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USCG Flight Helmet

H60_Guy

New Member
None
#1
My employer is purchasing new helmets for helicopter pilots and is considering the HGU-56/P. I read in a thread that the USCG utilizes the SPH-5 to support use of flotation collars? The thread also stated the HGU-56 interferes with the floatation devices and can be a safety hazard. Does anyone have documentation supporting this claim? Any truth to the OP's comments reference the HGU-56? Thanks
 

Hair Warrior

New Member
Contributor
#2
My observation is that this forum tends to avoid getting into detailed system capabilities and limitations not available in open sources. If your employer has quality concerns prior to a procurement, perhaps engage directly with the manufacturer.
 

Gatordev

Well-Known Member
pilot
Site Admin
Contributor
#3
This isn't really the same thing. It's whether a helmet works with a vest.

@H60_Guy , not a Coastie, but I think it will depend on what kind of vest and flotation you're going to be running. Everyone else runs the -56 helmet except the Navy/USMC, and even they have it as an authorized helmet, so it works "well enough." But again, it will depend on how it interfaces with your survival vest.
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
#4
Would recommend you reach out to the various services SYSCOMs, they should be able to provide data on positive/negatives on the various helmet/vest combinations that they’ve considered.
 

ChuckMK23

Former H-46 Driver
pilot
#5
USCG is using HGU-56 fleet wide. USCG uses Osprey system vest with low profile inflation collars. Has been standard issue for a while - I'm sure some USCG bubbas on here can give you details. SPH-5 has not been in use for years.
 

fc2spyguy

loving my warm and comfy 214 blanket
pilot
Contributor
#6
I've worn both. The 56 is leaps and bounds above the one the Navy uses. One thing that really made it set in for me was the weight is either distributed much better, or it's simply lighter. Another thing was at the end of my flight I didn't have the ear cuff marks on the side of my head, and I didn't feel like I was peeling it off of my head like the -84. I have no experience with the SPH-5, the 56 though did not impede with the collar. I don't know what specific collar we have in the Navy, but low profile would be a good description for it. I've heard through the grapevine different reasons the Navy has the -84, and none of them are based off of good decision making.
 

ChuckMK23

Former H-46 Driver
pilot
#7
I've heard through the grapevine different reasons the Navy has the -84, and none of them are based off of good decision making.
Piqued my curiosity. In 1993 I was one of the first to be issued HGU-84. What did you hear? Agree is sucks - it was a improvement however over its predecessor the SPH-3C with that insanely heavy poured molded leather liner (not to mention hot as hell). The HGU-56 was just hitting Army and AF rotary wing then - I always hound it strange that the Navy and Marine Corps did not just jump in.

The Army reviewed the HGU-84 and were not impressed: http://www.usaarl.army.mil/TechReports/96-4.PDF

The U.S. Army Aviation and Troop Command(ATCOM), Program Manager for Aviation Life Support Equipment (PM-ALSE), funded USAARLto procure and evaluate the Navy HGU-84/P against the U.S. Army HGU-56/P performance requirements. The performance areas evaluated included: impact protection, weight, center of mass, chinstrap strength, shell tear resistance, dynamic retention, and sound attenuation. Only the center of mass requirement was met by the HGU-84/P configuration. None of the other HGU-56/P requirements were fully met. The helmet performed equally as well as the HGU-56/P in the dynamic retention evaluation.
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
#8
Meh, all that says it that it didn’t meet USA’s requirements. And I’m sure there’s a USN report that says the -56 doesn’t meet the USN’s requirements. Don’t take this as an endorsement as one over the other, just a statement that each service has its own unique requirements.
 

Jim123

DD-214 in hand and I'm gonna party like it's 1998
pilot
#9
Not sure how things are in Army and USAF rotary aviation and their helmets, but a couple Navy helicopter squadrons have published hazreps or maybe they were SIRs about flight crew having permanent injuries, neck surgery, med down from flight status for months at a time... really just pesky stuff that doesn't matter much, because of the beloved HGU-84 helmet and our NVG mounts that meets our service requirements because the report says it meets our requirements.
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
#10
Not sure how things are in Army and USAF rotary aviation and their helmets, but a couple Navy helicopter squadrons have published hazreps or maybe they were SIRs about flight crew having permanent injuries, neck surgery, med down from flight status for months at a time... really just pesky stuff that doesn't matter much, because of the beloved HGU-84 helmet and our NVG mounts that meets our service requirements because the report says it meets our requirements.
Whether or not the USN requirements make sense is a different question.

If people are being hurt by it then a HAZREP (or SIR) is a totally appropriate way to point out shortcomings in the real world. As is someone figuring out why USN chose their helmet over the other one and determining whether that requirement is still valid.
 

Jim123

DD-214 in hand and I'm gonna party like it's 1998
pilot
#11
True, but when our flight gear is hurting some of our people that badly then the flight gear part of our very expensive test bureaucracy has missed the mark and, frankly, failed in its mission. I doubt they planned to have a certain proportion of people to have nerve damage and so on, so therefore they're surprised by it. And that's a pretty damning statement that they approved flight gear that caused that.

spade = spade ;)
 

Pags

Well-Known Member
pilot
#12
True, but when our flight gear is hurting some of our people that badly then the flight gear part of our very expensive test bureaucracy has missed the mark and, frankly, failed in its mission. I doubt they planned to have a certain proportion of people to have nerve damage and so on, so therefore they're surprised by it. And that's a pretty damning statement that they approved flight gear that caused that.

spade = spade ;)
I don't know the history of the 84 but I can imagine that when it was initially procured that no one expected that aircrew would spend the vast majority of their flight time flying with NVDs+weighted battery packs. I can also imagine that the NVDs+weighted battery packs were a compromise of a decision that was made because there wasn't money to buy all new helmets. Bottom line is that if aircrew are getting hurt they need to bring it up via HAZREP, SIR, and their friendly AMSO.

Also, it's not "test bureaucracy." There's a lot more that goes into the acquisition of new system then just test. While I understand it's fun to kick around NAVAIR and the larger acquisition community there's a lot of misunderstanding on this board about how NAVAIR and the acquisition system works. I'd recommend folks take a cross country to their respective PMA and meet the folks who are trying hard to solve the fleet's problems. Engage with your military Class Desk, that's what they're there for. I know you all think it's guys with pocket protectors and former military in velcro shoes just waiting out the clock so they can get their government retirement but I guarantee you that there are a lot more dedicated folks working very hard to get good gear out to the fleet.
 

fc2spyguy

loving my warm and comfy 214 blanket
pilot
Contributor
#13
What I've heard, and what I experienced with the -84. My understanding was that the noise suppression with the -84 was better. I was also told they used a mannequin with sound sensors to determine this and there wasn't a lot of wear testing involved. I don't know what the wear testing was, but I know that having flown both there's no way in hell I would recommend the 84 over the 57. The reason we don't go to the 57 at this point I was told was due to the fact that we have so many 84s in the system and it would be pretty expensive to do the switch. My squadron has about 10-12 people in the 57, it requires writing up MAFs against the 84 and after a period of time you can get bumed to sign off on getting the 57 for you. It'll take a few months overall to get yourself a 57.

My personal experience with the 84 is a herniated c6/7 disc that had to be replaced and led to about 10 months down in my first fleet tour. Was that a direct result of that helmet and ~300 goggle hours? No clue, but it happened. I got lucky with a good outcome from my surgery and have negligible after effects.
 

Jim123

DD-214 in hand and I'm gonna party like it's 1998
pilot
#14
I dunno, we started putting NVGs on the HGU-84 about twenty years ago...

It’s ridiculous that the bureaucracy system would be surprised that the officially certified as “airworthy” flight gear causes injuries like that. The system’s M.O. is that instead of properly testing the stuff in the first place they depend on safety messages to fix things. Properly testing the stuff twenty years ago would have solved these problems before they became problems.

At the end of the day I frankly don’t care how the complicated acquisitions system and test establishment works. I appreciate that there are a lot of little people working there who care about doing a good job and making a difference- and some middle managers too. But what I care most about is if their results are pass or fail. And their results with this helmet are shit. NAVAIR deserves my scorn because they earned it. I got off a lot better than fc2spyguy but I am still going to have numbness in my arms, neck, and back for the rest of my life- because NAVAIR sucks at picking helicopter helmets.
 
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H60_Guy

New Member
None
#15
Safety and aircrew fatigue is exactly why I inquired about the HGU-56/Floatation. I flew in the Army for 15-years and wore the helmet, I actually liked the helmet. Now, my employer wants to acquire the 56 with the new Gibson Barnes ANR system. The ANR system is horrible and most guys who tested the helmet kept the ANR system off. Which leads to very poor audio quality from the passive noise cancellation. The ANR battery pack adds weight to the helmet, which increases fatigue and contributes to all the neck issues others have mentioned. Add NVG's, battery pack, and counterweight; your neck will be in pain the following morning.
Horrible product, not sure what they changed with the ANR system, but I hope my employer goes another direction. I know my Gallet may not have the best crash worthiness, but it was comfortable, had good audio, and worked well with NVG's.
 
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