Academy Students Learn to Handle Underslung Loads

Students at the Draken Helicopter Academy have been busy training with Underslung Loads (USLs). This successful sortie attaching the USL using a strop requires great crew communication skills; skills that are vital in so many other helicopter operations.

Use of USLs enables crews to deliver large loads to otherwise inaccessible areas and areas where landing might be an issue; in the UK in recent years flooding has become an increasingly common phenomenon and many flooded areas have benefitted from helicopters being able to deliver flood barriers as they can travel seamlessly between the dry and submerged areas, unlike any other mode of transport.

Training with a simple, safe load like these tyres in a net, which can be attached directly to the cargo hook or via an extension strop, gives students a safe way to develop and practise their skills in a live environment without the added pressure of operational requirements and time constraints.

Remaining calm is essential with a few tonnes of metal coming towards you and hovering just an arm’s reach over your head, with all the noise and the downwash from the rotor blades, so a common, standard operating procedure is used to ensure consistent communication between Pilots and Crew Members. This Voice Marshalling (VM) enables Crew Members to direct a Pilot to a precise location vertically and horizontally, keeping those in the air and those on the ground safe at all times. Using the VM system is a transferrable skill that reads across into many other operations such as Search and Rescue (SAR) and Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR).

USL Training is an integral part of our Support Helicopter Technical Crew Member Training Course but can also be taught as a stand-alone module to those that wish to improve their capability or refine their skills without compromising their own assets’ availability for operational needs.