By Staff Writer | August 1, 2005


The Pacific Rim column on page 56 of our July 2005 issue incorrectly included the photograph of a gentleman who is not the column's distinguished author, Barnie O'Shea (shown above), but Mark Ogden, who formerly penned the column. We apologize to both and our readers.



Through an editing error, the item on American Eurocopter's newly certificated night-vision goggle training omitted an aircraft type on which that training will be offered ("From the Factories," July 2005, page T5). That company will offer the training initially on both the EC120 and the AS350. We apologize for the omission.


I read Johan Nurmi's From the Left Seat column, "Totally Avoidable Mishaps," (January 2005, page T10) and just had to tell you a story.

I took my six months of U.S. Army helicopter training at Fort Sill, Okla. in the summer of 1953 in a Bell H-13G. We had a half day on the flight line, a half day in the classroom and another half day off. "We can teach your grandmother how to fly a helicopter, but you're going to be an officer first!"

In his column, Mr. Nurmi states that the student pilot had 27 hr. of flight instruction and then he was allowed to solo . . . to a hover. Yikes! I had 7 hr. of flight instruction and took it around three times. I was the first to solo in a class of 18. (The average time to solo was 10 hr.) Had the engine quit, you know damn well I would have been killed as I had no training in autorotation--not even from a hover!

I studied Mr. Nurmi's article and I have no idea why the hell a chopper should roll over just because there is only one person flying in the left seat. We never had this problem when I was a student Army pilot in the H-13G or Hiller H-23. In fact, after flying the Piasecki H-25 Mule and H-21 Shawnee, the H-13, the H-23, the Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw and H-34 Choctaw, I never heard of anyone having a dynamic rollover.

With pilot and student aboard, a small chopper lifts to a hover with a flat plane, and if the person in the right seat is not in the chopper it lists with the right skid a bit higher. So what's the big deal? I just don't understand why the chopper cited in this "dynamic rollover" story rolls over.

John Brandt
CW3, U.S. Army (ret.)
Etowah, N.C.


In Tim McAdams Safety Watch article, "Frustration's Ill Effects" (May 2005, page 62), do I detect an element of chronic fatigue build-up in the pilot?

Whilst his flying hours (14.6 hr. in previous eight days) were certainly not excessive, it would appear that his duty hours and continuous number of days on duty were. Neither the article, nor indeed the NTSB accident report, for some reason, are specific as to the exact total of cumulative duty hours achieved, being between eight and 13 hr. for each of the previous eight days. Does anyone know the accurate figures--if not, why not? What is also omitted is any mention of the question of how much recovery rest/time off was achieved between each consecutive duty period.

Working on the figures as presented would seem to indicate that this pilot, in a worst-case scenario, would have averaged more than 12 hr. duty per day for nine days (i.e., say one duty day of 8 hr. plus seven duty days of up to 13 hr. equals 99 hr. plus the 11 hr., 19 min. on Day nine). In any profession, the human being will undoubtedly build up sleep deprivation and fatigue working such hours. I am surprised that the current rules permit such excesses.

In the United Kingdom, CAP 371, "Avoidance Of Fatigue in Air Crews," (3rd Edition) has governed the flight and duty time limitation rules for the last 15 years. Helicopter pilots are restricted to a maximum of seven consecutive days on duty before being required to take two consecutive days off. The total duty hours must not exceed 60 hr. in any seven consecutive days. This pilot, if we take 11 hr. as the average between the eight and 13 hr. achieved each day, would have done 77 hr. in seven days.

Minimum rest requirements dictate each rest period to be at least as long as the preceding duty period or 12 hr., whichever is the greater. Finally, a single pilot coming on duty at 1330 local time would be restricted to a maximum flying duty period of 10 hr. compared to the 11 hr., 19 min.-plus for this pilot.

Thus, with all these U.K. safeguards, it is difficult to envisage a pilot reaching such levels of fatigue that I strongly suspect occurred here. Group Capt. Douglas Bader, a Commander of the British Empire and recipient of the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross, quotes in his 1973 "Report of the Committee on Flight Time Limitations" (upon which CAP 371 is based), the committee's considered opinion that "flying helicopters can be more fatiguing than flying aeroplanes."

However, it is not just simply a case of the amount of "stick time," that determines pilot fatigue levels. It is the total lifestyle package of each pilot in terms of total flying hours, total duty hours, adequate rest to recover and number of days off achieved. Sympathetic rostering is one of the keys to countering any build-up of fatigue during operations, but in the United States it would appear to me that the rules that allowed this pilot to reach the stage he did are far too relaxed and in need of a complete overhaul and a significant tightening up. Should that not now become the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board's Number One wish list priority, I wonder?

Finally, the sooner both the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency--under ICAO auspices--get together to determine, with agreed hard numbers, what would become a common, worldwide flight and duty time limitations scheme the better. It is something I have been advocating for the last decade or more and is definitely Number One on my wish list!

Capt. Russ Williams
Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society
Former Head, Flight Operations (Policy)
Safety Regulation Group
U.K. Civil Aviation Authority

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