February 2024 News

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Student News

To kick off the student news, we would like to welcome back Richard Neill who  is continuing his flight instructor rating (FIR) course with Alex and Chris. It’s nice to have a familiar face back at Hangar 7. Be sure to ask Richard of his flying in New Zealand, it makes for a ripper story.

February was a big month for Al da Silva who earned his PPL license. A hearty congratulations to you from the team Al. It’s by no means a small achievement and we wish you a future of safe flying. Hopefully we’ll see you back soon.

Joffrey Lassignardie aka Lassi also made the leap into the pilot’s club last month. Congratulations on your hard-earned PPL Lassi. As can be seen in the image below, the conditions on the day of his test were less than favourable.

Melb Heli student flying over Melbourne International Airport in a Cabri G2
Instructor Gray with recently graduated helicopter PPL student.

Above: Lassi with Instructor Gray moments after being awarded his PPL.

The Melb Heli team is extremely proud, and at the rate you’re going it won’t be long until you’ve also pocketed the CPL.

Congratulations is in order for Chris Oates who completed his gas turbine endorsement (GTE). Opening the door to flying bigger and more powerful helicopters. Well done Chris, we look forward to hearing more of that turbine roar.

Left: Al da Silva high over Tullamarine lapping up golden hour.

Staff and Graduate News

Glenn Davidson, who initially joined MH to ‘help out’ for a couple months is going on his 6th year with us but sadly will be calling it his last. Glenn will be moving to Esso in sale to fly the mighty AW 139 helicopter to offshore oil rigs. A very exciting move for him, and we wish him all the best. Joining him is one of our ex-students, Rene Baudet, who is also going to be flying the 139 – a big change from the R22 he started with here at Melbourne Heli. Congrats Rene.

Stepping in to support the ranks is ex-student Rick Heinrich. He has kindly introduced himself below:

Hi all! I’m Rick, and started with Melbourne Heli as a Line Pilot in March. I’ll be covering Mondays for a while before I take on full time hours, so feel free to come and say hello if you see me at the front desk or around the hangar. I started flight training with Melbourne Heli in July 2022 after a career in foreign affairs, and have spent much of the last decade working and living abroad in fun places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Indonesia. As a lifelong aviation lover, helicopters have always held a particularly special place in my heart, and it’s been wonderful to make flying my new day job after a lot of hard work. Aside from aviation you can find me rattling on about astronomy and space, delving into a good book, or just enjoying the little things that come with being home in Australia again.

Melb Heli Line Pilot Rick Heinrich

Above: Rick flying the G2 during his training with Melbourne Heli.

Left or Right?

There was a recent incident involving an EC120 landing on a pontoon, where the pilot experienced a rapid and un-anticipated yaw to the left. With the pilot failing to correct the yaw rapidly enough, the helicopter spun to the left almost two full revolutions before impacting the water. Two of the five occupants were unfortunately knocked unconscious and subsequently drowned. As with most incidents in aviation, this was the perfect storm of events in sequence, which combined led to the final outcome.

The aircraft was heavily loaded, actually overloaded at take-off, but within allowable limits on upon returning to land once some fuel had been burnt off. It was a windy day, with consistent winds over the ocean where the pontoon was located of around 20-25kts. As the pilot approached the pontoon and positioned the helicopter to the right of his landing spot, he began a left pedal turn to align the helicopter into the final landing position. This placed the wind 90 degrees to the right side, the LTE side for EC120s much like the G2. As the helicopter begun to yaw left whilst also travelling still to the right, the pilot noticed a cautionary indication on the power indication instruments (FLI in Eurocopter, MLI on the G2), and decided to initiate a go-around. As he pulled in what little power was remaining, the previously-established left yaw begun to increase rapidly. The pilot lowered the collective to try to reduce the amount of left yaw, but too late. The helicopter begun to spin and contacted the water.

The incident highlights the importance of minding your pedals and direction of yaw, particularly on windy days and when heavily loaded. The pilot in this incident had over 1000 hours in Bell Jet Rangers, but only 11 in the EC120. As the rotors spin in opposite directions, and both helicopter types have different tail-rotor designs, it highlights the importance of really knowing your helicopter, in particular what style of tail rotor it has, which is your “power” pedal, and it what direction the nose wants to yaw when applying power and hovering cross-wind. This is particularly relevant for students transitioning between the G2s and R44, as there are many parallels between these two machines and the ones mentioned in the recent incident.

The main take-away for students is: when your instructor starts saying “more pedal” when transitioning back to a hover, they really do mean it. Don’t be afraid to use as much pedal as is required to prevent un-anticipated yaw, especially in helicopters equipped with Fenestron-style tail rotors such as the G2. The response from the pedals in these type of tail rotors is not linear, and requires much more input than you think to keep the nose straight, especially when compared to conventional tail-rotors like in an R44 or Jet Ranger.

Ruben Gonzalez

Erickson Skycrane at Essendon Airport

Above: A sneaky peek at the Erickson Skycrane firebomber parked up at Essendon Fields. Snapped by Harry and Richard Neill.