What is the Shallow Water Egress Training?
If you want to sit upside down in a cockpit under water, you should become a pilot. The Shallow Water Egress Training, also known as SWET, is a mandatory for Red Bull Air Race pilots. Here you can check out how important and impressive the SWET is.
Safety is the most important thing
Strict procedures and requirements, such as Shallow Water Egress training, ensure the necessary safety at the Red Bull Air Race. The SWET must be completed by every participant of the World Championship as well as the Challenger Class. Tracks above water are an integral part of the race and thus also the danger of having to land in water. The pilots learn how to get out of the cockpit safely under water and how to work together with the Falck rescue team.
“It’s very important, because if you ever land in the water, you know how to open the aircraft canopy and use the replacement oxygen. And if you train that regularly, then you always know what to do,” explains SWET instructor Harm Neuteboom.
At the beginning of the training there will be lessons and exercises with the breathing apparatus. After that, each pilot must climb into the cockpit, which is then turned around and submerged in water. The simulation of a landing in water is carried out several times so that the procedure can be internalised and executed automatically in such a stressful case. Pilot Pete McLeod describes: “It feels like eternity to be trapped upside down under water, but if you do it a few times, you know what will happen. Then you become calmer, need less oxygen and have more time to solve the situation.”
The SWET exercises the use of the oxygen cylinder, which is available in every racing aircraft, as well as the opening of the cabin roof under water. Matt Hall, Acting World Champion, explains the procedure: “As soon as you use the replacement oxygen, you open the aircraft canopy. This takes up to 30 seconds, because it requires pressure compensation. So you just have to sit, relax, and breathe slowly. When the top is open, you have to keep an eye on it, loosen the strap and then swim away with the bottle.”
„Keep calm“ is the mantra
If the worst comes to the worst, pilots should keep calm and find a point of reference so as not to swim down accidentally, according to instructor Neuteboom. Various situations are practiced, including when a pilot has to wait for the rescue team before he can leave the cockpit. The Air Race rescue team only needs half a minute to reach any part of the race track.
The SWET is an important part of the optimal training of pilots. Especially Red Bull Air Race participants have to be trained for every situation.