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Wednesday, February 1, 2006

From The Factories

Compiled by the R&W Staff

Enstrom, Sharkey's Offer "Back-to-Basics" Course

Enstrom Helicopter Corp., with Sharkey's Helicopters, Inc., will hold a human-factors class at HAI's Heli-Expo in Dallas this month as a part of its continuing safety enhancement efforts.

The "Back-to-Basics, the Human Factor" class is part of a developing program to explore physiological factors and their relationship to the causes of helicopter accidents, according to Enstrom Product Support Director Bayard duPont. Enstrom started a special instructor's standardization clinic in late 2004, designed to improve the quality of instruction for pilots learning to fly the Enstrom 480. Graduation from the standardization course could qualify instructors for special insurance rates through Enstrom's insurance provider, Air Sure Ltd. of Golden, Colo. ("From the Factories," January 2005, page T3).

DuPont and Roger Sharkey, president of Sharkey's Helicopters, will conduct the class. It is sponsored by Air Sure, which is providing the funding, along with AIG Insurance, Enstrom and Sharkey's. The class is also being used to "build a book" that can be handed out to pilots, one that will remind them of the basics of safe flying "while still being fun to read," Sharkey said. Kind of a "Safe Helicopter Flying For Dummies," book. The class is scheduled to be held Feb. 27, but the date could change depending on the availability of a room at the conference hotel.

The course is classroom discussion with Q&A and is designed to last half a day, starting with a breakfast at 0800 and ending with a lunch at 1200. "That way attendees will only miss a couple of hours of the HAI conference, which starts at 10," Sharkey said. It addresses basic flying skills and safety knowledge "that pilots were taught, but haven't used, such as settling with power or downwind takeoffs and landings," duPont said. "It's about getting pilots to think about what they are doing. Too often pilots get away with little things, so they keep pushing the envelop, thinking that they can keep getting away with it--until something goes wrong."

Sharkey said he has conducted the class a couple of times, with attendees admitting afterwards that they recognize a strong tendency to become complacent over a period of years, particularly in areas such as preflights. Sharkey noted that he had conducted tests, timing the period that new students spent on a preflight and how well they inspected the aircraft vs. experienced pilots. In one test, he disconnected a wire "that a blind man wouldn't miss," and had experienced pilots step right over it.

Pilots also tend "to get a rush" under certain circumstances, such as sightseeing pilots who will take tourists to within 200 ft. of the rocks in the Grand Canyon. "Pretty soon they need to get within 150 ft. of the rocks to get that rush," he said. "They never say, `Today I'm going to actually hit the rocks with my rotor blade,' but eventually they do."

Emphasis in the class will be on Enstrom and Bell helicopters, which Sharkey uses in his West Lebanon, N.H. flight school, although it is open to pilots flying any type of helicopter, duPont said. "The class is pretty generic," he said.--DWN

Bell-Boeing To Build Block B V-22 FTD

Bell Helicopter and Boeing's Joint Program Office has won a $12.33-million, sole-source contract from the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command to provide the U.S. Marine Corps with a second MV-22 flight training device in the Block B configuration of the tilt-rotor by December 2007. NavAir also is looking at having the manufacturers retrofit the first device, ordered in 1998, to the Block B configuration, which includes maintainability, reliability and survivability upgrades.

The fixed-base FTD will be used by V-22 pilots "to acquire and sustain the skills procedures, and techniques required to perform V-22 flight- and fuselage-related tasks."

The Osprey, which is slated to achieve initial operating capability in 2007, cleared a second operational evaluation late last year. In December, NavAir conduct the first stage of an initial-operating-capability supportability review to confirm the V-22 Osprey program's ability to provide long-term logistics support and sustainability for the MV-22s.--JMcK

S-76 Crews Get Simulator In Northeast U.S.

Sikorsky S-76 operators in the Northeast U.S. will soon have a more local option for simulator training. CAE SimuFlite plans to move its S-76 Level D full-motion simulator from its center at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport's to a new business aviation training center it is building in Morristown, N.J.

Installation of that and other full-motion simulators is to begin by mid-year, with the center to be operational by the fourth quarter. It will initially feature six simulator bays, with the potential for future expansion.

"There is a high concentration of business helicopter operators in the Northeastern U.S. region, so it made sense for CAE to locate its S-76 simulator there," said Jeff Roberts, CAE's group president, civil training and services. The center will be CAE's fourth. In addition to the DFW facility, it operates a center in Dubai jointly with Emirates Airlines and one at Burgess Hill in the United Kingdom.

Sikorsky's official training provider is FlightSafety International, which operates simulators for that manufacturer's aircraft at its learning center in West Palm Beach, Fla.--JMcK

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