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To Fly another Day

To Fly another Day

B Company, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment
Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Talking to your crew about in-flight issues is a good idea. It could prevent an unplanned landing in hostile territory. Here’s how I learned.

I was halfway through my pilot in command check ride for the CH-47F with a standardization pilot from my company in Regional Command East. The flight originated at Forward Operating Base Shank. We had enfiled a group of U.S. and Afghan forces for a mission without incident and returned to Shank. We then received the call for exfil, cranked up and departed. After a few minutes into the 30-minute flight, the SP looked at me and asked if I had hit the cyclic. As I told him that I had not, we experienced an uncommanded roll to the right.

This was a four-ship mission and we were Chalk 3. We told our flight engineer what we were experiencing and asked him to check the flight control closet. He did and found nothing wrong. It took us about five minutes before we let the rest of the flight know we were having issues, but we thought we had the problem resolved after checking our automatic flight control system. The problem seemed to stop and we still felt we could continue the mission.

As we flew on, the controls became sloppier to the point that we determined it would not be safe to load troops. We talked with the flight and fell back into the Chalk 4 position to minimize control inputs. Thankfully, due to our planning and the fact that several troops did not show for the mission, we were able to put our share of the troops on the other three aircraft. However, we where now so far away from Shank that we did not want to break away from the rest of the flight because we were not sure if we were going to make it back. We did not want to be forced to land, or worse, without friendlies in the area to know our situation and status, so we stuck with the rest of the flight till we arrived at Shank and went straight to parking and shut down the aircraft.

After exiting the aircraft, we climbed up on it and observed as the flight controls were actuated. That’s when we saw that every control movement caused fluid from the upper dual-boost actuator to squirt out. Air was getting sucked back in, thus putting air into our flight control hydraulics. This could have caused them to lockup, which may have led to a crash.

We were able to use our crew’s experience and communicate in flight to arrive at a solution to the immediate problem. No aircrew wants to experience air inside their hydraulic system. Fortunately, in this case, aircrew coordination proved critical to understanding and managing a serious situation and that got us back to base safely to fly another day.

  • 1 March 2016
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 1190
  • Comments: 0