Unusual Attitudes - Helicopter Attitude Instrument Flying

Any maneuver not required for normal helicopter instrument flight is an unusual attitude and may be caused by any one or combination of factors, such as turbulence, disorientation, instrument failure, confusion, preoccupation with flight deck duties, carelessness in cross-checking, errors in instrument interpretation, or lack of proficiency in aircraft control. Due to the instability characteristics of the helicopter, unusual attitudes can be extremely critical. As soon as an unusual attitude is detected, make a recovery to straight-and-level flight as soon as possible with a minimum loss of altitude.

To recover from an unusual attitude, a pilot should correct bank-and-pitch attitude and adjust power as necessary. All components are changed almost simultaneously, with little lead of one over the other. A pilot must be able to perform this task with and without the attitude indicator. If the helicopter is in a climbing or descending turn, adjust bank, pitch, and power. The bank attitude should be corrected by referring to the turn-and-slip indicator and attitude indicator. Pitch attitude should be corrected by reference to the altimeter, airspeed indicator, VSI, and attitude indicator. Adjust power by referring to the airspeed indicator and manifold pressure.

Since the displacement of the controls used in recovery from unusual attitudes may be greater than those used for normal flight, make careful adjustments as straight-and-level flight is approached. Cross-check the other instruments closely to avoid overcontrolling.

Common Errors During Unusual Attitude Recoveries

  1. Failure to make proper pitch correction
  2. Failure to make proper bank correction
  3. Failure to make proper power correction
  4. Overcontrolling pitch and/or bank attitude
  5. Overcontrolling power
  6. Excessive loss of altitude

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