The start-up goes as expected. Blades are turning, we’ve completed the pre-takeoff checks, the gauges are all in the green with warning lights extinguished. We pull pitch, gently lifting the helicopter into the air, and perform our hover check. All is well and we continue the takeoff. Still climbing, we glance at the gauges and see the engine oil temperature needle moving from the green toward the red limitation line. The needle crosses into the red—the engine oil temperature is now over the limit.
This past week the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published a report about the July 3, 2015 crash of an Airbus AS350B3e conducting Helicopter Air Ambulance (HAA) operations in Colorado. As seen in video at the base helipad, the aircraft yaws left while skids are on the ground and then continues to yaw left as the helicopter becomes airborne and goes out of camera view. The helicopter reappears as it crashes behind the site, and a post-crash fire develops almost instantly. What happened? What actions could the pilot have taken?
During some recent helicopter recurrent training we discussed various accidents and reviewed videos of said accidents. While analyzing accident video is an important method for learning ways to avoid making the same mistakes, something else can be gleaned from this available evidence: everybody is recording video or taking photos of our helicopter flight. We are in the public’s eyes at all times.