We’ve created the perfect resources and downloadable PDF which you can keep by your side, to help you memorise the most important pilot checklists.
As a helicopter pilot you are expected to cram an impossibly large amount of information into your head and be able to recall it without fault. Experienced pilots have all been in the exact same situation and throughout your career you will have to continually learn in order to progress.
We want to share some top tips with you, along with our favourite mnemonic checklists, to help you get your head around your daily checks.
We use these checks in our PPL(H) Helicopter Course and we’re excited to share them with you.
Daily Helicopter Flight Checks
As the name suggests these checks are carried out once per day, i.e., the ‘preflight’ check. It is standard for the first pilot to fly a given helicopter to be the one to check through the aircraft at the beginning of every day.
There is a complete list which can be found within the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (specific to each airfact).
In Flight Checks
Some of the other checks we have to commit to memory, due to the Hands-on nature of flying a Helicopter. These checks form part of the Airmanship Skills required in gaining your license.
There are a number of checks helicopter pilots need to be carrying out during each and every flight. We use mnemonics as a learning aid to help us remember these lists.
We’d like to introduce you to your new best friend: FREDA. ‘FREDA’ is an acronym for Fuel, Radio, Engine, Direction Indicator, and Altimeter. Our students find that it is a useful tool to know as you will use it continuously during your cockpit check drill throughout your flights.
F – Fuel: You will know how much fuel you have on board before you set off as this is checked during pre-flight. A quick visual check of the tanks should have been done so that you are not relying solely on the fuel gauge. During the flight keep an eye on fuel levels and you may wish to cycle between dual fuel tanks every 30 minutes or so.
Questions to ask: What is our current fuel state? Do we have sufficient remaining?
R – Radio: Ensure that you are tuned in to the correct frequency and where applicable have the next frequency on your journey to hand, ready to switch to. Check the equipment is functioning properly.
Questions to ask: Are we on the correct frequency? Is a backup frequency set? Should we make a required radio call? Is the audio quality good?
E – Engine: Check the engine temperature and oil pressure. Make sure the indicators are ‘in the greens’, i.e., within the operating parameters of the aircraft.
Questions to ask: Are all the warning lights out? Are tempreatures and pressures in the Green Arc? Is the Carburettor Heat out of the Yellow Arc?
D – Direction: The Direction Indicator (DI) is a gyroscopic device that will drift slightly over time and present a false reading. Good practice is to ensure the magnetic compass and DI are aligned when flying on the straight and level. If the aircraft you are flying in has an Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI), then this isn’t as much of an issue as a sensor on the aircraft monitors the Earth’s magnetic field and continually makes the necessary adjustments to ensure an accurate reading is maintained at all times.
Questions to ask: Are we on the right heading? Is our Direction Indicator aligned correctly with our magnetic compass? Does our current heading correct appropriately for Wind Drift?
A – Altitude: Lastly, we must regularly check the altitude that we are flying at to ensure that we are where we are supposed to be and not violating any controlled airspace. Check the barometric pressure that you set on your altimeter to confirm that it is correct according to any information received from the Air Traffic Controllers.
Questions to ask: Are we flying at the planned altitude? Is the altitude appropriate for the area we are flying over?
Another Check to be carried out, the HASEL Check, is specific for when we are about to carry out an Autorotation (the Helicopter equivalent to gliding without the engine in order to make a safe emergency landing). HASEL checks are also used by aerobatic pilots before commencing any manoeuvres.
The HASEL Check
H – Height – What height are we currently at and do we have sufficient to undertake the task and safely recover.
A – Area – Is the area we intend to use generally clear and flat, and are we too close to irritate villages with noise?
S – Security – Harnesses and Hatches Secure. Any loose articles; phones, maps, etc. That may become dislodged during the manoeuvre.
E – Engine – Check all Warning Lights, Temperatures and Pressures (T’s and P’s) are indicating correctly, Carburettor Heat On, and Fuel Quantity Check.
L – Lookout – Is there any traffic in the area. Maintain a good Lookout in all directions before, during, and after the Autorotation.
For pilots just starting out, these odd phrases can be a little daunting, but don’t worry. While it may take a little effort to start learning lists such as these but it will soon fall into place and you will wonder how you ever flew without them.
To help we’ve made an A4 wonderful version of our FREDA and HASEL Helicopter Flight Checklist infographic available for you to download now for free. Simply click the button below to start your free download.
Want to learn more?
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