January 2022 News

Home News January 2022 News

Happy New Year folks! We hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas break with family and friends and are all set to take on 2022 despite the on-going challenges we are faced with.

Student Congratulations

We’re so proud of Trish Sullivan, Ashleigh Rogers and Tony C for having passed their PPL Theory Exam at the end of an intensive 2 week course with Chris.

And to add to the wins, Tony and Ash have both recently soloed in the R44. Well done!

Pictured: Ash Rogers during his first solo in the R44


  • COVID-19 Update: Face masks are required to be worn on site. All students and visitors are required to check-in using the QR Code and present their proof of vaccination (if applicable). If you are awaiting test results or have cold/ flu like symptoms please contact us at the earliest possible to reschedule/ cancel your booking.

  • PPL Theory Course: Our next PPL Theory Course will commence on Monday, 28 February and conclude Friday, 11 March. Should you wish to enrol please contact us via phone (9118 8841) or drop us a line at info@melbourneheli.com.

Taxiways at Essendon Fields

Over the past couple of months, the Essendon Fields control tower have been making frequent references to taxiways and taxiway intersections especially, when providing the clearance to land. Given we seldom use taxiways as helicopter pilots, we thought it might beuseful to equip you with the layout of the airport. The key taxiway/ runway intersections havebeen highlighted on the map below.

The ‘Tower pad’ that we most commonly use is located at taxiway/ runway intersection ‘J’. The intersection north of the tower pad is ‘C’, and the one to the south is ‘N’. Intersection ‘E’is situated on the northern end (emergency services apron) whilst intersection ‘B’ is on the southern end (just before the runways intersection). The taxiway in front of the Melbourne Heli hangar is taxiway ‘P’ and the one adjacent to the Eastern grass is ‘N’.

Should you need any assistance with understanding this layout, please feel free to have a chat with one of the instructors.


Hazards of flying in Summer

Whilst Summer brings with it some great flying weather, it also poses a few hazards for pilots.

1. Increased Traffic:

Be mindful of increased aerial activity over the summer months. When communicating your position and intentions to ATC or traffic in the area, include a distance and bearing from a relevant VFR tracking point (such as WES, APL, DSN etc.). If you’re unsure of the distance, just provide a rough estimate (for example, PDV 1400′, 2 miles east of APL, request clearance to the tower pad via the MCG and so on). Accurate position information enables pilots in the vicinity to make informed decisions and maintain adequate separation.

2. Density Altitude:

To protect ourselves from the effects of density altitude, we must first understand what it is and how it impacts flight. The following article defines and discusses density altitude, includes the formula used in calculating density altitude and provides some flying tips for safer operations in high density altitude conditions.

Density Altitude

What is Density Altitude?

Simply put, Density altitude is pressure altitude corrected for non-standard temperature. As the temperature and altitude increase, air density decreases. In layman’s terms, it’s the altitude which the helicopter thinks it’s at, rather than where it’s physically at.

How will High Density Altitude affect flight?

On a hot and humid day, the less dense air gives us less lift and a lacklustre climb performance. We therefore require more power for taxi, takeoff and landing. Fewer molecules in a given volume of air also result in reduced rotor efficiency and reduced thrust. This is true for both the main rotor and the tail rotor, resulting in a higher relative collective setting required to hover, combined with more of the power pedal required to maintain directional control.

The increase in power required eats away at our power margin, or in some cases leaves us with no margin at all.

All of these factors can lead to a mishandling of the aircraft or even an accident if the poor performance has not been anticipated.

Calculating Density Altitude

Density Altitude (in feet) = Pressure Altitude (in feet) + (120 x (OAT – ISA temperature))

  • Pressure altitude is determined by setting the altimeter to 1013hPa and reading the altitude indicated on the altimeter.

  • OAT stands for outside air temperature (in degrees Celsius).

  • ISA stands for standard temperature (in degrees Celsius).

Keep in mind that the ISA temperature is 15 degrees C only at sea level. It decreases by approximately 2 degrees C per 1,000 feet of altitude above sea level. The standard temperature at 5,000 feet MSL is 5 degree C.

Let’s use Essendon airport as an example. The elevation above sea level is 282ft (pretty close to sea level), so on a standard day our helicopter should behave as if it were at sea level. No surprises there!

Now let’s make the temperature at Essendon 40 degrees C which is not unheard of.

The density altitude at Essendon airport (282ft above sea level), with a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius and a pressure altitude of sea level (assuming standard pressure) would be calculated as follows:

  • PA = 282 ft

  • DA = 282′ + 120 (40 – 15)

  • DA = 3,282 feet

Although the helicopter is physically at 282ft above sea level, it will perform as though it were at 3,282 feet.

Tips for Flying in High Density Altitude Areas


  • Fly in the evening or early in the morning when temperatures are lower

  • Ensure that the weight of the aircraft is below 90 percent of maximum gross weight

  • Don’t fill up the fuel tanks to the top (see previous tip)

  • Fly shorter legs and make extra fuel stops (tough suggestion to accept, but it results in less exciting takeoffs).


– Glenn

Safety Tip

If you’re directed to land on the Runway, make it a priority to vacate the Runway as soon as practicable after landing. Only switch to the ground frequency and contact ground for further instruction once you have cleared the Runway.