U R S. HAZARDS TO TERRAIN FLIGHT. Ref: FM 3.04-203 / BWS FTG Task 1408.01. HAZARDS TO TERRAIN FLIGHT. The most important factors in hazard avoidance is for the pilot to: Be aware of his attitude toward terrain flight. Stay in good physical condition.
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Ref: FM 3.04-203 / BWS FTG Task 1408.01
When airborne, the most important factor is for the pilot to "keep his head out of the cockpit." He must use proper visual scanning techniques and rapidly intercept the visual cues which aid in hazards identification.
The aviator must be constantly alert for all hazards to terrain flying. Hazards to terrain flight can be classified as:
3. Human factors.
Physical hazards are objects that the aircraft can actually contact during flight. Physical hazards are divided into two categories;
Manmade hazards are things made by man that pose a hazard to the aircraft. The list includes things such as buildings, bridges, towers, other aircraft, and wires. Manmade hazards are sometimes identified on maps but should be searched for continuously.
During terrain flight, regardless of location, aircrews continuously search for and expect wires. Wire hazards consist of power lines, guy wires, communications wire, fences, missile-guidance wire, and wire barriers erected by the enemy. Two specific cues for locating wires include a swath cut through vegetation and the presence of supporting poles. Always expect wires along roads and waterways and near towers or buildings.
Natural hazards include trees, birds, and ambient light. Helicopters are particularly vulnerable to blade strikes during terrain flight especially when flying contour or NOE. Trees are a problem during months when deciduous trees lose leaves or a tree is dead and branches are difficult to see. Bird strikes are common and cause significant damage including penetrating the cockpit through the windscreen. Aviators should not try to avoid birds unless they are in a large flock as birds generally dive as an aviator flies toward them. Aviators should maintain a straight-ahead climb to clear birds.
Weather can be a hazard if aviators do not exercise proper precautions. With reduced visibility, airspeed may have to be reduced or altitude (above the obstacles) increased to provide additional reaction time.
When flying into a rising or setting sun, it is very difficult to detect obstacles ahead of the aircraft.
Strong wind conditions may create unsafe operating conditions for terrain flight. Gusting winds may create handling difficulties especially when using NVDs and with fewer visual cues present. Turbulence and thermals can be extremely dangerous especially at terrain flight altitudes. Terrain flight with external loads is especially dangerous under strong wind conditions.
These factors include effects of fatigue and lack of ability to detect obstacles. The ability to maneuver and handle the aircraft effectively and safely is paramount to mission accomplishment at terrain flight altitudes. Each aircrew member must acknowledge his or her limitations and fly accordingly. These limitations may be based on such factors as lack of experience/proficiency or lack of familiarization with a particular environment. This information must be addressed during the crew brief to heighten crewmember awareness and ensure maximum aircrew coordination.
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