heyjoojoo
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Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:16 pm

USATODAY: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nat ... 415706002/

I've seen a number of articles reporting now that a passenger's bag may have caused the crash. Are passenger effects that close to controls of a Eurocopter AS350?

I've never been inside one of these models but have been in your standard Bell 206. I welcome any possible insights.


Image

Seems like there is plenty of clearance.
 
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ADent
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 5:45 pm

The article I saw mentioned it hitting the emergency fuel cutoff.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:04 pm

I'm not involved in aviation or helicopter operation, but AFAIK one of the preflight items for helicopters is to assure that there are no loose objects in the cockpit that could impede operation of the controls.

I believe the pilot has been reported as saying that one of the passengers' safety harness tethers got caught up with the fuel shutoff.

To my untrained eye it looks in the videos like this was a reasonably successful autorotation (given that it was for real and not practice). Also, the pop-out floats appear to have inflated. Perhaps they did not fully inflate, or maybe were damaged by a hard landing in the water. I suspect that if the floats had produced the desired results, everyone on board would have survived. It's probably likely that the pilot had training in the helicopter version of the dilbert dunker, so he was able to get out. It's possible he wasn't wearing a safety harness either, but was just strapped in with the normal seat belt and shoulder harness.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:12 pm

For all five passengers to drown in their seats, the harness was probably far too complicated for a non-regular. Especially when hitting water at speed, tipping over, and filling with water. It would be impossible for most people to evacuate, unless the pilot quickly shouted "remove your harness" immediately on landing. Even then, most would panic and struggle to free themselves. The same is true when a car goes into the water and overturns, even with a simple seatbelt.
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heyjoojoo
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:16 pm

ADent wrote:
The article I saw mentioned it hitting the emergency fuel cutoff.


Correct. But how? Given the comment of the next poster, a checklist should have prevented or caught anything too close to the controls. No?
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:25 pm

This was a special evening "doors off" charter flight leaving from the Jersey shore. Because of this, I'm assuming that there was extra photography gear and cases aboard, with straps. Somehow a strap from one of those cases got around the emergency gas shut off lever on the floor of the copter. And someone needing to get something out that case, just pulled the case up to them, without first checking to see if their case strap was wrapped around the emergency gas shut off lever. Or it's speculated to be a harness strap that got around the emergency fuel shut off lever.

Because this was a "doors off" flight, the pas were all strapped in with harness-like seat belts.

When the copter ran out of gas and touched down in the cold water, the emergency inflation pods on one side of the copter did not properly inflate. This cause the copter to rotate to that side, and then flip upside down. The pas, all strapped in, and upside down in the cold water, were shocked (by the cold water), and confused and disoriented. I'm doubting if any of the pas were able to get their harnesses unhooked before they perished.

Probably none of the pas had had "dunker" training. The dunker I experienced at a Navy site in the 70's, was set up where you were strapped into a cage frame on rails about 12 feet above an indoor swimming pool. They released you and you slammed into the water, and the submerged cage immediately flips upside down. You then have to then unbuckle yourself, and, counter-intuitively, swim down deeper into the water (when everything in you is telling you to go up, now, to where the air is), to get free from the cage, to then get to the surface to breathe air.
Last edited by DIRECTFLT on Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:25 pm

In the AS350 B3, the fuel cutoff lever is in the head-up console, in the B2 model, the cutoff lever is near the collective.

N350LH, the crashed heli, is a B2.

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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 6:44 pm

flyingturtle wrote:
in the B2 model, the cutoff lever is near the collective.


How is it guarded? In photos of other types, I've seen where a plastic collar needs to be place over the cutoff.
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heyjoojoo
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:19 pm

hivue wrote:
flyingturtle wrote:
in the B2 model, the cutoff lever is near the collective.


How is it guarded? In photos of other types, I've seen where a plastic collar needs to be place over the cutoff.


I think it's a lever guarded with a bar? Some post a pic.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:21 pm

This is a link to another AS350 incident. It shows the fuel cutoff lever but it references a AS350 BA (not sure how close that is to a B2 model).

http://www.tsb.gc.ca/ENG/rapports-repor ... 8a0007.asp
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:37 pm

single pilot and pax on the second seat ?
that would explain ...
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:42 pm

WIederling wrote:
single pilot and pax on the second seat ?
that would explain ...


Is that okay? or is it even allowed in such an aircraft? No restrictions for this? Seems to close to the controls. But I guess it's the same as having a passenger sitting beside the pilot in a C172 or something similar.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:50 pm

heyjoojoo wrote:
WIederling wrote:
single pilot and pax on the second seat ?
that would explain ...


Is that okay? or is it even allowed in such an aircraft? No restrictions for this? Seems to close to the controls. But I guess it's the same as having a passenger sitting beside the pilot in a C172 or something similar.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurocopte ... S350_B3%29

5 + 1 pilot
( further down on that page:
you can get a 6 passenger arrangement that replaces the single front seat with a 2p bench.

( 5 killed, pilot single survivor.)
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:18 pm

Image
Better picture. My understanding is the levers are from top to bottom:

Rotor brake
Fuel Flow Control Lever
Fuel Shut Off Valve

Levers down is the flight position for all three. I think moving either of the fuel levers up will have the effect of shutting down the engine. FFCL is detented in the flight position. Fuel Shut Off Lever is shear wired with no detent.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Wed Mar 14, 2018 12:33 pm

dragon6172 wrote:
Image
Better picture. My understanding is the levers are from top to bottom:

Rotor brake
Fuel Flow Control Lever
Fuel Shut Off Valve

Levers down is the flight position for all three. I think moving either of the fuel levers up will have the effect of shutting down the engine. FFCL is detented in the flight position. Fuel Shut Off Lever is shear wired with no detent.

I was just about to post this, thanks for saving me the trouble! Referenced it a few days ago.


It's also worth noting that people seem to be getting the wrong image of these harnesses. These aren't harnesses that are "quick release" or have any type of lever mechanisms, to my understanding. The pax are strapped in by ground crew, and a primary attach point is a carabiner behind their backs that attaches to the aircraft, though I'm not sure if it's a locking type or a free-open type etc. There were emergency harness cut-off blades attached to each harness, but I doubt people knew or remembered where they were.

Also it appears the starboard float deflated early causing a fairly rapid roll upside down.

It's never just one thing right? Either way - while the FAA doesn't specify what type of belts are required outside of t/o and landing, I assume some big changes will come as a result of this flight.

The pilot was the only one with a standard lap belt. Impact with the ground appeared neutral (ie. flat, aka all onboard experienced similar g-forces, etc..) Pilot was the only one who survived.

One pax was even a trained firefighter.. I don't think this is a coincidence.

Going down in the East River at night in the winter would be scary, but I think I could handle it. Being stuck in that thing as it submerges and not being able free myself? Probably one of the scariest ways to go. :( RIP.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:35 pm

The flight seems to have been for a photoshoot. Door(s) removed?
Harnesses for to "hang out the door".
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:47 pm

Have to wonder how the pilot even allowed any kind of obstruction in that area. Looks pretty tight as is. Maybe something was being passed from the rear to the front or vice versa and got caught up? Even then you'd think that the pilot would make a glance over the area. I'm also surprised there is not some kind of warning indicator for that. I'm no pilot though, so this is purely arm-chair speculation/questioning from my part.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Wed Mar 14, 2018 2:01 pm

Slug71 wrote:
Have to wonder how the pilot even allowed any kind of obstruction in that area. Looks pretty tight as is. Maybe something was being passed from the rear to the front or vice versa and got caught up? Even then you'd think that the pilot would make a glance over the area. I'm also surprised there is not some kind of warning indicator for that. I'm no pilot though, so this is purely arm-chair speculation/questioning from my part.

Doors open, wind blowing, easy for a strap to migrate it's way around a handle. Not a huge cabin/cockpit area.

As for warning indicator, there may be a light for the shut off valve. But recognition, reset, and then restarting the engine all while doing an auto rotation from 2000 feet is unlikely if not impossible. Higher altitude, maybe.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:26 pm

Its horrible to see this. My friend lost his wife, stepdaughter and her partner in Oct 2011 when a Bell 206 went down in the East River. In their case, it flipped over and they couldn't get out. His wife actually survived for a month after the accident. They were good friends with the pilot; unfortunately, they were also big people and thus overloaded which caused the crash.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:35 am

CBS This Morning looks the harnesses used with that Helo:

https://youtu.be/CTqlgChqB0o


Inside Edition aired this about "doors off" helo rides and harnesses Monday 3/12

https://youtu.be/EQqcRMnfu1Y
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:13 am

From a YT Video with raw footage of the helo hitting the water. The footage does not show the helicopter inverting or sinking. I have not seen any footage anywhere of the helo turning upside down....

https://youtu.be/x06CpJ3u3P8

"Helicopter crashes in New York City's East River; all 5 passengers dead, pilot only survivor

Police said the pilot freed himself and was rescued by a passing tugboat. Three of the passengers had been listed in critical condition after being rushed to nearby hospitals; two were declared dead at the scene. Two of the critical victims were sent to New York's Bellevue Hospital with no heartbeat and were not expected to survive, a source told Fox News. The third critical victim was rushed to NYU Langone Hospital".
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:50 am

Just to point out how tight these tourist helicopters get, I show you these photos:

Image

Image

Image

These are from Maverick Helicopters in Las Vegas, I used them in 2014. There are four pax in the back and the pilot plus two more pax in the front. It's stuffed and even the pilot does not has much room to move...

Additionally all pax hold on to their bags. Backpacks, women's and Asian men's handbags and (probably most importantly on these tours) photo bags. These bags are usually just held on your lap or in your hands.

So what do we expect? One pax is playing around with his phone or camera to take photos, the bag slides down between the legs, gets into the floor area. Personally, after experiencing a few of these tours, I was not too surprised to hear that some personal belonging of a passenger should have touched the fuel shut off switch. Perhaps a backpacks strap got around the fuel cut-off lever, the pax tried to pull the bag back onto his lap and thus pulled the lever up into the cut-off detent. One of many possibilities...


What I find scandalous is that these passengers were trapped inside by non-removable harnesses and that a helicopter used for tourist rides has a non-shielded fuel-cut-off-switch.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:55 am

DIRECTFLT wrote:
CBS This Morning looks the harnesses used with that Helo:

https://youtu.be/CTqlgChqB0o


That video is very good. Shows the fuel cut-off switch and the harnesses used. Also some inside-footage of the helicopter cabin. Thx for posting it.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:38 am

ADent wrote:
The article I saw mentioned it hitting the emergency fuel cutoff.


I used to work for a helicopter tour company in Hawaii that operated AS350’s and Eurocopters and no personal effects were allowed in the front seats. The passenger harnesses came together center mass and could be undone with a flick of the wrist. I wonder if there was a thorough briefing prior to the flight?

77H
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:48 am

77H wrote:
ADent wrote:
The article I saw mentioned it hitting the emergency fuel cutoff.


I used to work for a helicopter tour company in Hawaii that operated AS350’s and Eurocopters and no personal effects were allowed in the front seats. The passenger harnesses came together center mass and could be undone with a flick of the wrist. I wonder if there was a thorough briefing prior to the flight?

77H


They were not wearing standard seat belts with shoulder harnesses and the 4 or 5 belt center mass, like the regular tourist helicopters do...

Here are screenshots from the CBS storey about these photo flights with open doors:

Image

Image

Image

And the only way to quickly get free is to cut them:

Image
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 7:53 am

This twitter video shows the pilot about to be rescued from the tug that just pulled up beside the inverted copter. There's also a video of the inverted copter before the tug arrives.

https://twitter.com/BenBathman/status/9 ... 2951403520

https://twitter.com/BenBathman/status/9 ... 5622429696
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77H
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:04 am

CARST wrote:
77H wrote:
ADent wrote:
The article I saw mentioned it hitting the emergency fuel cutoff.


I used to work for a helicopter tour company in Hawaii that operated AS350’s and Eurocopters and no personal effects were allowed in the front seats. The passenger harnesses came together center mass and could be undone with a flick of the wrist. I wonder if there was a thorough briefing prior to the flight?

77H


They were not wearing standard seat belts with shoulder harnesses and the 4 or 5 belt center mass, like the regular tourist helicopters do...

Here are screenshots from the CBS storey about these photo flights with open doors:

Image

Image

Image

And the only way to quickly get free is to cut them:

Image



Thanks for the clarification.

77H
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:10 am

hei,

I have no knowledge of helicopters and try to use common sense which in such cases can easily be wrong. However, three things that I cannot understand and seems utterly absurds:

- to have such seat belt for non-trained travellers.... roller coasters or rally cars have easier and still safe options.
- to not have such important commands (like fuel cut-off) protected from such an avoidable accident. Is there any emergency case when you need that commands to be easily accessible?
- it seems such tourist helicopter not to be safe with 3 people on the front row and one almost "hugging" the pilot.

post edited to add: that is to say, for my understanding, it is an accident totally avoidable.

I am sorry if I said any bulls and appreciate any correction from people with more knowledge!
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 2:47 pm

It would seem that the failure of the floats to inflate on one side of the aircraft was a critical link in the chain of events leading to the death of the passengers, and that the accident would have probably been survivable if all floats had deployed correctly. I am not familiar with the FAA regulations concerning emergency flotation devices, but I assume they will receive a lot of scrutiny as a consequence of this accident.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Thu Mar 15, 2018 11:51 pm

DIRECTFLT wrote:
Inside Edition aired this about "doors off" helo rides and harnesses Monday 3/12

https://youtu.be/EQqcRMnfu1Y


That reporter totally missed the point of these harnesses, telling they "hold you firmly in the seat" when in fact they do the opposite, allowing you to bend out of the heli !

I've ridden in a similar Bell Jetranger like in that video, with the rear doors removed, but with only the regular seatbelts : the passengers in the back had parachutes on and jumped out at altitude. I was in the front with the pilot and we had doors.

Using harnesses that you can remove easily doesn't seem that simple in my opinion if you want people to be able to bend out of the aircraft, release it by accident and you're falling to your death.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:46 am

IADFCO wrote:
It would seem that the failure of the floats to inflate on one side of the aircraft was a critical link in the chain of events leading to the death of the passengers, and that the accident would have probably been survivable if all floats had deployed correctly. I am not familiar with the FAA regulations concerning emergency flotation devices, but I assume they will receive a lot of scrutiny as a consequence of this accident.


Floats are a last line of defense, and are never going to be 100% reliable when you're on pitching, rolling water. The first line of defense is not inadvertently having your fuel line cutoff lever pulled up by a passenger's bag, and the second would be having either harnesses with a quick release mechanism or proper passenger training to use the cutters that were apparently part of these.

I'm sure the NTSB will be looking at all of these issues. But my first thought seeing that fuel cutoff lever design is "how the hell did they allow passengers anywhere near that thing?"

I have a feeling there will need to be some change to that design, and/or a change to allowing passengers to sit in that right hand seat in helicopters with critical controls that are easy to inadvertently manipulate like this. It seems to me that just putting some kind of shield that covers both the back and right side of that control stack would go a long way towards preventing a recurrence of an accident like this.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:06 am

spacecadet wrote:

I'm sure the NTSB will be looking at all of these issues. But my first thought seeing that fuel cutoff lever design is "how the hell did they allow passengers anywhere near that thing?"

I have a feeling there will need to be some change to that design, and/or a change to allowing passengers to sit in that right hand seat in helicopters with critical controls that are easy to inadvertently manipulate like this. It seems to me that just putting some kind of shield that covers both the back and right side of that control stack would go a long way towards preventing a recurrence of an accident like this.

Passengers don't sit in the RH seat, that is the pilots seat. Something that keeps loose gear from the back reaching the fuel levers would be useful though. Or just have a "J" shaped detent so the lever can't be simply pulled back to off and requires pushing down and out of detent first.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Fri Mar 16, 2018 10:20 pm

dragon6172 wrote:
spacecadet wrote:

I'm sure the NTSB will be looking at all of these issues. But my first thought seeing that fuel cutoff lever design is "how the hell did they allow passengers anywhere near that thing?"

I have a feeling there will need to be some change to that design, and/or a change to allowing passengers to sit in that right hand seat in helicopters with critical controls that are easy to inadvertently manipulate like this. It seems to me that just putting some kind of shield that covers both the back and right side of that control stack would go a long way towards preventing a recurrence of an accident like this.

Passengers don't sit in the RH seat, that is the pilots seat. Something that keeps loose gear from the back reaching the fuel levers would be useful though. Or just have a "J" shaped detent so the lever can't be simply pulled back to off and requires pushing down and out of detent first.


Here's an answer that someone posted to Quora:

"Mar 29, 2016 - Visibility to the right is best from the right seat so that's where the command pilot sits. Many European helos have opposite main rotor rotation, and their PICs sit on the left. U.S. multi-rotor helicopters follow the single rotor convention, since all student helo pilots are trained in single rotor helicopters."
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 1:08 am

I could not imagine drowning to death. Beyond sad that they couldn't get themselves free from the harness. As someone else mentioned, had the floats all worked, it would have given them enough time to figure it out. :(
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:43 am

DIRECTFLT wrote:

Here's an answer that someone posted to Quora:

"Mar 29, 2016 - Visibility to the right is best from the right seat so that's where the command pilot sits. Many European helos have opposite main rotor rotation, and their PICs sit on the left. U.S. multi-rotor helicopters follow the single rotor convention, since all student helo pilots are trained in single rotor helicopters."


I'm not sure what question you're answering?

Photos of the wreckage show that this aircraft has the pilot controls on the RH side, which is pretty standard.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:57 am

I flew with my daughter as a passenger on a sightseeing flight with Liberty Helicopters on the same type of helicopter in NY a few years ago. My daughter (easily the lightest person on the flight) was seated in the front with the pilot and the four other passengers (including myself) were seated in the back. As none of us were small it was a very tight fit indeed and and actually quite uncomfortable. My immediate thought when I read of the crash was that it would have been exceptionally difficult for the rear seat passengers to get out of there in a hurry particularly if they were disorientated and under water.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 11:11 am

I think these harnesses are just... dangerous when it comes to any emergency landing.

Perhaps a via ferrata sling could improve things: http://globetrotter-magazin.de/sites/de ... eigset.jpg

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkjdLVtKjjQ

Of course they would only use one carabiner instead of two.

The pax will get 10 minutes to train with it (also blindfolded, following the lanyard with your hand) and off you go.


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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:01 pm

I agree that in heavy seas emergency floats may not be sufficient to prevent capsize, due to the high cg position in helicopters and consequent poor stability characteristics. However in this case the ditching was in calm water and with a fairly controlled maneuver, so I think it's reasonable to argue that with proper operation of the floats everybody on board would have survived. It will be important to determine whether the failure of the floats to inflate was due to negligence, e.g. improper installation or lack of maintenance, or some design flaw, or some other reason.

I am not an attorney, so I don't know whether and how liability is apportioned when there are multiple concurrent causes for an accident, but I assume that there will be some sizable award to the families of those who perished. If not the FAA, perhaps insurance companies will drive increased safety. As an aerospace engineer, it's important to me and to the community that lessons be learned from this tragedy.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 4:15 pm

IADFCO wrote:
I am not an attorney, so I don't know whether and how liability is apportioned when there are multiple concurrent causes for an accident, but I assume that there will be some sizable award to the families of those who perished. If not the FAA, perhaps insurance companies will drive increased safety. As an aerospace engineer, it's important to me and to the community that lessons be learned from this tragedy.


in scope of lititigation it is not cause but the deepest (preferably foreign) pocket that is targeted.
Expect litigation against Airbus.
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N6168E
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:01 pm

I have a question for someone who is familiar with helicopter operations and the floats. When the craft hits the water in a normal auto-rotation, how far into the water dose the craft normally go before the floats have a chance to take over and keep it on the water. Could the fact that there were no doors affected the effectiveness of the floats if water was rushing into the cabin before the floats had a chance to inflate?

Pat
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sat Mar 17, 2018 7:26 pm

N6168E wrote:
I have a question for someone who is familiar with helicopter operations and the floats. When the craft hits the water in a normal auto-rotation, how far into the water dose the craft normally go before the floats have a chance to take over and keep it on the water. Could the fact that there were no doors affected the effectiveness of the floats if water was rushing into the cabin before the floats had a chance to inflate?

Pat

Floats were inflated prior to landing. Some of the higher quality stills of the aircraft just before landing they can be seen inflated. Some of them at least.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 4:00 am

I have looked at the YouTube video linked by DIRECTFLT almost frame by frame. The helicopter is basically straight and level when it touches the water at 0:03. Some of the floats are inflated at the time of impact (the yellow object). They are probably all on the left side, but the video is not very clear. At 0:07 the helicopter starts a roll to the right and almost immediately one of the blades strikes the water. Then it yaws to the right and at about 0:11 the floats on the left side become visible again. The aircraft continues to roll until the end of the clip at 0:13. In the first twitter clip also linked by DIRECTFLT the helicopter is completely submerged and seems "to be hanging off one line of floats". In the second picture of the USA Today article linked by the Topic Author the helicopter is upside down, being recovered. The floats on the left are still fully inflated, those on the right look deployed but partially inflated at best.

Having floats only on one side is almost worse than having no floats at all. They will give buoyancy, but at the same time generate a strong roll moment that will aggravate the natural roll instability given by the high cg position (above water level). Although the YouTube video does not explicitly show the capsize, I would guess that the aircraft was upside down in a matter of seconds, unless there was some residual buoyancy in the roof.

The Washington Post reports the first lawsuit, filed against Liberty Helicopters and the pilot. The pilot is sued for "failing to take reasonable steps to extricate the passengers" and because he "failed to properly activate" the floats (there are other allegations, according to the WP, these two are not the only ones). From what I can reconstruct from the video, the pilot did activate the floats. I don't know what would constitute "reasonable steps", but my guess is that the helicopter was fully upside down in seconds, not minutes, and that time would determine what is and is not "reasonable".
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:31 am

IADFCO wrote:
I agree that in heavy seas emergency floats may not be sufficient to prevent capsize, due to the high cg position in helicopters and consequent poor stability characteristics. However in this case the ditching was in calm water and with a fairly controlled maneuver, so I think it's reasonable to argue that with proper operation of the floats everybody on board would have survived. It will be important to determine whether the failure of the floats to inflate was due to negligence, e.g. improper installation or lack of maintenance, or some design flaw, or some other reason.

I am not an attorney, so I don't know whether and how liability is apportioned when there are multiple concurrent causes for an accident, but I assume that there will be some sizable award to the families of those who perished. If not the FAA, perhaps insurance companies will drive increased safety. As an aerospace engineer, it's important to me and to the community that lessons be learned from this tragedy.


I'd be curious to see the legalese of the rider contract agreed to by the passengers for such a doors off flight.
Last edited by DIRECTFLT on Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:35 am

Waiting for a video of another helo equipped that same float system to show them being engaged, and how long that takes...
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 6:40 am

dragon6172 wrote:
DIRECTFLT wrote:

Here's an answer that someone posted to Quora:

"Mar 29, 2016 - Visibility to the right is best from the right seat so that's where the command pilot sits. Many European helos have opposite main rotor rotation, and their PICs sit on the left. U.S. multi-rotor helicopters follow the single rotor convention, since all student helo pilots are trained in single rotor helicopters."


I'm not sure what question you're answering?

Photos of the wreckage show that this aircraft has the pilot controls on the RH side, which is pretty standard.


I'm sure you're right dragon6172.

But this was this photo that had originally led me to believe that the helo pilot was to the left of the person in the selfie, and not to the right of the person taking the selfie.

Image

Could it be that this person's gear strap or safety harness be most likely to have interacted with the fuel line emergency cut off lever?
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:17 am

IADFCO wrote:
The pilot is sued for "failing to take reasonable steps to extricate the passengers" and because he "failed to properly activate" the floats .


float inflation as command able by the pilot is "all or nothing", right?
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:21 am

DIRECTFLT wrote:
Image

The thumbs up guy could indicate that the image is mirrored left/right ( I am aware that "Lefties" are a higher percentage in the US than elsewhere.)
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agill
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 8:59 am

WIederling wrote:
DIRECTFLT wrote:
Image

The thumbs up guy could indicate that the image is mirrored left/right ( I am aware that "Lefties" are a higher percentage in the US than elsewhere.)

The mic on the headset seems to be on the left. Anyone familiar with that type of headset should be able to judge if the photo is mirrored.
 
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Re: Eurocopter AS350 crash in New York's East River? How does a passenger bag cause this?

Sun Mar 18, 2018 9:33 am

agill wrote:
WIederling wrote:
DIRECTFLT wrote:
Image

The thumbs up guy could indicate that the image is mirrored left/right ( I am aware that "Lefties" are a higher percentage in the US than elsewhere.)

The mic on the headset seems to be on the left. Anyone familiar with that type of headset should be able to judge if the photo is mirrored.


If you feed the image into TinEye.com you get a range of higher resolution images. unfortunately no labels readable there either.
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