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7 Answers

Low altitude auto’s

Asked by: 781 views Flight Instructor, Helicopter

Looking for insight on autos from 100ft AGL at zero airspeed. I have only seen one demonstrated and just want to pick the brains of some advanced pilots. Gain airspeed and flare? run on landing? straight down no flare (I know a 44 can do it but what about a 22?) Thanks in advance

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7 Answers

  1. Skyfox on Nov 15, 2016

    I have no idea what you’re talking about. What are you referring to when you say “auto”? Do you mean an autogyro/gyroplane?

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  2. EAD on Nov 15, 2016

    “Auto” is helicopter shorthand for “autorotation”.

    I would suggest reading the emergency procedures (Section 3) of the Robinson POH (they are available free online from Robinson). The procedures do outline the recommended course of action for engine failure between 8 and 500ft AGL

    Looking at the performance section, Robinson is pretty explicit that you avoid flying in that region.

    Full disclosure: I am not helicopter rated but have studied the POH a bit when my brother was working towards his private.


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  3. wes eads on Nov 15, 2016

    EAD I really appreciate your insight. Looking at the POH earlier is as described 8-500 feet. Granted 100ft AGL at an airspeed of zero is completely out of the HV diagram you are actually in that position a lot when doing steep approaches, confined area landings etc…..your right though the altitude from about 100 agl to 250 is kind of a blur in the POH.

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  4. Kris Kortokrax on Nov 17, 2016

    You are making assumptions that are not valid.

    The POH does not describe a procedure for performing a practice auto from 8-500 feet. It assumes that you have forward speed (#3 – “Maintain airspeed”, not gain airspeed from zero).

    You are not in as critical a position performing either a normal or steep approach. The H-V diagram is constructed using guidance contained in AC 27-1B starting on page B-37. Inside the takeoff portion of the diagram (below the knee of the curve) it is assumed that takeoff power is applied. The blades are also pitched at a high angle of attack for climb. This results in a rapid decay of RPM. On an approach, less power is used and the blades are pitched less. Further, during an actual engine failure, it will require time both to recognize that there has been an engine failure and time to react to the engine failure. It is a quite different scenario when a pilot is setting up a demonstration. He is quite likely initiating the auto by lowering the collective, instead of rolling the throttle to idle and then reacting by lowering the collective.

    Other than performing certification test, there is no reason to perform zero speed autos from 100′, other than showing off, unless you are performing a work operation such as power line patrol or repair and have an actual engine failure. In that case, feel free to enter an auto.

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  5. wes eads on Nov 18, 2016

    Power line patrol and aerial sawing is exactly one of the reasons I asked. Those guys are at 0 knots and 100 AGL all the time.

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  6. Kris Kortokrax on Nov 23, 2016


    Please google “helicopter tree sawing” and watch some videos. They are neither at zero airspeed nor 100′. It is a rare day that is windless. When working, helicopters maneuver to take advantage of existing wind. While it may appear at times that they are in a hover, the airspeed is not zero. It is whatever the speed of the wind is that they are facing and as we climb, the wind speed tends to increase due to a reduction in ground friction. If you look at the saws, you will see that they are suspended from an attachment. The saws are maneuvered to trim the trees at the height of the wires. This will place the helicopter more in the neighborhood of 200′.

    I’m not sure if you witnessed someone at the airport doing this or just watched Youtube videos. I can assure you that they were most likely not a zero airspeed. They would look for a favorable wind and take advantage of it. If they were truly at zero airspeed, they would be drifting backwards, due to the existing wind.

    Same thing applies to power line patrol. The helicopter is constantly moving and facing into the prevailing wind.

    The closest you might come for a job that might require performing an auto from the circumstances you describe would probably be power line repair, which I mentioned. However, most of the accidents occurring during power line repair result from either the helicopter contacting the wires, which results in blade damage and makes an auto a moot point, or accidents involving the man working the wires falling.

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  7. Abner on Mar 19, 2017

    At a 100 foot hover and entering with zero speed after a throttle chop, you will crash an R22 and you likely might not walk away from it. Despite the fact it’s legal to operate in the HV curve, you’re being a test pilot by attempting autos within it.

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