Helicopter Maintenance Blog*
Posted 3 years 91 days ago ago by Scott Skola
As mentioned on another website, “Hold my beer and watch this…”
Sometimes you just have to wonder about things….
A reminder: I’m still chasing salmon, or being chased by a bear or a cold beer around Alaska. Will reply to your emails when I get back in August. Thanks.
And now the Lama-Nator…
TIPS and TRICKS:
Airbus (Sud Aviation)
SA316 Alouette III
Last month’s tip, the one concerning the Alouette III brakes, left me feeling less than satisfied. There is another brakes-related accident I want to describe along with some other comments to emphasize the importance of airworthy brakes.
I guess where mechanics get confused is that the brakes are only used on the ground, so they don’t consider them necessary for flight. Pilots know better, but they can still forget to pump up the brakes one morning--part of a daily preflight check on the Alouette III--and find that the brakes release somewhere along the line during that second day of flight.
That’s what happened in the following occurrence. A mechanic was on his way to the fueling point for the day, but was running a little late because it was so far away from the night park for the helicopter. The pilot comes on the radio and says, “Hello fuel truck… Alouette III… I need go-juice. Where you at?” The mechanic replies, “Coming up on that campground.” The mechanic waited near the “Y” in the road at the campground.
The Alouette III came in, landed in the intersection at the “Y” but the aircraft began to roll forward on the slightly downhill terrain. The pilot picked it up and tried a different orientation but same thing. No time to pump up the brakes in this circumstance, you can’t take your hand off the collective to do it, and hell, they might not work at all for all you know. So, the pilot arrested the roll by applying pitch and aft cyclic, however, the abrupt takeoff caused the tail rotor blades to strike the road surface.
When a two-foot section of the tail rotor guard tube landed on the hood of the service truck, the mechanic backed up about ten feet, then thought about it some more and backed up another ten feet, as he watched the drama unfolding before him.
Not confident in the condition of the tail rotor blades to fly away and land elsewhere, the pilot had to find that orientation quick where the helicopter could land and not roll. And he did.
Pilot said he forgot to pump up the brakes that morning and that he knew from a prior near miss that they bleed off during the second day of flight. This was news to the mechanic, who vowed to stay on top of this area in the future, monitoring and determining the effectiveness of the brakes himself.
Here’s an example of how mechanics treat the brakes rather casually: Log entry for an Alouette III stated that “parts are on order for brakes, helicopter restricted to level field landings.” I guess if the terrain where the helicopter was working was completely flat, one might concede temporary operation there with defective brakes.
But this is not the case because the entry seems to imply that among the areas available for landing the helicopter in the area of operation, the pilot should only select the flat areas to land his craft. That’s fine, except for the emergency forced landing contingency- there’ll be few options then.
Moral to the story: DO NOT FLY ALOUETTE III WITH BAD BRAKES!..... BRAKES ARE REQUIRED for
LANDING, WHICH IS PART, the FINAL PART, of FLIGHT…. GROUND THAT HELICOPTER
Now here's a pilot who has complete confidence in his brakes…
A special edition Leonardo/AgustaWestland Newsletter and a 2018 Robbie Newsletter
SUBMITTING MAINTENANCE TIPS/TRICKS/QUESTIONS/INFO:
Have an old tip or trick you’d like to share with your fellow mechanics? Or maybe a question that you can’t seem to find an answer to? Or just some info to pass on? Send an email to: [email protected]
About the author:
After 32 years maintaining helicopters in various capacities, Scott concluded a full time career with a major operator in 2014. When not pursuing future writing projects, he can still be seen around the flight line tinkering on aircraft for beer money.
*To keep the hounds at bay, the information contained in this blog is for discussion purposes only.