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Instrument Flying Handbook
Helicopter Attitude Instrument Flying
Instrument Flight

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Instrument Flying


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Human Factors
Chapter 2. Aerodynamic Factors
Chapter 3. Flight Instruments
Chapter 4. Section I
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 4. Section II
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 5. Section I
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 5. Section II
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 6. Helicopter
Attitude Instrument Flying

Chapter 7. Navigation Systems
Chapter 8. The National
Airspace System

Chapter 9. The Air Traffic
Control System

Chapter 10. IFR Flight
Chapter 11. Emergency

Flight Instruments

When flying a helicopter with reference to the flight
instruments, proper instrument interpretation is the basis
for aircraft control. Skill, in part, depends on understanding
how a particular instrument or system functions, including
its indications and limitations (see chapter 3, Flight
Instruments). With this knowledge, a pilot can quickly
interpret an instrument indication and translate that
information into a control response.

Instrument Flight

To achieve smooth, positive control of the helicopter during
instrument flight, three fundamental skills must be developed
They are instrument cross-check, instrument interpretation,
and aircraft control

Instrument Cross-Check
Cross-checking, sometimes referred to as scanning, is the
continuous and logical observation of instruments for attitude
and performance information. In attitude instrument flying,
an attitude is maintained by reference to the instruments,
which produces the desired result in performance. Due to
human error, instrument error, and helicopter performance
differences in various atmospheric and loading conditions,
it is difficult to establish an attitude and have performance
remain constant for a long period of time. These variables
make it necessary to constantly check the instruments and
make appropriate changes in the helicopter's attitude. The

actual technique may vary depending on what instruments
are installed and where they are installed, as well as pilot
experience and proficiency level. This discussion concentrates
on the six basic flight instruments. [Figure 6-1]

At first, there may be a tendency to cross-check rapidly,
looking directly at the instruments without knowing exactly
what information is needed. However, with familiarity and
practice, the instrument cross-check reveals definite trends
during specific flight conditions. These trends help a pilot
control the helicopter as it makes a transition from one flight
condition to another.

When lull concentration is applied to a single instrument, a
problem called fixation is encountered. This results from a
natural human inclination to observe a specific instrument
carefully and accurately, often to the exclusion of other
instruments. Fixation on a single instrument usually results
in poor control. For example, while performing a turn, there
is a tendency to watch only the turn-and-slip indicator instead
of including other instruments in the cross-check. This
fixation on the turn-and-slip indicator often leads to a loss of
altitude through poor pitch-and-bank control. Look at each
instrument only long enough to understand the information
it presents, and then proceed to the next one. Similarly, too
much emphasis can he placed on a single instrument, instead
of relying on a combination of instruments necessary for
helicopter performance information. This differs from fixation
in that other instruments are included in a cross-check, but too
much attention is placed on one particular instrument.

cross-check pattern
Figure 6-1. In most situations, the cross-check pattern includes the attitude indicator between the cross-check of each of the other instruments. A typical crass-check might progress as follows: attitude indicator, altimeter, attitude indicator, vertical speed indicator, attitude indicator, heading indicator, attitude indicator, and so on.