R&W’s Question of the Month:
How are you preparing for the challenges facing this industry in the next 2–3 years?
Let us know, and look for your and others’ responses in a future issue. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where Are The Jobs? (Cont’d)
I have been a “chopper jockey” and a faithful reader of Rotor & Wing since 1968, and this is the first time I write. Unfortunately, I have to agree 100 percent with my colleague Dougie Gray. Where are those “fantastic, well paid jobs” (“Where are the Jobs?”, July 2006, page 7)?
I have over 10,000 hr worldwide experience in firefighting, agricultural, sling load, instruction, bush, sea, mountain, etc., flying, an FAA license plus tickets from five other countries, and multiple helicopter type ratings. I also am fluent in six languages. I am a healthy non-smoker and non-drinker with excellent references. I have been applying to go any place, to any kind of job, and “they” will not even take their time to answer.
This has been going for years, while Rotor & Wing keeps boasting “how great the helicopter market is for pilots.” To keep my proficiency and licenses up, I have to pay to fly once in a while.
So here goes my humble suggestion: How about helping tens of thousands of jobless pilots worldwide by publishing an article about where (with names and addresses, please) serious pilots willing to work any place can find jobs? You would really do a great service to all jobless pilots, helping to prevent us becoming “airport bums” loitering around heliports.
Commercial, Fixed and Rotary Wing
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I read with great interest Dougie Gray’s letter and, with equal interest, the article “Operators Warn of Pilot Shortage” (Rotorcraft Report, July 2006, page 9). I wholeheartedly agree with Dougie’s sentiment. I have more than 2,500 hr rotary time and a wealth of very varied commercial experience, including offshore. I approached the offshore companies about job openings prior to your July issue being delivered and afterwards. The response was not too favorable.
I equally agree with Dougie’s argument that £40,000 ($74,000) is an obscene amount to pay out for an instrument rating in the United Kingdom. Most pilots are privately funded. To increase the burden by expecting someone who wants to go offshore to fund his own instrument rating is a little rich. Can I pose this question to those operators requesting pilots have an instrument rating: Who paid for yours?
This type of scenario crops up quite often, the other being 500 hr twin-turbine required. Again I ask: Who gave you your lucky break that allowed you to gain 500 hr twin time? I am not bitter. I do not regret any money I have spent on my career, but I would like to be given a fair crack of the whip. If Bristow’s director of European operations is true to his comments of pilot shortages, then I await his call. Equally, may I suggest he speak to his chief pilot and asks him to check his email inbox marked “CVs/Resumes.”
No one out there, however senior your position or however many hours you may have, was born with 3,000 hr. Once you had 0 hr and couldn’t hover.
Solihull, United Kingdom
Lt. Col. Steve Colby’s preferred intercom traffic calls are effective (“A Military View of Katrina’s Lessons,” June 2006, page 62). It is obvious that the information provided is beneficial to the crew’s situational awareness and overall flight safety.
My briefed traffic calls are very similar, with the exception of “hot” and “cold.” I prefer “factor” or “no factor” to tell me if the potential exists for a collision or if evasive action needs to be taken by the crew. In Colonel Colby’s second example, traffic is referred to as “…factor traffic…hot.”
It seems to me that aircraft flying away from you, “cold” in Colonel Colby’s call, will not likely be a factor. “Hot” traffic may or may not be a factor. Also, using the terms “cold” and “hot” may refer to environmental control system problems (or complaints!), engine or transmission malfunctions, and weapon/range status.
The brief to my crew (with thanks to my primary flight school instructor, call sign Levi) is, “Everyone in the aircraft is responsible for a 360-deg overlapping lookout to the maximum extent possible. Call all traffic using the clock code, high/low/level, factor/ no factor, and type—if known. Assume traffic not called out is not seen.”
To the crewmen, I add, “If you see traffic from the back that is an immediate factor, call “Break right, “Break left,” “Climb,” or “Dive” and we will do that up front. Urgency in your voice will determine the severity of the maneuver.”
To the other pilot, I say, “If you see traffic in the front that is an immediate factor, you can come onto the controls, maneuver to avoid the factor, and, once traffic is no longer a factor, we will sort out who has the controls, discuss the traffic (and change our flight suits).”
Colonel Colby’s system works well for him. My version of Levi’s has worked well for me. You might have your own effective system. However, if you find your crew’s situational awareness lacking when there is an abundance of traffic, either of our methods, or a combination of the two, might help.
Lt. Cmdr. Todd “Stalker” Vorenkamp,
U.S. Navy Search and Rescue
Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk Naval Aviator
NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.
The LUH Award
In regard to the Pentagon giving the Light Utility Helicopter contract to the EADS North America team, nothing surprises me. I stopped being surprised back in the 1970s when the U.S. Army awarded Bell the Light Observation Helicopter contract after the Hughes entry was proven superior. Those of us who flew the Hughes in combat swore by them. We all had issues with the OH-58, including a tail boom that kept cracking. That is why I do not understand the EADS contract, but I’m not surprised.
Today’s military aviator is not as proficient upon graduation from flight school as those from 15-30 years ago, and the idea of an autorotation to the ground is a foreign concept. It remains to be seen if the new EADS LUH will make up somewhat for those deficiencies, but I do know that I feel safe in the MD, regardless of who has the stick.
Lt. Col. John W. Powell, U.S. Army (retired)
Military Historical Tours
I just read Tim McAdams article on aircraft weights (“Underestimating Weight,” July 2006, page 62). It was well written. I would like to point out the other side of the coin. I am in the aircraft weighing and scale business. I am an A&P IA as well as a pilot. We operate several Web sites specific to aircraft scales. Please check them out.
From what we have found, the issue is that most small operators do not even think about weight and balance or passenger weights. We sell actual check-in scales for passenger and baggage weight applications and have been doing so since the new weight rule was adopted. It’s just that no one wants to buy them. The other issue is that most aircraft (fixed and helicopters) are not weighed properly or with the right equipment. We have run into several examples in which truck scales (or scales that are too large) were used to weigh smaller aircraft. You would not torque a 22-in.-lb tail-rotor driveshaft coupling nut using a 100-ft.-lb torque wrench, but we see shops using a 150,000-lb. scale to weigh a 4,000–5,000– lb helicopter. Operators and maintenance have to put into perspective what they are doing and with what equipment.
Most aircraft we have weighed are getting more and more heavy. Some have not been weighed at all since delivery from the factory. I see you are into the EMS end of things, and we have supplied scales to several operators to weigh their equipment. But we still see some shops taking the weighing application as not a “serious thing” and using the wrong scale, an old ex-Air Force scale bought at auction, or borrowing a scale from the shop down the street. EMS applications are specially critical to weight and added equipment and most fly heavy (maybe too heavy) based on possible data obtained from an improper weighing.
Calibration of scales is another touchy area. We have found many scales that were calibrated, but to the wrong standards for the aviation application with the wrong resolution. I bet if you could weigh the crash helo in the article, it would come up even more tail heavy than thought and its basic operating weight would have been heavier than documented, which could add another 50–60 lb. to the links in the error chain.
Jackson Aircraft Weighing Service
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Sgt. Ernie Stephens’ latest column gives a clear idea how the real word runs, (“They’re Just ‘Uneducated,” August 2006, page 62). There is, no doubt, no lack of ignorant guys “without education.” Naturally, as cited and counseled by you, the best cure for ignorance is education. By the way, I want tell you, I am a very highly educated guy—with two Ph.Ds and three master’s degrees, and I don’t have a job and I am struggling in my life. At the same time, there are guys with little education who have climbed up to the top of the ladder and sit on the top of the building.
Dr. Rangadhar Dash
F/A-18 Dropping Sonobuoys?
You talk about the S-3B Viking being replaced by the MH-60R, which you call the Knighthawk (“U.S. Navy Starts Retiring S-3B, Clearing Way for MH-60Rs,” August 2006, page 16). A little clarification is needed.
The MH-60R will keep the name “Seahawk”; the MH-60S will use “Knighthawk.” The MH-60R is replacing the S-3B as well as the existing SH-60F on Navy nuclear-powered carriers. Contrary to the article, the F/A-18 is not capable of dropping sonobuoys nor is the MH-60R capable of aerial refueling. Aerial refueling may be added but the Navy’s MH-60R program of record does not now contain this capability. The MH-60R will utilize the enhanced and updated Airborne Low-Frequency Sonar that replaces the SH-60F AQS-13F. The MH-60R will also benefit from a multi-mode radar that will include inverse synthetic aperture radar, periscope-detect capability, and Mode S interrogate-friend-or-foe (IFF)—the follow- on to Mode 4 military IFF.
The MH-60R met initial operational capability in January when Helicopter Maritime Strike Sqdn. 41 (HSM-41) received the first four aircraft. The first full carrier strike group deployment of the MH-60R is scheduled for 2009.
MH-60R Mission Systems/Ku Band
Pilot’s Safety Solution
Unfortunately, most operators don’t ask pilots what the solution to the accident rate is. Most accidents are controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)—or semi-CFIT. No one really controls flight into the ground. If it were controlled, we wouldn’t hit it.
The cure for this phenomenon is technology. Either get us vision systems, i.e., night-vision goggles or enhanced, simulated vision. Both of these systems are available, for a price, and there is the rub. Operators don’t want to spend the bucks to upgrade to the larger aircraft required for the new equipment to fit on the panel. They would rather absorb the costs of accidents, which after all are covered by insurance.
While the singles are the best platform for startup programs, they are not the long-term best aircraft for the industry. When the industry, as a whole, decides that twin safety and reliability overrides the economics of single-vs.-twin operations, then the accident rate will decline.
The other side of the coin is pilots. We simply HAVE to stop being stupid. Say “No” when you should and don’t be swayed by program directors that sit at home in front of the TV or are sound asleep at o’darkthirty when the radio squawks and you’re informed you have a pediatric trauma and it’s 400 ft overcast and ½-mi visibility. At my program, we have a slogan: “Three for one is not a good trade.” These are words we live by—literally.
EMS Captain/Safety Manager
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