People who are undergoing helicopter licence training are taught that they should never fly a helicopter without planning the flight. This article discusses some of the aspects that should be looked into when planning any helicopter flight.
You should check the weather forecasts and reports in order to extract any information that can influence the flight from the base to the destination. Helicopters generally fly low, so they are likely to suffer adverse effects if flights are undertaken during unfavourable weather. For example, the chance of an accident will increase when visibility is poor due to heavy rain during a flight. Pilots are therefore advised to call off flights if the weather is likely to create unsafe flying conditions.
Helicopter pilots are also expected to select the most suitable route that will get them to the desired destination cost-effectively and without getting into any avoidable problems. For example, the pilot can decide to take a longer route in order to avoid an area that is expected to have bad weather. Careful consideration has to be invested into the route selected for any flight because that decision can have several effects, such as compromising the safety of those on board if the helicopter runs out of fuel in an area where it may be hard to refuel.
Filing a Flight Plan
The planning stage also involves filing a flight plan. The flight plan includes various details about the intended flight, such as the intended altitude at which you plan to fly and the flight speeds during the different sections of the trip. Any stops during the flight are also indicated in the flight plan alongside the expected durations of those stops. This flight plan is submitted to the aviation authorities.
Preparing the Flight Log
Helicopter pilots are also expected to prepare a flight log as they plan their flights. The flight log differs from the flight plan since the flight log keeps track of the flight hours accumulated by a specific aircraft and its crew. This information is helpful for tracking when certain maintenance tasks should be performed on the aircraft. Pilot experience is also measured based on how many flight hours that individual has accumulated as reflected in the flight logs. The log also helps to determine when pilots should rest once they have accumulated the maximum number of flight hours.
Flying a helicopter safely requires more than adequate planning during the pre-flight phase. Attend helicopter licence training so that you learn other important aspects, such as how to use the different controls, in order to become a competent helicopter pilot.