The UK CAA unveiled a series of stringent measures today as a result of a review it launched last September to improve the safety of helicopter operations in the North Sea. These changes are expected to improve survivability after a ditching.
Personal flotation device
The Canadian government is adopting new rules for offshore helicopter operations in the wake of the March 2009 fatal Cougar Helicopters crash near St. John’s, Newfoundland that killed 17. The proposed rule changes include mandating flotation devices and emergency breathing apparatus for all aboard and that crewmembers wear specialized survival suits when flying over cold water. Operations would be prohibited when sea state conditions exceeded safe ditching levels.
Switlik Parachute (Booth No. 1828) is aiming for a soft landing at Heli-Expo’09 with a new contract and introduction of a new modular helicopter life vest and a civilian version of the one-man life raft being supplied to the U.S. military.
For those who operate aircraft over water, knowing how to ditch is an important safety issue. So is having the right equipment. Eastern Aero Marine, based in Miami, claims 15 lives have been saved in three aircraft ditchings in the past six months after crew and passengers used its inflatable survival gear products.
To anyone who hit the silk more than 30 years ago, the name Switlik Parachute is well known as a preeminent maker of the lifesaving devices. Founded in 1920, Switlik Parachute is still in business in Trenton, N.J. But old habits die hard, and the company whose name still ends with “Parachute” actually hasn’t made one since 1968.
Emergency procedures training is offered by several business aviation OEMs and all of the major simulator training companies as part of their wide array of training products. But two smaller, independent companies–Stark Survival Training and Facts/AirCare–specialize in emergency procedures training, and their programs stand out among all of the offerings.
Following the crash of a Sikorsky S-76 into the Gulf of Mexico, the two pilots and 10 passengers survived several hours in the water before being rescued, despite their injuries and problems with life-saving equipment. On September 6, at about 4 p.m., the Houston Helicopters S-76 ditched into the Gulf some 24 miles southeast of Sabine Pass, Texas, after a dual engine failure.
Following intensive research and development, RFD Beaufort (Hall 1 Stand D9/10) has launched new armored vests for helicopter and fixed-wing crews. They offer fire retardancy, flotation, ballistic and load carriage options with fall-arrest facilities and full-body harnesses, without affecting the wearer’s comfort and ability to carry out mission activities.