View Full Version : Ditching Survey


Treg
13th Dec 2006, 07:04
I am interested in obtaining first hand ditching reports, not from investigators, but pilots’ and passengers. I teach underwater escape and wish to gather data on the emotive aspects of a ditching sequence to enable an effective fine-tune of HUET training for both experienced and first time over water flyers.

For those who can take the time to respond, I am after both the feelings that you experienced, and the actions you undertook (for pilots I am most interested in how you got out, or got passengers out - not ditching SOP’s). Although I’m primarily seeking a general account from your own perspectives, there are some specific areas I would like you to make comment on. These are listed below:

Upon recognition of an emergency situation, how much of your HUET pre-ditch-drills did you A: remember B: put into practice?
Do you feel that you were supplied with sufficient pre-ditch-drill training? And if not, what would have benefited you?
Upon impact with the water (remaining afloat), how much of your surface-abandonment-drills did you A: remember B: put into practice?
Do you feel that you were supplied with sufficient surface-abandonment training? And if not, what would have benefited you?
Upon turning over in the water, how much of your underwater-escape-drills did you A: remember B: put into practice?
Do you feel that you were supplied with sufficient underwater-escape training? And if not, what would have benifited you?
After escape, how much of your sea-survival or raft-drills did you A: remember B: put into practice?
Do you feel that you were supplied with sufficient sea-survival and raft-drill training? And if not, what would have benifited you?
When being rescued, was the type of rescue method taught in training? If yes, had you received sufficient training to prepare you?
If you answered no to the above what additional training would have benefited you?Pilots and passengers can contact me directly at m.macfarlane@<hidden>,com.au (m.macfarlane@<hidden>,com.au) Thanks for your help – safe flying



Lionel Sole
13th Dec 2006, 11:49
Treg.

Your starting point for this appears to be: once a helicopter is ditched, the vital first action is to abandon it. Obviously if it upside down this is correct but, since this premise is never questioned, the option to remain on board is not considered. In my previous career as a merchant seaman it was a golden rule: "your best lifeboat is the ship". In any emergency all efforts were made to keep the ship afloat and a decision to abandon was a last resort.

Nearly 12 years ago I ended up on the surface of a rough, cold sea after a lightning strike had destroyed my tail rotor. Once on the surface, we immediately launched liferafts and abandoned the helicopter, leaving behind such things as comfortable seats, shelter and efficient means of communication. We did this because it simply did not occur to us to do otherwise. We then sat in a crowded raft (which only had one flotation ring as the other was punctured by part of the aircraft structure) for over an hour watching our helicopter sit comfortably riding the waves.

I learned afterwards that there were previous instances of the type (AS332L) remaining afloat and upright for 24 hours in a force ten.

Only last month, a similar type ditched and all abandoned into a dark, cold sea, only for their craft to wash up, intact and upright, on a beach some time after they were rescued. I offer no criticism of the crew, as they followed their training but with 20:20 hindsight they might have chosen a different course of action.

Please, also, don't feel that I am criticising you. It is not a given that that a helicopter will float the right way up and, if it doesn't, then the training that you offer is vital. My only point would be that if any reader of this ever finds themselves in the position that I found myself in back in 1995, they should pause just a few seconds to consider if abandonment is the only option. Perhaps you will feel that this is a message that you can use in your training.

LS

Treg
13th Dec 2006, 13:19
Thanks Lionel,

Currently we teach students to stay with the aircraft until advised to leave by the captain (on the surface) we also reinforce the need to check for puncture hazards outside the aircraft before launching/boarding rafts, and to also remove any sharp objects from your person prior to boarding.

The ability for an aircraft to stay afloat in varying degrees of weather is understood by HUET training providers, but so is the difficulty of escaping once it has turned over. It is because of this last point, and the varying fitness and abilities of passengers, that egress to a raft is the current SOP adopted by most providers of HUET.

The points you have made are much appreciated. My aim with the survey is to produce sufficient data to best fine-tune the one-to-two days we get people for training every two to four years.

Thanks again,

Treg