Posted 7 years 152 days ago ago by Admin
A few months ago I was visiting a large helicopter flight school.
While touring the school, I had the opportunity to sit in on a ground
school class. The students were training toward their helicopter
instrument rating, so the material being presented was on that topic. My
initial impression was very positive. I thought: Wow, these young
aviators are getting a great education in a highly standardized,
quality-based training environment.
The portion of the course I was observing was covering takeoff
considerations during IMC conditions and the regulatory requirements
identified in Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) 91.175. All was going
well ... and then I heard these words: “An instrument takeoff (ITO) is
nothing more than a maximum performance takeoff into IMC.” Initially I
thought I misheard the instructor, but it became quickly apparent that I
had indeed heard correctly.
Understand, this wasn’t a course
on situations where you may encounter a white-out or brown-out condition
on takeoff, nor a morning of light fog that is only a 100 feet thick
with CAVU weather above. Instead, the instructor was teaching that when a
helicopter has planned for an IFR departure, the pilot will line up on
the departure runway, remain light on the skids, and then conduct an
altitude over airspeed climb using the attitude indicator to maintain a
level attitude while accelerating to normal climb airspeed. (I do
believe that my heart skipped a beat!)
I looked at the assistant chief
instructor that was escorting my tour for a response. He was smiling as
though the instructor was his own prodigy giving a comparative teaching
to that of The Sermon on the Mount. I asked my tour guide for a break in
the class to meet the instructor. When it was given, I spoke with the
instructor about what I had just observed. I told him I was interested
in the subject matter as I had never heard the ITO method he had
described to the class. He kindly provided an overview of the maneuver
and how maximum performance takeoff into IMC was designed to allow the
helicopter to climb above obstacles, in the least amount of distance,
that may be obscured by IMC weather.
After carefully listening, I
asked a few questions. My first query: “In the method you describe for
departing into IMC, wouldn’t the aircraft be operating within IMC below
the aircraft’s minimum IFR airspeed—Vmini?”
The answer: “What is Vmini?”
My second question: “Where did you learn this method of an ITO?”
His response: “I was taught this way.”
The reference cited was the FAA
Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Practical Test Standards, Area of
Operations(A/O) III, Task B. The thought was that A/O III, Task B was
exclusive to A/O III, Task A. It is not. Each task in this case is
mutually advantageous with A/O III, Task B being a continuation of A/O
III, Task A when IMC exists.
It’s important to note only the
FAA ATP helicopter practical test standards reference the instrument
takeoff for evaluation. This task is not evaluated currently within the
FAA instrument rating for helicopter practical test standards.
Standardized training curriculum,
processes, and procedures provide a significant benefit to a student
during a course of study. However, standardized perpetuation of bad or
incorrect subject matter is just plain wrong—and dangerous!