Aviation Life Support Equipment – ALSE
Aircrew Equipment Assembly – AEA
Pilot Flight Equipment – PFE.
What is it?
Simply put, ALSE, AEA & PFE are collective terms for a broad spectrum of equipment that protects aviation professionals and their passengers safety when engaged in aviation activities, including during mishaps or in survival situations.
Key Survival Equipment Ltd. are specialists in this field, having accrued vast experience in the maintenance, supervision and product training of ALSE / AEA / PFE. We work hand in hand with Survival Equipment / ALSE manufacturers and can recommend equipment to suit your circumstances and aircraft roles. Aircrew equipment worn is dictated by the type, role and operating environment of the aircraft. ALSE required by an off-shore pilot will be different to that of a HEMS pilot.
Let’s look at ALSE for a helicopter pilot in a temperate (European type) environment.
STANDARD PILOT FLIGHT EQUIPMENT
- Base layer
- Flying coverall
- Life Preserver
The base layer provides insulation and protects the skin from the direct heat of flash fire when worn in conjunction with a flying coverall. At the very least the base layer should be manufactured from cotton/natural fibres, but higher performance is provided by fire resistant fabrics (i.e. Nomex®).
- Long sleeved round neck T-shirt
- Long John’ type underwear
Suitable base layers are available from a range of manufacturers.
Gloves protect the skin on the hands and wrists , not only from the cold or the effect of cockpit flash fire – but also from exposure to the myriad of lubricants, fuel and oils that can occasionally be experienced during flight / aircraft walk around checks. Gloves are usually manufactured from cape leather or Nomex®. You should be able to operate the aircraft controls and switches easily when wearing the gloves and they should provide a high transmitted level of feel.
Flying coveralls (or flying overalls for those of a Naval Aviation disposition..) provide the wearer with protection from flash fires and cover the body from neck to foot with the sleeves worn down (and not rolled up ala Top Gun..).
Coveralls should be loose-fitting – this will provide a small insulation layer of trapped air. The coverall wearer should be able to operate their aircraft controls without causing a snagging hazard, undue discomfort or pinching. Flying coveralls are normally equipped with a stowage of a suitable ‘J’ knife or cutter – which can assist the wearer in cutting themselves free from any snagging seat belts/fixtures in an emergency.
Flying coveralls are manufactured from Fire Resistant (FR) Nomex® material although other FR materials are available. Some coveralls available from ‘pilot shops’ are NOT FR! In this case you get what you pay for! Buying an ‘ex-Air Force’ flying coverall off online auction sites or surplus stores is not advisable either as there is no guarantee the garment will perform well in an emergency, when it is needed most.. Again, we can advise you on suitable coveralls from a range of manufacturers.
Footwear is normally personal preference, but ideally would provide ankle support, be made of leather and equipped with an oil resistant anti-FOD (Foreign Object Debris) sole. Boots are available from a wide range of manufacturers in various styles.
Life preservers should at the very least be compatible with the aircraft cockpit and cabin, and also be capable of supporting the wearer in the case of ditching. Modern life preservers are available in FR material, which is a real bonus in the event of an aircraft fire. A broad range of life preservers are available from manufacturers, Key Survival Equipment Ltd can help integrate your choice of product into your rotary or fixed winged aircraft and advise you on which products are suitable for your operation. Life Preservers are also referred to as LSJs, Life Jacket, Flight Jackets, Mae West, Life Vest or Buoyancy Aid.
A helmet provides head protection and is fitted with communications equipment. Helmets are available from a wide range of manufacturers to suit a similar amount of roles. For example helmets are available that can be used with NVGs, Oxygen masks, HMDs, also waterproof helmets for SAR operations, multi-fit helmets for passenger use and leather look helmets for use in vintage aircraft. KSE recommends Gentex HISL ALPHA helmets, these helmets are robustly tested to ensure they meet stringent impact tolerance targets – don’t just take our word for it though, Gentex HISL helmets are the choice of aviation professionals world wide!