Planned and Unplanned Emergencies
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    Thursday
    Jul152010

    Life Rafts

    There are many different life raft manufacturers out there, and they all have one aim; produce a life raft to satisfy international regulations and, of course, save the lives of those who may need to use their device!

    For Bizjets, the regulation that really concerns us is EU Ops 1.830. Within this regulation, it states that you cannot fly more than 2 hours at cruising speed, or 400 nms away from land suitable for making an emergency landing (whichever is lesser) (single engine) unless you have sufficient life rafts to carry all persons on board. It also says that if you carry several life rafts, and the largest life raft is lost, then the remaining rafts must still be able to carry all the aircrafts occupants. That sounds a little complicated, so I’ll will simplify it with an example.  On my aircraft, the Falcon 2000 EX, the maximum number of persons on board is 10 passengers and 3 crew. We carry 2 life rafts, each with a capacity for 9 persons. However, each raft is rated to take a 50% overload. Therefore, if one life raft is lost, then the remaining life raft, using its overload capacity, can take all persons that can be flown.

    The EU Ops regulation goes on to say that each life raft shall be equipped with a survivor locator light and life saving equipment, including means of sustaining life appropriate to the flight being undertaken. If you check the right side tab for this particular topic, you will see a section that will go into more detail about survival equipment.

    The final part of the regulation refers to Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs). It is part of the same paragraph that details the equipment required for extended over water flights. For this particular operation, you must carry at least 2 survival ELTs; there is one on the aircraft anyway, and each life raft should carry one.

    As I said before, there are lots of life raft manufacturers and there are some very good websites out there which have tested each life raft and provided reports on each. So, in this section, I will just concentrate on the life raft that is prevalent throughout the fleet of aircraft in my company.

    The Winslow Life Raft

     

     The Winslow Life Rafts come in different sizes and specifications, depending on the type of operation you are doing, and (obviously) the capacity required for your aircraft.  If you look at the side of the life raft in its packed state:

     It's a very compact raft for its size and the labels on the side of the raft (shown in dayglo orange) will give you the part number. Find this, and you will know the type of raft you are dealing with.

    In the following example, I will use the one from my own aircraft:  913FAUL.7KO-1-206

    913 = The first numbers are very simple: 9 is the nominal capacity of the life raft, and the 13 is the overload capacity.  This is your check to see if a life raft will carry all the persons on board your aircraft.

    FAUL = This is the Winslow model designation of the raft.

    7KOThis details the type of survival equipment package (SEP) for the life raft. This example shows this raft as having the Winslow DME 406 MHz Triple Frequency ELT, ICOM Radio and a Winslow JAR-OPS1/EU-OPS1 / 135 SEP survival pack.

    To view the full specifications of the Wimslow Life Raft, take a look at the following link - WINSLOW

    HOW TO USE THE LIFE RAFT

    Once the aircraft has landed on the water and come to a stop the life raft can be removed from its stowage and moved towards the exit you are going to use.  Only use an exit that is above the waterline, which in most cases will be the overwing emergency exit.  

    Before you do anything else, ATTACH the life raft to the aircraft!  If you launch the life raft without attaching it to the aircraft, your last view of the life raft will be to watch it disappear over the horizon!  To attach it to the aircraft, locate the launching line (under a flap marked PULL TO INFLATE).

    Pull back the flap marked PULL TO INFLATE to expose the line.  Locate the snap link on the line and attach it to the aircraft.  In the example below, I have attached it to a seatbelt buckle.

     

    Now it is safely attached to the aircraft, you can open the over wing emergency exit and throw the life raft through it (this may need two people to do this because the life raft can be very heavy, depending on its capacity.  Once the life raft is outside the aircraft, pull on the launch line.  Once all the line has been pulled from the life raft, a sharp tug will start the life raft inflation process.  Do not worry abut tugging too hard, the line will not break; it keeps the life raft attached to the aircraft until you cut it using the J-knife in the life raft.

    SECONDARY INFLATION TECHNIQUE

    Another way of inflating the life raft is as follows.  Once you have the life raft OUTSIDE the aircraft, locate the falp marked EMERGENCY INFLATON.  When you lift the flap, you will see a large metal ring.  Pull this for immediate life raft inflation.  Be aware that you are unlikely to have attached the life raft to your aircraft if you inflate it this way, so keep a good hold of the life raft whilst it is inflating.