# Chapter 6 Weight And Balance

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Chapter 6Weight and BalanceIntroductionIt is vital to comply with weight and balance limitsestablished for helicopters. Operating above the maximumweight limitation compromises the structural integrity ofthe helicopter and adversely affects performance. Balanceis also critical because, on some fully loaded helicopters,center of gravity (CG) deviations as small as three inches candramatically change a helicopter’s handling characteristics.Operating a helicopter that is not within the weight andbalance limitations is unsafe. Refer to FAA-H-8083-1 (asrevised), Aircraft Weight and Balance Handbook, for moredetailed information.6-1

with its nose tilted down; if the CG is too far aft of the mast,the nose tilts up. [Figure 6-1]CG Forward of Forward LimitA forward CG may occur when a heavy pilot and passengertake off without baggage or proper ballast located aft of therotor mast. This situation becomes worse if the fuel tanksare located aft of the rotor mast because as fuel burns theCG continues to shift forward.This condition is easily recognized when coming to a hoverfollowing a vertical takeoff. The helicopter has a nose-lowattitude, and excessive rearward displacement of the cycliccontrol is needed to maintain a hover in a no-wind condition.Do not continue flight in this condition, since a pilot couldrapidly lose rearward cyclic control as fuel is consumed. Apilot may also find it impossible to decelerate sufficiently tobring the helicopter to a stop. In the event of engine failureand the resulting autorotation, there may not be enough cycliccontrol to flare properly for the landing.A forward CG is not as obvious when hovering into a strongwind, since less rearward cyclic displacement is required thanwhen hovering with no wind. When determining whether acritical balance condition exists, it is essential to consider thewind velocity and its relation to the rearward displacementof the cyclic control.CG Aft of Aft LimitWithout proper ballast in the cockpit, exceeding the aft CGmay occur when: A lightweight pilot takes off solo with a full load offuel located aft of the rotor mast. A lightweight pilot takes off with maximum baggageallowed in a baggage compartment located aft of therotor mast. A lightweight pilot takes off with a combination ofbaggage and substantial fuel where both are aft of therotor mast.CG Directly Under The Rotor MastCGA pilot can recognize the aft CG condition when comingto a hover following a vertical takeoff. The helicopter willhave a tail-low attitude and will need excessive forwarddisplacement of cyclic control to maintain a hover in a nowind condition. When facing upwind, even greater forwardcyclic is needed.If flight is continued in this condition, it may be impossibleto fly in the upper allowable airspeed range due to inadequateforward cyclic authority to maintain a nose-low attitude. Inaddition, with an extreme aft CG, gusty or rough air couldaccelerate the helicopter to a speed faster than that producedwith full forward cyclic control. In this case, dissymmetry oflift and blade flapping could cause the rotor disk to tilt aft.With full forward cyclic control already applied, a pilot mightnot be able to lower the rotor disk, resulting in possible lossof control, or the rotor blades striking the tailboom.Lateral BalanceFor smaller helicopters, it is generally unnecessary todetermine the lateral CG for normal flight instruction andpassenger flights. This is because helicopter cabins arerelatively narrow and most optional equipment is locatednear the centerline. However, some helicopter manualsspecify the seat from which a pilot must conduct solo flight.In addition, if there is an unusual situation that could affectthe lateral CG, such as a heavy pilot and a full load of fuelon one side of the helicopter, its position should be checkedagainst the CG envelope. If carrying external loads in aposition that requires large lateral cyclic control displacementto maintain level flight, fore and aft cyclic effectiveness couldbe limited dramatically. Manufacturers generally accountfor known lateral CG displacements by locating externalattachment points opposite the lateral imbalance. Examplesare placement of hoist systems attached to the side, and wingstores commonly used on military aircraft for external fuelpods or armament systems.Forward CGCGAft CGCGFigure 6-1. The location of the CG strongly influences how the helicopter handles.6-3

Front view Lateral datumTop view Figure 6-4. The lateral reference datum is located longitudinallythrough the center of the helicopter; therefore, there are positiveand negative values.6-5

6-6

increases during the day, the maximum allowable weight may have to be reduced to keep the helicopter within its capability. The following terms are used when computing a helicopter’s weight: Basic Empty Weight Maximum Gross Weight Weight Limitations Basic Empty Weight The

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