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Instrument Rating

Controlling a helicopter is the result of accurately interpreting the flight instruments and translating these readings into correct control responses. Aircraft control involves adjustment to pitch, bank, power, and trim in order to achieve a desired flight path.

Pitch attitude control is controlling the movement of the helicopter about its lateral axis. After interpreting the helicopter’s pitch attitude by reference to the pitch instruments (attitude indicator, altimeter, airspeed indicator, and vertical speed indicator (VSI)), cyclic control adjustments are made to affect the desired pitch attitude. In this section, the pitch attitudes depicted are approximate and vary with different helicopters.

Bank attitude control is controlling the angle made by the lateral tilt of the rotor and the natural horizon or the movement of the helicopter about its longitudinal axis. After interpreting the helicopter’s bank instruments (attitude indicator, heading indicator, and turn indicator), cyclic control adjustments are made to attain the desired bank attitude.

Power control is the application of collective pitch with corresponding throttle control, where applicable. In straightand- level flight, changes of collective pitch are made to correct for altitude deviation if the error is more than 100 feet or the airspeed is off by more than 10 knots. If the error is less than that amount, a pilot should use a slight cyclic climb or descent.

In order to fly a helicopter by reference to the instruments, it is important to know the approximate power settings required for a particular helicopter in various load configurations and flight conditions.

Trim, in helicopters, refers to the use of the cyclic centering button, if the helicopter is so equipped, to relieve all possible cyclic pressures. Trim also refers to the use of pedal adjustment to center the ball of the turn indicator. Pedal trim is required during all power changes.

The proper adjustment of collective pitch and cyclic friction helps a pilot relax during instrument flight. Friction should be adjusted to minimize overcontrolling and to prevent creeping, but not applied to such a degree that control movement is limited. In addition, many helicopters equipped for instrument flight contain stability augmentation systems or an autopilot to help relieve pilot workload.

Instrument Flight

To achieve smooth, positive control of the helicopter during instrument flight, three fundamental skills must be developed. They are instrument cross-check, instrument interpretation, and aircraft control. Instrument Cross-Check Cross-checking, sometimes referred to as scanning, is the continuous and logical observation of instruments for attitude and performance information. In attitude instrument flying, an attitude is maintained […]

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Straight Climbs and Descents – Leveling Off

When leveling off from a descent with the intention of returning to cruise airspeed, first start by increasing the power to cruise prior to increasing the pitch back toward the level flight attitude. A technique used to determine how soon to start the level off is to lead the level off by an altitude corresponding […]

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Straight Climbs and Descents – Entry

Descents can be accomplished with a constant rate, constant airspeed, or a combination. The following method can accomplish any of these with or without an attitude indicator. Reduce the power to allow the aircraft to decelerate to the desired airspeed while maintaining straight-and-level flight. As the aircraft approaches the desired airspeed, reduce the power to a […]

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Common Errors in Instrument Takeoffs

Common errors associated with the instrument takeoff include, but are not limited to, the following: 1. Failure to perform an adequate flight deck check before the takeoff. Pilots have attempted instrument takeoff with inoperative airspeed indicators (pitot tube obstructed), controls locked, and numerous other oversights due to haste or carelessness. It is imperative to cross-check the ASI as soon as possible. No […]

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Instrument Takeoff

The reason for learning to fly by reference to instruments alone is to expand a pilot’s abilities to operate an aircraft in visibility less than VFR. Another valuable maneuver to learn is the instrument takeoff. This maneuver requires the pilot to maneuver the aircraft during the takeoff roll by reference to flight instruments alone with […]

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Turns – Common Errors Leading to Unusual Attitudes

The following errors have the potential to disrupt a pilot’s situational awareness and lead to unusual attitudes. Improper trimming techniques. A failure to keep the aircraft trimmed for level flight at all times can turn a momentary distraction into an emergency situation if the pilot stops cross-checking. Poor crew resource management (CRM) skills. Failure to […]

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Turns – Unusual Attitude Recovery Protection – Autopilot Usage

The autopilot is equipped with inputs from a turn coordinator installed behind the MFD screen. This turn coordinator is installed solely for the use of the autopilot to facilitate the roll mode, which is simply a wing leveler. This protection is always available, barring a failure of the turn coordinator (to aid the pilot if […]

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Turns – Unusual Attitude Recovery Protection (Part Two)

For nose-low unusual attitudes, the chevrons are displayed when the pitch exceeds 15° nose-down. If the pitch continues to decrease, the unusual attitude recovery protection declutters the screen at 20° nose-down. The decluttered information reappears when the pitch increases above 15°. Additionally, there are bank limits that trigger the unusual attitude protection. If the aircraft’s […]

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