FAA: Helicopter Gear Must Be Certified


Image: SEC

The FAA is reminding helicopter operators that they must use certified gear when conducting “human external cargo operations” — that is, transporting humans via a harness slung beneath the aircraft. This form of travel is fairly common for workers who inspect power transmission lines and towers that otherwise would be hard to reach. “Operators are strongly encouraged not to conduct HEC operations with attaching means not certificated to the part 27/29 HEC requirements,” the FAA said in a recent statement to Vertical Mag. “The HEC design requirements were created to ensure that when a person is carried external to a rotorcraft, the attaching means will not inadvertently release the external occupant,” the FAA said. “This goal is achieved by increasing the reliability of the static strength and fatigue testing.”

According to this video posted by Southern California Edison, workers enjoy this form of transport. “There is no way to get to these structures, other than by the helicopter,” says one worker in the video. “It’s like flying through the air like a bird. It’s a thrill.” The systems also are used in Canada for backcountry emergency response and wildfire management.