My shortest flight.
I climbed into the left seat before the grapes had begun fueling the aircraft. I noticed the fuel total was about 1,300 pounds; 1,200 pounds in the internal tanks and 100 pounds in the auxiliary tank. This was unusual because the fuel-management system was supposed to transfer all the fuel to the internal tanks.
As the right seat pilot started to unstrap and prepare to exit the aircraft, we started to fuel. The helicopter aircraft commander (HAC) completed his turnover with the previous HAC. As I discussed the plan of action with my HAC, I noticed that the internal tank was full and fuel had started to fill the aux tank. I immediately signalled to cut fuel, but by the time the fuel was stopped, 200 more pounds of fuel was added to the aux tank. Total fuel now consisted of 3,800 pounds internally and 300 pounds in the aux. Noting the change in fuel and weight, we conducted takeoff checks.
Before takeoff, and because of poor visibility from the bridge, tower asked us to fly five miles ahead of the carrier and search for contacts. I looked at the gauges and provided a "gauges green" call. The HAC lifted the aircraft to 10 feet. After one final check of the gauges, we proceeded with forward flight. After we had a positive rate of climb, reached safe single-engine airspeed and verified that the stabilator was programming, I began the Post Takeoff checklist. We leveled off at 200 feet AGL and 70 knots. As I completed the Post Takeoff and Combat checklists, our aircrewman used the forward-looking infrared (FLIR) to identify the contacts in front of the carrier. The HAC began to check in with various controlling agencies. After I completed the checklists, I took control of the FLIR from the aircrewman and looked at the contacts that had not been identified.
As we headed outbound and just after we had checked in with Red Crown, we received a "No. 1 FUEL PRESS" light. This happened only seven minutes after takeoff. The HAC alerted the crew of the caution. I stared at it in disbelief and began the emergency procedure.
I called, "No. 1 fuel selector lever to cross feed." As I placed my hand on the No.1 fuel selector, the HAC and the aircrewman "rogered" concurrence.
Immediately after I placed the fuel selector in crossfeed, the No. 1 engine flamed out. The first thing I noticed was No. 2 engine turbine gas temperature (TGT) and torque indications were in the red, while all the engine indications for the No. 1 engine started to drop. The HAC already had started the "Single Engine Failure in Flight" emergency procedure, stating many of the steps in combination with a few colorful expletives.
Even with his swift reaction, the aircraft immediately started drooping (rotors slowing down) and descending--the result of the loss of an engine combined with high ambient temperatures and high gross weight. The HAC worked hard to control the aircraft as we descended to 130 feet AGL and lost five to 10 knots of airspeed. The HAC increased the airspeed back to 70 knots, which is our minimum-power-required airspeed. He also controlled the rotor droop, but could only keep the aircraft up around 130 feet in the heat and humidity.
The TGT on the No. 2 engine kept rising to its contingency-power limiter's activation point of 891 degrees, which cut fuel and caused the rotors to droop more. The HAC was forced to decrease the collective setting, allowing the TGT to go down and the rotors to speed up. He continued this back and forth action with the collective, trying to find the sweet spot.
The aircrewman called for fuel dump to help lighten the aircraft, and the HAC called for the "APU Emergency Start Procedure" to ensure that we would have electrical power if the other engine dropped off-line.
As I prepared to bring the APU on and dump fuel, the situation took a turn for the worse. As I reached for the APU start switch, my night-vision goggles (NVGs) went out. I immediately switched to the backup battery pack, but nothing happened. I checked the connections on the back of my helmet, but they looked good. I told the HAC and aircrewman that I had a tube failure.
As the HAC continued to control our extremely power-limited aircraft, I thought, "Is this really happening? I might actually be going swimming tonight."
I pushed through the tube failure as I placed my hand on the emergency fuel-dump switch. When the HAC and aircrewman rogered concurrence, I broke the shear wire and flipped the switch. Fuel started dumping; the aircrewman called out the fuel state.
I then asked the HAC, "Do you want me to push the 'All Stores Jettison?'"
He said, "No, continue dumping fuel and get the APU up," which I did immediately.
Suddenly, my NVGs reactivated. I wasn't sure why, but I was happy to have them working again.
As the aircraft got lighter from dumping fuel, it became more controllable. We started to head back to the carrier. The HAC switched back to tower and advised them of our emergency. He informed them that we would be making an emergency landing to spot 9, which is on the aft end of the deck. He also said we needed maximum winds over the deck.
I stopped dumping fuel with 1,700 pounds on the display. With the aircraft now under control, we climbed. As we headed back to the carrier, the HAC called for the "Engine Air Restart" procedure. I initiated the emergency procedure and waited for the engine to light off, but the engine wouldn't come online. I broke out the NATOPS pocket checklist to make sure that all steps of the recent emergency procedures had been executed. I reviewed the "Engine Malfunction in Flight," "Fuel Press Caution," "Engine Air Restart," and "Single Engine Failure in Flight" procedures. I then started the "Single-Engine Landing" emergency procedure.
As we approached the carrier, tower cleared us to land. We then heard our commanding officer's voice on tower's freq, "703, Rep, button 18."
The HAC told me to go up button 18 on the other radio and talk to our CO. Still shaken, I mistakenly programmed button 18 on the radio the HAC was using to talk with tower. The aircrewman reminded us that we had not informed tower yet of our intention to make a running landing. So, the HAC tried to advise tower, but unknowingly transmitted on button 18.
The CO asked if we had calculated our safe single-engine numbers. The HAC responded, "Affirmative," and shared that the aircraft "starts to descend pretty well" around 55 knots.
We heard Red Crown making calls on guard frequency to another unidentified aircraft, which made it difficult to hear our CO. The CO asked if we already had dumped our fuel. The HAC said we had dumped down to about 1,700 pounds, and that we would continue to dump down to about 1,000 pounds. The skipper said they would also calculate the safe single-engine numbers to compare to ours.
The HAC had me continue dumping to 1,000 pounds. The aircrewman and HAC yelled to secure the fuel dump when they noticed we had a "No. 2 FUEL LOW" light. At 1,050 pounds on the fuel total display, I was surprised by the light. However, I realized there was also a fuel split with about 450 pounds in the left tank, 250 pounds in the right, and 300 pounds still in the aux tank for which we had not accounted.
The fuel gauge on the MH-60R displays total fuel including the aux tank, even when it is not immediately available. I tried to transfer the fuel from the aux tank to the internal tank with no success. With a NATOPS on-deck fuel limit of 600 pounds, we had now put ourselves in a limited-fuel situation. After another call from Red Crown came over guard the HAC said, "Secure guard." I asked the aircrewman to get it while I continued to transfer fuel.
The HAC advised us that he was now making the approach to the ship. Realizing the earlier radio mistake, the HAC switched to tower and called, "703 on final."
While I continued to troubleshoot the fuel transfer, the aircrewman reminded me to back up the HAC on the approach. I rogered and started to call out altitude, airspeed and gauges. The HAC called tower to clear the landing signal enlisted (LSE) away from the landing area, and that we would be making a running landing. As we came through 100 feet, we started to approach the lower end of the single-engine window, which was 25 knots. The rotors began to droop. I advised the HAC of the condition and we increased airspeed. Tower came back and stated they could give us more winds, but we were committed at that point.
The HAC responded, "We're coming in, clear the deck!"
As we came over the deck we entered ground effect, and we reduced the descent along with airspeed. I continued to provide airspeed and altitude calls all the way to the deck. We landed with a little roll as the aircrewman and I immediately called for brakes as the HAC applied them. We rolled about five feet before we came to a stop, just 14 minutes after our initial takeoff. The aircrewman and I complimented the HAC on a great landing.
A post inspection showed that the fuel pump for the No. 1 engine had failed. The fuel lines were dry. An inspection of my NVGs revealed a faulty connection on the forward mount, which had caused the malfunction.
Reflecting on the emergency, if I had not been so focused on getting back on deck, I would have noticed that our total fuel on the display included the unusable 300 pounds in the aux tank. I would not have dumped our fuel almost all the way to our NATOPS minimum, therefore complicating our situation.
Even in the presence of a catastrophic failure or severe malfunction in the aircraft, you must remain calm and focused so you do not overlook something that could make things even worse.
LT. MILLER FLIES WITH HSM-71.
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|Title Annotation:||fuel pump malfunctions|
|Date:||Jul 1, 2013|
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