Line length Sling operations

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VBlade
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Line length Sling operations

Postby VBlade » Sat Feb 17 2018, 03:53

What length of line should be on offer when doing the sling line endorsement?

Gettimg offered 10ft, seems way too short.
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hand in pants
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby hand in pants » Sat Feb 17 2018, 04:06

VBlade, way too short for what. Starting with a 150 foot line is not a good idea. What machine are you using for the training? What do you intend to use the rating for? How often will you have a line under you?
Mate there is a lot to it. Start off with 10 feet till you get used to it, then go longer.
Hand in Pants, I'm thinking, my god, that IS huge!!!!!!!!
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby VBlade » Sat Feb 17 2018, 04:21

Thanks for the reply.

R44 with 10ft on offer for now as its all they have. Wanting to open doors for employment so going to do night and sling for now.

Does the rating work on length of line so you need to keep stepping up and training for longer lines?

Approx how many hours to progress to 100ft? I understand it is competency based but just a ballpark.

Regards

VB
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby Twistgrip » Sat Feb 17 2018, 05:35

G’day Vblade,
There are a lot of guys on here that are high time longliners and can offer advice, I’ve done a bit over the years on fires and remote work and as Hand in Pants has mentioned it all depends on the type of work and terrain your working in.

Back in the day I started out belly hooking buckets on a Jet ranger on fires as long lines weren’t used and materials weren’t there to produce lightweight yet rated lines.

100’ lines became the norm in the late 90’s 2000 and developed from there.

As you mentioned it’s all competency based and everyone is different some guys pick it up quick others take some time and some guys never get it no matter how hard they try.

If the job requires a 10 foot line use one if It requires a 150’ line etc use one, all task specific.

I’m sure some of the other guys on here that can offer advice will also.

All the best with it it’s really good fun and very rewarding.
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rex bivouac
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby rex bivouac » Sat Feb 17 2018, 06:18

Just a pup on the long line but 10’ would be the perfect TR catcher I would have thought?

There have been a couple serious accidents in NZ with guys using less than 30’ lines.

If you fly an Astar read the SB that came out.



Food for thought.
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby Heliduck » Sat Feb 17 2018, 07:36

VBlade wrote:Thanks for the reply.

R44 with 10ft on offer for now as its all they have. Wanting to open doors for employment so going to do night and sling for now.

Does the rating work on length of line so you need to keep stepping up and training for longer lines?

Approx how many hours to progress to 100ft? I understand it is competency based but just a ballpark.

Regards

VB


Slow down there Hombre!! Vertical reference external load work is not something you rush into, experience is something you gain immediately after you need it & being connected to an object with your helicopter takes time to master. Once you're approved for external loads you can hook up whatever you like so by all means jump onto a 100 ft line & go at it, but make sure you are prepared to be VERY light, take it VERY slow & have a VERY large area to work in. I don't consider a 10 ft line vertical reference, it's more like a sling load, I'm not very tall & I'd struggle to hang out the door far enough to see a 10 ft load.
Either way, focus on learning as much as you can with what you have & get the approval on your licence. Be patient with getting to the longer lines with loads, once you've scared yourself s#!t a few times you'll understand why I said that. Be even more patient with flying at night.

The following is a story I copied from the dark side years ago authored by 170', I first read it as a relative novice & now that I have done many years of production & precision longline work I think it is the best training documentation I have seen for longline work. I had reposted it here years ago but it's always worth a reread.

Over to you 170' -



Part One...

Every time I tried to explain swings. I realised there’s a few steps that need to be covered first.

This is not a substitute for a good company-training plan. But it might help to prepare someone in advance. Or help someone who’s having problems getting the fine points sorted out!

It’s a long piece, because I think it’s necessary to establish basics.

In any kind of flying. If something starts getting bent out of shape consistently, just go back to basics and try to find where you’re going wrong.

Long lining 101: Pre-requisites…


The key to successful long line flying is being smooth. If you watch an experienced logging/seismic/drill pilot throwing the machine around, it’s easy to get a false impression of the skills needed. The speed came with lots of practice. Any attempt to go faster while learning, will either set you back in the learning process, or end in tears…

Just take it nice and easy, and always remember you have a line on! Long line capability can be one of the most useful attributes of a helicopter. But the learning process takes time.

Before the logging/seismic/drill guy got to the point of whizzing around, with things seemingly under control. They had to go step by step. And nobody just jumped in and mastered the technique. Yes! Some pick it up faster than others, but I don’t think this indicates who’s going to end up as a ‘Gun’ long liner (to quote some old Aussie mates)

Life will be a lot easier if you start out with some basic vertical reference (VR) without a line attached.

Start out, hovering in a high IGE hover with a safety pilot in the other seat.
Make vertical ascents and descents maintaining position by looking straight down . Bubble window or door off of course!

Personally, I always take off looking at a skid or wheel; correct any yaw by reference to the skid/wheel movement (shouldn’t be any, if you’re current and qualified) and transition to VR immediately.

(This is not helicopter flying 101, and some of my advice is contradictory to basic flying techniques, because LL is not basic flying)

Once you can lift off, and climb/descend vertically, maintaining a constant position over the ground!

Try OGE hovering looking straight down. Maintain a constant position over the ground and play with TR drift when changing power settings. Then start the ascent, descent thing again, up and down a hundred feet or more. I’m not suggesting you spend hours on this. Just a few exercises until you feel confident that you climb and descend in a truly vertical manner.

Caution: Read up on HV diagrams, you’re going to spend a lot of time in it. Understand what it does and doesn’t mean…It was pretty much covered in a recent post.

Next, Practice flying approaches with constant angles. i.e.

Line a bug smash up with the aiming point, and fly every approach as a constant angle. Be hard on yourself, and demand the most accurate constant angle approach you can. Try to get in the mode of minimum power changes, and try to minimize pedal input.

When you think your approaches are up to speed, think about doing some line flying.

Seat adjustment:

It’s really important that you get a comfortable seat position, where you can relax.
Try to avoid muscular tension, from trying to support yourself in an awkward position…

Like all helo flying, if you’re tense, it’s going to work against you…having said that!
Don’t expect to find a truly comfortable position very often. It’s a case of the most comfortable position available.

While you’re developing this skill, it’s a good idea to mark your seat position with a non-permanent CD marker pen. If you adjust for the next flight, re-mark the seat frame, but leave the original marks, until you find the most comfortable position for you! Try to remember to put the seat in this position every time you fly LL…At least in the beginning!

LL flying is really only trying to cope with a huge bunch of variables, so if we progressively remove the optional variables, we’re ahead of the game!

Something as simple as a changed seat position can make life harder in the early stages.

More to come! Length exceeds the maximum post limit

part 2
________________________________________
Fly the hook, not the helicopter!


This was what I was told when I started out! …I didn’t really get it then, and I don’t get it now… So, step-by step!

Let’s take a 100’ line as a starting point, some people suggest a 50’ line is better, but I think the slower motion of the 100’ line and not leaning out as far to see it, is probably more helpful at first…Like many things, there’s no right/wrong answer to this one!

When I’m long lining in production work, I use a 170’ line for everything, unless trees etc demand longer. This is the best combination for the way I fly. Getting up around 200-250’ and I get cranky waiting for the hook to catch up! Length is also determined by mission to a great extent. If you’re in a heavy or certain mediums, you need to go long for downwash issues.

What we have so far, is a comfortable seating position, and a LL of indeterminate length.
We know it hangs from the belly hook, which is behind and to the right or left, a little or a lot depending on a/c.

It’s all well and good to say “keep the helicopter over the hook”. But we need to be more specific…We need to keep the belly hook over the remote/manual hook, because that’s the place where the long line hook will hang, in a perfect OGE hover.

Because we have difficulty in knowing exactly where the belly hook is located, in reference to our seat position. We need an aid…this aid is called a:

Sight picture:

By this, I mean! An instinctive sense of where the hook should be in a perfect OGE hover…(from here on in, the´ hook´ refers to a remote hook, or the hook hanging from the business end of a long line)

In still wind. with the helo bolted to a skyhook. Absolutely no movement from the helicopter…the only place the hook can be, is directly beneath the belly hook…

OK…to get the sight picture.

Take a CD marker pen and put a few straight lines across the skids and cross tubes, anywhere you think will be in your peripheral vision, when looking straight down at the hook. Maybe mark each line with a number, say 1-10 along the skid and A-J along the cross tube…

Go into an OGE hover (or have another pilot do it from the other seat) and look down at the remote hook.

In this perfect hover…The hook hangs at the imaginary intersection of lines D cross-tube and 5-skid for example.

Hold the hover, and try to imprint this sight picture in your mind, with the aid of the index marks.

Remove the ones you don’t need on the next landing and leave the good index marks!

In future, anytime you’re told to “ fly the hook, not the helicopter”…

Fly the sight picture, not the helicopter

Depth perception comes more or less naturally. And imagining yourself sitting on the hook, makes no sense to me! How do you do that? I’ve been guilty of using that line as a throw away remark. But it makes no sense!


Departure:

Key points here are: Make sure the machine is in good shape.

When you come to the hover. Pause a few seconds, and really make sure you see no developing problems… (Especially when single pilot) because you’re going to be busy looking outside for a few minutes...

As you come up, move over the point where the line is leaving the ground.

With experience, you’ll learn to coil the line as you land. But in the beginning, just slide around, keeping the belly hook/sight picture, over the position where the line is leaving the surface…if you ever get snagged on a root etc. You’ll be in better shape when it’s only a vertical ‘grab’ …a horizontal ‘grab’ can drag you out of the sky!

Make sure the line/hook is well clear of the ground and obstacles before transitioning to forward flight.

Straight and Level :

Flying straight and level is not that difficult with a long line. The dangers of something flying up and snagging a TR or MR are much reduced. Experience will teach you at what speed you can use with varying loads.

When you’re still learning, a useful technique could be to increase your speed in 10 knot increments above say! 30 knots. Let it stabilize at the new speed for a little while, then go up another 10 knots…If things start getting funky, back it down 10, and go with that!

A lot of my experience is with logging. In this realm, (very dense load) speed is dictated by basic VNE, vibration, comfort level, or the ability to stop at the bottom of a short fly.

If I’m flying construction sheeting, or a 60’ diameter parabolic antenna, I might be limited to 20 kts. (Or less)

Typically, a bad swing while in cruise is just too much speed, although there are many times when going faster will straighten it out. But this is not something to play with in the early stages. Just presume you’re going too fast, and back it down a skoshe!
3rd and final part
________________________________________
Arrival:

Here’s where the real potential for problems begins.

The following advice is predicated on being smart enough to only accept a load within acceptable limits of both the OGE charts and personal capabilities. Plus the download of a couple of hundred pounds for the wife and kids (husband and kids?)

It doesn’t matter what the last pilot did or didn’t do. The guy telling you what the last pilot(s) did possibly has a room temperature IQ…you’re the PIC!

Like it or not, you have to make your presence felt. And people are not always going to like the calls you make. Especially when you’re young or look young.

Try to think of it as a character building excercise! And don’t take it personally. You’re not the first or last…” most worthless son of a bitch he’s ever had the pleasure to work with! “ ;-)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The key to this whole deal is being smooth. Don’t let anyone or anything push you along faster than you want to go.

Set yourself up with the final approach you need under the existing circumstances. Get the constant approach angle going, to an aiming point beyond the drop zone. I can’t say a specific distance. But approximately 5-6 times the length of your long line works OK.. (Imagine the line running out horizontally from the drop zone).

This will give you a decent approach angle while you’re learning the fine points.

Don’t try to come in too steep, as then we introduce falling thru (settling with power) and we want to leave this optional variable out at the moment…

Later, as the line becomes less of a hassle, and you’re looking for production figures. You’ll work a lot in down-flow, and learn to accept a certain amount of falling thru as just part of the working day.

Settling with power is common in the production world. Just another flight regime that you accept and live with, moving out of the condition smoothly! (Well, sometimes less than smoothly, but it’s a good idea to get out of it ;-)


This approach angle I’m suggesting is only an initial angle to get you started down. (Presuming you came from somewhere distant with the load).

If you get the constant angle established early. Power will be reasonably constant, and you can concentrate on an effective approach angle. I’m talking long final distance at this point.

As you start getting closer in and you wait too long to bring in the power, you end up with variables we don’t need. So start trading airspeed for sink rate (reducing both) at a very slow, but consistent rate. Minimizing pedal input if possible.

Ideally, we want to fly the load exactly where it needs to go on the first approach.

If you’ve downloaded the cargo weight as I suggest (while training and early working days) and are in up-flow or into wind. It’s better to be too high than too low, or better to be over shooting than undershooting…

The hardest thing for a new LL pilot is to land too short and wobble it in…It breeds bad habits, that will take a long time to shake. If you’re a little high and can stabilize the hover over the drop zone, it’s just a case of a slow descent and you’re there!

Key words are “If you’re a little high”

Don’t try coming over the top and vertically descending 200’ (hook height ;-))

If you’re just loading a truck or such, then basically start at:

Controlling the swing.

If the hook is outbound, any direction, from the position directly beneath the Sight picture.

Move the ´sight picture´ out with it; you can pursue the little devil aggressively on the outbound swing.

But only before it reaches its swing limit?

If you are not over the top completely, at or just before it reaches maximum out swing. Stop the pursuit. And change the direction; follow it smoothly in the other direction! ...continue chasing it, slowly imparting a braking force.

In other words; slow the helo down, but very smoothly, and as you slow the hook down, try to match the ´rate of change´ of the hook, with the Sight Picture

(Remember, any minor errors you make on the out swing, will have minimal effect, relative to the in swing)

At the critical moment of change, (out swing limit) you’re aiming to have the sight picture, directly over the hook…Any small out of alignment, should only give a very minimum swing. A brief ascent or descent will nail it…. Briefly ;-)

A little swing is nearly always present, no matter how good you are. It’s rare that anyone can keep it in a perfect position for too long, so don’t worry about it too much. Any accuracy beyond this minimum swing is luck…. or lots of practice and LUCK!

If you apply any energy to the hook as it’s inbound to the sight picture position. You’re going to accelerate the hook in the wrong direction. In fact, the only thing you can do on its inbound swing is to increase the vertical component of its movement. Thereby reducing its horizontal component…

Ok some experienced guys will point out that this is far from true, but it’s better to try to get it right, than try to recover. And I don’t want to muddy the waters any more than necessary…

Now this is where it gets tricky.

The hook (weight) always wants to go straight down! No surprises there?

So, at approaching max outswing… if you’re nearly there, but didn’t quite make it.
You can give a smooth short pull/push on the collective, either direction depending on height available/needed. And when the hook is moving vertically. Slide the sight picture over the top and Bingo!

Repeat a few thousand times! ;-)…..Easy-Peasy!

No! Not really…It’s a frustrating process and you’ll normally struggle for quite a while.

Then one day you’ll wake up and think…(favorite expletive) I can’t remember the last time I was having trouble with the line…apart from the occasional hiccup we all experience from time to time…!

Hope this is some help!

Ps…As Remote Hook say’s. Punching a load off is the last thing in the armory, and I mean the very last thing… something was overlooked in the basics department, or you wouldn’t get in a ‘punch off scenario’…At least not often; any seasoned long line guy would typically go a real long time without jettisoning a load.

I’ve tried to write this for someone who’s serious about trying to get into longline work.
And try to get competent as fast as possible. Most of us just learned by watching, and then trial and error. But I’d be interested in any feedback from anyone who tries these tips. There just something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

A little advice for those who want to get into production longlining.

There´s some good money to be made in this field. Superior to anything else I found in the helicopter world. But to get it? You’ve got to take it seriously. And put in a lot of effort. You need to be quick and smooth, but professional in everything you do. Which is not always easy, given the environment?

What the long line world doesn’t need. Is another pilot stumbling around in partial control of the line? Time and again, I´ve heard people on forums minimize the time and effort needed to become a long line pilot.

When people say that you’ll be a good long line pilot in a relatively quick time.

I think they mean in comparison to them…

All the best! 170’
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Evil Twin
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby Evil Twin » Sat Feb 17 2018, 09:03

OK I'll say it - How long's a piece of string?
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VBlade
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby VBlade » Sat Feb 17 2018, 09:25

Cheers gents,

Great read Heliduck. Thanks for sharing it.

So if I get the rating with the 10’ line, am I bound to 10’ line work only and will need to obtain a further rating for longer lines?

Excuse the ignorance, just trying to understand the whole process. It takes as long as it takes.

VB
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VBlade
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby VBlade » Sat Feb 17 2018, 09:28

Evil Twin wrote:OK I'll say it - How long's a piece of string?



Yep, you said it!
Left the door open on that one! ahah
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby Heliduck » Sat Feb 17 2018, 13:21

Heliduck wrote:
VBlade wrote:Does the rating work on length of line so you need to keep stepping up and training for longer lines?

Approx how many hours to progress to 100ft? I understand it is competency based but just a ballpark.

Regards

VB


Once you're approved for external loads you can hook up whatever you like ’


I thought I had answered that question. You can progress to any length of line you want to on day 1, how competent you become & how many hours it takes to become competent will be determined by your self discipline & how regularly you do it. Rather than nail down an hour limit think of it this way - you’ll be competent to use a 100foot line with a light load in a large clear area on day 1. As your experience builds you will start to find this easier & you will feel comfortable adding weight & reducing the area available. There’s no definitive answer, once you have had a go at it only you will know how long it will take. Longlining is like golf, nearly every load could be better, every now & then you just nail it & that’s what brings you back next time -trying to nail that load again. Every load I fly I try to be smoother than the last, I’m never completely happy so in my mind I’m never completely competent. The competition is never with anyone else or the helicopter, the helicopter must become an extension of you & it’s your job to look after it, even if that means failing to deliver the load. The competition is with yourself to be smoother than last time. When you fly smoothly you will be efficient, when you are efficient you’ll have good cycle times. Good luck.
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby UnObvious » Sat Feb 17 2018, 19:18

If you get some training from someone that knows what they're doing, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to fly a 100` line from day 1.

Find someone with some actual experience and you'll be right. I've seen lots of guys giving sling endorsements with only a couple hours of sling themselves. That's not who you want to learn from.

I don't think there's much value in learning on a 10' line.
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby Waka topatopa » Sat Feb 17 2018, 20:20

I'd say there is probably a reason they only 'teach' sling with a 10' line. My advice would be to find someone with some real on the job experience to learn from, especially if you are dong it to open some doors as those with experience will also have good contacts.

All the best!
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby chocolate » Sat Feb 17 2018, 21:58

As a person who used to be under the sling loads or Bambi bucket from their early days of use in the bush, I can say the 100 ft and plus had way less difficulty with accuracy with water drops than 50 ft line. A major consideration for me on the ground was the less rotor wash to bring tree limbs down on me the better so the higher you are for winching and bucketting the better for ground crew. There are lots of experienced people teaching but..
Suggest you could talk to Tim Latimer air t ng Ballina about getting training.
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havick
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby havick » Sun Feb 18 2018, 01:14

Have you tried Forestair? They have a flight school and conduct year round external load and longline ops
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby VBlade » Sun Feb 18 2018, 09:42

Appreciate all the responses. Thankyou

I will get in touch with the suggested and get it underway. Looking forward to it!

Feel more prepared after all the info!

VB
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby Forest_air_Training » Sun Feb 18 2018, 23:33

Interesting thread all.

Good post Heliduck, some really useful bits and pieces in there from someone with a lot of time looking down and thinking about what they are doing.

Thanks for the mention havick. After we have done some head out the door hovering work. We typically start off with a 100ft line on the end of which we attach a net with something nice and heavy in it.

Starting with a short line may very well work for other schools and may be specific to the sling course they teach.
Quality training by experienced, working pilots.
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Re: Line length Sling operations

Postby BBwantok » Mon Feb 19 2018, 00:34

I agree with Forest Air, start with high hover exercises, then straight to a 100ft line. If you are looking to eventually work here (PNG) or somewhere similar, that is the minimum length.

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