Getting it right if things go wrong – Learning emergency procedures
As I talked about last week in my post about QXC, it is important to have a good knowledge of emergency procedures. As pilots we spend lots of our time practicing these, so I wanted therefore to dedicate a whole post to them and review some of the key points – starting with where they are located.
All manufacturers produce an Operating Handbook for each of their aircraft, detailing the limitations i.e speed, weight etc, performance graphs, and start up/shutdown/emergency procedures. In most handbooks, Section 3 is dedicated to Emergencies (as it is in the Robinson one). Here we can find recommended actions for almost all abnormal situations and it is important that you know these well, and can convey this knowledge during flight.
There are various warning lights located on the console of each aircraft, with standard colours being RED and AMBER – depending on the urgency. Each light is listed in the POH, with a description of what could potentially be wrong and what action to take. There are also other situations listed such as governor, engine and tail rotor failures, together with what actions to take. Usually we see three options – land immediately, land as soon as possible or land as soon as practical, (it is worth noting that some manufacturers define these differently, so you should check in your specific handbook).
Let’s take a look at an example from the Robinson R22 POH:
• A Tail Rotor Chip light illuminates – this indicates you have metallic particles in the tail rotor gearbox.
– If accompanied by a secondary indication (e.g noise, vibration), LAND IMMEDIATLEY
– If no other indications of a problem, LAND AS SOON AS PRACTICAL
The manufacturer has recommended an action, but ultimately you are in the aircraft and so it is now you decision as the pilot to assess the situation, decide on the urgency required and react accordingly. However don’t forget to fly the helicopter first! Often it is easy to become so concentrated on the situation that you forget about flying safely, which is why we practice these scenarios repetitively.
The aim is for you to be competent and calm in the event of an emergency. As I suggested before, read and reread them until they are second nature – especially before your solo and your skills test, which I will talk about next week. However, even after you have your licence, this is a proficiency that you should continue to work on.