Six months into 2021 and we're wading through our fourth lockdown. Masks and contact tracing are back with a vengeance but we're excited to be back to the skies. And just like you, we sure hope it's the last one we have to endure.
We are absolutely stoked for Brad Matthews having achieved that epic milestone of going solo. Well done mate!
And congratulations to Shank Somers and Scott Emery on the successful completion of their PPL Theory after an intensive two week course facilitated by Chris Wakefield.
(Pictured: Brad doing solo circuits at YMMB; Gray welcoming Brad to the Solo Club.)
Class E Airspace - What does it mean for helicopter pilots?
This article aims to focus specifically on Class E airspace and what it means for helicopter pilots. In Australia there are two major types of airspace: controlled (Classes A, C, D and Class E - IFR only) and uncontrolled (Class E - VFR onlyand Class G).
Class E is essentially controlled airspace for IFR flights only. VFR flights in Class E do not require clearance. Key points of note for us as helicopter pilots operating under VFR are:
monitoring the appropriate Class E frequency and announcing if in potential conflict;
ensuring a minimum visibility of 5000 metres; and
maintaining the appropriate minimum distance from cloud, i.e., 1500 metres horizontally and 1000 feet vertically. Note that the exemption available in Class G of remaining clear of cloud at or below (whichever is the higher of) 3000 ft AMSL or 1000 ft AGL does NOT apply to Class E.
ATC provide hazard alerts to pilots of known VFR flights in Class E airspace, however, it is the pilot's responsibility to remain vigilant and exercise 'see and avoid' separation from other aircraft.
Operating out of Melbourne the most common Class E airspace you would encounter is around Avalon airport. Class E around Avalon lies between 1500 to 4500 feet or 2500 to 4500 feet as marked on the VTC/ VNC for different zones of Avalon airspace. In order to understand this better, let's look at a couple of flight plans:
YMEN - Werribee Racecourse - Vehicle Testing Ground - YLED
YMEN - Werribee Racecourse - 12 Apostles
In Example 1, you would make a call to Avalon Approach (133.55) at Werribee Racecourse, stating your helicopter's registration, location, altitude and your intention of flying west to Vehicle Testing Ground.
In Example 2, you would make a call to Avalon Approach (133.55) at Werribee Racecourse, stating your helicopter's registration, location, altitude and your intention of climbing to 3000 feet (only due to the nature of the steps for Class D and E in that section of Avalon airspace - refer to maps) and flying south-west to the 12 Apostles.
As stated before, VFR flights do not require clearance in Class E, however, it is good practice to keep ATC informed of your intentions in order to help them better manage IFR and VFR separation.
To summarise, VFR flights in Class E airspace can fly more-or-less wherever they want (weather permitting) but IFR traffic operates under positive control of ATC.
COVID-19 Update: In line with Victorian regulations, masks are required to be worn at all times on site and in the helicopter. All visitors are also requested to check-in using the QR Code which has been displayed throughout the facility.
PPL Theory Course: Our next PPL theory course will run from Monday, 16 August through to Friday, 27 August. The intensive 2-week course will be facilitated by Chris Wakefield at Hangar 7. Course timings are 0900 - 1600 Monday to Friday and the cost per person is $2,500 inclusive of GST. Maximum class capacity is 4 students. Should you wish to enrol please contact us via phone or email.
Essendon Fields Airport Community Open Day: EF airport are hosting a Community Open Day on Saturday, 4 September. Melbourne Heli will have a static aircraft display along with a couple of our instructors available for a chat. More details to follow. Please feel free to drop by or spread the word.
Hangar 7 Apron Usage: We have adopted a new layout for using the Hangar 7 apron. All solo flights should depart from and arrive at from the far end of the apron (i.e. the area furthest away from the hangar doors). Only dual flight lessons with instructors should use the area close to the drain for parking. Please feel free to speak to our staff should you need clarification.
Safety Quiz - R44
We thought we’d do something a little different this month and quiz you instead of handing you a safety tip. So, for those of you learning to fly a Robinson 44 or already endorsed on one, here’s a little test to help you assess how prepared you might be for an inflight emergency.
We all know to closely monitor the warning and caution lights at all times but, what does each of them actually mean in terms of the necessary pilot action if one were to come on inflight.
We invite you to take the time out to think what your course of action should be if the following warning lights were to come ON during your flight.
Choose your answer from the following options:
A. Land immediately
B. Land as soon as practical
C. Monitor for additional signs and continue with your flight plan
1. The OIL light comes on during flight. What would you do as the PIC?
2. You’re halfway through your solo nav when you notice an engine fire.
3. You’re on your way to Clyde Park winery for lunch with your mates. The MR TEMP light comes on and is accompanied by an unusual vibration.
4. The MR CHIP light comes on. There are no other indications.
5. The TR CHIP light comes on. You also notice a rise in engine temperature.
6. You are only 10 minutes away from YMEN and the LOW FUEL light comes on.
7. The AUX FUEL PUMP light comes on. There are no other indications accompanying the light.
8. Both the FUEL FILTER and the AUX FUEL PUMP warning lights have come on during your flight.
9. The CLUTCH light starts to flicker and stays on for more than 10 seconds.
10. The ALT light comes on during flight. You turn off the nonessential electricals and reset the Alternator unit, however, the light stays on.
11. The CARBON MONOXIDE light starts flashing.
12. The CO light comes on inflight. You shut off the heater and open all the vents. After a short while you start to get a headache.
Ideal Score: 100%
Answers at the end of this section
Oil light coming on indicates a loss of engine power or oil pressure. Check engine tach for power loss. Check the oil pressure gauge and if pressure loss is confirmed, land immediately.
If engine is running, perform a normal landing, then fuel mixture OFF and fuel valve OFF. If engine stops running, fuel valve OFF and complete autorotation landing.
When the light is accompanied by any indication of a problem such as noise, vibration or temperature rise, land immediately.
If light is accompanied by any indication of a problem such as noise, vibration or temperature rise, land immediately. But if there is no other indication of a problem, land as soon as practical.
If light is accompanied by any indication of a problem such as noise, vibration or temperature rise, land immediately.
Indicates approximately 3 gallons of usable fuel remaining. The engine will run out of fuel after ten minutes at cruise power.
Indicates low aux fuel pump pressure. If no other indication of a problem, land as soon as practical.
Indicates fuel strainer contamination. If the light is accompanied by aux fuel pump warning light or erratic engine operation, land immediately.
Clutch light may come on momentarily during run-ups or during flight to re-tension belts as they warm-up and stretch slightly. This is normal. If, however, the light flickers or comes on in flight and does not go out within 10 seconds, pull CLUTCH circuit breaker and land as soon as practical.
Reduce power and land immediately if there are other indications of drive system failure (be prepared to enter autorotation).
Indicates low voltage and possible alternator failure. Turn off non-essential electrical equipment and switch ALT off then back on after one second to reset alternator control unit. If light stays on, land as soon as practical.
Continued flight without functioning alternator can result in loss of power to tachometers, producing a hazardous flight condition.
Indicates sensor failure. Continue with the planned flight and monitor for any other indications of CO poisoning in the cabin.
Indicates elevated levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in cabin. If symptoms of CO poisoning (headache, drowsiness, dizziness) accompany light, land immediately.