Are Night Flights Allowed for Helicopters?


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Added by lily
Imagine you’re stuck on the slopes of Mount Everest. There’s no one to help you for frozen miles around, and you can’t move for some reason. Although you’ve sent a distress signal, the night has already fallen, and you’ve lost all hope. But then, out of the cold darkness, a beam of light blinds you. It’s a rescue helicopter, coming for you at last.
Despite weirdly popular opinion, this situation is possible. Tricky, granted, but rescue helicopters do fly at night. The myth about night flight operations might have appeared because of one fact: helicopters are really difficult to fly. And that’s a real problem that can preclude a chopper from flying at night. But it depends on many more factors than just poor visibility.
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#chopper #helicopter #brightside
- Unlike jet airliners, which fly at heights of about 36,000 ft, choppers rarely climb higher than 15,000 ft.
- No wings for helicopters means that all they could do is rotate those blades faster to keep the height.
- All they need to take off or land is a clear space of a diameter that allows their blades to turn safely.
- They can hover in the air thanks to their construction. This also helps in different kinds of situations: rescuing people, extinguishing fires, deploying troops, or whatnot.
- But despite all their advantages over airplanes, choppers have many potential dangers too, which makes flying them a risky business.
- The pilot has to stay inside the machine no matter what, reducing the chances of survival in case of a crash.
- Neither civil helicopters, nor emergency service ones have any special reinforcement, so they’re basically unprotected in the air.
- When the air is particularly humid and the temperature freezing, ice can appear on the helicopter’s surfaces. It might seem a nuisance, but given the pretty fragile construction of these aircraft, you shouldn’t be surprised that ice may cause control issues or even crashes.
- But even good weather can pose a threat, since there’s such a thing as clear air turbulence, or CAT. It’s an unpredictable condition that occurs when there are no clouds and the aircraft is flying at a higher altitude.
- Sometimes rescue ops may take up to an hour, so it’s a real test of endurance and skill for the pilot.
- In a helicopter, an autopilot could only be useful on long-haul flights with minimum obstacles on the way.
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