FAA Issues Warning on Helicopter PSDs
The FAA wants Part 133 helicopter operators to be more safety-aware about the use of belly-band systems that can be classified as a portable safety device (PSD) during external load operations, such as power line construction, inspection, and utility maintenance. The agency wants operators to completely understand the limitations of PSDs before deciding to use them.
The belly band, essentially a strap run across the cabin floor and out either door, hangs free beneath the helicopter. The PSD functions as a secondary method of securing people who might be working outside the machine at any given time should the primary attachment fail. Along with jettison requirements for the primary device, the PSD must also allow for a quick release that does not endanger the operation of the helicopter with any sudden center of gravity shift.
Operators must ensure that pilots and crew are fully trained in both the normal and emergency operation of any PSD that incorporates separate dual actuation devices in both the primary and backup quick-release systems. Operators must also conduct a fatigue evaluation of the aircraft quick release system, as well as of the means for attaching the equipment and the personnel carrying device system.