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Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The Hangman

I agree with Rex Alexander’s essay (“The Hangman Cometh,” R&WI, October 2015, page 38), and his contention that the risk of injury is greater if the night vision goggle lanyard is fastened to the aviator’s helmet instead of placed around the neck as directed by various NVG manuals and instructions. However, this choice may not be “purely for convenience,” as Alexander indicated.

I’ve operated helicopters in the maritime environment for most of my flying career and have flown with NVGs over water a good amount. I am guilty of laying the lanyard on top of my helmet. This was not a matter of convenience but rather a choice to prevent it from catching on one of many protrusions as I tried to escape the sinking helicopter if I were forced to autorotate into the water at night. The risk of this in the Boeing HH-46D, with its history of engine problems, was very probable. At the time, I chose to address what I felt was the more likely threat of drowning.

I am in no way condoning violating any manual or instruction. In my future NVG flights, I will wear the lanyard properly, thanks in part to Alexander’s article. What I do suggest is a discussion of ways to avoid NVG damage that do not cause an underwater egress hazard. Those who fly over water at night using NVGs need this alternative.

Chris Kirby Commander, U.S. Navy Certified Flight Instructor, Rotorcraft Instrument San Diego, California

Hurricane Katrina Response

After Katrina devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast, I was the deputy commander of the team that established and ran the North Carolina field hospital that reader David Hughes mentioned (Feedback, R&WI, November 2015, page 8).

We treated more than 7,500 patients during our eight-week operation, and our hastily built helistop handled dozens of civil and military helicopters. The “wrecked cars” Hughes saw were arranged by a U.S. Army combat engineer as a security fence of sorts early in our deployment, when security was still an unsettled issue. The cleared area was roughly 200-by-300 ft.

No one would ever call this situation ideal. It was, after all, the worst disaster the U.S. had ever seen.

Jimmy Taylor Denver, Colorado

One-Engine IFR News Brief

The last sentence of your recent web item on the industry proposal on instrument flight rules certification is confusing (“One-Engine IFR Proposal Finally May Go to FAA,” www.rotorandwing.com, Nov. 12, 2015). You write, “The FAA had been looking for a consensus proposal from the industry,” implying the proposal lacked consensus.

A “consensus” is not unanimity, but rather general agreement. All industry and associations agree that single-engine IFR operations should be allowable with modern technology and will improve safety. The only “differences of opinion” are how best to make the case to the FAA and the details of the alternate acceptable means of compliance with Part 27. The white paper is a consensus, even if not every single group is 100% behind every single part of it. The white paper is the first step in having an official dialogue with the FAA.

Mike Hirschberg Executive Director AHS International Fairfax, Virginia

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