World-leading helicopter expert in Southern Lakes trains pilots in vortex ring state recovery

World-leading helicopter expert in Southern Lakes trains pilots in vortex ring state recovery

November 6, 2018. For immediate release

An internationally-renowned helicopter expert is in the Southern Lakes this week to train pilots on how to avoid a dangerous natural phenomenon that can occur when flying.

Swiss pilot and former flight instructor Claude Vuichard will train 50 people from the region and the New Zealand Defence Force about ‘vortex ring state’ – how to avoid it and how to recover from it in mid-flight.

In the vortex ring state (VRS), helicopters lose the ability to maintain lift and begin to drop.  It is initiated by the main rotor, which sucks in its own downwash (a vertical, downward stream produced by the helicopter). The crew is jeopardised because the rotor no longer generates any lift, as the helicopter is accelerated downwards in his own downwash. Any increase in power worsens the situation, making the helicopter sink even faster.

Vuichard is founder of the Vuichard Recovery Aviation Safety Foundation and The Helicopter Line (THL) has brought the Switzerland-based expert to New Zealand as part of a concerted effort to promote ongoing training with its pilots.

It follows a serious accident involving a THL helicopter on a heliski trip which was coming into land at Mt Alta in August 2014. THL’s internal investigation highlighted vortex ring state as a potential causative factor in the crash.

THL chief executive Mark Quickfall says the reason for bringing Vuichard to NZ is to prevent future accidents of this nature.

“The onus is on all of us to investigate improvements to helicopter flying,” he says. “We have invited other parties to join the training – it’s a safety issue and we are more than happy to include anyone who flies helicopters. If this training can prevent future accidents, all the better.

THL director Grant Bissett says: “The Vuichard Recovery Technique has been used internationally for many years and is now incorporated into military training and has been adopted by some helicopter manufacturers. It uses simple physics and effects a quick recovery with control.

“The traditional VRS recovery technique involves significant height loss with the aircraft exiting VRS at a high rate of decent typically taking up to 200ft, whereas the Vuichard recovery exists VRS with minimal height loss of 20-50ft with the helicopter climbing under control – which is critical if you are close to terrain. We believe it should become a fundamental part of basic helicopter training in New Zealand,” Bisset adds.

Training takes place at both Queenstown and Wanaka Airports over the next few days.


For more information, please contact:
The Helicopter Line director Grant Bisset:
0274 323121

The Helicopter Line chief executive Mark Quickfall:
027 433 6576

Written by Celia Crosbie

Celia is an award-winning journalist who has worked for newspapers and radio stations in New Zealand and magazines in the United Kingdom. She has worked in public relations in both NZ and London. Celia also specialises in digital media strategy and website copywriting for SEO.