Nemeth Designs provides a 23-page manual in portable document format (PDF) that explains the aircraft overall, the cockpit and instruments, and "normal" procedures. Diagrams and screen shots effectively describe the cockpit. The manual devotes nine pages to the real-world Eurocopter's construction and its electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic systems.
The checklist in the kneeboard and manual covers Pre-Start, Engine Start, Before Takeoff, and Shutdown. There is nothing about flight phases such as taking off, climbing, cruising, landing. There is no reference sheet citing significant airspeeds. Neither the manual nor the checklist provide detailed operating instructions for simulating flight in this helicopter.
Screen shots by Bill Stack
The AS355's Performance
To test Nemeth Design's Eurocopter AS355, I used Marseilles/Provence Airport (LFML) near Marseilles, France, because this is where Eurocopter is based. Elevation is 70 feet (21 meters). Its two runways are 7,784 feet (2,374 meters) and 11,485 feet (3,503 meters). As always, I used standard atmosphere and the aircraft's default weight. At 4,482 pounds (2,033 kilograms), that's 90 percent of its maximum gross take-off weight of 4,960 pounds (2,250 kilograms). In lieu of operating instructions, I was on my own to experiment and observe what happened as a result of what I did.
Taking Off: Very little power advance is needed for lifting off, and maximum power isn't necessary for sustaining flight.
Climbing: The aircraft climbs very quickly. It climbed as fast as 3,000 feet per minute, which would provide noticeable G forces for occupants, and it's unsteady at this rate. It handles much better at about 1,000 feet per minute.
Cruising: With full power, I was able to sustain 140 KIAS in level flight. As with any helicopter, constant grip on the controls is always necessary.
Turning: It doesn't like to bank. It loses altitude quickly when banked just 10 degrees, and it falls out of control if banked 20 degrees.
Landing: Landing a helicopter on a spot requires practice and experience, especially in a flight simulator, and this rotorcraft seems more so than others I have simulated. It's very sensitive to all pilot inputs, and it overreacts unpredictably. I was able to land it on target after several attempts.
I found this helicopter to be much more sensitive and therefore difficult to simulate than the FSX Bell Jet Ranger (I tested both for comparison). Flying a helicopter is like spinning a plate on a finger. Any change in any helicopter's attitude changes its performance. With this aircraft, however, the slightest change in pitch or bank causes an immediate and dramatic change in behavior. The resistance to banking is one example. Also, it pitches up and down with just a little input, and it can be unpredictable. Whereas mastering flight in a simulated helicopter requires practice and patience, doing so in this aircraft requires close pilot attention to attitudes, altitudes, and airspeeds at all times. Of course, any flight simmer can improve skills with practice. Learning how to simulate this helicopter properly can be a rewarding challenge. Remember, too, that in lieu of operational guidance I was on my own to experiement and learn from what I was doing.
Having never flown a real-world Eurocopter AS355, I cannot attest to the accuracy of Nemeth's flight modeling.
|AIRCRAFT IN FLIGHT|
Screen shots by Bill Stack