October 2019 News

Home News October 2019 News

Lucky fellows Chris and Noel payed a visit to Guimbal’s production factory in France this month. We take a look at flight reviews and prepare our safety corner for a discussion on the Vuichard Manoeuvre.


Student Congratulations

Welcome to our regular congratulatory section for the hard working women and men who walk through our hangar doors.

Maurice, Solo

Featured this month amongst a few of our rockstar students is Maurice (seen with Glenn in another stellar selfie) who went solo in the Robinson R44 Cadet. Congratulations Maurice, the hard work pays off.

Lovel, Solo

Big smiles from Lovel on completion of her first solo flight. Motorcycles, cars and now helicopters. Anything you can’t drive? Keep up the great work.

Daniel, Solo

Daniel also went solo this month, completing a few circuits around Bacchus Marsh aerodrome.


Chris and Noel had the pleasure of jet setting to France this month to visit the brilliant minds at Guimbal’s production factory.

In between strolling along the Champs-Élysées and enjoying what one can only assume was copious amounts of pastries (as one does when visiting France) they went to see how our much loved machine is put together. Guimbal is rather particular about the information he lets leave the factory, so instead of us posting photos of the process you can follow the link below and watch the magic happen. Needless to say we are thoroughly impressed.

Our second Guimbal Cabri G2 is due to arrive at the Melbourne Heli hangar in November this year.

Melbourne Heli’s PPL Theory course


Following the success of the Private Pilot Theory course we held in September, we will be holding a second in November. Similar to the first, the course will operate over a ten day period with the final exam to be sat at the student’s convenience. See below the course details.

-10 classroom days in total.

– 9am to 4pm each day.

-Week 1: Monday 11th November to Friday 15th November.

-Week 2: Monday 18th November to Friday 22nd November.

-Cost $2,200 inc get. 

-Class limited to no more than 5 people (we currently have 4 confirmed, only 1 position remains).

-Final examination can be completed here at Melbourne Heli or at a CASA exam centre.

Have you thought about your Flight Review?

You may have heard the term ‘HFR’ throughout your training but what is it and what does it stand for? Well you could have a look on the CASA website, specifically in Part 61, but we thought we’d write up a few words to try and simplify it for you and to reassure you that it’s not a daunting task in the grand scheme of things.
HFR stands for Helicopter Flight Review. It needs to be completed every 2 years whether you have a CPL or PPL. Read those words carefully, ‘flight review’, meaning it’s not an exam. It’s regarded in our world as just another part of your training. It’s an opportunity for you to work on something with your instructor and if you don’t have anything specific you would like to practice, then your instructor generally goes through everything bar navigation. CASA does however recommend a navigation review every second HFR.

The instructors here at Melbourne Heli are able to complete HFRs so you would be flying with someone you already know. Some ground work we cover before the flying aspect includes aircraft limitations, aircraft performance, weight and balance calculations, airspace requirements, licence limitations, and other paperwork jazz. Please do a little reading before you show up as it makes the review go faster. If you’re rusty on the ground side of things, your instructor can go through it with you since the HFR is essentially competency based.

Your instructor might get you to do a safety briefing before the flight and once you’re in the helicopter it will be like old times. You will fly out of Essendon as you’ve always done and head off to Bacchus Marsh or Moorabbin airport for circuits. Once your instructor is satisfied that you can actually fly without breaking the rules or killing yourself then you will probably go straight into emergencies. It’s a good opportunity for you to practice until you’re competent and comfortable because in reality, how often do you do emergencies once you have your licence?

Another aspect of the HFR to consider before you book it in is how long it will take. It should take about half a day. If you require more training then your HFR can be extended. You cannot fail a flight review but you can be deemed not yet competent, in this case you simply fly until you are, so no worries.

We can complete the HFR in an R22, R44, R66 or Cabri. One last thing to think about before you fly is that CASA have made it so that if you do your HFR in an R22 or R44 then you can fly any other single engine helicopter (SEH) that you’re endorsed on. If you do your HFR in another SEH then you cannot fly the R22 or R44 unless you do another HFR in one of those machines.

After the HFR is completed, we fill out a form to give to CASA and write it up in your licence. Then off you go into the great wide world of flying once again with a spring in your step, hopefully.

Safety Corner: Vortex Ring State

Over the next two months we will be examining the widely praised Vuichard manoeuvre. A manoeuvre designed by Claude Vuichard in his days of flying around the Swiss Alps to counter helicopter Vortex Ring State. In the lead up we’ll look at VRS and touch on Settling with Power, a closely related state of flight.

In regular flight the relative airflow contacts the rotor blades largely from the front and air is ‘pulled’ down through the rotor disk. Without going into too much detail, as that’s a lesson for another month, we need this airflow to contact our blades from the front in order to generate lift. Vortex Ring State is an aerodynamic condition where the relative airflow comes from below and circulates around to contact the blades almost directly from above. It’s easy to say this is an undesirable state to be in as VRS can see helicopters descend at a dramatic rate, along with a loss of positive control. Before we lose all desire to fly helicopters, let’s look at how and when this happens, with a further promise of an explanation next month as to the method of overcoming it.

Picture a normal descent. Forward speed is above 30kts and descent rate is less than 300 feet per minute. The blades are moving through the air in the lateral plane and wind is on the nose. The relative airflow in this situation primarily comes from ahead, though a small portion is coming from below due to our descent. This portion is too small to have any negative effects on our lift production but is still present. If we now increase our descent rate to above 300 feet per minute (in other words we’re coming down faster) and we reduce our forward speed to less than 30kts (reducing the portion of wind coming from ahead) we put ourselves at risk of entering VRS. The amount of airflow coming from below has just increased and is reducing the blades capacity to produce lift. The direction of airflow has turned from being ‘pulled’ down from above, to flowing up through the rotor disk. Along with this upward flow, the circulation of the blades produces vortices similar to those in normal flight that appear on the tips of the blades. The result is disrupted air washing down onto them.

Generally in VRS the section of the blade nearest the rotor hub is stalled due to the upward flow of air, this means if we were to increase our collective (increasing the pitch angle on the blades), we would in fact make the situation worse. Manoeuvres like Vuichard’s are designed to swiftly move the helicopter into ‘clear’ air, away from the disrupted air coming down onto the blades. A description of this will have to wait for the next issue however, for now we’ll highlight situations both aerodynamic and atmospheric to avoid in order to eliminate the threat of VRS.
A poor atmospheric condition will hinder the normal operation of flight in a helicopter. For us this means a high density altitude (thin air), hot and humid conditions, and a good old fashioned tail wind. VRS typically occurs coming into land at high altitudes with the wind coming from odd angles. Always stick to the rule of no less than 30kts airspeed when descending faster than 300 feet per minute (or keep your descent less than 300 feet per minute when travelling slower than 30kts), keep the wind on your nose and you will avoid this particular danger. It is worth noting here that VRS is unlikely to happen when travelling above 12kts; 30kts is our safety buffer. So no need to worry if you momentarily dip below the mark.

Settling with Power. A related situation often spoken of in the same thread as VRS is Settling with Power. In a nutshell, SWP is a loss of lift in flight when the power required to maintain lift in any given situation is more than the power available to us at that time. This could be for a number of reasons; too much weight, wind sheer, and hovering out of ground effect are all culprits alongside our aforementioned poor atmospheric conditions. SWP can occur without the vortices of VRS having time to develop, though the sharp rate of descent that comes shortly after onset is the same. 

As always be wary of your situation and how much power you have available to you. If a blight of wind shear does come along to upset your approach, be at ease knowing Vuichard was a brilliant pilot with an easy method to help you stay afloat. Stay tuned.