Saturday, October 9, 2010

Doing the Helicopter Underwater Escape Training

It is a requirement by the oil companies that all pilots and passengers flying offshore to have a regular Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET). In the early days, the training was conducted overseas (Singapore only lah) but over the last few years we have one training centre in Terengganu..the TSTC (Terengganu Safety Training Centre) so there goes our paid vacation. This course is to enlighten and train pilots and passengers how to escape from a sinking helicopter in the unlikely event of a ditching. If you talk to survivors of these helicopter ditching incident you will realise how undergoing these regular training had saved their lives. ( There had been three ditching incidents in my company so far!)
Normally the training starts at the base itself. Here we get to refresh ourselves on all our emergency packs and actually feel its contents including eating the super high energy glucose. Flares are provided for us to fire. Since I am a sailor as well I take this training very seriously.

After the fireworks we adjourn to the Terengganu Safety Training Centre. Normally we have some ground lectures to update ourselves with the latest procedures etc. For this trip we were introduced to the STASS..Short Time Air Supply system which actually provides us with air for an extra minutes should we go underwater. By then the helicopter simulator is ready.

There are three compulsory exercises to be done in the pool. The exercises are( a) escape through a hatch nearest to where you are seated,( b)..Escape through only one available hatch assuming the other exits are blocked and damaged and the most interesting exercise (c) ... is to escape with the helicopter rolled upside down.Exiting is one thing but to exit applying the CORRECT technique is another thing. You will be surprised that many people declare themselves as non swimmers hoping for some discount but normally that is not available!

It is actually quite good fun for me but the inverted exercise normally has a lot of water going into the nose!

We finally spend some time inflating and boarding a dinghy similar to the type that we carry all the time. In the olden days we had an additional exercise ie uprighting a capsized dinghy but nowadays the modern dinghy can be use on either side so there is no requirement for this strenuous exercise.
I am actually paid to do these fun things! So it is a good life after all.


  1. It is better to ditch into the sea than on the land. The chance of survival is greater unless the impact is so great that the passengers are not conscious anymore.

    Interesting and informing article! By the way I witnessed the impact of RC plane that crashed or lost its landing gear, the damage is really bad. Of course its body parts are made of balsa wood!

  2. I know you will do anything for out door excitement lah.