Subject: UNANTICIPATED RIGHT YAW Date: 12/26/95 AC No: 90-95
IN HELICOPTERS Initiated by: AFS-804 Change:
1. PURPOSE. This advisory circular (AC) will in severalcivil helicopter accidentswherein the pilot
examine unanticipated right yaw phenomenon,the lost control. In most cases, inappropriate or late
circumstancesunder which it may be encountered, corrective action may have resulted in the develop-
how it can be prevented,and how the pilot should ment of uncontrollable yaw. These mishaps have
reactif it is encountered. occurred in the low-altitude, low-airspeed flight
regime while maneuvering, on final approachto a
2. RELATED READING MATERIAL. Bell landing, or during nap-of-the-earthtactical terrain
Helicopter Textron, Supplemental Operating and flying. Typical civil operations include powerline
Emergency Procedures, Operations Safety Notice, patrol, electromagneticsurvey, agricultural spraying,
OSN 206-83-10(October 31, 1983),Bell Helicopter livestock herding, police/radio traffic watch, emer-
Textron; Bell Helicopter Textron, Low SpeedFlight gency medical service/rescue,and movie or tele-
Characteristics Which Can Result in Unanticipated vision supportflights.
Right Yaw, Information Letter 206-84-41 and 2060
84-27 (July 6, 1984), Bell Helicopter Textron; 4. THE PHENOMENA OF LTE.
Sneelen,D.M., OH-58 Loss of Tail Rotor Effective- CI, LTE is a critical; low-speed aerodynamic
ness - Why It Occurs, U.S. Army Aviation Digest flight characteristic which can result in an
(September 1984), U.S. Army Aviation Center; uncommandedrapid yaw rate which doesnot subside
Prouty, R.W., The Downwind Turn: Losing Direc- of its own accord and, if not corrected, can result
tional Control, Rotor and Wing (May 1994),Phillips in the loss of aircraft control.
BusinessInformation, Inc.; More on the OH-58 LTE
Problem, Flightjbx: Report of Amzy Aircraft Mis- 6. LTE is not related to a maintenancemalfunc-
haps, Vol. 13, No. 32 (May 22, 1985), U.S. Army tion and may occur in varying degreesin aZZsingle
Safety Center; Loss of Tail Rotor Effective- less
main rotor helicoptersat airspeeds than 30 knots.
ness...When Is andWhen It Isn’t, Flightfax: Report LTE is not necessarilythe result of a control margin
ofArmy Aircraft Mishaps, Vol. 14,No. 1 (September deficiency. The anti-torque control margin estab-
25, 1985), U.S. Army Safety Center; U.S. Army, lished during Federal Aviation Administration
OH-58 Helicopter OperatorsManual, TM 55.15200 (FAA) testing is accurateand has been determined
228-10, U.S. Army; U.S. Naval Air Training Com- to adequately provide for the approved sideward/
mand, Flight Training Instructions, TH-57 (1989), rearwardflight velocities plus counteractionof gusts
U.S. Naval Air Training Command. of reasonablemagnitudes.This testing is predicated
on the assumption that the pilot is knowledgeable
3. BACKGROUND. Unanticipated right yaw, or of the critical wind azimuth for the helicopter oper-
loss of tail rotor effectiveness(LTE), hasbeendeter- ated and maintains control of the helicopter by not
mined to be a contributing factor in a number of allowing excessiveyaw ratesto develop.
accidents in various models of U.S. military heli-
copters. The National Transportation Safety Board c. LTE has beenidentifid as a contributing fac-
(NTSB) has identified LTE as a contributing factor tor in severalhelicopter accidentsinvolving loss of
AC 90-95 12l26495
control. Plight operationsat low altitude and low air- c. Tail rotor thrust is the result of the applica-
speed in which the pilot is distracted from the tion of anti-torquepedal by the pilot. If the tail rotor
dynamic conditions affecting control of the heli- generates more thrust than is requiredto counter the
copterareparticularly susceptibleto this phenomena. main rotor torque, the helicopter will yaw or turn
The following are three examples of this type of to the left about the vertical axis. If less tail rotor
accident: thrust is generated,the helicopter will yaw or turn
to the right. By varying the thrust generatedby the
(1) A helicopter collided with the ground fol- tail rotor, the pilot controls the headingwhen hover-
lowing a loss of control during a landing approach. ing.
The pilot reportedthat he was on approachto a ridge
line landing zonewhen, at 70 feet abovegroundlevel d. In a no-wind condition, for a given main rotor
(AGL) and at an airspeed of 20 knots, a gust of torque setting, there is an exact amount of tail rotor
wind induced loss of directional control. The heli- thrust requiredto preventthe helicopterfrom yawing
copter beganto rotate rapidly to the right about the either left or right. This is known as tail rotor trim
mast. The pilot was unable to regain directional con- thrust. In order to maintain a constantheadingwhile
trol beforegroundcontact. hovering, the pilot should maintain tail rotor thrust
equalto trim thrust.
(2) A helicopter impacted the top of Pike’s
Peak at 14,100feet mean sealevel (MSL). The pilot e. The environment in which helicopters jly,
said he had made a low pass over the summit into however, is not controlled. Helicopters are subjected
a 40knot headwindbeforelosing tail rotor effective- to constantly changing wind direction and velocity.
ness.He then lost directional control and struck the The requiredtail rotor thrust in actual flight is modi-
ground. fied by the effects of the wind. If an uncommanded
right yaw occurs in flight, it may be becausethe
(3) A helicopter entered an uncommanded wind reducedthe tail rotor effective thrust.
right turn and collided with the ground. The pilot
was maneuvering at approximately 300 feet AGL J: The wind can also add to the anti-torquesys-
when the aircraft entered an uncommanded right tem thrust. In this case,the helicopter will reactwith
turn. Unable to regain control, he closed the throttle an uncommandedleft yaw. The wind can and will
and attemptedan emergencylanding into a city park. cause anti-torque system thrust variations to occur.
Certain relative wind directions are more likely to
5. UNDERSTANDING LTE PHENOMENA. To cause tail rotor thrust variations than others. These
understandLTE, the pilot must first understandthe relative wind directions or regions form an LTE
function of the anti-torquesystem. conduciveenvironment.
a. On U.S. manufactured single rotor heli- 6. CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH LTE MAY
copters, the main rotor rotates counterclockwise as OCCUR.
viewed from above. The torque produced by the
main rotor causes fuselageof the aircraft to rotate
the a Any maneuver which requires the pilot to
in the oppositedirection (noseright). The anti-torque operatein a high-power, low-airspeed environment
system provides thrust which counteractsthis torque with a left crosswind or tailwind createsan environ-
andprovidesdirectional control while hovering. ment whereunanticipatedright yaw may occur.
b. On some European and Russian manufac- 6. There is greater susceptibility for LTE in
tured helicopters, the main rotor rotates clockwise right turns. This is especially true during flight at
as viewed from above. In this case, the torque pro- low airspeedsince the pilot may not be able to stop
duced by the main rotor causesthe fuselageof the rotation. The helicopter will attempt to yaw to the
aircraft to rotate in the oppositedirection (noseleft). right. Correct and timely pilot response to an
The tail rotor thrust counteractsthis torque and pro- uncommandedright yaw is critical. The yaw is usu-
vides directional control while hovering. ally correctable if additional left pedal is applied
immediately. If the responseis incorrect or slow,
NOTE: This AC will focus on U.S. manufac- the yaw rate may rapidly increaseto a point where
tured helicopters. recoveryis not possible.
U/26/95 AC 90-95
c. Computer simulation has shown that if the of this main rotor disc vortex is to increasethe angle
pilot delays in reversing the pedal control position of attack of the tail rotor blades (increasethrust).
when proceeding from a left crosswind situation (c) The increase in the angle of attack
(where a lot of right pedal is required due to the requires the pilot to add right pedal (reduce thrust)
sideslip) to downwind, control would be lost, and to maintain the samerate of turn.
the aircraft would rotate more than 360’ before stop- (d) As the main rotor vortex passesthe tail
ping. rotor, the tail rotor angle of attack is reduced.The
d. The pilot must anticipate these variations, reduction in the angle of attack causesa reduction
concentrateon flying the aircraft, and not allow a in thrust and a right yaw accelerationbegins. This
yaw rate to build. Caution shouldbe exercisedwhen acceleration can be surprising, since the pilot was
executing right turns under conditions conducive to previously adding right pedal to maintain the right
LTE. turn rate.
7. FLIGHT CHARACTERISTICS. (e) This thrust reduction will occur sud-
denly and, if uncorrected, will develop into an
a. Extensive jlight and wind tunnel tests have uncontrollable rapid rotation about the mast. When
been conducted by aircraft manufacturers. These operatingwithin this region, the pilot must be aware
tests have identified four relative wind azimuth that the reductionin tail rotor thrust can happenquite
regions and resultantaircraft characteristicsthat can, suddenly and the pilot must be prepared to react
either singularly or in combination, create an LTE quickly and counter that reduction with additional
conducive environment capableof adversely affect- left pedal input.
ing aircraft controllability. One direct result of these (2) Weathercockstability (120” to 240”). (See
tests is that flight operationsin the low speedflight figure 2.)
regime dramatically increase the pilot’s workload.
(a) Tailwinds from 120’ to 240”, like left
b. Although specific wind azimuths are identi- crosswinds, will cause a high pilot workload. The
fied for each region, the pilot should be aware that most significant characteristic of tailwinds is that
the azimuths shift dependingon the ambient condi- they are a yaw rate accelerator.Winds within this
tions. The regions do overlap. The most pronounced the
region will attempt to weather-vane nose of the
thrust variations occur in these overlapping areas. aircraft into the relative wind. This characteristic
comesfrom the fuselageand vertical fin.
c. These characteristics are present only at air-
speedsless than 30 knots and apply to all single (b) The helicopter will make a slow
rotor helicopters. Flight test data has verified that uncommandedturn either to the right or left depend-
the tail rotor doesnot stall during this period. ing upon the exact wind direction unless a resisting
pedal input is made. If a yaw rate has been estab-
d. The aircraft characteristics andrelative wind lished in either direction, it will be acceleratedin
azimuth regionsare: the samedirection when the relative winds enter the
(1) Main rotor disc vortex interference(285” 120’ to 240’ area unless corrective pedal action is
to 315”). (Seefigure 1.) made.
(a) Winds at velocities of about 10 to (c) If the pilot allows a right yaw rate to
30 knots from the left front will causethe main rotor develop and the tail of the helicopter moves into
vortex to be blown into the tail rotor by the relative this region, the yaw rate can acceleraterapidly. It
wind. The effect of this main rotor disc vortex is is imperative that the pilot maintain positive control
to cause the tail rotor to operate in an extremely of the yaw rate and devote full attention to flying
turbulentenvironment. the aircraft when operatingin a downwind condition.
(b) During a right turn, the tail rotor will (d) The helicopter can be operated safely
experiencea reduction of thrust as it comes into the in the above relative wind regions if proper attention
area of the main rotor disc vortex. The reduction is given to maintaining control. If the pilot is inatten-
in tail rotor thrust comes from the air flow changes tive for some reasonand a right yaw rate is initiated
experiencedat the tail rotor as the main rotor disc in one of the above relative wind regions, the yaw
vortex moves across the tail rotor disc. The effect ratemay increase.
AC 90-95 12/26/95
FIGURE 1. MAIN ROTOR DISC VORTEX INTERFERENCE
12/26/95 AC 90-95
(3) Tail rotor vortex ring state(210” to 330”). wind turn, the aircraft can experiencean accelerated
(Seefigure 3.) right yaw rate as the power demand increasesand
(a) Winds within this region will result in the aircraft develops a sink rate. Insufficient pilot
the development of the vortex ring state of the tail attention to wind direction and velocity can lead to
rotor. As the inflow passesthrough the tail rotor, an unexpectedloss of translationallift. When operat-
it createsa tail rotor thrust to the left. A left cross- ing at or near maximum power, this increasedpower
wind will opposethis tail rotor thrust. This causes in
demandcould result in a decrease rotor rpm.
the vortex ring state to form, which causesa non- (c) The pilot must continually consider air-
uniform, unsteadyflow into the tail rotor. The vortex craft heading, ground track, and apparent ground
ring state causestail rotor thrust variations which speed,all of which contribute to wind drift and air-
result in yaw deviations. The net effect of the speed sensations.Allowing the helicopter to drift
unsteady flow is an oscillation of tail rotor thrust. over the ground with the wind results in a loss of
This is why rapid and continuouspedal movements relative wind speed and a correspondingdecrease
arenecessary when hovering in left crosswind.
in the translational lift. Any reduction in the
(b) In actuality, the pilot is attempting to translational lift will result in an increasein power
compensate the rapid changesin tail rotor thrust. demandand anti-torquerequirements.
Maintaining a precise heading in this region is dif-
ficult. LTE can occur when the pilot overcontrols 8. OTHER FACTORS. The following factors can
the aircraft significantly influence the severity of the onset of
(c) The resulting high pedalworkload in the
tail rotor vortex ring state is well known and heli- a. Gross Weight and Density Altitude. An
copters are operatedroutinely in this region. This increasein either of these factors will decreasethe
characteristicpresentsno significant problem unless power margin between the maximum power avail-
correctiveaction is delayed. able and the power required to hover. The pilot
(d) ‘When the thrust being generatedis less should conduct low-level, low-airspeed maneuvers
than the thrust required, the helicopter will yaw to with minimum weight.
the right. When hovering in left crosswinds,the pilot 6. Low Indicated Airspeed. At airspeedsbelow
must concentrateon smooth pedal coordination and translationallift, the tail rotor is requiredto produce
not allow an uncontrolledright yaw to develop. nearly 100 percent of the directional control. If the
(e) If a right yaw rate is allowed to build, required amount of tail rotor thrust is not available
the helicoptercan rotateinto the wind azimuth region for any reason, the aircraft will yaw to the right.
where weathercockstability will then acceleratethe c. Power Droop. A rapid power application may
right turn rate. Pilot workload during vortex ring causea transientpower droop to occur. Any decrease
state will be high. A right yaw rate should not be in main rotor rpm will cause a corresponding
allowed to increase.
decrease tail rotor thrust. The pilot must anticipate
(4) Loss of translationallift (all azimuths). this and apply additional left pedal to counter the
(a) The loss of translational lift results in main rotor torque. All power demands should be
increasedpower demand and additional anti-torque made as smoothly as possibleto minimize the effect
requirements. of the power droop.
(b) This characteristic is most significant 9. REDUCING THE ONSET OF LTE. In order
when operating at or near maximum power and is to reducethe onsetof LTE, the pilot should:
associatedwith LTE for two reasons.First, if the a, Ensure that the tail rotor is rigged in accord-
pilot’s attention is diverted as a result of an increas- ancewith the maintenance manual.
ing right yaw rate, the pilot may not recognizethat
relative headwind is being lost and hence, b. Maintain maximum power-on rotor rpm. If
translationallift is reduced.Second,if the pilot does the
the main rotor rpm is allowed to decrease, anti-
not maintain airspeed while making a right down- torque thrust available is decreasedproportionally.
AC 90-95 n/26/95
c. When maneuvering between hover and 6. Collectivepitch reduction will aid in arresting
30 knots: the yaw rate but may cause an increasein the rate
of descent.Any large, rapid increasein collective
(1) Avoid tailwinds. If loss of translationallift to prevent ground or obstacle contact may further
occurs, it will result in an increased high power increasethe yaw rate anddecrease rotor rpm.
demand and an additional anti-torque requirement.
c. The amount of collective reduction shouldbe
(2) Avoid out of ground effect (OGE) hover based on the height above obstructions or surface,
and high power demand situations, such as low- gross weight of the aircraft, and the existing
speeddownwind turns. atmosphericconditions.
(3) Be especially aware of wind direction and
velocity when hovering in winds of about 8-12 knots d. If the rotation cannot be stoppedand ground
contact is imminent, an autorotationmay be the best
(especially OGE). There are no strong indicators to courseof action. The pilot should maintain full left
the pilot of a reduction of translational lift. A loss pedal until rotation stops, then adjust to maintain
of translational lift results in an unexpected high heading.
power demandand an increasedanti-torquerequire-
ment. 11. SUMMARY.
(4) Be awarethat if a considerableamount of a. The various wind directions can cause
left pedal is being maintained, a sufficient amount significantly differing ratesof turn for a given pedal
of left pedal may not be available to counteract an position. The most important principle for the pilot
unanticipatedright yaw. to rememberis that the tail rotor is not stalled. The
(5) Be alert to changing aircraft flight and corrective action is to apply pedal opposite to the
wind conditionswhich may be experienced when fly- direction of the turn.
ing along ridge lines and aroundbuildings. b. Avoiding LTE may best be accomplishedby
(6) Stay vigilant to power and wind condi- pilots being knowledgable and avoiding conditions
tions. which are conduciveto LTE. Appropriate and timely
response essentialand critical.
10. RECOMMENDED RECOVERY TECH-
NIQUES. c. By maintaining an acute awareness of wind
and its effect upon the aircraft, the pilot can signifi-
a. If a sudden unanticipated right yaw occurs, cantly reduceLTE exposure. ~
the pilot shouldperform the following:
(1) Apply full left pedal. Simultaneously,
move cyclic forward to increase speed. If altitude
permits, reducepower. William J. White v
(2) As recoveryis effected,adjustcontrols for Service
Deputy Director, Flight Standards
normal forward flight.