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Helicopter crashes onto roof of Manhattan building in poor weather.

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  • ATLcrew
    replied
    Originally posted by Gabriel View Post
    Again, not saying it is wrong, I never flew anything in 0.5 miles of visibility (except in a sim) and I never flew a helicopter (except in a sim). Just that from my armchair it doesn't feel well.
    From my armchair anything having to do with those flying bad ideas doesn't feel well.

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  • Gabriel
    replied
    Originally posted by ATLcrew View Post
    Keep in mind that helicopters routinely operate at very low altitudes (500' or lower), very low speeds, have the ability to change direction very rapidly, and, of course, land anywhere (at least, in theory), so operating in conditions that a fixed-wing pilot wouldn't go near is a regular occurrence for them.
    Yes, I am taking that into account, but even then it feels odd to me.

    I mean, even an R22 routinely flies at 80-90 knots (the cruise speed is listed as 110 knots but they normally don't fly that fast, but the autorotation speed is 65 knots and you certainly want to keep the speed faster than that so you don't have to first accelerate in case of engine failure). At that speed you are less than 20 seconds away from whatever waits for you past the 0.5 miles that you can see, including a cloud of which you are supposed to stay clear. And the cruise speed for the Augusta 109 (like the one in this accident) is around 150 knots.

    Then , while they normally fly at 500' or lower, the rule you quoted allows for up to 1200 ft, which is about 0.2 miles. Now you will have the visible horizon (in fact the fuzziest end of the fuzzy horizon) 0.5 miles away (when at that altitude it would be more than 40 miles in a clear day) and 25 degrees below eye level (when normally it would be at eye level). That is a recipe for disorientation. I would argue that it would be extremely difficult to maintain attitude control in those conditions without resorting to the artificial horizon, which is not even a required instrument required for VFR flight, and of course without being skillful at maintaining attitude control by reference to the artificial horizon in very marginal visual conditions.

    Again, not saying it is wrong, I never flew anything in 0.5 miles of visibility (except in a sim) and I never flew a helicopter (except in a sim). Just that from my armchair it doesn't feel well.

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  • ATLcrew
    replied
    Originally posted by Gabriel View Post
    Thank you.

    That's amazing. I have flown marginal VFR with 6 times that visibility and it gets really tricky. The visibility is not a "now you see, now you don't" situation (as the clouds practically are). You look straight down and see the field perfectly clear, then as you start to move your sight away the image starts to loose fidelity and contrast, the different features become shades of gray that, as you look further and further, converge to the same "medium gray" until you just can't distinguish things. What you have is a circular fuzzy visible horizon that is way below the real horizon (the higher you fly the smaller the circle and the more it goes below the horizon) which makes quite tricky to tell your attitude by visual reference, both in pitch and in roll.

    I can't imagine how a fuzzy foggy 0.5 miles visibility may look and feel like at 1000 ft. Or I can, and it is scary, if you are not flying by instruments.
    Keep in mind that helicopters routinely operate at very low altitudes (500' or lower), very low speeds, have the ability to change direction very rapidly, and, of course, land anywhere (at least, in theory), so operating in conditions that a fixed-wing pilot wouldn't go near is a regular occurrence for them.

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  • 3WE
    replied
    Originally posted by News
    McCormack received his commercial pilot's license in 2004, according to Federal Aviation Administration records, and he was certified as a flight instructor for a rotorcraft-helicopter last year.
    Originally posted by ATLcrew View Post
    Originally posted by Gabriel
    4-stripes epaulets and no instrument rating?
    Not uncommon with rotorcraft pilots.
    Ok ALT, here we are with a textbook outsider-insider moment.

    -Weather happens.
    -You are a commercial pilot
    -You have been flying commercially for almost 15 years
    -You fly rich and famous people around NY which has a TON of airspace and does a lot of things by IFRULES (regardless of VMC)
    -I'd assume you could use an instrument rating to:[indent]-Go wherever you need to go in IMC[indent]-Not get lost when you do[indent]-Might get meaningfully-increased access to airspace around the New Yark area (to drop off your rich and famous pax to catch their Falcon jets)[indent]-[indent]-(Yes, I know Special VFR is probably 95% effective)[indent]-Commercial flying creates demand to fly when there is weather[indent]-Last but not least, whether you are current or not, an IFR rating it is moderately useful to keep the aircraft rotor-side up and in control- and we think this helicopter had a working AI.

    Finally, I'm not saying you have to be IFR CURRENT, but that ability to keep the dang thing right side up seems awfully basic and something I hate to see not available...ESCPEICALLY IF YOU ARE A 15-YEAR COMMERCIAL PILOT OF MOST ANYTHING BUT A GLIDER OR BALOON.

    We should require this, in Manhattan esepecially! (/slightly blue font but slightly black font too).

    PS, ALT what did I say above that is wrong?

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  • Gabriel
    replied
    Originally posted by Evan View Post
    I think it seems more plausible than a veteran pilot suddenly flying erratically while still (apparently) communicating lucidly.
    But who knows. There's not much left to tell the tale.
    A veteran VFR pilot flying in super-marginal-at-best weather conditions. And he managed to recover at least the 1st time, which seems quite incompatible with mechanical controllability issues especially in a helicopter, and when he did communicate ("lucidly" may be but perhaps in panic) he said I don't know where I am, not the helicopter is not responding.

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  • Evan
    replied
    I think it seems more plausible than a veteran pilot suddenly flying erratically while still (apparently) communicating lucidly.
    But who knows. There's not much left to tell the tale.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gabriel
    replied
    Originally posted by Evan View Post
    It sounds as if he was flying legally below the cloud ceiling but had controllability issues which caused him to climb into IMC.
    And do you think that the controllability issues were mechanical in nature?

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  • Gabriel
    replied
    Originally posted by ATLcrew View Post
    Reference 14 CFR 91.155(a), day VFR minimum for helicopters below 1,200AGL is 1/2 mile and clear of clouds.
    Thank you.

    That's amazing. I have flown marginal VFR with 6 times that visibility and it gets really tricky. The visibility is not a "now you see, now you don't" situation (as the clouds practically are). You look straight down and see the field perfectly clear, then as you start to move your sight away the image starts to loose fidelity and contrast, the different features become shades of gray that, as you look further and further, converge to the same "medium gray" until you just can't distinguish things. What you have is a circular fuzzy visible horizon that is way below the real horizon (the higher you fly the smaller the circle and the more it goes below the horizon) which makes quite tricky to tell your attitude by visual reference, both in pitch and in roll.

    I can't imagine how a fuzzy foggy 0.5 miles visibility may look and feel like at 1000 ft. Or I can, and it is scary, if you are not flying by instruments.

    Leave a comment:


  • ATLcrew
    replied
    Originally posted by Gabriel View Post
    Reference 14 CFR 91.155(a), day VFR minimum for helicopters below 1,200AGL is 1/2 mile and clear of clouds.

    Leave a comment:


  • Evan
    replied
    Originally posted by Gabriel View Post
    https://www.flyingmag.com/ntsb-inves...icopter-crash/





    Really? 1/2 mile? VFR or IFR? Because if IFR and the pilot was not IFR-rated, then it is obviously not legal.

    I can't find it, but I read somewhere else that the pilot was in radio contact with their company and they told him to land. I doubt his company has capability to provide vectors.
    It sounds as if he was flying legally below the cloud ceiling but had controllability issues which caused him to climb into IMC.

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  • Gabriel
    replied
    https://www.flyingmag.com/ntsb-inves...icopter-crash/

    The weather at the time appears to have played a role, with reports of one-half-mile visibility and a ragged 400-foot overcast.

    After the helicopter took off, it flew around the southern tip of Manhattan past Battery Park and then was seen flying erratically over the Hudson River. Video of the helicopter posted on Twitter shows the helicopter briefly going out of control in a steep nose-down attitude before the pilot regained control and then, for unknown reasons, began climbing and disappearing into the clouds above.

    The pilot, Tim McCormack of Clinton Corners, New York, held a commercial helicopter pilot certificate but not an instrument rating, according to FAA records. The helicopter was fully IFR equipped with an autopilot, according to a pilot who worked for the company that owned it.

    Reports say the pilot was not in contact with ATC.
    FAA regulations allow helicopters to operate in the airspace around New York City with as little as a half-mile visibility and clear of clouds, meaning the flight may have been operating legally before the pilot climbed into the clouds.
    Really? 1/2 mile? VFR or IFR? Because if IFR and the pilot was not IFR-rated, then it is obviously not legal.

    I can't find it, but I read somewhere else that the pilot was in radio contact with their company and they told him to land. I doubt his company has capability to provide vectors.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gabriel
    replied
    Originally posted by Evan View Post
    Obviously, I'm talking about area navigation, not attitude.
    I know. Area navigation REQUIRES attitude control and VFR pilots in IMC are well known for being incredible good at LOSING attitude control.
    There is a reason why aviate comes before navigate. And, before you tell me that navigate comes before communicate, yes, but there is an exception: when communication is sub-process of navigation.

    Does that mean you cannot take off from, or fly into, a Manhattan heliport unless it is a cloudless, sunny day?
    No, I said VFR, not sunny and cloudless, and I said corridors not take-off and landing.
    Anyway, not sure but I don't think that any heliport in the top of a building is approved for IMC operations.

    Once again, I'm advocating redundancy, because clouds happen, fog happens, and pilots take chances and break rules.
    What's the backup for a disoriented VFR pilot in IMC? A moving map? I don't think so.

    Yes, you could do that. But then why didn't he? Why did he end up over the city, on top of a building, dead?
    Because he was using 120% of his brain bandwidth trying to keep blue over brown. Let alone fly a constant heading. Let alone one particular target heading. Moving map or not.

    He radioed that he wasn't sure of his position. Nobody gave him his position or any vectors.
    He radioed whom? ATC?

    Again Gabriel, redundancy.
    I am all for redundancy. I don't think that in this case a moving map would have been an effective redundancy for spatial disorientation of a VFR pilot in IMC.

    Maybe an autopilot would have been. If he knew how to use it well enough to use it correctly on short notice in a high-stress unexpected situation.

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  • Evan
    replied
    Originally posted by Gabriel View Post
    I don't think that a moving map is more intuitive than an artificial horizon which looks like... the real one. And pilots struggle to keep blue over brown. And many time lose it. Even sometimes IMC-rated, legally current pilots.
    Obviously, I'm talking about area navigation, not attitude.

    The corridors in Manhattan are VFR corridors. If you suddenly find yourself in IMC in Manhattan you better simply climb above the MSA (which a simple moving map will not show) to avoid any obstacles (which a simple moving map will not show).
    Does that mean you cannot take off from, or fly into, a Manhattan heliport unless it is a cloudless, sunny day? If so, then never mind. Once again, I'm advocating redundancy, because clouds happen, fog happens, and pilots take chances and break rules.

    If you manage to keep blue over brown, then a simple moving map may help you avoid Manhattan altogether, but not navigate around the buildings.
    The idea isn't to navigate around buildings. It is to remain safely removed from them, over the rivers.

    Of course you can also squawk 7700 and call "mayday, I am lost in IMC, get me out o here" and a guy with a fixed map and your blip superimposed on it with altitude information, who knows where the buildings are, will give you vectors (even "turn-stop" vectors so you don;t even need to watch the directional gyro or compass, just the attitude indicator). Following vectors is simpler than following a moving map, and yet disoriented pilots tend to fail at that too. Something as "simple" as flying a heading (or wings level, let alone any particular heading) may become impossible for a disoriented pilot.
    Yes, you could do that. But then why didn't he? Why did he end up over the city, on top of a building, dead? He radioed that he wsn't sure of his position. Nobody gave him his position or any vectors. Again Gabriel, redundancy.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gabriel
    replied
    Originally posted by Evan View Post
    Well, to begin with, I'm talking once again about satety through redundancy. We have some safety already in that we restrict VFR pilots from going into IMC, which means all they really need is a clean windscreen. But, when that fails, because pilots miscalculate or break rules, we need something else. Instruments are not the best defense if the pilot is not well-trained on them. However, a moving map GPS, such as the one on my iPhone, is entirely intuitive. Where am I? Oh, there I am, and this is the direction I'm moving in, and there's the obstructions I need to avoid. Secondly, even for IMC-rated pilots, in an enviroment like Manhattan, where safe flight corridors are very narrow and tall buildings are in direct proximity, GPS provides greater positional accuracy than traditional instruments and doesn't rely on precise pilot calculations. Or am I wrong about that?

    Thirdly, and this somewhat mirrors my argument on search and rescue, the cost-barrier is relatively minimal and if it saves some lives, is well-justified.
    I don't think that a moving map is more intuitive than an artificial horizon which looks like... the real one. And pilots struggle to keep blue over brown. And many time lose it. Even sometimes IMC-rated, legally current pilots.

    The corridors in Manhattan are VFR corridors. If you suddenly find yourself in IMC in Manhattan you better simply climb above the MSA (which a simple moving map will not show) to avoid any obstacles (which a simple moving map will not show).

    If you manage to keep blue over brown, then a simple moving map may help you avoid Manhattan altogether, but not navigate around the buildings.

    Of course you can also squawk 7700 and call "mayday, I am lost in IMC, get me out o here" and a guy with a fixed map and your blip superimposed on it with altitude information, who knows where the buildings are, will give you vectors (even "turn-stop" vectors so you don;t even need to watch the directional gyro or compass, just the attitude indicator). Following vectors is simpler than following a moving map, and yet disoriented pilots tend to fail at that too. Something as "simple" as flying a heading (or wings level, let alone any particular heading) may become impossible for a disoriented pilot.

    Leave a comment:


  • 3WE
    replied
    Originally posted by Gabriel
    ...my point...
    Ok...your point is that it’s not that he was lost, but ‘attitude disoriented’...I think.

    I believe the baseball player crash did involve some low ceilings- forcing him to fly low- but yes, his operations were visual.

    I set up a rough simulation of that (strong ‘cross’ winds) and found it a little tricky to avoid buildings.

    Leave a comment:

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