NOAA Aviation Life Support Equipment Program

survival training

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for its workforce, and for partners who are exposed to the risks associated with flying on aircraft owned or operated by NOAA. Aviation safety is the number one priority for all aviation operations. The NOAA Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) Program?s primary mission is to provide personnel with ALSE that protects crewmembers and others aboard an aircraft, or assists in their safe escape, survival, and recovery during an accident or other emergency. The goal of the program is to procure, distribute, maintain, integrate, and standardize all of NOAA?s ALSE.

NOAA sponsored personnel flying Mission Operations over water beyond glide distance to land on any NOAA or non-NOAA aircraft (contracted, chartered, leased, rented, or provided by other entities) are required to be issued or have access to a flotation vest with a personal locator beacon, and each aircraft must carry a life raft of sufficient capacity for all aircraft occupants.

Mission Operations is defined as all operations other than transportation. Mission operations include, but are not limited to: aerial surveys, airborne data collection, forecaster training, and aerial photography. Mission Operations include transportation of personnel where an aircraft departs from or lands at a location other than a published airport. Accordingly, transportation of personnel on aircraft that either depart from or land on a ship, oil rig, open field, beach, ice, or open water is considered mission operations.


ALSE will be provided to personnel flying on board NOAA aircraft as standard equipment. ALSE meeting the specifications of the following equipment will be issued for use on non-NOAA aircraft contracted, chartered, leased, rented, or provided by other entities for NOAA personnel conducting official business.

personal flotation vest Personal Flotation Vest (annual inspection required) .

  • 3-layer NOMEX cover with neck gusset for chafe protection
  • FAA/TSO approved
  • Fully adjustable sizing 42 in.-68 in.
  • Pockets to hold personal locator transmitter (approx 5?x3?x1.75?), knife, whistle, signal mirror, signal streamer, and strobe
  • 38 lbs of buoyancy provided by two independent cells
  • Inflation by two 18-gram CO2 cartridges or oral inflation tubes
  • Water-activated TSO locator light
  • Signal mirror, whistle, and knife with can opener. .

personal locator beacon (PLB) Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) (inside flotation vest pocket) .

  • Built in GPS, 406 MHz transmitter and 121.5 homing frequency
  • Alert time to Rescue Services within 3 minutes
  • Operates for 24 hours w/positional updates every 20 min.
  • Global alert via COSPAS SARSAT satellites
  • Easy to operate, compact, and fits in flotation vest pocket
  • Positional accuracy to 30 meters

rescue strobe light

Rescue Strobe Light (inside flotation vest pocket) .

  • 8-hour minimum continuous operating life
  • Waterproof to 10 m (33 ft.)
  • Visible up to 2 miles (5 km) 1.5v lithium battery (5 year replacement life) .

signal mirror

signal mirror instructions

Signal Mirror (inside flotation vest pocket)

2 in. by 3 in. size, in. laminated glass that is shatter resistant, center-viewing hole and sight targeting retro reflective grid. In normal sunlight, the flash from a good Signal Mirror can easily be seen for 10 miles and generally the flash will be visible up to 50 miles, depending upon atmospheric conditions. The record rescue from one is 105 miles at sea. Direct up to 6 million candlepower of reflected sunlight onto the rescue target with pinpoint accuracy. A mirror will even work on bright overcast days and with moonlight, though with much reduced range. (Signal mirror will be inside the flotation vest stowage pocket.)

rescue signal streamer

Rescue Signal Streamer (inside flotation vest pocket)

  • 6 in. x 25 ft. deployed
  • Visible 1.3 miles away at 1500 ft. altitude
  • Bright orange with retro-reflective capability
  • Clip to attach to survival vest

helicopter emergency egress device (HEED)

Helicopter Emergency Egress Device (HEED) (inside flotation vest pocket)

  • Air capacity 1.7 cu. ft.
  • Approx. 30 breaths & 2-5 min. duration
  • Cylinder rating DOT-3AL 3000 TC-3ALM-207
  • Refillable
  • Single-stage demand breathing regulator

survival whistle Whistle (inside flotation vest pocket)
  • Life-saving rescue whistle sound carries for to 2 miles
  • Not affected by water
  • Will not adhere to skin in sub-zero temp.

survival knife

Knife (inside flotation vest pocket)

  • Knife, with can opener
  • Springs manufactured from high-grade stainless steel to resist corrosion
  • Lining made of brass

survival anti-exposure suit Anti-Exposure Suit
  • 3-layer NOMEX outer shell
  • Lightweight (~4 lbs)
  • Zippered ankle gussets
  • Insulated thermal protective hood
  • Closures at wrists and ankles for hypothermia protection
  • Compatible with any life jacket
  • 18-21 lbs of buoyancy

survival near-shore 4-man life raft Near Shore 4-Person Life Raft packed with 406 MHz ELT with GPS (Carried on aircraft) (annual inspection required)
  • 4-person capacity not overloaded
  • CO2/N2 inflation system
  • Less than 25 lbs
  • 10-foot activation line
  • Sea anchor
  • Pressure relief valve
  • Topping-up valve
  • Water-activated Survivor Locator Light

survival off-shore 6-man life raft Offshore 6-Person Life Raft packed with 406 MHz ELT with GPS (Carried on aircraft) (annual inspection required)
  • 6-person capacity not overloaded
  • CO2/N2 inflation system with twin oversized buoyancy tubes
  • Less than 60 lbs
  • 10-foot activation line
  • Sea anchor
  • Pressure relief valves
  • Topping-up valves
  • Water-activated Survivor Locator Light
  • Offshore survival equipment