What is the history behind a decision to discontinue helicopter autorotations all the way to ground contact? In the 1960s, our Army flight program directed full ground contact for any and all autorotations. I will never accept that 'simulations' are a substitute for actual practice. We were taught every possible aspect of autorotating a helicopter possible, including a vertical autorotation.

  • $\begingroup$ It may be a good Idea to add a location tag. from what I know of [Canadian cpl-h] this is only an American thing. every pilot from every other country I have talked to did full downs. $\endgroup$ – wanna-beCanadianPilot Dec 12 '18 at 6:03

Too many broken off tail booms. The Army can afford to replace damaged machines; flight schools that can barely afford hull insurance on recip helicopters in the first place, if at all, not so much. (Funny story: I once asked an aviation insurance broker why the hull premiums on recips were so high, like over 5% of hull value back in the 80s (before Robinson's program). He said, "Cuz they all crash!!!!" and laughed. He said mainly it was because they are used for the most high risk activities: ab-initio training and Ag.)

Anyway, the FAA decided some years ago to remove the full auto from all but the instructor rating because, in a nut shell, it was calculated that the number of chopped off tail booms from training accidents attributable to full autos is way more than the number of chopped off tail booms from real full autos, where the hard landing could be blamed on removing the training requirement. Effectively, choosing one risk profile over another because the statistics favored it.

Not too different from ending the old practice of live engine cuts during multi engine training. Except for a simulator, a multi pilot never experiences a real engine cut on takeoff until it really happens. Back when live cuts were done, there were way more failure-to-maintain-control crashes in training than crashes from real engine failures.

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  • $\begingroup$ The FAA decided also to remove the touchdown auto from the CFI Helicopter check ride in 2016 at the discretion of the examiner/inspector. In lieu of the touchdown auto an endorsement from an appropriate CFI attesting to training and proficiency may be accepted by the examiner/inspector. I believe the rational was too many accidents during check rides because of proficiency of the examiner/inspector. This endorsement is similar to the spin endorsement that may be accepted for the CFI check. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Nov 3 '18 at 0:49
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    $\begingroup$ I'm a fixed wing only guy but had a ride in an R66 last year, where I got to fly it around and hover it (after a fashion) and the instructor in command demonstrated a full auto for me. It made me think of landing an airplane on a runway that was only a few feet longer than the airplane's minimum landing distance. Very little room for error.. in an R22, even less. $\endgroup$ – John K Nov 3 '18 at 1:01
  • $\begingroup$ Can you point to where "live engine cuts" during multi-engine training is now prohibited (except in the sim). Just curious. I'm not aware of this particular restriction...is it new? Of course in a light twin (training/checking) you would never fail an engine on the runway, but wait until some point after liftoff. In jets (B737/757 from my experience) we would do engine failures after Vr (retard the thrust lever to idle) in the actual airplane and while on the runway in the sim. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Nov 3 '18 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ I think my phrase was misleading. By "live engine cut" I meant inducing an actual failure with the mixture as opposed to zero-thrusting a still running engine. In Canada at least, up until the 70s it was a practice to pull mixtures on climb-out and actually feather the engine. A Piper Apache crashed at my airport outside Toronto in the mid 70s when that activity didn't go so well. $\endgroup$ – John K Nov 3 '18 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ thanks, so is there some policy guidance or similar in the U.S. that prohibits pulling the mixture on climb out and feathering the engine in a light twin (part 23) during training or checking? Here is what the ACS (successor of the PTS) states about the Multi-engine Comm. certification test. Set the engine controls, identify and verify the inoperative engine, and feather the appropriate propeller. It's in this FAA ACS page 57 link -Comm. ACS. Thanks $\endgroup$ – 757toga Nov 3 '18 at 1:34

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