What is Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET)?

Helicopter underwater escape training arms you with the resources and skills needed to stay safe and escape from a helicopter that has landed in water. As frightening as the idea of a helicopter crashing into water might be, the skills needed to keep you safe in such an event can be learnt in the space of just one day, and the course is open to more or less anyone who is interested, without the need for complex qualifications before you can enrol..

Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET) is important for anyone who flies a helicopter. It is necessary training for members of the armed forces aircrew, emergency service departments such as the fire brigade and for people who work offshore. However, the training exercises are even being used for corporate events and work team building days – a lot more exciting than falling backwards and letting your colleagues catch you.

The training takes place in a purpose-built indoor pool. You are trained in something called a dunker. The dunker is a helicopter simulator that can be submerged in the water. It can rotate 180 degrees, meaning that escapes from an upside down position can be practised, useful for if you need to escape a helicopter that’s capsized. As well as learning how to safely and effectively escape an underwater helicopter, the training also covers the use of equipment such as breathing apparatus.

Helicopter Underwater Evacuation Training
Offshore industry workers during HUET (Helicopter Underwater Evacuation Training) in training centre

The course combines practical exercises with learning the theory about various escape techniques, safe deployment of equipment, and various emergency procedures and when to use them. When you’re in the dunker you will perform escapes in various positions of rotation, and at various levels of submersion, as well as practising escaping in the dark. You will also practice a range of more complex escapes, such as escaping from a helicopter that has had various exit points blocked off.

The certificate is valid for four years. After this time you will need to retrain. You do not need any specific qualifications or training in order to enrol on a HUET course and the course can be taught in one entire day.


HUET can also be integrated into more detailed survival based courses, so if you are interested in learning, in addition to other survival based skills, then there are options to do that. There are facilities and courses based in a number of venues across the country. The cost of training varies depending on the course provider, but it’s usually somewhere between £30 and £50.

HUET is also compulsory training for people working in various industries, and in such cases, you’ll be automatically enrolled onto a course. HUET is essential basic training for anyone working in offshore industries as you are likely to be leaving and getting to your offshore workplace via helicopter.

The Warsash Maritime Academy offers a range of relevant courses for the maritime industry including one-day HUET courses.

If you have found the information in this article useful, then I wouldn’t say no to a free helicopter ride. Just as long as you’re not planning on giving your HUET exercises a practice.

About the author: 

Barry Oren, Merchant Mariner

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  1. You do not say anything about which country holds these courses, or where one can enroll/apply. I know our Canadian Coast Guard pilots went to Scotland for their HUET training.

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