I have been a commercial helicopter pilot for 35 years. In my career, I have reached nearly 1.5 million miles across Earth, carried nearly 100,000 passengers, and got 12,500 hours of flight time in my logbook. The most important number? I ended up with an equal number of takeoffs and landings.
Joking aside, given the general perception of the helicopter business, this might sound like an amazing result. Most people really think helicopters are dangerous contraindications that can be of all kinds of unpredictable behaviors, most of them bad. The truth is, as I have often said to my passengers, that the dangerous part of my job is driving to work.
But there is a real risk in the helicopter industry, partly due to the way helicopters are operated, and this represents a permanent risk of air collision. Most helicopter operations referred to by the FAA are done as "unimproved areas", that is, unattended helicopters, rough landing points in rural areas, and generally remote locations where there is no wireless or radar surveillance. The general rule calls on pilots to see and avoid each other. It seems clear enough. However, there are a number of air collisions and near misses every year. Pilots, of course, monitor radio frequencies, and they must be constantly aware of the presence of other flight traffic. But in the absence of an external surveillance facility such as the FAA control tower, or other ATC facility, which is the standard position in helicopter business, it is up to the pilot to direct from other aircraft.
It goes without saying that the collision between two planes always leads to deaths. When one of these machines is a helicopter, it always works. A fixed-wing aircraft, albeit far away, can recover from the air and may possibly reach the Earth somewhat safely. Helicopter no. At any time the helicopter's main rotor system is disabled, the plane will crash. Completed. Therefore, in many respects helicopter pilots have to be constantly aware of other aircraft, especially, as has been the case in New York in recent times, the fixed wing is likely to be operated by a private pilot, perhaps less time. Additionally, although the investigation has just begun in New York, design factors may have played a role. Helicopters usually have much more visibility than a cockpit compared to a fixed wing device. Aircraft compartments generally have more limited visual fields, especially the low-wing plane where the wing itself acts as a blind spot for traffic below it.
How to prevent an air collision? How to maintain aircraft separation while flying when there is little or no external surveillance, and there is no technical protective mechanism on board? Here are some suggestions for students, or any other pilots who have the desire to retire as you did with no such horrific accidents in their record. I received several calls nearby: one near a collision in Vietnam at dusk. Another near Dubuque Iowa one cloudy and bright afternoon in July; another reasonably close call with an impressive large nautical bird would have come out my windshield had I not avoided it.
There are those who work in the aviation industry, most of them are younger or inexperienced pilots, who share the plane's big sky theory to avoid the atmosphere. Simply put, these pilots believe that it is in a vast area like the sky, and while they offer such a minimal target, their chances of communicating with another plane are negligible. Although instructors always ask students (and all other pilots) to keep their heads "in a rotating position", some pilots maintain their focus inside the cockpit for extended periods, only viewing looks occasionally. So the first rule is to look out of the plane once in a while. There is a good rule of thumb, like, every ten seconds – okay five seconds.
Another way to stay free from other traffic is to monitor radio. Listen to the gossip, pay attention to who is taking off, or who is landing, and from where. Called situational awareness, he's our best friend while flying, or looking for a car in a crowded parking lot.
Know where you are all the time. This may seem simple, but if you know where your plane is within a quarter of a mile at all times, and other traffic reports in the same box, you should be looking. And don't assume they see you. One of the biggest killers in aviation is complacency. The pilots killed more than ran out of gas. A classic accident several years ago involving the landing of a commercial 727 in San Diego collided with a Cessna 172 in September 1978. The pilots of the large plane reported seeing the plane. But the plane they reported seeing was a third plane. They did not see the person they encountered, and 137 people died.
Another phenomenon that can cause a middle is called the closing rate. In free air, it is difficult to distinguish between speed perception and the cockpit. When closing another plane, the inexperienced pilot can make a mistake in estimating the rate at which they are approaching, and literally fly into another machine. This occurs, especially when the pilot thinks he has plenty of time to respond, and finds out otherwise.
For small sky theory, as happened in the San Diego plane crash described above, the vast majority of air collisions occur on a clear day five miles from the airport. In the example of New York City, the helicopter had just lifted from the helipad along the Hudson River and was boarding. It is speculation at this point, but it seems unlikely that the other pilot will see, so there was no time to evade. This accident may have been prevented by more alertness of the two cockpits, especially given the crowded lane along the river.
Aviation accidents are not inevitable. It is the result of human censorship, complacency, lack of attention, and disregard for limitations. As one of my coaches used to say, "We are not inventing any new ways to crash." Stairs can be prevented, keeping in mind the healthy extent of the airspace really – and getting more all the time – cultivating a good habit of situational awareness, using any resources available in and outside the cockpit, such as as radar coverage, reporting on the radio, and educating passengers to look at The outside as well.