Tough Apache

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by gun, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. gun

    gun Powered by air Member

    Some of you may have heard about this Apache crash in the news. Definitely can be filed under stupid pilot tricks. Its the only video I can find of it in the less than one minute looking. The linked video has had some weird post processing done on it. The original video I saw didn't have any of that. Regardless, there are likely better videos out there of it.

    If you can believe it, based on what I've been told, no injuries on the ground and both pilots survived. Apaches can really take a beating. Its one of those government expenditures where the tax payer really got their money's worth.

    The linked video does have links to various news stories covering the crash.

    Here's what the aircraft looked like after the pilots were extricated from the aircraft.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2017

    SPRAWL Member

    Yup, those guys need to be charged with something, and I want to be paid back for one Apache they wrecked being asshats.

  3. bluebone

    bluebone Duke of Sarcasm Member

    i know IF i ever was asked to be a copilot on some aircraft (hypothetically) i'd wanna know if the pilot was a real pilot, or a hotdog. the copilot prolly had no control over what the pilot was doing. if thats not true then i would sure like to be enlightened on how these things are flown.
  4. Keep forgetting this is an Apache, I almost started going into Cobra speak lol.
    If the pilot is at the controls still, the gunner is pretty much helpless; the controls are meant to be handled by one person at a time. Guaranteed the pilot was laying on the stick the entire time trying to get out of it, so the gunner woul dhave just been along for the ride.
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2012
  5. gun

    gun Powered by air Member

    Redundancy is an important aspect for Apaches. In an Apache, the pilot is also redundant, meaning it can be flown from either seat. In this case, trying to take control after the aircraft was already committed would have likely resulted in a far worse outcome.

    I honestly don't know the specifics of this crash but from what I can tell they are in the mountains. Helicopter performance generally sucks horribly in the mountains(1). Very likely at sea level the maneuverer would have been dumb but reasonably safe. In the mountains, just not enough air to beat into submission, resulting in what you saw.

    Very likely a case of the pilot knowing his aircraft but forgetting where he at.

    Situational awareness is key for every pilot and this smacks of the pilot losing his.

    1. Which is why helicopter fuel consumption sucks horribly. Turbines get best results at high altitude. That's why jets fly high (that and lower wind resistance). Rotors function best at low altitude.
  6. helomech

    helomech Member

    I worked on them for 5 years and they are hands down the best and toughest helicopter I have ever worked on. And I have worked on most U.S. licensed types of helicopters. The co pilot's cyclic stick collapses (spelling) out of his way. He has a TADS he is almost always looking into. So when he is not flying he lowers the cyclic. The pilot is always in control of the helicotper even if the co-pilot is actually flying it. That is why he is called the PIC (Pilot In Comand) and he sits in the back seat. The Apache had ridiculous amounts of power, even at altitude if he had not had his head up his *** he could have recovered. He simply screwed up. I have been with them in the mountains before and they will take off fully loaded with only one engine on line. And that was the old A models, the new C and D models have even more power.
  7. gun

    gun Powered by air Member

    My brother is an Apache Instructor Pilot. I am a fixed wing private pilot, but not a helicopter pilot. If you feel I made any misrepresentations below, I'll talk to my brother for clarification or misunderstandings I may have.

    While its true the aircraft has crazy stupid power, it still has limits. The service ceiling of many helicopters is under 8000MSL. The mighty Chinook, IIRC, has a ceiling of 14,000MSL (13,000 while hovering). The higher you get, the more a helicopter will struggle and the less power you will have; even assuming you have 100% torque available on any given day. Helicopters are far from immune to altitude issues. In fact, high altitude operations is a common cause of stupid pilot tricks, in both fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

    The few helicopters which are specifically designed to operate at high altitudes typically have crazy power to weight ratios (way more impressive than the Apache which is loaded with lots of computers, redundant equipment, armor, fuel, and weapon systems) and massive rotor systems (which the Apache does not have for noise and forward performance profile). They are generally used for mountain logging and/or mining operations. They exist specifically because most helicopters horribly suffer at the altitudes at which this class of helicopter is designed to operate.

    Over torque is a very real concern and issue. Regardless of available HP, the rotor system can only handle so much torque. Likewise, just like a wing on a plane, you can stall rotors. If you look in the video, you can clearly see prior to impact the rotors are already over torqued (upside down umbrella shape) and likely stalling or quickly heading that way. Meaning, given the altitude AGL (low) and MSL (assuming in the mountains; probably high relative to the heli's performance window), once they completed their rotation and pointed the nose downward, their fate was sealed. Also notice how slowly the copter completes its rotation from the climb. Its a good indicator the helicopter was not responding as quickly as the pilot had anticipated and that it was rather mushy. Both of which are indicative of thin air. That was likely the pilot's last chance to avoid disaster. Fixed wing aircraft experience the same thing when at altitude or near stall speed.

    On a hot day, with a burdened copter, they sometimes have to sit to burn off excess fuel just to get air born. And even then, that's generally requires a rolling taking off; just like a plane. Lastly, one engine performance is pretty crappy and requires the helicopter remain above stall speed (IIRC, something in the area of 40+knts; though it might be higher, I've slept since my last conversation on that). Without the added lift of the forward airspeed, in all but ideal circumstance, an Apache is going to struggle on one engine. Doubly so if loaded for bear.

    Also, given the rapid decent toward the end, its possible they were caught in their own down wash given they had little forward speed or momentum. This is why you frequently see pilots make roll-on landings rather than hover in landings. This has a nasty habit of creating a helicopter killer event when close to the ground. This has a name which is lovingly called the "Vortex Ring Of Death". [ame=""]Here's a video of one such event (first video from search engine).[/ame] The horn is the stall horn. Normally this simply causes a rotor stall and the pilot would fly out of it but given it looks like they were already past torque limits and were already stalling the blades, if in fact they were caught in a vortex ring, their fate was completely sealed the moment the pilot pulled all the way back on the collective because of their proximity to the ground.

    As for PIC, he's the Pilot In Command because his word is law, not because he controls every aspect of the flight while the co-pilot has control. That's not to say control can't be wrestled away, but that's certainly not going to improve a low altitude recovery when altitude is already gone. If you care, this is what happens when the co-pilot makes a bad decision and the PIC has a few feet to level and stabilize the aircraft prior to impact. As a side note, the PIC is now 1/2" shorter. Just because there is a "PIC", doesn't mean its immune to poor decisions made by either pilot as they individually operate the aircraft.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  8. duster066

    duster066 Supporting Member

    I have literally saved my butt three times from the actions of the pilot sitting to my left or right, and saved my airplane from a nasty ground loop when I took it from a FAA B-737 check pilot. In all of those cases all those guys had groups more experience than I had, but I was paying attention and they were not. And my butt has been saved a few times by the guy sitting next to me.;) Pilots are like everyone else...about that much smarter than a cat.

    Gun, when I saw the title of the thread and your name I thought I was going to read a story about a Piper.:D
  9. gun

    gun Powered by air Member

    Some twin time would be nice. Though honestly, I'm not sure it really does anything for me. Another engine to break down, another engine to overhaul, and another engine to feed. And IIRC, the single engine performance of the Piper Apache is horrible - as in start flapp'n your arms. Also read statistically, twin pilots with less than 150 hours/year are more likely to have a fatality than a low hour single engine pilot because of single engine fail over and related emergencies. If I'm lucky, I might see 150 hours/year so it doesn't sound like a good way to roll the dice. Even still, its hard to complain about 150knts on 9gph LOP.

    I think getting some sail plane hours would be pretty cool. I hear it really helps polish up some piloting skills. Also wouldn't mind my HP and tail endorsement. More pressing, I really want my IFR ticket.

    Some times life is still pretty good living vicariously through the exploits of others. ;)

    As for saving your butt - yes, that's exactly why multi-pilot is a good thing, even in spam cans. Pilots are human. We all make mistakes. Complacency kills.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  10. I blame gun for this mishap.
    Had he been there, it wouldn't have been an issue. But nooooo, he has to live his own life and be here on this forum.
    SHAME! :p
  11. gun

    gun Powered by air Member


    Hind sight is 20-20. :D

    Of course, it doesn't hurt that I'm conservative pilot so I probably wouldn't qualify as an Apache pilot anyways. Its takes special balls of steel to flying 20'-50' AGL, with maybe 10'-20' above obstructions (trees, houses, etc)(1) at 160MPH. Even in the Apache simulator I experienced sphincter factor 11 and required a crow bar to extract my ass from the chair.

    In the pilot world, post crash analysis is actively encouraged because there are lessons to be learned. The sad truth is, pilots are constantly making the same mistakes over and over again. I literally get news letters on nothing but post crash analysis which talk about bad judgment and risk mitigation. Its part of the pilot culture and actively encouraged.

    I know you're giving me a little knuckle rub on the head in jest because it sounds like I'm trying to be mr. smarty, but I think you'll be hard pressed to find any good pilot who isn't willing to analyze post-crash.

    1. You find many an Apache and Blackhawk pilot who has dodged trees, houses, and even donkeys and camels.
  12. duster066

    duster066 Supporting Member

    I have a few hours in a 160 horse Apache. It's greatest claim to fame was it was once owned by Paul Allen. I can tell you from that airplane he wasn't always rolling in bucks. It was a pig, and down here at sea level it could barely make 50fpm on one engine. We had two gliders at the same FBO I was working at and I had zillions of opportunities to sail, but it never got my blood going and I passed. Big mistake.

    The only twin I would own is a C-337. Maintenance pigs ya and a bit doggy when loaded, but a very sweet flying airplane, and you can see up AND down.;) The first time the instructor pulled an engine he caught me with my eyes out and I didn't know he had done it. I couldn't figure out why the airspeed was bleeding off. It took a scan of the panel and the super low manifold pressure gave me my first clue.
  13. gun

    gun Powered by air Member

    How many hours you have in type? The C-337 a handful with an engine out?
  14. duster066

    duster066 Supporting Member

    I don't have a multi rating. All my time was free during test flights, about 25 total and 6 in a 337. They are ***** cats to fly, think a 400 horse power 182. With center line thrust an engine out is a piece of cake to control. Like I said above many don't recognize they have trouble when the rear goes, it just slows down...yawn. You can see and hear the prop when you loose the front. The front seats are forward of the wing LE so visibility is outstanding. And if you leave the bags at home and go light on gas they'll haul six. There are also 300 horse mods for them, that's 600hp or a third engine. Then they haul butt, but the price is north of 200 grand. Oh but they are maintenance HOGS! I would owe one because older ones can be had under 100 grand and I could maintain it.;)
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  15. gun

    gun Powered by air Member

    I know exactly which plane you're talking about. I've drooled on many myself. I've simply never known a 337 pilot. The only thing I have ever heard about them is the maintenance isn't worth the performance. Sounds like you're bringing that statement home.

    What is it about them that makes them such maintenance issues?
  16. duster066

    duster066 Supporting Member

    The engines are Cont IO360s low TBO and substandard reliability. Also the rear gets crap for cooling air so they eat jugs. Hatzel props with all the ADs, The gear system is the same crap fuselage mounted system in the 210's 182/172RGs. The gear is very complex, has a few ADs, the nose gears are known to collapse, and the mains sometimes like to stay in the wells. The gear works good when it is well maintained, but it's complex so costly. Then of course, 2 governors, 4 mags, fuel pumps out the back side...oh ya a complicated fuel management system that has caused a few wrecks with lots of gas left on board. Let's see anything else? The normal BS Cessna seat ADs: The seats are BS not the AD. One of my save the day deals was when the guy fly in the left seat ended up in the back when the seat adjustment lock failed on TO. The 337 is a maintenance hog. $5000 annual if everything is OK.:eek:

    If you are really interest in a twin or complex airplane I recommend Pipers. There is no simpler airplane than the Cherokee series. They are so simple to maintain I fell in love with them. The Arrow is a dream to fly and will do 165mph on 9gph. The Cherokee Six will go toe to toe with the C206, and it's cheaper and easier to maintain. The twin Arrow and Seneca are Cherokee based twins. If you want a fixed gear HP airplane the Cherokee 235 gives 182 performance for less money, but are hard to find.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  17. gun

    gun Powered by air Member

    Holy crap. I thought a $1200 annual sucked.

    I got my first retract time in an Arrow. The thing glides like a rock with a rock tied to it when you lose the engine. Didn't really excited me in the way I wanted. I guess I got spoiled with the DA-20s, PA24-140, and 172s. Mooneys glides awesome too, though obviously nothing like a DA-20. Probably being a little harsh because the Arrow isn't that bad compared to a 182.

    I built most of my fixed gear time in 172s and a Cherokee 140. I really like Pipers myself, which is why when I first looked at retracts, the Arrow was the goto plan.

    I was really disappointed to hear a student decided to land "my" 140 on top of another plane.

    My Uncle also has a ton of hours in a Arrows and Turbo Arrows so he tried to push me in that direction pretty hard. He eventually became a Bo driver but he always had a soft spot for Piper even after he upgraded.

    At any rate, I honestly don't imagine a twin will ever make sense for me. I'm pretty content with SE, but would really like to have my IFR ticket to make J far more useful. I really look forward to the day when I can do some Angel Flights.
  18. helomech

    helomech Member

    Sure it has it's limits, but 10k feet is not much of an issue. Heck we take 206L's up to 10k feet. I have seen bell 212's cross mountains over 10k feet, and they are no where near the power of a 212

    Like I said I have seen an apache in nothern Germany take off with 3000 rounds of ammo, empty rocket pods, dummy hellfires, and a full bag of gas on one engine. Pilot put it back down and brought the other engine on line after the fact. The biggetst loss on a helicopter at altitude is airspeed.

    Overtorque ratings are way low. It is possible to pull way over torque and not hurt the helicopter. I have seen a 407 bull 120% overtorque with no visible indications. Sure we still changed all the powertrain. All helicopters rotors cone upwards this is completely normal. And just because it rotated slowly does not mean the pilot did not do those moves on purpose. I have never seen an apache overtorque, because they have so much available power.

    Not an apache, I have never seen a apache have to burn off fuel. In fact I have never put less than a full bag of fuel on an apache even out in the desert when the temps in the shade where 118 F. Sure cobra's and civilian helicopters have this issue. No one engine performance is not crappy in all helicopters. Some sure, but in the case of some helicopters you actually have more usable power on one engine. For example the bell 427. You can legally pull 110% power on one engine, but when both are online you can only pull 48% on both engines for a total of 96% power. Stall speed has nothing to do with a helicopter. The only reason helicopter use speed is in the event of an engine failure, speed can be turned into rotor speed.

    No it will not struggle on one engine, I have seen it. Have you?

    I have not watched the video yet, but no helicopter has a stall warning. Stalls don't exist in a helicopter, unless your engines fail. Going to have to watch this video, but I am calling BS. Sure you can get into settling with power and such, but in those situations pulling in more power makes things worse.

    The pilots stick has more leverage in the Apache so that the pilot can force the co pilot's controls. I can't remember the numbers, but I think around 30% more leverage force from the pilot's station.
  19. helomech

    helomech Member

    I don't know what that horn was, but it was not a stall horn. Please show me a helicopter that has one. That looked like a tail rotor failure to me. He was slowing down, probably somewhere around 60 nots and the helicopter spun to the left. Which in a POS A star the rotor spins the opposite way as most other helicopters. In a A-star/twin star in the event of a tail rotor failure the nose will spin to the left. In most other helicopters during a tail rotor failure the nose will go right.

    If you are talking about blade stall, then that only happens at high speed, and what happens is the retreating blade is not going fast enough to maintain lift. When this happens the helicopter will flip over and almost always results in a bad crash.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012