The Dunker! A survival drill that all helicopter pilots in the RSAF have to go through

Helicopter pilot survival drill. 

Helicopter pilot survival drill – these are not pleasant words to the ears of helicopter pilots in the RSAF. To simulate escaping from a helicopter that has crashed into water, all helicopter pilots have to go through the Helicopter Under Water Escape Training (HUET) as part of their pilot training. Basically the trainees are strapped into a simulated cockpit or cabin, and dunked into a swimming pool. Being strapped into the seat and turned upside down underwater doesn’t exactly make this exercise a pleasurable one. And one of the profiles actually calls for the trainees to be blind-folded when dunked and trying to make their escape! Check out what the dunker is about in the video below:

Why the need for HUET.

Unlike fighter pilots, helicopter crew do not have ejection seats. As such, they cannot be jettisoned to safety when the helicopter forced-lands in water. Most helicopters are not designed to float. Because of that, helicopters typically sinks minutes after impacting water. Therefore, helicopter crew need to learn how to escape from a sinking helicopter to prevent drowning.

How HUET works.

The one-day HUET is a survival course for helicopter crew, and comprise of two phases. In phase one, trainees learn in a classroom setting how to increase their chances of survival by rationing food and water, and staying motivated until they are rescued.

Phase two takes place outside the classroom. Trainees take turns to sit in a shell that is modelled after a helicopter cockpit and cabin. This shell is then dipped in a pool to simulate ditching (landing in water), and trainees have to go through a set of escape drills.

Short Term Air Supply System (STASS)

Every helicopter crew wears a survival vest when they fly. On the vest is a Short Term Air Supply System (STASS), which is a key to surviving a sinking helicopter. The STASS is basically a breathing apparatus used in an emergency. It works like a much smaller version of the oxygen tank that scuba divers carry, and provides the user with air for two to five minutes to make his escape.

 

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