US AND AUSTRALIAN helicopter associations, are disputing new US Federal Aviation Administration proposals, governing Robinson helicopter-pilot qualifications, as "unnecessary and restrictive." The Australians believe that the rules should apply to all helicopters.

The FAA recommends that "...additional specific pilot training is necessary for the safe operation of these helicopters as part of a comprehensive programme that responds to the high number of accidents".

Although the Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) is an interim measure, pending a final FAA report dealing with the R22 and R44 types, the Australian Helicopter Association (AHA) and the Helicopter Association International (HAI), believe that, now implemented, the requirement will be difficult to reverse.

AHA president Gary Ticehurst says: "We are strongly opposed to the operational limitations already applied relating to wind and turbulence conditions and believe that any training requirements imposed by the SFAR should apply across the board to all helicopter types. The AHA and the US-based HAI have identified flying training standards as the key problem."

A group of Australian operators is in talks with the Australian Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) on the question of implementation of FAA rules relating to Robinson. Australian operators fear that the ACAA will follow the same course.

The SFAR circulated as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), calls for special training and experience requirements for R22 and R44 type ratings.

The SFAR requires an approved awareness course, a minimum of 10h dual training for a pilot endorsement with an endorsed instructor and an annual flight review.

Dual instruction must include enhanced auto-rotation-procedures training; engine rotor-RPM control without the use of the governor; low rotor-RPM recognition and recovery; and effects of low g manoeuvres with recovery procedures.

Minimum qualifications for an instructor conducting endorsements or flight reviews will be 200 helicopter flight hours, with at least 50 in Robinsons.

Source: Flight International