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Self-Assessed Preferred Retraining Intervals of Helicopter Underwater Egress Training (HUET)

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BACKGROUND: Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) helicopter aircrew get Helicopter Underwater Egress Training (HUET) using a Modular Egress Training Simulator (METS™) in order to be prepared for escaping the aircraft when ditching into water. In the current situation the retraining intervals are only chosen on an arbitrary basis for different backgrounds of the crew (maritime and regular flight crew). The frequency of refresher training depends on the expected degree of retention, but evidence-based research on required intervals between refresher courses is scarce. Ideally, training should be based on the amount of retention of acquired competencies.

METHODS: Retrospective questionnaires were filled in by 132 helicopter aircrew who followed the HUET course(s) at the Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) school in Gilze-Rijen (Netherlands). They assessed themselves on competencies and gave their opinion on the preferred interval.

RESULTS: Maritime crew report increasing competence levels with the number of refresher courses followed. According to the opinion of all aircrew, retraining intervals may take longer than 18 (first refresher) to 30 mo (fourth refresher). Maritime and regular flight crew differ in preferred retraining intervals (up to 22 mo and up to 33 mo, respectively).

DISCUSSION: This study provides indications to reconsider the retraining interval and to differentiate between maritime and regular flight crew based on aircrew’s opinions and self-assessments. As competence levels still increase with the number of courses followed, it is recommended to reconsider the current fixed intervals of once a year or once every 3 yr for maritime and regular flight crew, respectively.

Bottenheft C, Oprins EAPB, Houben MMJ, Meeuwsen T, Valk PJL. Self-assessed preferred retraining intervals of Helicopter Underwater Egress Training (HUET). Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(9):800–806.
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Keywords: competence; helicopter underwater egress training; refresher training; retention; safety

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2019

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  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

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