Maximum Performance Takeoff

Dec 03, 2020


Hey it's Brian Rutledge Operations Manager of Helicopter Online Ground School, LLC. Today I want to talk about the Maximum Performance Takeoff

We are highlighting our Brand New Videos in the Helicopter Basic and Advanced Maneuvers sections which were recently added to our training courses inside Helicopter Online Ground School, LLC

The maximum performance takeoff is a maneuver used by helicopter pilots to transition from the surface to a maximum performance climb, enabling the pilot to clear an obstruction safely.  If a normal takeoff and climb can be performed, this is always best.  But if not, then the max-performance takeoff is an option.

The maneuver can be accomplished a few different ways, but it is always best to choose the procedure that will only have you in the height velocity diagram shaded area the least amount of time as possible.  We will discuss the vertical take-off in this post.

Prior to initiating a maximum performance takeoff, the pilot should always complete a Pre Lift Off Check to ensure all systems are operating.  Additionally, the pilot needs to know if the aircraft actually has the available power to complete the maneuver.  This information needs to be known prior to initiating the maneuver. 

The performance section of the pilots operating handbook (POH) or Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) will have the necessary charts for a pilot to determine if power is available.  

With all systems checked and power available, it's time to start the maneuver.  It is extremely important to visually and verbally clear the area (Clear left/right, clear forward/above, skids clear, tail clear).  

Maximum Performance Takeoff

With the area clear the pilot should do a two step pick up by slowly raising the collective to get the helicopter light on the skids.  If flying a helicopter with a counter-clockwise rotor system, left pedal is needed to counteract the torque when raising the collective.  The opposite is true for clockwise rotor systems. Once the helicopter is light on the skids, stop raising collective and cancel any movements.  If drifting, correct with the cyclic.  If yawing, correct with the pedals.  Once all movement is cancelled, continue raising collective until in a stabilized 2-3 ft hover.

Now is the time to complete a Hover Pre Takeoff Check.  Once again you need to make sure all gauges are operating correctly and take note of how much power it is taking to remain in the hover.   Also pay attention to any unusual noises or vibrations.  If satisfied all parameters are good, make a radio call announcing you are departing.  

If the departure area does not allow any room for forward movement then a vertical take-off is what will occur.  Slowly raise collective to allow the helicopter to climb but do not exceed the maximum power available.  Only pull the power you need to safely clear any obstacles in front of you.

Once the obstacle(s) are cleared, lower the power setting and adjust the cyclic forward to begin accelerating to an airspeed that is safely out of the height velocity diagram shaded area and climb to a safe altitude.  

Some safety considerations when performing this maneuver are placing special emphasis on density altitude and gross weight.  Additionally, you need to be ready to take immediate action in the event you experience rotor rpm decay or rotor droop.

If at anytime there is a question about being able to successfully complete the maneuver, abort the plan.  Never push your own abilities or the helicopters capabilities.

Reference for this helicopter maneuver: The Helicopter Flying Handbook

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Maximum Performance Takeoff