Are Helicopters safe? This is a common question we get. The answer is yes, Helicopters are in some ways safer than airplanes. This is because helicopters don’t always need a runway to land, we can land pretty much anywhere that provides a flat area and enough space. In the event of an engine failure helicopter according to popular belief do not just drop like a brick. With proper training and execution we can enter into what is know as an autorotation and land the helicopter safely. If done correctly a unsuspecting passenger may not even be aware that the engine has failed.

Autorotation is a state of flight in which the main rotor system of a helicopter or other rotary-wing aircraft turns by the action of air moving up through the rotor, as with an autogyro, rather than engine power driving the rotor.[1][2][3] The term autorotation dates to a period of early helicopter development between 1915 and 1920, and refers to the rotors turning without the engine.[4] It is analogous to the gliding flight of a fixed-wing aircraft. Autorotation has also evolved to be used by certain trees as a means of disseminating their seeds further.

The most common use of autorotation in helicopters is to safely land the aircraft in the event of an engine failure or tail-rotor failure. It is a common emergency procedure taught to helicopter pilots as part of their training.

In normal powered helicopter flight, air is drawn into the main rotor system from above and exhausted downward, but during autorotation, air moves up into the rotor system from below as the helicopter descends. Autorotation is permitted mechanically because of both a freewheeling unit, which allows the main rotor to continue turning even if the engine is not running, as well as aerodynamic forces of relative wind maintaining rotor speed. It is the means by which a helicopter can land safely in the event of complete engine failure. Consequently, all single-engine helicopters must demonstrate this capability to obtain a type certificate.[5]

The longest autorotation in history was performed by Jean Boulet in 1972 when he reached a record altitude of 12,440 m (40,814 ft) in an Aérospatiale SA 315B Lama. Because of a −63 °C (−81.4 °F) temperature at that altitude, as soon as he reduced power, the engine flamed out and could not be restarted. By using autorotation he was able to land the aircraft safely.[6]


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