Survival Systems can help keep your head above water

 - February 20, 2007, 5:09 AM

Survival Systems USA, a company that provides simulated ditching and underwater escape training to military and commercial pilots, crew and passengers, is at Heli-Expo booth No. 2639 displaying video programs and equipment specifically for helicopter operations.

The Groton, Conn. firm specializes in overwater survival,  immediate-reaction training and aircraft-specific escape procedures. Its Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS), a fifth-generation Dilbert Dunker, can be configured for dozens of different aircraft and internal layouts including medevac and fixed-wing, said business development director Chad Copeland. He noted that many rotorcraft, even without specific overwater missions, spend considerable flight time over water and, without power-off glide range, are more subject to ditching than fixed-wing aircraft.

Survival Systems USA also trains for surface survival and emergency extractions. At Heli-Expo, the company is offering a 20-percent discount on training courses, which last from one to three days at a retail cost of $795 a day per student. Group rates are available.

Copeland said the U.S. operation has its roots in a Canadian company, Survival Systems Ltd., formed in 1983 to pioneer rotorcraft water-survival techniques and training for helicopter operators serving offshore oil sites. “Our type of training was developed to accommodate nonswimmers and to provide personalized attention to people who may be hesitant about water-intensive training,” Copeland said.

In the last three years, Survival Systems USA has opened six Overwater Training Centers. Four are dedicated to the U.S. Marines, to whom the firm will provide ditching training for the next five years. It has been contracted to provide water survival training devices and services for U.S. Army pilots at Fort Rucker, Ala. In the first year of training at the Army’s aviation training school, Survival Systems USA trained more than 1,200 Army aviators and crew.