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TASK  2010 Perform Multi-Aircraft Operations


CONDITIONS: In an UH-1 helicopter and given a unit standing operating procedure (SOP).


1. Participate in a formation flight briefing in accordance with unit SOP and the mandatory items per the multi-aircraft operations briefing checklist.
2. Perform formation flight and techniques of movement as briefed.
3. React to loss of visual contact in accordance with the unit SOP.



1. Crew actions.

a. The pilot on the controls (P*) will focus primarily outside the aircraft, maintaining contact with the other aircraft in the formation. The P* will announce any maneuver or movement before execution and inform the pilot not on the controls (P) if visual contact is lost with other aircraft. If visual contact is lost with other the aircraft, the crew will immediately notify the flight and begin reorientation procedures. If instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) are encountered execute IIMC breakup as briefed.

The P will provide adequate warning of traffic or obstacles detected in the flight path and/or identified on the map. The P will assist in maintaining aircraft separation. They will inform the P* if visual contact is lost with other the aircraft, and if threat elements are detected or sighted. The P will perform duties as briefed and will notify the P* when attention is focused inside the aircraft. The P should frequently assist the P* by communicating his situational awareness perceptions and formation / multi ship observations. Additionally the P should assist the P* by monitoring aircraft systems, operating the navigation system, and by scanning the air route for possible enemy activity or other hazards and obstacles that could impact the integrity and security of the flight.

When an aircraft has lost visual contact with the flight, immediately notify the flight and execute reorientation procedures. Except for enemy contact, all mission requirements are subordinate to this action.

2. Procedures.
Maneuver into the flight formation, changing position as required. Maintain horizontal and vertical separation for the type of formation being flown. If the tactical situation requires, perform techniques of movement as briefed. The following procedures will be performed unless otherwise established in unit SOPs.

a. Takeoff:
All helicopters should leave the ground simultaneously. The trailing aircraft must remain at a level altitude or stack up 1 to 10 ft vertically to remain out of the disturbed air of the aircraft in front of them. In the event an aircraft in the flight loses visual contact with the formation, The aircrew will immediately make a radio call to the formation and the P* will initiate a climb above the briefed cruise altitude and attempt reorientation of the formation.

b. Cruise:
Free cruise formation should be employed when operating at terrain flight altitudes or in a combat environment. This will allow the individual aircraft more flexibility to move within the formation, avoiding terrain, obstacles, and enemy threat. During periods of degraded visibility, crews are more susceptible to losing other aircraft in the formation. Crews should consider flying a close formation to maintain orientation on the flight. In the event an aircraft in the flight loses visual contact with the aircraft they are following, they will immediately make a radio call to lead. Lead will announce heading, altitude, and airspeed. Lead must maintain this heading, altitude, and airspeed until all aircraft have rejoined the flight. The aircraft that has lost visual contact with the flight will immediately assume the flights heading and airspeed in order to maintain horizontal separation as briefed. If enemy and terrain allow, the aircraft that has lost visual contact will also maintain vertical separation by initiating a climb to a briefed altitude. When a flight becomes separated, immediate altitude separation is a quick and efficient way to prevent an accident. Unit SOPs must state the procedures for reestablishing contact with the flight. Considerations should include but are not limited to rallying to an inflight link-up, rallying to a known point, use of covert/overt lighting, and ground rally. Mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, civil considerations (METT-TC), power available, and ambient light will influence how contact is reestablished. When a flight rallies to a known point, the point may be an Air Check Point ACP along the route, a position sent by lead, or a terrain feature. Situations may occur when an aircraft rejoins the flight in a position other than the position briefed. Mission commanders should use altitude, a WayPoint / Target (WPT/TGT), cardinal direction, or other method (man made or natural features) to maintain separation. Only after the entire flight is formed should the mission commander proceed with the mission.


c. Approach: The lead aircraft must maintain a constant approach angle so other aircraft in the formation will not have to execute excessively steep, shallow, or slow approaches. Aircraft should not descend below the aircraft ahead of them in the formation and enter their rotor-wash. This could result in an over-torque, loss of aircraft control, or entering a settling with power condition. In the event an aircraft in the flight loses visual contact with the formation, the aircrew will immediately make a radio call to the formation and execute a go-around in the briefed direction.

d. Aircrew Briefing:
All multi-aircraft operations will be briefed using a unit approved multi-aircraft/mission briefing checklist. Table 4-1 lists mandatory briefing items that must be included in all multi-aircraft briefings.


Table 4-1. Multi-aircraft operations briefing checklist (mandatory items)

1. Formation type(s): Takeoff, Cruise, Approach

2. Altitude

3. Airspeed: Outbound to Start Point (SP), Cruise, Inbound from Release Point (RP)

4. Aircraft lighting

5. Loss communications procedures

6. Lead change procedures

7. Loss of visual contact/in-flight link-up / Rally points

8. Actions on contact

9. IIMC procedures

10. Downed aircraft procedures / Personnel Recovery / Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR)

(4-100 16 May 2007)

NIGHT OR NIGHT VISION DEVICE (NVD) CONSIDERATIONS: Increase the interval between aircraft to a minimum of three to five rotor disks. Keep changes in the formation to a minimum. All crew members must avoid fixation by using proper scanning techniques.

1. Night. During unaided night flight, the crew should use formation and position lights to aid in maintaining the aircraft's position in the formation. Lighting will be in accordance with AR 95-1 and unit SOP.

2. NVG. When conducting NVG formation flight, the crew should use the formation lights and if equipped the infrared (IR) anti-collision and position lights to maintain the aircraft's position in the formation.

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229th Notes:

TBA notes for task 2010