Helicopter Flight Maneuvers

Overview

This is a reference page for Helicopter Flight Maneuvers at the Private and Commercial level and some extras. The videos below are unedited footage from inside the cockpit during the maneuvers. These are temporary videos that I produced for a presentation to aviation students at COCC. I have put them here as a reference for those students. In time these videos will be replaced by more comprehensive instructional videos with key points, common errors and the PTS requirements.

The full list of flight maneuvers covered by the FAA Private and Commercial Practical Test Standards (PTS) Rotorcraft (with reference to the PTS Area of Operation number in roman numerals) :


Pickup & Set-Down

Pickup

Set-Down

 PrivateCommercial
Hover Height± 1/2 recommended hover. So 3’ hover = 1.5’ to 4.5’± 1/2 recommended hover . So 3’ hover = 1.5’ to 4.5’
Lateral PositionWithin 4’ of target
And no aft movement
Within 2’ of target
And no aft movement
Heading±10° but avoids conditions that might lead to LTE±10° but avoids conditions that might lead to LTE

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Slopes


 PrivateCommercial
Maintain Heading±10°±5°

  • Selects a suitable slope, approach, and direction considering wind effect, obstacles, dynamic rollover avoidance, and discharging passengers
  • Makes smooth positive descent to touch the upslope skid on the sloping surface
  • Maintains positive control while lowering the downslope skid or landing gear to touchdown
  • Recognizes if slope is too steep and abandons the operation prior to reaching cyclic control stops

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Hover Taxi


 PrivateCommercial
Hover Height± 1/2 recommended hover. So 3’ hover = 1.5’ to 4.5’± 1/2 recommended hover . So 3’ hover = 1.5’ to 4.5’
Lateral PositionWithin 4’ of ground trackWithin 2’ of ground track
Pedal Turn Position
Within 4’ of pivot pointWithin 2’ of pivot point
Pedal Turn Heading
360° turn left & right, stopping within ±10°90°, 180° & 360° turns, stopping within ±10°

  • Demonstrating forward, sideward, and rearward hovering and hovering turns.
  • Maintains constant rate of turn at pivot points.

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Air Taxi

  • Air taxies the helicopter from one point to another under headwind and crosswind conditions
  • Selects a safe airspeed and altitude
  • Maintains desired track and groundspeed in headwind and crosswind conditions, avoiding conditions that might lead to LTE

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Normal Takeoff


 

 PrivateCommercial
Climb Airspeed±10 knots±5 knots

  • Knowledge of factors affecting performance, to include height/velocity information
  • Establishes stabilized hover, prior to takeoff in headwind and crosswind conditions
  • Maintains proper ground track with crosswind correction, as necessary
  • Remains aware of the possibility of wind shear and/or wake turbulence

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Normal Approach


 

 PrivateCommercial
Over touchdown point±4’±2’

  • Knowledge of performance, to include height/velocity information
  • Considers the wind conditions, landing surface, and obstacles
  • Selects a suitable touchdown point
  • Establishes and maintains the normal approach angle, and proper rate of closure
  • Remains aware of the possibility of wind shear and/or wake turbulence
  • Maintains proper ground track with crosswind correction, as necessary
  • Avoids situations that may result in settling-with-power

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Max Performance


 PrivateCommercial
Airspeed±10 knots±5 knots

  • Considers situations where this maneuver is recommended and factors related to takeoff and climb performance, to include height/velocity information
  • Utilizes proper control technique to initiate takeoff and forward climb airspeed attitude
  • Utilizes the maximum available takeoff power
  • After clearing all obstacles, transitions to normal climb attitude, airspeed and power setting
  • Remains aware of the possibility of wind shear and/or wake turbulence
  • Maintains proper ground track with crosswind correction, as necessary

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Steep Approach


 

 PrivateCommercial
Over touchdown point±4'±2'
Approach angle15° max15° max

  • Considers situations where this maneuver is recommended and factors related to a steep approach, to include height/velocity information
  • Considers the wind conditions, landing surface, and obstacles
  • Selects a suitable termination point
  • Establishes and maintains a steep approach angle, (15° maximum) and proper rate of closure
  • Avoids situations that can result in settling-with-power
  • Remains aware of the possibility of wind shear and/or wake turbulence
  • Maintains proper ground track with crosswind correction, if necessary

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Running Landing

  • Knowledge of the purpose of the maneuver, factors affecting performance data, to include height/velocity information, and effect of landing surface texture
  • Considers obstacles and other hazards
  • Establishes and maintains the recommended approach angle and proper rate of closure.
  • Remains aware of the possibility of wind shear and/or wake turbulence
  • Maintains proper ground track with crosswind correction, if necessary
  • Maintains a speed that will take advantage of effective translational lift during surface contact with landing gear parallel with the ground track
  • Utilizes proper flight control technique after surface

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Go-Around


 PrivateCommercial
Normal Climb Airspeed±10 knots±5 knots

  • Knowledge of the elements related to a go-around and when it is necessary
  • Makes a timely decision to discontinue the approach to landing
  • Establishes proper control input to stop descent and initiate climb
  • Maintains proper ground track with crosswind correction, if necessary

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Traffic Patterns


 PrivateCommercial
Airspeed±10 knots±10 knots
Altitude±100'±100'

  • Knowledge of procedures at airports and heliports with and without operating control towers, prevention of runway incursions, collision avoidance, wake turbulence avoidance, and wind shear
  • Complies with proper traffic pattern procedures
  • Maintains proper spacing from other traffic or avoids the flow of fixed wing aircraft
  • Corrects for wind drift to maintain proper ground track
  • Maintains orientation with runway/landing area in use

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Rapid Deceleration (Quick Stop)


 PrivateCommercial
Maintain Heading±10°±5°

  • Properly coordinates all controls throughout the execution of the maneuver
  • Maintains an altitude that will permit safe clearance between the tail boom and the surface
  • Decelerates and terminates in a stationary hover at the recommended hovering altitude.

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Straight-in Autorotation


 

 PrivateCommercial
Rotor RPM (R22/R44)90-110%90-110%
Normal Climb Airspeed±10 knots±5 knots
Hover over target±200'±100'

  • Selects a suitable touchdown area
  • Initiates the maneuver at the proper point
  • Establishes proper aircraft trim and autorotation airspeed
  • Maintains rotor RPM within normal limits
  • Compensates for windspeed and direction as necessary to avoid undershooting or overshooting the selected landing area
  • Utilizes proper deceleration, collective pitch application to a hover

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180 Autorotation


 

 PrivateCommercial
Rotor RPM (R22/R44)90-110%90-110%
Normal Climb Airspeed±10 knots±5 knots
Hover over target±200'±100'

  • Selects a suitable touchdown area
  • Initiates the maneuver at the proper point
  • Establishes proper aircraft trim and autorotation airspeed
  • Maintains rotor RPM within normal limits
  • Compensates for windspeed and direction as necessary to avoid undershooting or overshooting the selected landing area
  • Utilizes proper deceleration, collective pitch application to a hover

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Power Failure at Hover (Hover Auto)


 

 PrivateCommercial
Heading±10°±5°
Lateral Movementminimum sideward, no rearward minimum sideward, no rearward

  • Determines that the terrain below the aircraft is suitable for a safe touchdown
  • Performs autorotation from a stationary or forward hover into the wind at recommended altitude, and RPM, while maintaining established heading
  • Touches down with minimum sideward movement, and no rearward movement
  • Exhibits orientation, division of attention, and proper planning

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Power Failure at Altitude

 

 PrivateCommercial
Rotor RPM (R22/R44)90-110%90-110%
Airspeed±5 knots±5 knots

  • Establishes an autorotation and selects a suitable landing area
  • Establishes proper aircraft trim and autorotation airspeed
  • Maintains rotor RPM within normal limits
  • Compensates for windspeed and direction as necessary to avoid undershooting or overshooting the selected landing area
  • Terminates approach with a power recovery at a safe altitude when directed by the examiner

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System/Equipment Failure

Analyzes the situation and takes action in at least three of the following areas—

  • Engine, oil & fuel
  • Hydraulics, if applicable
  • Electrical
  • Carburetor or induction icing
  • Smoke and/or fire
  • Flight control/trim
  • Pitot static/vacuum & associated instruments
  • Rotor and/or antitorque
  • Vibrations
  • Other emergency unique to the helicopter flown

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Settling-With-Power


 

 PrivateCommercial
Select altitude to allow recovery by1,000’ AGL1,000’ AGL

  • Selects an altitude that will allow recovery to be completed no less than 1,000 feet AGL or, if applicable, the manufacturer’s recommended altitude, whichever is higher
  • Promptly recognizes and announces the onset of settling-with-power
  • Utilizes the appropriate recovery procedure

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Low Rotor RPM Recovery


  • Knowledge of low rotor RPM recovery and the combination of conditions that are likely to lead to this situation
  • Detects the development of low rotor RPM and initiates prompt corrective action
  • Utilizes the appropriate recovery procedure

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Confined Area

  • Establishes Accomplishes a proper high and low reconnaissance
  • Selects a suitable approach path, termination point, and departure path
  • Tracks the selected approach path at an acceptable approach angle and rate of closure to the termination point
  • Avoids situations that can result in settling-with-power
  • Terminates at a hover or on the surface, as conditions allow
  • Accomplishes a proper ground reconnaissance
  • Selects a suitable takeoff point, considers factors affecting takeoff and climb performance under various conditions

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Pinnacle/Platform

  • Establishes Accomplishes a proper high and low reconnaissance
  • Selects a suitable approach path, termination point, and departure path
  • Tracks the selected approach path at an acceptable approach angle and rate of closure to the termination point
  • Avoids situations that can result in settling-with-power
  • Terminates at a hover or on the surface, as conditions allow
  • Accomplishes a proper ground reconnaissance
  • Selects a suitable takeoff point, considers factors affecting takeoff and climb performance under various conditions

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Zero-Speed Autorotation with 360 degree turn

  • This maneuver itself is not required for Private or Commercial ratings, but maybe considered for ‘Enhanced training in autorotation procedures’ under SFAR 73, especially for a CFI SFAR 73 checkride.
  • Otherwise it is good training to help a student become more confident and accomplished in autorotations generally and serves a real world purpose for possible engine failure in an out of ground effect hover over an confined area.

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Resources

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