The Lifejacket Airpocket Plus (LAP) combined lifejacket and hybrid rebreather is a lifesaver. Imagine a life jacket that lets you breathe air. Genius, right? I’ve seen too many helicopter crashes to and from oil rigs. Some of those fatalities should be preventable. This hybrid life jacket would really come in handy to have on a Super Puma helicopter plunging into the North Sea, or the Gulf of Mexico. I hope I’m never in that situation, but if I am, you can bet I’ll be wearing one, and I’ll have read the directions.
A couple of lives may not have been saved with it simply because of directions.
A rebreather is an apparatus that absorbs the carbon dioxide of exhaled breath to permit the recycling of available oxygen. The hybrid unit is a little something extra.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) believes the instructions on how to use this device need to include the information that the rebreather has an air supply; so if someone is in the middle of drowning, they don’t have to be going down with a last breath of air. The rebreather already has some. It’s not like a scuba diving tank with loads of air, but hey, it’s a way to breathe if you’re submerged in a helicopter and don’t have gills. What if all you need is just enough air to keep you alive to get the seatbelt off, or to swim out of an opening? That’s some precious air, all right.
So kudos to the revised pre-flight briefing material. Even if it is a knee-jerk reaction after another tragic helicopter crash, good idea AAIB.