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SOP -- Flying Transport

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  • SOP -- Flying Transport

    This is meant as a general purpose standard operating procedure for flying transport helicopters with 1 pilot. These are habits that I've acquired during my time flying for you fine gentlemen. I don't consider myself an expert, and I'm always learning, so I thought I'd post this rough draft for your consideration. Let me know what you think. Sometime this week I will post this for review by TGU.

    Standard Operating Procedure: Flying Transport Helicopters

    Walk around the helicopter and observe any potential rotor strikes nearby, including small bushes, trees, power lines, etc. Enter every gunner slot on the helicopter to ensure they have a full ammo load. Note how many members are in the group requesting transport, and choose an appropriate aircraft. Attend the pre-mission briefing if there is one. Open the map and study the topography of the mission area. Look for a suitable landing zone (flat terrain, no trees/power lines/houses/etc) 500-1,000 meters away from the main area of operation in case your leader neglects it. Once a landing zone is decided, memorize the topography and geography of the spot which you're landing at. Note the shape of any nearby roads or hilltops. You can also use radio towers as a landmark.

    Wait in your helicopter after briefing is complete. Once you have permission from the squad leader, spool up. Hold your "lower collective" button until ready to take off to prevent an automatic liftoff. Once the team is all aboard, someone should call out "all in/clear for dust off". If you think everyone's aboard but you're not sure, ask. Once you have the go-ahead for dust off, take off in the direction of the AO.

    Fly at altitudes appropriate for the situation you're in.
    Nap-of-earth (NAO) is very low flying, about 5-10 meters off the ground. This mode of flying is meant to mask your location and/or your radar profile. It also makes you hard to hit. When flying in this mode, you fly between treetops, under power lines, and you follow the path of lowest terrain. This mode is only appropriate when necessary, such as stealth operations and evasive maneuvering.

    Low altitude is flight at 10-50 meters off the ground. Fly at low altitude when AA risk is likely. Use hills and mountains to reduce the chance of being hit by AA.

    High altitude is flight above 50 meters. Fly at high altitude when AA risk is very unlikely. High altitude flight is meant to prevent damage from small arms fire. However, some enemies may have the skill to hit you with high-caliber rounds, which have the capacity to damage your aircraft, even at long distances.

    Be aware of your circumstances and surroundings at all times. Accidents most commonly happen during takeoff and landing.

    Slow down well before your LZ. 150kph is suitable within 1km of your landing. At 500 meters, slow to 100kph. On final approach, gradually slow to a full stop before touching the ground. During the whole landing process, you should have your landing zone entirely in sight, either above your dashboard or out a side window. Observe the landing zone as you approach. Look for any threats to your passengers, both inside the LZ and immediately surrounding it. You should constantly be asking yourself whether your aircraft will safely and confidently fit in the LZ. If the answer is at any point unclear, you should wave off and either try again or negotiate a new spot to land at.

    On your final approach, within 50 meters to touchdown, focus on killing your forward movement before touching the ground. The most efficient landing is one where horizontal velocity and altitude both reach zero at the same time.

    If you're not sure that you can slow down before touching down, hands off your collective and pitch back before lowering collective again.

    If you need to kill a lot of speed and you dont have much room left, briefly (1-2 seconds) pitch 45 degrees up and lower collective. You will gain some altitude, but hopefully you'll have reduced your speed by around 50kph.

  • #2
    This is a great idea Hummel. I bet we have a few more pilots that could add a few tidbits of experience in here.

    What kind of marks are you using to help with navigation? How do you decide on an approach to an LZ? How do you avoid the gamey flight over an uncleared urban area or worse still, the "lets buzz the AO" then do a stealth approach on foot from an LZ only 700m away!
    |TG-189th| Unkl
    ArmA 3 Game Officer
    Dean of Tactical Gamer University
    189th Infantry Brigade Member
    "We quickly advance in the opposite direction and take cover in a house on the SW side of town." - BadStache


    • #3

      Love it all and like your approach (pilot is pilot). Some comments below, but an amazing start, keep it up and Unkl will have you teaching flight at TGU in no time.

      First it’s “NOE” Nap of Earth. Between trees, true. Under power lines, not this RL pilot, but in game it does look pretty cool.

      Phases of flight - Pre-Flight, Taxi (on airport operations), Takeoff, Flight (en-route), Approach (transition from En-route to landing), Landing and then “taxi” again caped off usually by a shutdown procedure.

      Taxi we don’t consider much in our world. Typically we just take off and then just head the proper direction. In real “Airport” operations heilos must (usually) taxi (low and slow in the air) down the taxi ways and then “take off” down the runway in the direction of all other airport traffic. Sometimes the tower will clear a heilo for another departure, but if the pattern is full no controller wants the headache of where a Helicopter is at in his control zone that is NOT on an established approach or departure route.

      You’ve got the elements of approach well stated in your landing section; there are just a few more calculations and some visual elements I would add to be considered on the approach.

      All aircraft have a fairly well defined decent profile. Why do most domestic flights begin their decent a full 30 min prior to landing? Because from 30+ thousand feet to the runway at 1000 FPM that’s roughly 30 min of decent to get into position (the approach) for the final landing phase. Consider this as well when on your approach to an HLZ as well. How high you are and what actions do you need to take to get in “landing mode”? Low and fast you at least have to allow for slow down time. High and slow (we usually don’t do much of this) and you have to allow for decent time. And lastly, high and fast, you have to allow for both.

      For low and fast (it seems our preferred mode of travel), if you lower the collective (Z) a moment or two before pulling back on the stick (pitching nose up). The aircraft is beginning its decent pattern and starting down only to have it counteracted by pulling back (nose up) to slow the aircraft. Done properly you can “Z” and then pull back in unison (as it’s done in the real birds) and just slow down at the same altitude. This is tougher to do in the game because there isn’t that “Seat of your pants” feel on the forces as you are doing it, but it can be done. The other thing (and I’ll take some flak for this one) is the use of TrackIR or other system. As the aircraft pitches your head can stay steady (again like in real life) and the situational awareness of what you are doing, pitching, banking, nosing down all makes more sense and you can see the effects much better.

      Lastly, and this is just a pilot thing and you are all probably doing it already and don’t even realize it. The “view out the screen” in an aircraft (fixed or heilo) is the same on every standard approach. Pick a spot on the windshield (a scratch or other marker) that defines what your “attitude” is in a given approach profile. What is the throttle location for a standard approach (in my training days it was 1500 RPM on fixed prop and a particular pressure gauge setting for each high performance aircraft type). This is something that every individual aircraft has and is why (again RL) you have to “type rate” for so many aircraft types. Each fly uniquely and knowing those elements are key to the flight process. As you come into the final landing phase this “view out the windshield” should look the same each time. For me on the Huron it’s the Pitot tube, and in the CH-53 it’s the refueling nozzle, and the little bird it’s the compass that I use and its orientation and location relative to the horizon, but that’s just me.

      That final landing element or “flare” is exactly what Hummel is talking about, forward motion stopping at the same time as altitude is at ground level, and this one is all about “feel” and is what practice is all about. William Kershner has some awesome books on flying and Walter Wagtendonk has one dedicated to Helicopter flight (as does the FAA). All are excellent books on flight and flight dynamics, and if you’re into that kind of thing, then they make for good additions to your library (mine still sit proudly on my book shelves along with my Jeppesen Sanderson training manuals and a ton of other books on the topic).

      Good Stuff Hummel, I like the true “Pilot” approach to your procedures. Love it.


      EDIT - thanks new board system . . . took out all of my "Quote" marks (let's see if it does it with the ones around the word QUOTE. . . . . lol. All good and most of it still makes sense without them.

      EDIT TO EDIT - NOW they show up??? . . . . . too funny, but thanks boards for the quotes (we all know solo is big on the "quotes") . . . . that and . . . . .ellipses . . . . LOL


      • #4
        I'm not a pilot in real life, that's why I added the disclaimer that I'm in no way a professional. Thanks for the input, Solo.

        I'm aware that in life, helicopters usually have to taxi. In Arma, if you're using the advanced flight model, there's an option to unlock your wheel brakes, cyclic forward, and raise collective, allowing you to "drive" your helicopter without even needing to hover. However, I think you'd agree that all seems superfluous when you consider we don't have an ATC because we don't have air traffic. If we ever do have air traffic, it's due to enemy air, and if that's the case, we'll most likely die either way. :)

        In regards to decent, I thought I'd leave that to the pilot, but I did forget to mention one thing: Auto-hover. Maybe it's the elitist snob in me, but it irks me when we're nice and low on approach to the LZ, when suddenly our pilot gets lazy and enables auto-hover, yanking the stick back and launching us 50+ meters into the air for all with a 7.62 round and AA missile to see. Still, decent profile should never be an issue. Even at 500m altitude (what I'd consider to be extreme high range for a helicopter in Arma), it's fairly straightforward the rate at which you need to decend. Some helicopters give you a velocity marker which shows you the direction you're traveling in, which is extremely useful for an accurate decent. All you have to do is keep that prograde marker hovered on the spot you want to land at, flare at last second, and touchdown.

        Finally, you mentioned the "view out the screen". I have TrackIR myself, but I found that I didn't like it very much despite the added benefit of situational awareness. When I'm using it, no matter how much I adjust it, I feel as if the directions I can look in are limited. I'm constantly fighting at least one axis. I can never comfortably look diagonally in any direction. It's like I have to look left, THEN up, or vice versa. In that sense, it doesn't afford you as much situational awareness as you might think, but it's still usefull. Overall, I wouldn't use TrackIR as an excuse to attempt reckless maneuvers, but for keeping my eyes level with the horizon as I pitch back, or keeping an eye out the window, or checking my passenger area to see whether everyone has dismounted, it's priceless. That's why I use the climbrate instrument that are in most Arma helicopters. Combined with the artificial horizon and AGL indicator, I could technically land a helicopter without ever looking out the window. Unfortunately, though, trees exist... And power lines... And buildings... And people who run towards your helicopter as you're still approaching to land, because they apparently like being crushed.


        • #5
          It's all good, good stuff, keep it up.

          TrackIR comment - try a little bird with it, pull back on the stick and keep your head just still, notice how the little bird pivots on your head and you're looking out the bottom windows now. Now look to the left (out the window) while that is happening and watch the trees. Notice how you can judge speed, slowing down, and decent all while the aircraft pivots around the movement (or lack thereof) of your head.

          I get that everyone has their own thing. Mine is the fact that without it I'm looking at the sky as I'm trying to slow down, usually with no awareness of how much, how fast, or where the aircraft is; without a certain amount of "free look" that is. . . ergo, TrackIR.

          Good stuff Hummel.


          • #6
            Disclaimer: I am not a pilot.

            A. Communication
            This is something we take for granted, like breathing. It is there, it is automatic, but we can't do without it. Just like communication.
            Whether, it is communication between two players on the ground. To a squad leader to his superior, up the chain, etc.

            Most of the time, our air transport pilots are almost if not always grounded. On the tarmac, on the helopad, etc. Waiting for the call to bring in X number of players to the designated helicopter landing zone. What they should not do, is to loiter around the AO. Placing himself purposely in danger and get shot down. For air assets, the safety of that asset is paramount. When it comes to playing the pilot of that asset, not the mission. This could be avoided, with succinct and clear communication from the person who's supposed to contact the pilot, and vice versa.

            Alpha squad, RTO:
            "Air-1, Romeo-1-1. Be advised, you are to proceed to and hold at holding area Zulu until further, over"
            Air-1 "Romeo-1-1, Air-1. Roger, move to and hold at Zulu, over"

            "Air-1, 4x JIP at base. Land at HLZ Panda for drop off...break"
            "1x litter to be picked up, then RTB for further tasking, over"

            A pilot joins an ongoing operation
            "Romeo-1-1, Air-1. Checking in, 1x Ghosthawk pilot, reading for tasking. Request SITREP. Over" (you may need to give it few more times, they may be in contact)
            "Air-1, Romeo-1-1. Roger wait"
            "Friendly callsigns are at 12345678, in contact with small arms to their NW. No Anti-Air threats. Break..."
            "Ingress SE to HLZ Panda, Egress SE. for JIPs. HLZ is Clear."

            "Air-1, copies all. out"

            B. JIP Duty
            The pilot could hang around the JIP area, brief the players of necessary situation. Leads them into his air vehicle.
            The pilot checks in with the guy who the pilot is supposed to speak to. Informs him that he's got X number of players to be transported.

            C. It's a boring job, but someone's got to do it.
            There will be long periods, where as the transport pilot. You will be waiting for long time until a task comes your way. Be aware of this fact, prior to selecting it. There is nothing worse than, being flown in then being stuck without a ride back home because the pilot got bored and quit. Don't be that guy.

            TGU Instructor · TG Pathfinder

            Former TGU Dean · Former ARMA Admin · Former Irregulars Officer

            "Do not seek death. Death will find you. But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment." - Dag Hammarskjold


            • #7
              All good points, I wouldn't argue with any of them. However, the proposed SOP is a guide to the operation of the aircraft, not necessarily the duties of the pilot and his crew in general.




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