Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Yacht News, Oct 26, 2006.
Rough like this?
Extreme Helicopter Landing - YouTube
This is supposedly inside P4-HEC aka "Eclipse's" bird...
The perfect yacht helicopter
Also I am still holding a valid helicopter flying licence with a comfortable amount of flying hours, I would never call myself a professional helicopter pilot. Capable of flying safely from A to B and land on almost any spot (in plenty VMC), does not mean, you can fly Helos for living on daily business in harsch enviroment and getting any air work done. Flying in the mountains, in the EMS/SAR services or flying a Helo to and from ships and yachts or oil rigs is a different world. Operating a helicopter on a ship is even more demanding.
The very few deck landings I have made in my life, were on large cargo ships with obstacle free approach and landing spots as big as a tennis court and the ship did not move, because the boss was comming. That is why owner hire professional pilots for their yacht helicopters (if they are smart).
My question to the forum members with helicopter experience, especially with helicopter on yachts, practical knowledge, what is the best or most practical yacht helo.
I am not talking about the big birds like EC-225, EC-155, S-76 or equivalent. I am talking about the helicopter for the "ordinary mortal" owner. Helos like Ecureuil, EC-120, EC-135, EC-145, Bell 407, MD 902. The Robinson 44 / 66 are not of any interest. The 44 because of its petrol engine and the 66 because it is not, and will most likely never be, certified in Europe.
The main interest for me is, what is the best system, wheeled or skid gear, single or twin turbine, normal tail rotor, fenestron or NOTAR, 2,3,4 or 5 blade rotor, foldable rotor blades or quickly removable blades. By using this matrix, we may end up, finding the best possible.
I am looking forward to the discussion.
I don't think that there is a best possible helicopter. There are different advantages and disadvantages to every system. If you want something easy to fly and light to take two people up spotting then you don't want 5 blades. If you want something heavy to bring in a dozen passengers and their luggage for a month in one go then a 2 blade heli is out of the question. If you will be wheeling it into a garage then you will want wheels. If you will be straping it down on the pad then skids will suffice. If the passengers will be able to access the aft of the aircraft then you will probably want a fenstron or NOTAR to make it slightly more difficult for them to fatally injure themselves, but maybe not. There are a whole bunch of questions to ponder, from noise to fuel efficiency to maintenance requirements to portability.
Back when I was in a navy they had a special eccentric wheeled jack based thing that they would roll under the (Bell) helicopter and between the skids, hook into matching notches and then push down thereby lifting the whole helicopter as if it were nothing. The helicopter could then be moved around on the jack's wheels.
I have flown the MD 900 only twice on demo flights. I found it easy to fly and the NOTAR system pretty responsive. The only complain came from my wife in the back. She found the NOTAR fan behind and above her head quite noisy. But this was a utility variant. The reason we did not buy was, the producer was in very unstable business state at that time. But is the 5 blade rotor not an advantage on a yacht, because of it small diameter? I have no idea how quick the removal of the rotor blades is, because the manual is asking for removal of the blades for secure tiedown in open sea. The blades are very flexible. And, if you need a balancing test run after every reassemble, the yacht would need a big hangar (Octopus). But as you say, NOTAR or Fenestron is a big advantage as far as passenger safety is concerned. And the MD 902 Explorer can be nicely cocooned, if the rotor blades are removed. But as I said, I have no practical helicopter on yachts experience.
Where will you keep it?
With the EP77, I would have to convert to one of those RC devils, Carl uses to fly, unless somebody invents the inflatable helo
Or how about one of those:
Navatech, I did not mean to imply that a heli with skids could not be moved, simply that a heli with wheels is probably going to be more straightforward to move. A jack of the sort that you mention is large and heavy. If you have another heli fly in the jack is just in the way too.
There are tradeoffs to every choice.
The fact is, there are not very many "wheeled" small helicopters on the market. The wheeled gear Bell 429 is not to be seen on the horizon jet (b.t.w. my favorite, if you could buy it). The only other model, I can think of, the Agusta 109 / Grand, is out of competition. Both the cabin and the cockpit are to small for me and my sons. If my two sons would sit in rear seats and deeply inhale, both doors would fall off. And all 3 of us have to sit in it with the head retracted all the time. It is a beautiful and great performing helo, but build for slim and 5.25 feet tall Italians.
But my question would be, what is more trouble for the crew. Moving a helo with skid gear on deck or working on the helo deck with the landing net. I do not know.
A very old thread I know but i stumbled across this when I was Googling something else. If you need any info on yacht helicopter operations or just helicopters in general let me know. I have dealt with a large number of both private and commercial yacht helidecks over the years so happy to offer any advice.
A friend of mine was a yacht chopper pilot back in the early '80s and he figured his lifespan at 90 days. He'd work around 85 days, then quit, only to reappear 10 days later, applying for his old job back. He was a great guy, like by all (even the owner's wife) and mostly scheduled his "staying alive" days conveniently to the yacht's schedule.
Last I heard he was still both flying, and alive.
Perhaps helicopter recovery methods have improved since that time.
I think so A captain Some of the yachts I go to are doing 8 -10 heli-ops a day during a season. Bigger boats, more helicopters......
Perhaps this is not the best thread to write this but Luviar, the company that manages Mr. Abramovich helicopter fleet announced a 'fleet renewal programme': they've acquired two Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) 145 and one ACH 160. One ACH145 was delivered already, the other one will be delivered before the end of the year and the ACH160 will be delivered after the certification process.
Both ACH145's exterior and interior are designed by Harrison Eidsgaard. Below is the photo of the first one (register is M-SOLO), taken from Airbus website:
I really like the H145 T2. The really new ones have a 5 bladed rotor head, although I am not sure they can be folded like the old 4 bladed versions.. Taking the blades off is a bit of a pain.
The 5 bladed rotor head is a dramatic improvement for the H-145 / ACH-145. Less rotor diameter, 150 kg more payload, higher cruising speed, higher HOGE and most important, the blades are vere easily and quckliy foldable. The much smaller footprint of the H-145 with the new 5-blade rotor folded is just equivalent to the size of the hull.
Together with the much safer Fenestron, this new rotor makes the ideal light twin turbine helicopter for the use on ships or yachts. I cant hardly wait for the upcomming the delivery of our first H-145. As the 5-blade rotor is still under certication, our (AC)H-145 will be delivered with the extended emergency flotation skid gear and the larger ground mapping radar nose plus removable cargo hook but still with the standard 4-blade rotor. As soon as the 5-blade variant receives the EASA certification, the new 5-blade rotor will be retrofitted. This retrofitting possibilty was very helpful and decisive for the buying decision. We will fly it in the 2+6 seating version (cockpit plus 2 x 3 club seating).
During my type rating course for the H-145, I was allowed to have a flight with some stick time in the company demonstrator, which is used for the certification campain. The main trick on this new rotor is the separation of the flex beam (the inner not foldable part of the rotor) from the rotor blades. By just pulling one of the two bolts, the blades can be follded in a specific manner. It took even me only a few minutes to fold the blades and vice versa. Folded, it takes less hangar space than a Robinson R-66.
As my present boat has no helo landing pad, just some winch only spaces, we will use it only to land on the shadow. With the size of that landing pad, even me will not have any problems with regular ship landings.
In the past, I was very hesitant to talk to the sales people from Eurocopter, as they had rather limited interest in the private customer but the business helicopter department of Airbus Helicopter is much more interested in us private and normal mortal customers .
Sorry, but our present Bell 407 ist not fighting in the same league.
Will post more pictures, as soon as the first Helo is in our hands.
Hey Carl, Ready for Chopper Forums??
Heck, They have the same turbines, maybe a hot link to a special JF page.
Thank you very much for the info about the blade fold, Its very useful to know. When i saw it was similar in design to the the head of the H135 i wasn't sure how it could fold. Incorporating the fold into the blade itself is a very clever design. It will make getting the helo in the hanger or storing in on the deck for some of my clients very much easier. The 145 is probably the most common helicopter I work with when I go out to the yachts to do helideck training with the crews.
The biggest advantage of the new 5-blade rotor besides the very nice blade folding system is its much lower vibration level. The older Bölkow rotor head design of the Bo-105, BK-117 and early 135 /145 versions were well known for the transmission of vibrations into the cabin. The weight reduction of the new rotor system is partly based on the deletion of these vibration dampers.
Helicopter Ops on yachts in my area of the western Med is mostly done by professional heli services with highly skilled commercial pilots. The type of helo operations you will see, is ship to shore shuttle and very rarely slung load supply flights. Normally only the the bigger yachts (above 3000 GT) carry a permanent helo. Mostly You will see EC-120 / 125 / 130 and one or the other Bell 206 / 207 / 407. The big boys are mostly "owner" operated.
As helicopter takeoffs and landings are strictly forbidden in almost all yacht harbours I know, most helos carried permanently on a yacht, will fly out to the nearest airfield prior entering harbour. But for sure one or the other very nice helicopter will be parked on purpose on the helideck, when moored in one of the hot spots of this world .
My present boat (210 ft) was not designed for helicopter operations and has no landing pad. We can only do winch operations or slung load delivery. I am used to winch operations from my active duty time but I do not believe any of my crew members of family / guests would voluntier for this kind of operation unless in case of emergency. Integrating a Touch and Go landing pad with a D value of 10.8 Meter and 4.000 kg weight limit would need a complete redesign of the aft superstructure of my boat and would destroy the external design persistently.
I have therefore decided very early during the design phase of the boat, to minimize the number of tenders and toys on the boat for more living space and forget about Helo ops on the yacht. The boat only carries two 6,5 meter Rib diesel tender with A&R stern launch system and a smaller diesel SOLAS rescue boat, concealed on the foredeck and launched with crane and stored power.
Anything else is carried on the shadow, a converted box carrier feeder ship (taken from our fleet) with heavy loading gear and ample of under and on deck space for tender, toys, helicopter and an amphibious seaplane (Cessna 206 with Allison Turbine). The shadow is certified as a commercial auxilliary and expedition vessel and the landing pad is JAR OPS certified for larger helicopter including refuelling. When shuttling from the yacht to the shadow, we use the main tender / life boat of the shadow.
The only problem is that the helicopter cannot be towed directly into a hangar. He has to be lifted via the heavy loading gear into the below deck cargo space. The Bell 407 and 429 can be hoisted with a dedicated lifting eye in the rotor head and unfolded blades but during stronger winds and heavier sea, the helo has to be latched on deck. And even this is not an easy job. With the rotor blades folded, they need to be fixed and supported by some comprehensive structure. Not a safe job for the ground crew during heavy wind and seastate.
Unfortunately this procedure will not work with the (AC)H-145. The Helo will have to land on a custom made hoistable flat base, to be secured on this platform and then lifted below deck. Means, we will be restricted to normal weather conditions. But as this is no offshore business, it is acceptable.
My pilots are all ATP rated and are former Offshore or Navy pilots and are real professionals. They rotate between FOB and shipborn operation and get around 500 flying hours per year each. And by bribing them with excellent payment and convenient on/off schedule, they like to stay. Happy crew means happy ship / plane.
Under their supervision, the old man tries (during fine weather conditions) one or the other deck landing himself. I hope, I do not scare them to death while doing so.
Helicopters on yachts are most usefull on and with expedition and long range type yachting and as ship to shore shuttle, when conntecting owner and guests to the nearby waiting business jets. Plus crew shuttle for getting on time to sheduled airline traffic. Going to shore by tender (i.e. Port Hercules) and travel by car to Nice airport for example, is a nightmare during the summer season.
But safe and frequent helo ops on ships requires a sound and strict SOP, well trained air / ground and ship crews and IMHO the SOLAS rescue boat fully manned and equipped just off the approach sector of the helo operating near the yacht during take offs and landings.
Using a helicopter without emergency floatation gear or even with piston engines (R-22 / R-44) would be a NoGo for me. Night ops on ships we have not done jet, also my pilots are equipped and trained to fly with night vision goggles but we might get FLIR on the H145, if certified in time.
Very informative posts HTMO. If memory serves (I've been away from full scale for 25 years), the Bolkow used a rigid rotor system that enabled more advanced aerobatics, whereas other rotorheads use an elastomeric system to dampen vibration. Back in the day, I had a couple hundred hours in an R22 and few hours in an MD500C. The difference between the two-bladed head of the Robinson and the five-bladed head of the MD was night & day. Like comparing an egg beater to a sewing machine.