A question for gyroplane pilots.

thomasant

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I feel that student pilots need to be taught certain skills for coordination of control application. Those that have a helicopter background may remember the hovering exercises in a square pattern, and the quick stop maneuver. Basically these exercises focus on control inputs in a coordinated manner as building blocks to help in mastery of hovering, take off and landing. At least, that is the way I was taught to fly helicopters in the Indian Air Force. If we did not make the grade in a certain number of hours, we were simply removed from the program.

As far as the gyroplane is concerned, I personally feel that wheel balancing and crow hop maneuvers by students are good practice WITH AN INSTRUCTOR in order to practice coordinated skills for rotor management, as well as pitch and yaw control for take offs and landings. IMHO, handling an aircraft close to the ground is quite different from at height, because the proximity of terrain itself poses challenges due to the difference in the sight picture that is presented. There is also always the chance that winds can change unexpectedly in direction and intensity at anytime.

I believe that certain basic coordination skills are important to help with rotor management, take offs and landings, because that is where many accidents occur. Personally I am a lucky guy to be alive after my crash last December and I too have learned some things that I was unaware of, and this experience will help me understand better that there are certain areas of flight that need to be treated with much more respect and care. Back in the day, when I was a student pilot, much emphasis was given by my instructors in anticipating certain actions during different flight maneuvers.

I believe that student pilots need as many tools as they can obtain, in addition to the skills in using those tools. The more exposure that a student gets with an experienced instructor will better prepare the student to deal with some situation that may arise unexpectedly. Just my thoughts.
 
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Resasi

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The majority of my gyro flying has been on a single seat without a prerotator or a RRPM indicator. It necessitated mastering a degree of rotor management that is not taught or generally learned to as great an extent by those with access to those two items and in the two seaters.

I found that in these circumstances my main attention when proceeding to initiate a take off was my observed perception of the acceleration of the rotor, a skill that improves with experience. This will vary with the headwind component present at the beginning of the take off roll, and with the degree, rate of increase of disc angle presented by the pilot as the roll progresses, together with the smooth co-ordinated application of power.

Without going into detail about the technique, suffice it to say that one quickly learns to master the art of feeding air into your rotor disc at an appropriate rate to accelerate it optimally, together with the increase of power, to the point where the nose can be lifted to a wheel balance position, and the craft then flown off when the conditions are ideal...on a smooth hard runway. Soft rough conditions will require one to try and lift off as soon as possible, a subtle but discernible difference.

Since ground effect is present in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft this occurs at an airspeed where continued climb out of ground effect will result into an excursion behind the power drag curve, so a check/lowering of the nose to accelerate to a safe climb speed is briefly done, and once the required climb speed is obtained for the circumstances, it can then be maintained for continued climb profile.

This is flying ( specifically lifting off, since that is the subject under discussion), by feel, rather than numbers. While apparently going against all the instructional techniques I had used as a fixed wing instructor, from small engine single two seaters up to large multi engine transport category jets, it feels right, and, seems to result in a smooth controlled departure when the aircraft wants and feels happy with, rather than a formulaic ritual by numbers. A technique that certainly in the commercial airline world where the correct figures are extremely carefully calculated, taking into account a large number of accurately measured variables, is required by regulation.

Rotor management in it fullest sense is an essential skill that is often not paid enough attention to in initial instruction today, rather than to a rote procedure following numbers on a dial.
 
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Philbennett

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OK. So what do you think is the fix?
Well I suppose given the take off technique I hold a view on that might be one step towards a part fix? I might add that the small films I put up are naturally limited to 3-4mins in order to make them watchable in the YouTube format and having given some wider context a few days ago here there is less furious disagree with a technique that fundamentally starts with the stick fully back....

If you look at the very many take off accidents none have their origin in this technique and almost all have a pilot that is clear upon one of two things. Either they did not bring the stick back at all initially OR they are very clear upon the value that they initially pre-rotated to but then have absolutely no idea what rotor speed they had at the point it went wrong. Its all very well the experienced suggesting that everyone should "feel" what their rotors are doing etc - but we can be clear it didn't help these accident pilots and further it ignores the point that the accident pilots are obviously already mentally max’d out adding a process that require more mental capacity probably isn’t the answer.

We might remember that these accident pilots have already done a flying course with a qualified instructor and passed a flying test with an examiner- so it must be accepted that at some point they flew well enough to satisfy a variety of competences.

In my own opinion the wider fix to these take off / landing issues has no silver bullet. In the UK there are a host of things that would be of great help although for political reasons its not for discussion in an open forum. However if we look at perhaps a less controversial point - mental capacity- aviation has mnemonics to the ying yangs or long lists of things to remember- at sometime in the process that isn’t helpful and soaks mental capacity. Again it’s just personal opinion but if you find yourself having to run through a 10 point list to line up and take off that should probably ring alarm bells.
 

XXavier

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(...)
(...)
In my own opinion the wider fix to these take off / landing issues has no silver bullet. In the UK there are a host of things that would be of great help although for political reasons its not for discussion in an open forum. However if we look at perhaps a less controversial point - mental capacity- aviation has mnemonics to the ying yangs or long lists of things to remember- at sometime in the process that isn’t helpful and soaks mental capacity. Again it’s just personal opinion but if you find yourself having to run through a 10 point list to line up and take off that should probably ring alarm bells.
You probably refer to that absurd 'political correctness' that is so fashionable these days... I believe that, in this forum, we are all against any sort of censorship... Please, feel free to say what you want... Truth is what matters...
 

Brian P

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Seems to be an unwillingness to abandon the takeoff when things aren't looking familiar. Doubt they ever found themselves at 60 knots with all wheels on the ground with an instructor in the back.
How you instill that the correct action is to pull power rather than pull the stick back I don't know. All our brains go haywire occasionally.
 

Resasi

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If you look at the very many take off accidents none have their origin in this technique and almost all have a pilot that is clear upon one of two things. Either they did not bring the stick back at all initially OR they are very clear upon the value that they initially pre-rotated to but then have absolutely no idea what rotor speed they had at the point it went wrong
There are a great many accidents on TO that are attributed to blade flap/sailing. The cause, trying to put too much air through the disc at too slow a rotor RPM.

If that point alone is demonstrated to the pilot it goes a long way to avoiding that happening. A demonstration that in a single seat is easily done. My first demo/exercise was actually done in an RAF 2000, but then later repeated in a Cricket.

In both cases, stationary and facing into wind I was asked to increase and decrease RRPM by the alteration of the disc angle of attack. In the RAF 2000 we were waiting for an aircraft who was overhead Henstridge in low viz lost and trying to find the runway. During the long wait Tony simply asked me to see how high we could get the rrpm using wind alone, it was 90 RRPM, but it was a very thought provoking moment.

The second was at the airfield, wind to strong for student flying, and another more experienced friend suggested I sit in his Cricket facing into wind without the engine running, and he stand beside me, pat up the rotors then talk me through an exercise of increasing RRPM using the wind while the gyro remained staionary. He then went on to explain blade sailing, the cause, symptoms of onset, and recovery actions. I gently managed to increase and decrease RRPM with the stick. We then went ahead and deliberately entered the onset stage and recovered. Another seminal moment.

I neither case were these specific formal exercises. I note that our very own CAA/LAA test pilot had an unfortunate brush with this very exercise, and suggest it it is better done in a small single with a low mast where the rotor can be easily reached by the ‘experienced’ assistant, and that an efficient rotor brake is on the machine. I could not reach my rotor on the Hornet as it had a rather tall mast, the cricket or Besen were ideal.
 

Rotormouse

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'Its all very well the experienced suggesting that everyone should "feel" what their rotors are doing etc - but we can be clear it didn't help these accident pilots and further it ignores the point that the accident pilots are obviously already mentally max’d out adding a process that require more mental capacity probably isn’t the answer.'

Misses the point yet again.

Firstly, very few of us alleged ‘experienced’ had any gyro experience when we started training. Zero, zilch, nada. We were taught how to handle the rotors - and only the rotors - before we did anything else. Because we were well ingrained with rotor handling before anything else, it left us free to concentrate on dealing with the other elements when the time came - because we handle the rotors automatically! That enabled us to survive long enough to become 'experienced' (if that's what we are...)

Secondly, we can be clear that if the accident pilots had been taught in this manner, it would have helped them to react properly and it’s doubtful that they would’ve even had their accidents. Being properly trained in rotor handling frees mental capacity for other tasks.

Rotor handling is the core basis of gyroplane flying, not merely ‘adding a process.’ That’s bonkers!

Taught properly (as in actual physical learning in manual and aerodynamic spin-up, not computer sims and number crunching), there’s no reason why anyone should be mentally max’d out in a gyro. If they are, it’s only because the whole dang thing is getting more and more stupidly over-complicated.

Head. Brick wall. I'm done.

 

PW_Plack

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Its all very well the experienced suggesting that everyone should "feel" what their rotors are doing etc - but we can be clear it didn't help these accident pilots and further it ignores the point that the accident pilots are obviously already mentally max’d out adding a process that require more mental capacity probably isn’t the answer.
Recognizing the rotor feels wrong and aborting a takeoff is not a process that requires mental management, any more than recognizing a pain in your stomach requires aborting eating spicy food. What requires mental processing, and what appears to be the difference in recent years, is the idea of watching and interpreting multiple instruments at the very point of peak mental workload. In my opinion, the modern two-seat pilot operating handbook is the source of more mental workload, not a solution to it.

...aviation has mnemonics to the ying yangs or long lists of things to remember- at sometime in the process that isn’t helpful and soaks mental capacity...if you find yourself having to run through a 10 point list to line up and take off that should probably ring alarm bells.
I think everyone could agree on this, except perhaps Vance, who has a very good reason for using detailed checklists. But, again, there is no acronym or mnemonic required to recognize inadequate rotor RPM, and it consumes no space on your checklist, provided you've been trained to recognize that feeling.
 

WaspAir

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Well, if we could just put the A&S 18A or the J-2 back into production nobody would ever need to learn rotor management . . .
 

thomasant

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I believe one of the important skills to master during the initial stages of gyroplane training is rotor management. Most helicopters have governed engine and rotor RPM and there is no requirement to build up the RRPM anymore than what is required for flight prior to lift off. Airplane wings being attached to the fuselage do not need speed management during take off. The teetering rotor gyroplane is different because the fuselage can be going at a certain speed, and the rotors may be going at a speed well below what is required to sustain flight during take off, and the pilot may not be aware of it.

IMHO looking inside at a rotor tach during the take off roll to ensure one is at flight RPM could serve to distract the pilot from focusing on the take off procedure. The things that can go wrong in an instant are wind shifts and gusts which can cause problems with directional stability. I know of a Magni pilot that flipped his gyro due to a wind gust at the line up point during a fly in last year while pre-rotating. Imagine that. He was stationary.

Many take off and landing accidents occur because pilots cannot manage the rotors safely. Rotor tachs can fail or read incorrectly during a critical part of a take off.
 
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Vance

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I had no idea there was this much controversy about rotor management and check lists.

Rotor management seems like a very basic part of flying any rotorcraft.

I did have a client flap his blades during a hurried takeoff and hit the runway and tail after he passed his private pilot check ride; he remained upright. I called him the next day and he said he did three things I told him not to so I suspect he learned something.

The three things were build up your wind limits slowly, don’t hurry the takeoff and don’t let the tower rush you.

I find my clients who use the detailed check lists I have are much quicker to fly well.

They use the list to get ready for takeoff so there are no surprises and have a quick review before they call for a takeoff clearance.

I thought check lists had become a foundation of aviation safety.

I find it easier to teach using the rotor tachometer. I feel there is no need for a rotor tachometer on an eight thousand foot long runway. People like to quantify things.

I find it easy to feel when the rotor gets a bite of the air and easy to feel when the rotor hits the stops in plenty of time to prevent an incident.

I am looking forward to learning from other gyroplane CFIs at the Master the Gyroplane Conference.

I will do my best to share what I learn.
 

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Tyger

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Phil was talking about mnemonics which, by definition, are kept in one's head. I guess one can call it a mental checklist, but "in my opinion" an actual checklist is something that has been written down...
 

Philbennett

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Sorry I think we are all debating different points here. Ive not suggested rotor management isn’t important nor become adverse to it.

My earlier point that mentioned “feel” the rotor and it not helping the accident pilots is this. If your pilot fires off down the runway with the stick forward and at some point in the ground roll just pulls full back stick I don’t think he has time enough before it’s too late and I’m not sure “feel” is the right term in that situation.

If I’ve misunderstood can someone talk me through the take off process that is being recommended?
 

Brian P

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I agree Phil. In the days of poor or no pre rotators the recognition of blade flap was learned during hours of runway work. The only aspect that would help here would be that it'd be ingrained "stick back"...and any problems reduce power and forward stick.

Like I said....our brains go funny occasionally. I think the "sequence" of actions taught during takeoff.. ie. Stick back on the count of three... full power counting however much... takes away the pilots understanding of what is happening. Having reached 60 knots and still on the ground he remembers to add the stick back bit.

The discussion above about blade management on the face of it has do direct relevance to the bloke hurtling down the runway full power stick forward. But hours of muscle memory would probably mean he'd never get in that situation.

No idea what the solution is. I would not want to go anywhere near blade flap in my vpm and the glider days appear to be behind us.
 

Vance

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I recommend and teach to follow the pilot’s operating handbook.

This is what the FAA expects to meet the practical test standards for the proficiency check ride.

For example:

Pilot Operating Handbook MTOsport Model 2017 SECTION 4 NORMAL PROCEDURES

4.8 Take-off Procedure

Check relative wind

With right hand, maintain control stick in a forward position

Switch pneumatic mode selector to FLIGHT and return to brake with left hand

Hold wheel brake without having locking pawl engaged

While holding wheel brake adjust 2000 RPM with throttle

Activate and hold pre-rotator Vary forward stick position as to avoid lateral forces during prerotation

Let pneumatic clutch fully engage (stabilization at about 100 rotor RPM). If necessary release pre-rotator button momentarily and press again to maintain engine RPM within green arc, respectively to prevent engine from stalling!

Carefully increase engine power to 220 R-RPM – max. 320 R-RPM In case of a slipping clutch (CLUTCH light), continue with less power

Release pre-rotator button

Gently move control stick fully aft (stick travel ~ 1 sec.). In a strong headwind be prepared to stop movement before nose wheel rises!

Release wheel brake with throttle unchanged

Monitor rotor speed and adequately increase throttle to take-off power

In case if a blinking CLUTCH light, consider to abort take-off run

4.9 Take-off Run

Check min. 5400 RPM for take-off. Otherwise, abort take-off

Minimize lateral drift by applying appropriate lateral control stick input into cross wind direction

Maintain directional control i.e. runway alignment with sensitive pedal input

When nose comes up allow nose wheel to float at about 10 – 15 cm (four to six inches) above the runway by a balanced reduction of control stick back pressure

Maintain attitude until speed increases and gyroplane lifts off

Allow gyroplane to build-up speed in ground effect
 
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Philbennett

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Thanks Brian and that was my point exactly.

Vance that demonstrates the issue - at no point in that sequence does it suggest what wrong looks like during the take off roll. All it effectively promotes is aft stick initially (nor does a version I suggest) before you start the ground roll with a metric for pre-rotating and indeed if you fly a Magni the stick is back once you've pre-rotated to 120RRPM.

The point being if all the techniques promote bringing the stick fully aft after pre-rotation how is the accident we are debating here prevented by "better" (for want of a better word) rotor management? Its not a rotor management issue we are talking about here its a mental capacity issue surely?

As Brian says brains go funny and whilst during the pilot course guys can demonstrate adequate technique if the requirement in 2 years is just 12 hours of flight and an hour with an instructor (UK), how does adequate degrade? OR was he put in a position that encouraged him to fail? lots of circuits with a lot of stick movements, what were his own personal mental pre-take off list (was it too complex or missing vital actions?). Hey Ho.
 

EI-GYRO

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In the bank of knowledge that must be accumulated so that a gyro pilot may safely and confidently fly a relaxed takeoff,
I feel that the initial deposit is missing.
It is not practical to demonstrate rotor flap on a Eurotub, or to build up rotor rpm on the wind, so it isn't taught. Personally, I would mandate at least an hour on a gyroglider, where it can be so demonstrated and practiced. Ain't gonna happen.

Unfortunately, I believe the insurance companies will address this problem before the instruction system does.

I look forward to Vance sharing the wisdom of the Symposium with us.
 

EI-GYRO

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Yes. The Magni prerotator is a better arrangement. I suspect they have less of these problems, although a particularly ham-fisted pilot could probably lever the thing off the ground at full power anyway.
 

Vance

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Thanks Brian and that was my point exactly.

Vance that demonstrates the issue - at no point in that sequence does it suggest what wrong looks like during the take off roll. All it effectively promotes is aft stick initially (nor does a version I suggest) before you start the ground roll with a metric for pre-rotating and indeed if you fly a Magni the stick is back once you've pre-rotated to 120RRPM.

The point being if all the techniques promote bringing the stick fully aft after pre-rotation how is the accident we are debating here prevented by "better" (for want of a better word) rotor management? Its not a rotor management issue we are talking about here its a mental capacity issue surely?

As Brian says brains go funny and whilst during the pilot course guys can demonstrate adequate technique if the requirement in 2 years is just 12 hours of flight and an hour with an instructor (UK), how does adequate degrade? OR was he put in a position that encouraged him to fail? lots of circuits with a lot of stick movements, what were his own personal mental pre-take off list (was it too complex or missing vital actions?). Hey Ho.
We will have to agree disagree Phil.

I feel this mishap is all about rotor management.

The POH suggests I balance on the mains.

If I am not balancing on the mains it doesn’t look right.

In my opinion based on my experience he had some warning through the cyclic before things became unmanageable and he may have avoided the mishap by getting the cyclic forward.

That is a piece of the rotor management training I give.

The takeoff technique I need to see to sign someone off for their FAA Sport Pilot-Gyroplane certificate is what is in the POH for that model.

In my opinion the POH is not intended to take the place of the flight instructor.

In my opinion takeoff in a gyroplane should involve situational awareness.

I teach that rotor control is about pressure and not about the position of the cyclic.

I have now flown with two gyroplane pilots who followed the technique in your video and in my opinion both of them were very close to sailing a blade.

The technique you advocate in your videos goes against everything I try to teach about rotor management Phil. I feel it is based on the premise that it is difficult to learn to balance on the mains and that developing a feel for the cyclic is not a realistic goal.
 

Resasi

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If your pilot fires off down the runway with the stick forward and at some point in the ground roll just pulls full back stick I don’t think he has time enough before it’s too late and I’m not sure “feel” is the right term in that situation.
If your pilot had been shown the correct way to feed air into the rotor disc, learned the reasons for blade sail/rotor flap, how to avoid this particular situation, he would not have fired off down the runway and ‘Just pulled the stick back’... which is akin to saying I did not know that if I kicked that junk yard dog on a chain, that was not baring it’s teeth, it would sink it’s teeth in and attempt to eat my f’ing leg off!!!

Nobody in their right mind on a gyro 'just pulls the stick back willy nilly’... and if he does, he had had some serious gaps in his instruction. Bit like nobody should ‘just slam the throttle forward.’ It’s piss poor procedure to begin with, and can have potentially severe consequence, violent ‘P'factor swing, engine failure, uncontrollable roll at low airspeeds with insufficient aileron/rotor authority, and one gets the drift.:)
 
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