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Old 20th Jun 2009, 14:30   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: St. John's, Newfoundland
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Immersion Suits, what one is the best?

Recently in Newfoundland we've had a lot of discussion on the effectiveness of immersion suits, specifically the Helly Hansen Nautilus E-452, with general concerns over the size range options and face sealing properties.

During BST-R and more recent HUEBA training, many of us have been trying these suits "wet" for the first time as our refreshers are every 3 years over here. The "training" version of these suits have been noted to be leaking like a sieve. This is blamed on the many times they are used. What about the ones used many times during offshore flights, how are they tested before each use and what guarantee do we have that they will do the job when required?

What is perceived to be the best immersion suit available on the market, and does anyone have real-time experience that they'd like to share with the forum?

Is type approval/certification all that is available/required these days to be the answer?

Looking forward to an interesting discussion...
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 15:37   #2 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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I recently became aware of a new immersion suit design, by an Alaska Airlines captain, that claims to offer far better cold water performance:

Latitude98 Home
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 18:44   #3 (permalink)
 
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I prefer this model!

Being a helicopter pilot.....I prefer this model.

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Old 20th Jun 2009, 19:29   #4 (permalink)
 
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That's as may be, SASless... but I don't think you'll ever get into that one.

Helly-Hansen has been developing all-in-one suits for rig workers which will be used in the North Sea, not only for helicopter transport, but also for working on the rig. If I remember rightly, they use a latent heat principle with small paraffin capsules throughout the suit. I don't remember too many of the details, but essentially they're less likely to cause heat stress to the wearer in benign conditions and work well and are tough in the working environment and a survival situation.

Outsider_May09
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 21:36   #5 (permalink)
 
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Sassy..... You would have a Heart Attack.!

Even if you could remember what to do!
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 21:42   #6 (permalink)
 
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Sassy..... You would have a Heart Attack.!

Ahh ... but what a way to die!
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 21:55   #7 (permalink)
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Maxwelg;

I'm sure you are impressed by individuals who can keep people enthralled with the sheer wit of their words, however if you want a real answer for your question contact a military agency that uses the best equipment, ie., US Navy, US Coast Guard, Royal Navy, etc...
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 23:26   #8 (permalink)
 
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The "Helly Hansen SeaAir" was introduced to the norwegian offshore worker a couple of years ago. It´s got some interesting features like, a mouthpiece connected to a breathing lung, splash hood and an integrated emergency beacon. I never tried it so I´m not able to make any comments. The suit seems to be purpose-built though.



With the splash hood pulled down.


Not my pictures, it´s taken from this article.
tu.no - Nye redningsdrakter i høyt tempo - Teknisk Ukeblad

rotordude
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 23:34   #9 (permalink)
 
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"Oh Death! Where is thy Sting?"
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Old 20th Jun 2009, 23:45   #10 (permalink)
 
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SASless, nice picture, but unfortunately I suspect that the wee man would be inverted by the cold water effect, so unless you were into sharing body heat in a liferaft with that particular survivor not much might rise to the occasion!

From what I can see the Latitude98 and the Helly Hansen SeaAir share the same wet-suit type face seal, which the E-452 has and doesn't work very well IMO. Perhaps a custom-fit type is what is required. I do like the idea of using one's own exhaled warm breath to keep warm.

I used to like the Shark suits with the single rubber neck seal and separate hood. The re-breather unit was horrible to use, even in training. I'll take the HUEBA over that one any day.

There is a review currently being performed by the C-NLOPB and the oil operators on the suitability of the E-452. Hopefully we can pass on some collective feedback for their consideration. Whatever the improvements may be they will no doubt have to be approved by Transport Canada et al before we can use them.

Iceberglead, good point, mil spec equipment should be the best, but will it be made commercially available? Perhaps the SAR guys have very similar equipment that may be worth finding more details on. I know of at least a couple on this forum in that vocation.

Question, who makes the pilot's flight suits and how good are they in the H20? Do they have a neck-seal like the Shark ones?
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 19:46   #11 (permalink)
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immersion suits

I had the "fun" of ditching in the North Sea in October 1977 in an S61.
We flew in shirt sleaves then and only after the enquiry did Bristow insist that we all flew in immersion suits during the winter months, then all the year round. the suits were so thick that they filled up in good honest sweat in no time!
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 20:42   #12 (permalink)
 
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Test kit for suits
Scandia Stores | Testing Immersion Suits
how the HH new suit works
Smart helicopter survival suit


SAS
Black is not a good colour for suit, also no boots and hood, or am I missing something?
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 22:42   #13 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Black is not a good colour for suit, also no boots and hood,
No doubt not uppermost in the minds of those looking at this photo!
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Old 21st Jun 2009, 23:26   #14 (permalink)
 
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Is type approval/certification all that is available/required these days to be the answer?
Max, unfortunately the answer is yes. Contract awards in Canadian offshore suit contracts are awarded on a) best value (invariably lowest purchase price, as maintenance is included), and b) meet Canadian “dual approval” standards (Aviation and Marine).

I think there’s only 3 suits meeting both right now, so your choice is very limited. Problem is twofold – 1) relying on outdated standards for contract spec., and Certification cost in relation to total market size in Canada.

The standards are drafted by CGSB (depending who you work for, you may have a rep. on their committee/s) and sent to TC for approval. The Helicopter Passenger standard I think dates back nearly 10 years and CGSB has let’s say, been perambulatory in making forward progress. So because min. spec. is 10 years old and lowest price gets it, you probably won’t see many new groundbreaking designs on the table.

Cold weather operations technical requirements (testing methods, CLO values etc..etc..) aren’t always the same (Canada/Norway etc..), so good in one place may not be accepted in another.

With Design/Certification costs running say C$350k and up and a total market of say 1800 units, no other market willing to pay the price and standards don’t change (so the current contract holder can re-bid next contract using the original product), not a lot to get commercially excited about on 3 year contracts. Manufacturers have to expect a fair return for an improved product.

Best suits around would have to get thermal upgrades, but outside of the one's you already know about, try US Navy Special Ops. & USCG if you want to see some really good ideas (one of the benefits of Mil. Spec. suits what you want is what you get, not encumbered by civvy. Standards etc..).

Suit Standards for pilots vs.PAX are different in Canada.

Actually you may have more clout than you think, you just have to say the Offshore has “Special (Increased) Requirements”, push much much harder for the very latest technology (CGSB will invariably be quite a ways behind you), make lots and lots of “noise”, and I’m sure TC will “accommodate” your desire to utilize the safest product available.

Bottom line, always increase the spec., and be willing to pay for it !
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 00:43   #15 (permalink)
 
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Madrock, I hear you, but things need to change, we're meant to learn from tragedies and outdated standards can be updated. Suffice to say that at least one oil company over here has gave their workers the option to travel by vessel until the suit compatibility research has been concluded. For me that will be all too soon. The sad truth is that if there is not a collective interest in improving safety it will take a long time to happen. Why did we change from the Mustang flight commander II suits to the E-452s, was it legislation-driven, cost-driven, or safety-driven? They weren't the best but they were type approved.

Flight Commander II :: Mustang Survival

The spec should be the best that technology can provide for the environment, not the most cost-effective. What about the litigation costs if a company is deemed to have been providing inadequate safety equipment? We know that's not going to happen because the suits will be TC approved.

IMO we should be using whatever flight suit is selected during our BST-R sea days instead of the Fitzwright, which is a great suit for bobbing about in the drink for a few hours. If we stay warm and dry then we're making progress.

Fitzwright Immersion Suit

Max
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 01:50   #16 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
SAS
Black is not a good colour for suit, also no boots and hood, or am I missing something?
No, you're not missing anything... she's got nothing to offer you... she is not one of the droids you're looking for...
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 15:28   #17 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
The spec should be the best that technology can provide for the environment, not the most cost-effective.
Max, shouldn’t it be the best that technology can provide, and the most cost-effective ?, (which is why the Standard must be updated, if the Standard is the only tech. spec. you use ?).

As we’ve seen (with other issues), just because something meets a 10 year old (e.g.) Standard doesn’t mean it’s as good as it could be if new technology is used.

Don’t understand why one (out of three) operators has now determined there’s a serious enough issue that they may? not be fit for purpose, with everyone else still using them ? Are these manufacturing issues (defects), or has it been tabled that the minimum Standard is no longer acceptable ?

It’s all about contract spec.; use min. Standards certainly to keep it legal, but if you have other requirements over and above, spell them out to bidding manufacturers.

Also as we’ve seen (with other issues), close familiarity with exactly what requirements (e.g. testing etc...etc...) are contained in any Standard, is required in order to determine if that meets your needs.

Re. Mustang vs. HH, don't know, cost plus easier to use was the rumour........
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 20:31   #18 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Don’t understand why one (out of three) operators has now determined there’s a serious enough issue that they may? not be fit for purpose, with everyone else still using them ? Are these manufacturing issues (defects), or has it been tabled that the minimum Standard is no longer acceptable ?
Madrock, main reason that one operator has gave their workers the choice and are investigating the suits is most likely due to the number of PAX who have exercised their right to refuse an unsafe work condition and opted to transfer by vessel or not go to work. The same asset has lost at least 8 people to my knowledge, not all because of the immersion suit issue, but it's certainly been a contributory factor for some of them.

Actions sometimes speak louder than words...
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Old 23rd Jun 2009, 20:44   #19 (permalink)
 
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Max,
.......enough said,
all the best,
be safe.
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