Helicopters have quickly emerged as popular vehicles for both the military and civilian sectors, and they offer a number of advantages of airplanes or jets, such as not needing a runway. They are VTOL, meaning “vertical takeoff and landing,” so a helicopter may land straight down on a helipad (which are often found on building roofs), and they can take off in the same manner, no running start needed. Such vehicles rose to prominence in the Korean War and Vietnam War, but aside from those conflicts, helicopters have become a staple of aerial transport around the world, from news crews looking for an aerial shot of a story to rescue craft to riding on a helicopter for a sightseeing tour from above. And as complex and powerful machines, helicopters will need maintenance and care to keep them running well, and issues with their rotors or engines could quickly damage the components or send a helicopter spiraling out of control, endangering the entire crew. Transient balance in the rotors can be kept under control with a vibration analyzer or vibration balancing equipment, and maintenance for aircrafts should always be the first thing on a vehicle owner’s mind.
Helicopters sell well around the world, and they may be owned by militaries, companies such as news crews or search and rescue crews, or even private owners who fly for leisure. Around the world, sales of commercial helicopters (as in non-military) reached nearly $5 billion as of 2017, and this figure may grow in the coming years. What is more, the FAA has estimated that aviation as a whole supports close to 10,600,000 jobs in the United States every year, and as of 2017, around 131,500 aircraft mechanics and service technicians were working in the United States. And earlier, in 2015, 24,142,000 general aviation flight hours were logged in total.
What are these helicopters usually doing? They are critical for search and rescue operations, especially in terrain where land-based rescue may be difficult, anywhere from mountainous terrain to the open ocean. A truck or ambulance may have difficulty reaching a stranded hiker or mountain climber in steep terrain, but a helicopter can easily reach them and hover in place. Crews can deploy ladders or rescue beds on winches to reach the victim, then hoist them up into the helicopter’s body. Similarly, ocean and seaside rescue often makes use of helicopters, which can hover of a disaster zone and bring victims on board with ladders or winches. This is especially useful if choppy waters or stormy conditions make boat rescue dangerous or difficult. In fact, such conditions were probably what ruined the victim’s boat to begin with.
Helicopters are a popular means for aerial views, whether for news crews or sightseeing guided tours. Often, a major news network will send a small helicopter onto a scene, and a crew member on board will film the events from their high vantage point, especially if a scene requires a wide shot that would be difficult on the ground. Something on a large scale, such as a flood or wildfire or avalanche, such a wide shot from high above may be the only way properly convey what is happening. Also, popular tourist areas such as Hawaii and its islands often offer helicopter-mounted tours, so the terrain and local attractions can be seen from above.
Helicopter Care: Transient Balance, Vibration in Aircraft, and More
Even if a helicopter is not damaged from enemy fire or trauma, its rotors, engines or other components may become worn out or malfunction over enough time, and this calls for checking all vibrations of the aircraft and its balance to make sure that disaster does not happen. Military aircraft will have trained crews on hand at all times or inspection and maintenance, such as for transient balance or bearing vibration, and for civilian cases, expert crews may be contact to visit and check over an aircraft to diagnose a problem and recommend a fix. Private owners can do much the same, and correcting issues with transient balance or other issues is critical before taking off on the next flight. Keeping a helicopter in good shape allows it to run for many more years to come.