Hunting with the Helicopter

The R22 fuel valve is well secured to prevent inadvertant selection to 'OFF'. If this image paints well enough you may just be able to see that this R22 fuel valve is secured in the 'On' position by a cable tie. All Helicopters in NZ must have this done, it's a New Zealand CAA directive. But what does that have to do with hunting?

It was made after several hunting accidents. Hunting is done (generally) with the passenger door removed, allowing the shooter (passenger) to get out quickly to retreive a kill, gut the carcass and then attach it to the slingload hook with the strop. On at least one well - documented occasion (Go the NZ CAA website through the 'NZ CAA' link on this site, select 'Accidents & incidents') the shooter slid off the seat to get out. The Pilot then flew closer to hover over the kill and then the engine stopped......

The pilot survived, the Helicopter didn't. The shooter had inadvertantly turned off the fuel valve when he slid past it. A carefuly study and risk assessment was carried out. Was it better to forego the function of the fuel valve and prevent accidents like this?

The concensus was 'YES'!

All NZ Helicopters now have the fuel valve secured shut, mostly with copper wire. No more accidents of this type have occured since inception of the directive. It is interesting to ponder that a Helicopter with the valve disabled in this way would not be considered airworthy in another Country until the wire is removed. It is very rare (in any Country) to find an Aircraft system that has to be inoperative before it can gain airworthiness!

I recently gave the local Fire Dept. boys a rundown on all of our Helicopters. Did they think that wiring up the valve increased risk? No, they didn't. They always have a pair of pliers handy and said that if it was safe enough to reach to turn it off at all, it will be safe enough for them to cut the wire and turn it off. Is there any message here for the rest of the world? There might be.

Remember, it does not have to be a shooter's clothing that happens to snag the valve. It could be ANY passenger alighting.

Editor's comment - Think on this- 'Flying is inherently safe but very unforgiving of mistakes.............' (Anon).

Now visit Les Simkin's excellent article on Deer Hunting in NZ.......

Click Helihunting

Images soon.