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SEP over water - Recommended Immersion Suit

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SEP over water - Recommended Immersion Suit

Old 8th Apr 2016, 17:24
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SEP over water - Recommended Immersion Suit

Ive read the earlier post on the risks and pitfalls possible with SEP over water and am now convinced I need something other than a borrowed life jacket for the occasional trips over the channel
Being realistic the likelihood of getting a liferaft out, hanging on to it, inflating the correct way up and then getting into it with wet clothes (and no doubt my headphones still attached to the aircraft), before I get too cold is not going to happen. I am therefore seeking your experience/recommendations of a suitable over suit to wear that will afford some meaningful chance of a survivable ditching from say mid spring to mid autumn mid channel ditching.
I mentioned over suit as like most of us I guess we dont have changing facilities at departure or arrival fields so looking for a light (for summer wear) outer layer that can be left open maybe when flying so it doesn't get too uncomfortable and then zipped up if all goes quiet up front. Anyone got one they can recommend? Ta in advance
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 08:37
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I have never tried one in anger but I sometimes wear a suit designed for pilots that has a neck seal and wrist seals. I don't like the ones designed for cruise passengers with built in gloves that you have to put on as your aircraft descends towards the waves. As well as requiring time to put on when time may be very short I worry that they would restrict movement and make getting into a dingy difficult.

If you Google "aviation immersion suits" there are lots of options (and budgets).

I too would be interested in an expert opinion.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 08:58
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Immersion suits are always a compromise. A suit that will keep you alive in cold water will be too bulky to allow convenient operation of the aircraft. Having spent quite a bit of time in the back of oilfield helicopters, I wouldn’t want to do more than be a PAX when clad in the usual North Sea neoprene suit.

I used to wear an immersion suit for longer (UK to Holland via the Belgian coast) GA trips, but now tend to do the shorter Dover – Cap Griz Nez crossings so don’t bother. The experts on the subject are those folk who ferry light GA aircraft across oceans.

A couple of points that have come up over the years: An immersion suit is useless unless it is sealed, so it really needs to be closed up for the whole trip. When you put a suit on and close it up, you need to ‘burp’ it, i.e. squeeze all the extra air out of it. If you don’t you could be trapped in a sinking aircraft by the buoyancy of the air trapped in the suit. It may be worth your while doing a Dunker (underwater escape) course at one of the training providers. They may be able to point you in the direction of the best suit for your type of aircraft / flying.

Safe Flying, stay dry.
WKW
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 09:27
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I've bought a couple of these from the US on eBay.
http://www.mustangsurvival.com/professional/mac100?country=25
They are not sealed immersion suits but are designed to reduce cold shock / water flushing and keep you alive for longer. They also come with inflatable mitts and a neoprene balaclava.
The movement in them is very good but of course you do get quite warm.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 12:16
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My advice to assist in choosing the suit which is right for you would be to go and take an underwater egress course, at which, hopefully, they would have a couple you could try on. I have taken these courses, and train the use of these suits for marine cold water/ice rescue. I have also worn them during extended overwater flights.

There is no "best suit", they are all a compromise of one kind or another. I wear both the "snowmobile suit" type, which will require gloves and boots, but gives you bare hands. They can be a bit more airy, but will allow you to get wet if you're dunked. I also wear a complete dry suit, but its gloves are poorly suited for flying, so generally, it is worn up to the waist, hopefully to be completely donned before water contact. I only do that while flying solo, as I could not advise a passenger to do that. Those suits must be completely aired and dried out after every wearing, or they become aromatic.

Your remark about dinghys is quite valid, before you think you can board one solo, go and try it, it's nowhere as easy as you'd think. With two or more trained people, it gets to be much easier. In any case, no matter what overwater flying I am doing, I will wear at least a proper inflatable life jacket, with pockets carrying minimum survival gear. If you get out of the plane in the water, there is a chance that anything which did not get out with you then, is going to the bottom.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 13:32
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Step Turns advice and others is good

You mention spring to Autumn and mainly cross channel short hops. Anything which helps stop heat loss from the body to the water is good.

Most are referring to dry suits it may also be worth considering part wet suits. Even a neoprene vest will protect in summer months better than nothing and will not restrict you

Wet suits are made of a material a little bit like cutting an aero chocolate bar i.e. its full of tiny bubbles
Water enters between the body and suit and then is warmed by the body to near body temperature Loss of heat is determined by the insulation properties and thickness of the suit

the other point worth considering on neoprene suits is that they themselves are buoyant
So for summer month short hops only maybe consider a Neoprene diving vest or shortie suit
That is better than nothing as I have seen many Pilots cross in a shirt and jeans only

A life raft is vital as well as being in a location easily accessed. Again I have seen crossings where the raft is concealed in some rear baggage hold

Another vital point to remember is that with an engine failure always as part of your checks open the door and jam it open with the raft or something else as while sinking pressure of water may keep the door shut

Any white caps on the sea don't go

Don't make the crossing near Dusk there or back

Crossing the channel there will be many boats keep a constant eye on those boats and their positions and direction. Choose a smaller boat to land near and in front of and overfly it at low level before ditching to grab maximum attention. A big oil tanker will take a long time to stop and its easier for others to pull you out of the water from a small boat

Also don't forget flairs its very hard to see someone in the seas and a locator

The poor lady in the news recently who fell off a Clipper round the world race boat was found within an hour but was already dead

Pace

Last edited by Pace; 9th Apr 2016 at 13:46.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 14:19
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I have to say I don't like the idea of the neoprene ones, I think they would be too hot in the cockpit requiring one to have them round the waist with all the disadvantages mentioned above.
I feel that it is a good idea to be comfortable in the cockpit where you are going to be (at least) 99.9999% of the time so you can think clearly and hopefully avoid getting wet at all.
My dry suit has neck and wrist seals and gloves in a pocket attached to the arm. It's uninsulated so it can be used in non-cold weather and suitable clothing can be worn underneath to suit the conditions.

I note this suit has 3 layers one can choose to suit what you are doing:
https://mustangsurvival.com//professional/mac300
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 14:49
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Also don't forget flairs its very hard to see someone in the seas
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 14:52
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Bronx

Love it its this auto spelling but you would certainly be spotted in those! maybe by the wrong sort of rescuer depending on your sexual preferences

Pace

Last edited by Pace; 9th Apr 2016 at 15:22.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 14:53
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This report contains some useful thinking points, and these were the guys who are supposed to be expert!

http://www.tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-re...2/a13h0002.pdf
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 16:58
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Many microlight pilots wear Crewsaver Drysuits when crossing the Channel.
https://www.wetsuitoutlet.co.uk/crew...FUKeGwodJ_0GDg
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 17:47
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Thank you to everyone for the useful info and particularly those with known brands actually used and stockists.

The choice is certainly going to be a compromise as its likely to be trips done in the warmer sunny weather so partial donning of suit or loose fitting is a must.Particularly as normal clothes need to be on underneath. Im thinking of finding an outlet that has lots of choice that I can visit and try on a few of your recommendations. Its strange that there doesnt seem to be "best buy" offered by the Pooleys and Mendelssohn's of this Parish.
Dry Feet to you all and thank you again
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 22:08
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A big oil tanker will take a long time to stop and its easier for others to pull you out of the water from a small boat
All merchant vessels are equipped with a rescue craft - that said a member of the crew needs to observe that you have ditched.

Also don't forget flairs its very hard to see someone in the seas and a locator
Or one of these may be far better:-

Laser Flares

This is also useful for forecast sea states (swell, period, surface wind) - you can even work out a good theoretical ditching heading before departure:-

Sea state

Or if you don't like the look of the swell cancel and go another day.

Last edited by fireflybob; 9th Apr 2016 at 22:19.
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Old 9th Apr 2016, 22:49
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A neoprene garment would be horrible in a fire situation - even an electrical fire, behind the panel, could ignite neoprene trousers before being extinguished. I never found a wet suit easy to get out of.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 00:09
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neoprene garment would be horrible in a fire situation - even an electrical fire, behind the panel, could ignite neoprene trousers before being extinguished. I never found a wet suit easy to get out of.
Maoraigh

I was purely stating that in summer crossing the channel where there are numerous boats putting on a wetsuit VEST (NO sleeves) would be a better option than a T shirt and jeans which many cross in
A full dry suit would obviously be the safest option and you bring up a good point about the fire qualities of neoprene
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 16:57
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The official answer can be seen if you google immersion suit ETSO. This will give you the offshore helicopter suits which with suitable under clothing will give you 2 hours plus in the North Sea even in winter.
They are not the most comfortable things but thousands of passengers use them. The offshore companies sell off the older ones and these can be good value. Naturally they have sufficient insulation, lifejacket compatibility, sealing etc etc.
Anything less than this will be something of a compromise, how much of a compromise is up to you.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 17:02
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Surfing and Paddling Wear

Surf, dive, sail and paddle sport shops may offer better prices than aviation outlets.

Neoprene has various thicknesses depending on expected water temperature. You want fabric on both sides. Neoprene has to be worn next to the skin and once worn needs immersion to keep it from becoming aromatic. You will quickly know how cold the water is when you enter it in a wet suit. It takes some time to warm up.

Dry suits and tops with suitable layers underneath can work out.

A dry top can keep your body core warm enough to sustain the effort to get into a raft. In the channel it may sustain you long enough for the rescue services to find a live body.

Trans Atlantic may call for the full version.

Check EQUIPPED TO SURVIVE - Outdoors Gear, Survival Equipment Review & Survival Information for real world ditching stories and raft tests.
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