Helicopters Magazine

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Professionalism: Turning Over Your Helicopter

Recently, a helicopter contract was turned over to me by a rather unprofessional pilot who rapidly abandoned a remote camp as quickly as possible, leaving the impression that he apparently didn’t care about my safety or that of the customers.


November 3, 2008
By Ken Armstrong

Topics
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A well-briefed replacement pilot will be safer and more efficient.  

Recently, a helicopter contract was turned over to me by a rather unprofessional pilot who rapidly abandoned a remote camp as quickly as possible, leaving the impression that he apparently didn’t care about my safety or that of the customers. He has subsequently had a career adjustment….
The following outlines some suggestions for topics that should be covered between pilots as one departs for time off and the other accepts the responsibilities for serving the client. Since leaving the military in the early seventies, it has always seemed prudent to provide a written profile of customers, helicopter serviceability, duties and other considerations that ensure a safe and efficient operation. For brevity, the items will be provided in a checklist format.
Some of these topics may not apply and readers should feel free to add others that are specific to their operations. I typically record helicopter temps, pressures and observed performance data when I take over a helicopter and pass these on to my replacement. This is handy for trend monitoring and often warns of imminent component failure.  For instance, during a positioning flight over the rugged Continental Divide in a Sikorsky S-58T, I noticed the PT-6 turbines were running 1.5-per-cent higher rpm than normal for that cruise power and altered my course to fly over the airstrip at Lady Laurier Lake.  Five minutes later, nearing the airstrip, the tail rotor angle gearbox had pulverized itself and the annunciator panel indicated a chip detection. An emergency descent and landing (anticipating an autorotation) was successful and the smoke pouring out of the tail proved we were prudent to divert to the closest strip as an autorotation into the rocky hillsides would have been unattractive had the gearbox catastrophically seized….

Helicopter Turnover Briefing Considerations:

  • List unserviceable items (i.e., cargo hook, position light, mirror cable)
  • List high wear components that need watching (i.e., marginal power check)
  • Advise pilot of damaged ancillary equipment (i.e., torn net, frayed longline)
  • Unusual characteristics of the given helicopter (i.e., tends to start hot)
  • Details of hours remaining to next inspection (i.e., 100-hour
  • at 8313.2 hrs)
  • Hours remaining on upcoming component changes (i.e., 120 hrs to T/R GB)
  • Leave a clean helicopter
  • Provide an updated list of spares if applicable
  • Location of customer fuel caches (mark on map and GPS
  • coordinates)
  • Detail the supplies of oil, lubricants etc. on hand
  • Advise of any shortages of supplies and those on order (i.e., grease)
  • Pass on credit cards, keys and company invoice sheets as required
  • Ensure all company-issued maps and publications are present
  • Ensure fuel pumps, bucket and other items are serviceable
  • Possibly provide data on all temps and pressures for trend monitoring

Camp Considerations:

  • Meal hours
  • Water, firearm, alcohol or other restrictions
  • Camp supply services and pilot entitlement
  • Fuel system operation and availability
  • Helicopter parking, arrival and departure procedures
  • Frequency assignments and sector allocations (fire suppression)
  • Male/female washroom assignments

Customer Considerations:

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  • Names and company positions of significant personnel
  • Contact phone numbers (cell and otherwise)
  • Unusual personal characteristics if any
  • Sensitive areas to avoid with staff members
  • Unusual client wishes for the operations
  • Customer’s specific billing/paperwork requirements
  • List of personnel who have received detailed safety briefing

In some cases, this checklist may be overkill. In others, it may be necessary to add items for your specific situation. At any rate a well-briefed replacement pilot will be safer and more efficient and that just might make the difference between your company satisfying customers and surviving or the disappearance of the contract and your employment….


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