For rotorcraft, what are the fuel requirements for a VFR flight?

There should be enough fuel to fly to the first intended point of landing, plus a 20-minute reserve.  Rotorcraft have the same fuel reserve requirements for day or night VFR flight.

No person may begin a flight in a rotorcraft under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and assuming normal cruising speed, to fly after that for at least 20 minutes.

Reference(s):

14 CFR 91.151 Fuel requirements for VFR flight

Other Helicopter Performance Topics

What are the inspection requirements for an aircraft?

At a minimum, all aircraft need an annual inspection.  If the aircraft is used for hire, a 100-hour inspection is needed as well.  Depending on aircraft, the transponder and pitot-static system may need to be inspected as well.

The 100-hour inspection is similar to an annual inspection.  The primary difference that the annual inspection must be signed off by an Airframe and Power Plant (A&P) mechanic with and Inspection Authorization (IA) designation.  An annual inspection may substitute for a 100-hour inspection, but a 100-hour inspection may not substitute for an annual inspection.  When used for hire, such as flight instruction, the 100-hour inspection may only be exceeded by 10 hours, and this exception is only to allow the aircraft to be transported to a maintenance facility.  However, the timing of the next 100-hour inspection does not reset, it is based off the original time the 100-hour was to be completed.  If a transponder is to be used in controlled airspace, it must be inspected every 24 months.  If operating, instrument flight rules (IFR), the pitot-static system is inspected every 24 months as well.

Although more common in large operations, a progressive inspection program could be used.  In such a program, multiple inspections are made throughout the year in order to minimize the consecutive downtime to the aircraft, allowing for less disruption to operations.  For example, an inspection might be able to be completed at night or between flights, where a typical annual inspection could be a week or longer.

Reference(s):

14 CFR 91.409 Inspections
14 CFR 91.411 Altimeter system inspection
14 CFR 91.413 Transponder test
14 CFR 43.15 Additional performance rules for inspections
14 CFR 43 Appendix D: Scope and Detail of Items To Be Included in Annual and 100-Hour Inspections
FAA-H-8083-25B Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge pg. 9-8

Other Helicopter Maintenance Topics

How often does the transponder need to be tested?

The transponder needs to be tested every 24 months.

Unless it has been inspected and found to be in working order within the preceding 24 calendar months, no one may use ATC transponder.  The inspection requirements are outlined in 14 CFR Appendix F.

Reference(s):

14 CFR Appendix F to Part 43, ATC Transponder Tests and Inspections
14 CFR 91.413 Transponder test

Other Helicopter Maintenance Topics

What is an airworthiness directive (AD)?

Airworthiness directives are legally enforceable rules that apply to aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, and appliances.

The FAA issues an airworthiness directive when there is an unsafe condition that exists with a product, or the condition is likely to develop in other products of the same type design.

Compliance with the requirements of an airworthiness directive is mandatory.  Airworthiness directives may include specific inspections that must be completed, conditions or limitations to be adhered to, or any other actions that must be taken to resolve an unsafe condition.

Reference(s):

14 CFR 39 Airworthiness Directives
14 CFR 91.403 General (Maintenance)

Other Helicopter Maintenance Topics

What equipment is required for VFR flight?

The required instruments for VFR flight during the day include airspeed indicator, altimeter, magnetic direction indicator, tachometer, manifold pressure gauge, oil pressure gauge, oil temperature gauge and fuel gauge.

Basically, VFR flight during the day requires instruments to navigate, control the aircraft and monitor its performance.  The airspeed indicator, altimeter and magnetic direction indicator, are used for navigation.  These gauges indicate speed, height, and direction.  The tachometer, and manifold pressure gauge provide indicators for controlling the aircraft and the oil pressure gauge, oil temperature gauge and fuel gauge provides indicators to monitor the engine. *  In addition, seat belts, anti-collision light, and emergency locator transmitter (ELT) are generally required.

If operating over water, a flotation device is required. If flying at night, additional equipment is required.  This includes the equipment for day VFR along with approved position lights, and anti-collision light, a source of electrical power, spare fuses, if applicable, and if for hire, one electric landing light.

A specific helicopter may require additional items beyond what is required by regulation.  The pilot should review the helicopter’s rotorcraft flight manual to confirm.

*There are other requirements for liquid cooled aircraft and ones with landing gear or if operating over water.

Reference(s):

14 CFR 91.205 Equipment Requirements

Other Helicopter Maintenance Topics

How does the pilot in command handle inoperative equipment?

If the equipment is not required, the item should be disabled and placarded as inoperative.

In order to determine if an item is required, there are a few steps to consider.

1. Is the item required by the aircraft type certificate?
2. Is the item required by a minimum equipment list?*
3. Is the item required by regulation for the type of flight, such as VFR day or VFR night?
4. Is the item required by company policy or operation specifications?
5. Is the item required by the pilot in command for safe flight?

* Minimum equipment lists are not common for part 91 operations.  A minimum equipment list is a formally approved document for a specific aircraft that identifies which items or equipment may be inoperative and under what conditions.  For example, an MEL may allow a pop-out float to be inoperative if the flight does not occur over water.

Reference(s):

14 CFR 91.213 Inoperative Instruments and Equipment

Other Helicopter Maintenance Topics

What documents are required to be in the aircraft for flight?

The following documents are required to be in the aircraft during flight.  Airworthiness certificate, registration, radio operators permit (if outside the U.S.), operating limitations, and weight and balance.  The mnemonic ARROW is often used to remember these documents.

A-Airworthiness Certificate

R-Registration

R-Radio Operations Permit (not required in U.S.)

O-Operating Limitations (included within POH/AFM or placards)

W-Weight and Balance (generally included within the POW/AFM)

The airworthiness certificate does not expire as long as the aircraft is maintained in airworthy condition.  To maintain it in airworthy condition, an annual inspection must be completed and compliance with applicable airworthiness directives (ADs) is required.  The registration must be current and it expires every 3 years.  If operating internationally, a radio operator’s permit is required. A radio operator’s permit is not required if operating solely in the U.S.

The “W” in the ARROW is not clearly outlined in 14 CFR 91. Part 91.9 states to operate within limitations and the approved flight manual (or alternative) must be in the helicopter.  The regulations governing helicopter certification, 14 CFR 27, requires that the aircraft weight limitations (14 CFR 27.25) and the center of gravity (CG) envelope (14 CFR 27.27) are to be established and that these limits are to be included as operating limitations (14 CFR 27.1519).  As such, the helicopter’s weight and the W/B or CG limits must be in the helicopter as they are limitations.  However, the actual W/B for a specific flight does not need to be in the helicopter, but the W/B should be calculated for each flight to demonstrate the flight is operated within the limitations (14 CFR 91.9).

Reference(s):

14 CFR 91.9 – Civil aircraft flight manual, marking, and placard requirements
14 CFR 91.203 – Civil aircraft: Certifications required
14 CFR 47.40 – Registration expiration and renewal
14 CFR Part 27 – Airworthiness Standards: Normal Category Rotorcraft
14 CFR 27.25 Weight limits (requires establishment of maximum weight)
14 CFR 27.27 Center of gravity limits (requires establishment of CG envelope)
14 CFR 27.1519 Weight and center of gravity (W/B are established as operating limitations)

Other Helicopter Maintenance Topics

What is a NOTAM?

A NOTAM, or Notice to Airman, is time‐critical aeronautical information which is of either a temporary nature or not sufficiently known in advance to permit publication on aeronautical charts or in other operational publications.

NOTAM information is that aeronautical information that could affect a pilot’s decision to make a flight.  It includes such information as airport or aerodrome primary runway closures, taxiways, ramps, obstructions, communications, airspace, changes in the status of navigational aids, ILSs, radar service availability and other information essential to planned enroute, terminal or landing operations.

The primary NOTAMs of relevance are the NOTAM D, FDC NOTAM, and Pointer NOTAM.

NOTAM (D) information is disseminated for all navigational facilities that are part of the National Airspace System (NAS), all public use airports, seaplane bases, and heliports listed in the Chart Supplement.  NOTAM (D) information includes such data as taxiway closures, personnel and equipment near or crossing runways, and airport lighting aids that do not affect instrument approach criteria, such as VASI. NOTAM(D) includes (U) NOTAMs and (O) NOTAMs. (U) NOTAMs are unverified NOTAMs which are those that are received from a source other than airport management and have not yet been confirmed by management personnel.  This is allowed only at those airports where airport management has authorized it by Letter of Agreement.  (O) NOTAMs are other aeronautical information which does not meet NOTAM criteria but may be beneficial to aircraft operations.

FDC NOTAMS or Flight Data Center NOTAMS are NOTAMs that are regulatory in nature such as changes to an instrument approach procedure and other current aeronautical charts Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are also issued as FDC NOTAMs.

Pointer NOTAM are issued by a flight service station to highlight or point out another NOTAM, such as an FDC or NOTAM (D). A pointer NOTAM will assist users in cross-referencing important information that may not be found under an airport or NAVAID identifier.  Keywords in pointer NOTAMs must match the keywords in the NOTAM that is being pointed out.  The keyword in pointer NOTAMs related to Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) must be AIRSPACE.

NOTAM (L) is now used only in the military NOTAM system.  All NOTAMs previously considered NOTAM (L)s in the civil NOTAM system are now considered NOTAM (D)s.  A NOTAM L is given local dissemination by voice and other means, such as telautograph and telephone, to satisfy local user requirements.

NOTAMS are published in the Notice to Airmen Publication every 4 weeks.  Once published, the information is not necessarily provided during pilot weather briefings unless specifically requested by the pilot.

NOTAM data may not always be current due to the changeable nature of national airspace system components, delays inherent in processing information, and occasional temporary outages of the U.S. NOTAM system.  While enroute, pilots should contact Flight Service Station (FSS)s and obtain updated information for their route of flight and destination.

Reference(s):

AIM 2018 5-1-1. Preflight Preparation
AIM 2018 5-1-3. Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) System
https://notams.aim.faa.gov/notamSearch/nsapp.html#/

Other Aviation Weather Services

What regulation governs the reporting of aircraft incidents and accidents?

The reporting of aircraft accidents and incidents is governed by NTSB Part 830, or the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Part 830 Notification and Reporting of Aircraft Accidents or Incidents and Overdue Aircraft, and Preservation of Aircraft Wreckage, Mail, Cargo, and Records.

Immediate notification to the NTSB is required for an aircraft accident and some specific aircraft incidents.  The aircraft operator shall file a report using form 6120.1 within 10 days after an accident or after 7 days if an overdue aircraft is still missing.  A report on an incident for which immediate notification is required by 830.5(a) shall be filed only as requested by an authorized representative of the Board.

An aircraft accident is when any person suffers death or serious injury or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.  An incident is any occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations.  The primary incidents that require immediate notification include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Flight control system malfunction or failure
• Inability of any required flight crewmember to perform normal flight duties as a result of injury or illness
• Failure of any internal turbine engine component that results in the escape of debris other than out the exhaust path
• In-flight fire
• Aircraft collision in flight
• Damage to property, other than the aircraft, estimated to exceed $25,000 for repair
• Damage to helicopter tail or main rotor blades, including ground damage, that requires major repair or replacement of the blade(s)
• An aircraft is overdue and is believed to have been involved in an accident

PART 830 Specific Definitions:

Aircraft accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and when all persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.  For purposes of this part, the definition of “aircraft accident” includes “unmanned aircraft accident,” as defined herein.

Incident means an occurrence other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations.

Serious injury means any injury which: (1) Requires hospitalization for more than 48 hours, commencing within 7 days from the date of the injury was received; (2) results in a fracture of any bone (except simple fractures of fingers, toes or nose); (3) causes severe hemorrhages, nerve, muscle or tendon damage; (4) involves any internal organ; or (5) involves second- or third-degree burns or any burns affecting more than 5 percent of the body surface.

Substantial damage means damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance or flight characteristics of the aircraft and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component.  Engine failure or damage limited to an engine if only one engine fails or is damaged, bent fairings or cowling, dented skin, small punctured holes in the skin or fabric, ground damage to rotor or propeller blades, and damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes or wingtips are not considered “substantial damage” for the purpose of this part.

Unmanned aircraft accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of any public or civil unmanned aircraft system that takes place between the time that the system

is activated with the purpose of flight and the time that the system is deactivated at the conclusion of its mission, in which:

(1) Any person suffers death or serious injury; or
(2) The aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage.

Reference(s):

49 CFR 830 Notification and Reporting of Aircraft Accidents or Incidents and Overdue Aircraft, and Preservation of Aircraft Wreckage, Mail, Cargo, and Records
Website: http://www.ntsb.gov/pages/report.aspx
NTSB Form 6120.1 Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report

Other Risk Management Topics