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Thursday, September 1, 2005

From the Field

FLYIT Gains FNPT2 Certification

FLYIT Simulators and its European partner, Aerosimulators BVBA, plan to unveil their newly certificated Flight Navigation and Procedures Training at this month's Helitech 2005. They say the device is the first certificated to FNPT2 standards. The partners worked for more than two years with Staverton, England-based Police Aviation Services, which will operate the device, and the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority to win Joint Aviation Authorities certification of the AS-PHS-B206 device. The FNPT2 certification means pilots can log up to 40 of 55 hr. required credit for their instrument rating in the unit and can use it to maintain their IFR proficiency.

HUET Postscript

Underwater egress training works apparently, if the following tale is any indication.

In mid-February, Capt. Gordon Jones was ferrying marine pilots to and from large container ships moored miles offshore from the port of Shanghai China when his MDHI 902 Explorer crashed into the sea. Jones was on loan to train pilots for the Honk Kong-based employer that sold the 902 to the Chinese concern Guangdong General Aviation Company (GGAC).

An experienced pilot, Jones had flown 2,000 successful transfers the year before and this one flight seemed just as routine.

But, as he maneuvered over the container ship, and applied left pedal, he heard a "loud bang" and the aircraft started spinning rapidly out of control. The helicopter clipped a container, and, before he knew it, Jones and his three passengers plunged into the icy sea.

"I thought that I was going to buy it," Jones recalled quietly in his Scottish brogue. "My first recollection was hitting the water. I could see the surface clearly and that is when my training kicked in."

Specifically, Jones remembered his Navy training long ago as well as his recent helicopter underwater egress (HUET), aircraft ditching and sea survival training he'd received from Pro Aviation Training in Langley, B.C. ("An Offshore Lifeline," May 2005, page 38). Despite severe injuries to his ribs, legs and eye, he steadied himself, pulled the buckle release, used the airframe to help his exit and floated to the surface.

His training didn't stop there. In the shock of the moment, Jones forgot how to inflate his life jacket. In the Navy, the inflate toggle was located on the right side of the chest.

For this vest, the release was at the bottom. Once again his training prevented him from panicking. He managed to inflate the life jacket as he bobbed like a top in the sea.

But Jones was far from safe. He'd suffered multiple fractures in his ribs and leg and ripped a whole in his immersion suit on impact. The freezing water was sapping his strength quickly. In his condition, he couldn't reach a nearby life raft.

His most immediate concern was hypothermia. The sea survival course taught him to protect as much of his body as possible or he would die long before help arrived.

Luckily, wreckage was everywhere. He pulled his torso onto the hulking remains and waited for over an hour before being rescued.

"I was very pleased when I saw a helicopter on the horizon," Jones chuckled in classic understatement, crediting the training for saving his life. His three passengers weren't as lucky. They died in the crash.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Jones convalesces from his injuries and awaits an operation on the orbital floor in his right eye. As to the cause of the crash, Chinese authorities say the matter is still under investigation.

Consortium Launches Emergency Response Aviation Safety School in California

To meet what it calls a critical need for improved emergency response aviation, a consortium of university, governmental and private industry experts has set up up a program to train for emergency managers and operators. Experts backing the new school based at Sacramento, Calif.'s McClellan Park (part of the former McClellan AFB) come from American Helicopter Services, the Aerial Firefighting Assn., NASA's Ames Research Center, the University of California at Davis's School of Engineering and Office of Research and the U.S. Forest Service. It was created specifically to train aviation safety officers, emergency services pilots, forest firefighter aviators, border patrol aviators, medical-air transport personnel, law enforcement, homeland security officers and anyone involved in the field of aviation emergency response.

The school's objective is to "deliver world-class aviation training that focuses on aircraft health monitoring for condition-based maintenance and other critical factors involved in aircraft health management, as well as the decision-making processes and communication skills and technology required for coordination and cooperation during emergency response incidents."

The location at McClellan Park was selected in part to allow the school to leverage facilities there--the U.S. Forest Service's Aerial Simulation Center and state-of-the-art classrooms--to provide students with an experience that will allow them to "gain the skills to create an emergency aviation response environment that encourages crew member and management collaboration."

A seven-course certificate program has been set up that school officials said can be completed in just five weeks, during two consecutive quarter sessions begins late next month. They are to run from Oct. 31-Nov. 18, 2005 and from Feb. 27-Mar. 10, 2006. The school is accepting only enrollments for the entire, five-course October-November session until Sept. 23. The next day it plans to begin accepting for individual courses this year. Most classes are limited to 30 students and early enrollment is encouraged. The courses include:

Aviation Health Management, Oct. 21-Nov. 4, 2005
Human Factors in Emergency Response Aviation Operations, Nov. 7 & 8, 2005
Operational Risk Management, Nov. 9 & 10, 2005
Communications: Program Management, Nov. 14 & 15, 2005
Communications: Operations Management, Nov. 16-18, 2005
Aviation Leadership, March 6-10, 2006
Safety Program Management, Feb. 27-March 3, 2006.

Information is available at: www.extension.ucdavis.edu/certificateprograms.

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