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Winter Is Coming ... 

Pilots: Are You Current and Proficient?

This article is a quick summary of an International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF) fact sheet on recurrent training by Nick Mayhew. With apologies to Nick, I have added a few notes of my own. If you want to more tips on ways to keep your skills sharp, check out Nick's original article.--Stan Rose.
As pilots in training, we acquire knowledge and experience to help us operate more efficiently and safely. But as time passes, we start to forget some of the things we learned. Our skill levels, particularly on procedures that we don't use very often, diminish. This is a human factor, affecting all pilots.
Recurrent training can be expensive and time consuming, but as professional pilots, we have an obligation to maintain our aeronautical knowledge and skills. Let’s look at some inexpensive but effective ways to remain current in our aircraft.
If you have access to a flight simulator or flight training device (FTD), take advantage of it at every opportunity! In addition to providing realistic training for daily operations, there is no better place to practice emergency procedures. There are things you can do in the FTD that you would never do in the actual aircraft.

While it's great if you have access to a Level D full flight simulator--the kind with motion and all the bells and whistles--you can get just as much out of devices that are less expensive, such as advanced aviation training devices (AATD). Actually, you can practice your IFR skills on a desktop computer. In an encounter with a degraded visual environment, confidence in your ability to fly on instruments will save your life!
Another no-cost method of honing your skills uses an actual helicopter. Sit in one in the hangar and get out the operating manual. Familiarize yourself with the location and operation of instrument, switches, circuit breakers, and other things that will help you in an actual emergency.
There are also many training courses that are available online from aviation educational providers such as the IHSF, the FAA WINGs program, the Helicopter Safety Alliance, HAI, and AOPA. Visit the Seminars and Webinars tab on the FAA Safety Team's website. You can search for events by keyword, such as "helicopter," or by location.
Pilot flying skills and emergency procedure training are tools in your toolbox that we hope you will never need. Continuing education is how we keep those tools sharp! Make the decision to take some positive actions to hone your skills. Participation in continuing education will make you a better, safer pilot. 

F*ck-Up Friday?

As we travel around the country doing Helicopter Safety Stand-Downs, we often hear some good ideas from our audience. This tip was contributed by a Stand-Down attendee, and I’m happy to share it with you. Please share your safety tips with, and I’ll include it in a future issue.
It’s hard to talk about the mistakes we make. Our ego doesn’t like it, our peers might make fun of us, and our manager might hold it against us.

But we owe it to our fellow co-workers to talk about what went wrong and to point out any resulting safety hazards. After all, if it happened to you, it could happen to them. Maybe the story you tell will save one of your friends from making that same mistake.
Recently, one of our Stand-Down attendees shared that he had been a lead pilot of a seven-ship operation. They had a meeting every Friday where they talked about what had happened that week and went over some safety tips. He called it “F*ck-up Friday.”
As lead pilot, he would begin by telling the group a couple of things that he had done wrong that week. Then everyone got a turn to talk about their mistakes.
This created a culture in that operation where it was okay to talk about what went wrong. It was important that the lead pilot started things off as it made the other pilots feel more comfortable about admitting their own mistakes.
There was no shaming or blaming; instead, the focus was on what we could learn from this mistake. Can it be prevented in the future? If not, can we figure out a way to mitigate the hazard?
This is a great example of a simple way to jump-start safety discussions and put issues out in the open where we can address them. Developing a culture in your organization where we feel free to discuss our mistakes will inevitably uncover the gaps in policies and training that lead to accidents.
Getting to the root cause of our weekly f*ck-ups will lead to improvements in our operations. Just as important, these discussions will foster the development of a just culture.
Having an organization where people feel empowered and engaged in making their workplace safer is the essence of a safety culture — and that will deliver more rewards to you and your colleagues than an expensive suite of software tools designed to keep you “safe.”
— Stan Rose

Dec. 6: Bob Martin - Albuquerque Helicopter Safety Stand-Down
Sid Cutter Pilots' Pavilion
@ Balloon Fiesta Park
9401 Balloon Museum Drive
Albuquerque, NM 87113
SPANS #SW0197240

Jan. 17: Minneapolis Helicopter Safety Stand-Down
Creekside Community Center
9801 Penn Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55431
WINGS and AMT Credits
 Learn More at

Fuel System Icing Inhibitor: Best Practices

Winter is coming, and it’s time to talk about the use of fuel system icing inhibitor (FSII) in your jet fuel. “Prist,” a trademarked brand name, is commonly used (think “Kleenex”) to describe this product. In cold temperatures, we add FSII to our jet fuel for two reasons; first, to prevent ice in the fuel system, and second, to prevent microorganisms from growing in the fuel system.
  • Ice prevention. Jet fuel can contain some dissolved (suspended) water. As the temperature drops, the fuel’s capacity to hold that water is diminished. If the water separates from the fuel, it could then freeze in fuel lines and filters. An inhibitor readily combines with any free water present to lower the water’s freezing point.
  • Controlling bacterial and fungal microorganisms. These organisms can grow in jet fuel, living in the interface where they feed off of the hydrocarbons in the fuel. This growth can contaminate your fuel supply and clog filters.
 In cold-weather operations, it makes sense to use a FSII and avoid an unanticipated engine shutdown in flight. However, to use an FSII safely, we also need to know a few things about the product and how it should be put into your aircraft.

Work Safely. Undilluted FSII can be very toxic – use gloves and goggles to protect yourself.

Use the Appropriate Concentration. For FSII to work properly, it must be evenly distributed in the fuel in a mixture that is between 0.10% and 0.15% by volume. Too little FSII could leave the fuel without enough protection; too much can be corrosive.

Visually Verify. You need to visually verify that FSII is being added to the fuel while it is being pumped into the aircraft. When fueling from a truck with automatic injection, there is usually a method to see the additive flowing. Verify that it is working properly. When using an aerosol can clipped onto the fueling nozzle, start the fuel flow before starting the “metered” additive and verify that the can is lighter at the end of the fueling process.

Inspect Fuel Samples. Keep an eye on your fuel samples to ensure that your FSII is preventing contamination. Watch for light-gray slime in fuel samples, as this is the first indication of organisms in the fuel. 
Learn More. Adding FSII to your winter fuel is a good safety precaution, but you should learn as much as you can about the process. Ask questions about how the additive is combined with the fuel at your local FBO and how they determine the proper amount that ends up in your tank. Know how to work safely around FSII. Meanwhile, you should check out these articles:
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