An examination of two emergency breathing aids for use during helicopter underwater escape

Mike Tipton, Clare Eglin, B. Sage, P. Redman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: here is a paucity of published work in which the performance of Emergency Underwater Breathing Aids (EUBA) has been examined in the wide range of scenarios in which helicopter underwater escape may be necessary. In the present investigation two EUBA were examined: the Air Pocket (AP) rebreather and the Short Term Air Supply System (STASS) mini SCUBA set. Method: Young, healthy male subjects undertook simple simulated helicopter underwater escapes in water at 15°C and/or 5°C. During the immersions the subjects attempted to remain submerged for 60 s while traversing back and forth along a ladder secured at a depth of 1.25 m. At each temperature the subjects used AP and STASS twice. The subjects were dressed in the Royal Navy winter sea helicopter aircrew equipment assembly and an aircrew helmet. Results: Both AP and STASS significantly extended the underwater survival time of individuals when compared to their maximum breath-hold time (BHT). It is clear from the measurements made of gas concentrations in AP; the volume of air used from STASS; and subjective responses, that the 60-s submersions were achieved more easily with STASS than AP. Conclusion: It is concluded that in conditions similar to those of the present experiment STASS will give a longer underwater duration than AP, but this benefit must be offset against the possible risk of pulmonary barotrauma associated with the use of STASS, as well as increased training and maintenance costs. Irrespective of the EUBA which is provided, in-water training, preferably including exposure to cold water, will significantly improve the ability of an individual to use it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-914
Number of pages8
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1997


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