally saw would have started divesting those aircraft in 2009 and completed that in 2017. De Briganti clearly thinks this will be postponed by a decade or so. I have to refer back to one of the few paragraphs in the article I agree with—his observation about the age of the U.S. military helicopter fleet. The Warrior is the most wrinkled of the fleet and to think, in its current configuration, that 15-25 years life remain without a Marine H-1-esque retrofit is downright ridiculous.
The decision to reduce the focus on stealth, combined with a $390-million focus on unmanned aerial vehicles clearly indicates reconnaissance will be wearing a new face in this unmanned form. Comanche’s cancellation, combined with the UAV acceleration and the procurement of the attack reconnaissance helicopter, presents a pretty clear signal. The UAV performs the high-risk recon, the Apache destroys the large targets and the new helicopter performs recon missions requiring the human eye’s acuity and ability to sense the battlefield as well as the close-in flight required for engagements in urban areas. This new aircraft needs to be 5,000 lb gross weight or smaller. I find it preposterous that it isn't clear the Comanche was not a small helicopter.
De Briganti's expert commentary regarding commanders supporting the Comanche was enjoyable to the extent of his spin. Anyone who has been around the military should recognize that when a program or plan is briefed in a forum where subordinate individuals are present, or have access to the words of the leader, a simple way of doing business must be followed. The Comanche was an active program and until the day it was cancelled leadership had to support it in public. If the leadership publicly does not support the program, then will the executors/subordinates of the program give their best effort?
Bradley E. Rassega
Giovanni de Briganti responds: If the decision to axe the Comanche was indeed taken “at least” two years ago, then it should have been implemented immediately, thus saving time, money and resources. The ARH and UAV may well, in a decade or two, do everything the Pentagon hopes. Until then, the U.S. Army will continue to operate combat helicopters designed in the 1970s, whose operational performance has consistently fallen short of its billing.
We reported last month that Aerospace Filtration Systems has received a supplemental type certificate to put its filters on Bell 407s built and/or operated in Canada (Rotorcraft Report, June 2004, page 9). Unfortunately, we used a photo to accompany that item that showed the wrong filter. The correct one is shown above on a 407.
We also recently reported on the merger of St. Louis County and City police aviation units, stating as the result of a typographical error that the latter flies an OH-53C (Rotorcraft Report, May 2004, page 14). They operate an OH-58C. We really do know the difference between the OH-58 and the H-53—honest.