Life Raft Inflation: Air vs. CO2

by S Switlik on 23. Jan, 2015 in Marine, Life Rafts, safety

What things do people consider when picking a life raft? The list typically includes capacity, service interval, equipment, etc. One item that hasn’t been on the list—but should be—is the inflation system. CO2 has historically been the only inflation system option for marine life rafts…until now.  Now consumers have the option to choose between a raft inflated with Air or CO2.

What’s the advantage of using Air instead of CO2? There’s several. First and foremost is that air isn’t affected by temperature.  When you compress CO2 into a cylinder, the pressure changes based on temperature. This can affect the speed of inflation—at low temperatures, the gas compresses (which lowers the pressure), and your life raft will inflate slowly. In some cases the CO2 will even solidify into dry ice which slows inflation even more. Air, on the other hand, is not affected by temperature. Your raft will inflate with greater speed than CO2, regardless of the temperature. 

See below for a visual representation. The CO2 raft was chilled to -20⁰F, the air charged raft was chilled to -40⁰F. 

In an emergency where every second counts, wouldn’t you want air inflation?

In addition to inflation time, using air for inflation allows for the installation of a pressure gauge. With a CO2 cylinder (per the above), the pressure in the cylinder depends on the temperature--making it impossible to tell if a leak has occurred without weighing the cylinder. Since the pressure of air in the cylinder doesn’t change, a gauge can be installed. This lets you guarantee that your raft has air in the cylinder and will inflate, before each trip.  

All SWITLIK life rafts now come standard with Air Inflation systems and visible “go/no go” gauge. This feature, along with our patented and military proven vacuum sealing process, allows us to extend the time between services on our rafts to FIVE Years. Such a long service interval decreases the overall cost of ownership. For more information on SWITLIK rafts and the innovative design changes that have been made click here. 

Are you prepared to meet the NEW FAA Helicopter Rules?

by S Switlik on 30. Jun, 2014

On February 21, 2014 the FAA  published a final rule updating the equipment and operational standards for helicopters. This final rule addresses Helicopter Air Ambulances, Commercial Helicopters, and Part 91 Helicopter Operations. 

To address an increase in fatal helicopter air ambulance accidents, the FAA is implementing new operational procedures and additional equipment requirements for helicopter air ambulance operations. This final rule also increases safety for commercial helicopter operations by revising requirements for equipment, pilot testing, and alternate airports. It increases weather minimums for all general aviation helicopter operations. Many of these requirements address National Transportation Safety Board safety recommendations, and are already found in FAA guidance. Today's changes are intended to provide certificate holders and pilots with additional tools and procedures that will aid in preventing accidents.” –Excerpt from the FAA  Final Rule


The new rules include some new equipment requirements for rotorcraft operated under Part 135 (including those that have been redefined as 135 operations by the new rule such as air ambulances).  In addition to operators, this will impact distributors and suppliers supporting the rotorcraft marketplace.

The new rules regarding equipment include but are not limited to:

  • Each rotorcraft will be required to be equipped with a radio altimeter (section 135.160);
  • Helicopter operations conducted over water will be required to carry additional safety equipment to assist passengers and crew in the event an accident occurs over water (section 135.168);
  • Helicopter air ambulances must be equipped with helicopter terrain awareness warning systems (HTAWS) (section 135.605);
  • Helicopter air ambulances must be equipped with a flight data monitoring system (section 135.607);
  • Requires each helicopter air ambulance operator to establish and document, in its operations manual, an FAA-approved preflight risk analysis (section 135.617); and
  • Requires safety briefings or training for helicopter air ambulance medical personnel (section 135.621). Medical personnel will be less likely to inadvertently introduce risk to an operation because of increased familiarity with the aircraft and emergency procedures.


SWITLIK Survival Products is paying the most attention to Section 135.168 which addresses the requirements for additional safety equipment when operating over water.

According to the information laid out in section 135.168, after April 24, 2017 no person may operate a rotorcraft beyond autorotational* distance from the shoreline** unless it carries the following equipment:

  • An approved life preserver equipped with an approved survivor locator light for each occupant of therotorcraft.
    • The life preserver must be worn by each occupant while the rotorcraft is beyond autorotational distance from the shoreline, except for a patient transported during a helicopter air ambulance operation, as defined in § 135.601(b)(1), when wearing a life preserver would be inadvisable for medical reasons.
  • An approved and installed 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) with 121.5 MHz homing capability.

* Autorotational distance refers to the distance a rotorcraft can travel in autorotation as described by the manufacturer in the approved Rotorcraft Flight Manual.

 ** Shoreline means that area of the land adjacent to the water of an ocean, sea, lake, pond, river, or tidal basin that is above the high-water mark at which a rotorcraft could be landed safely. This does not include land areas which are unsuitable for landing such as vertical cliffs or land intermittently under water.

Download the Full Report Here

Now that all passengers and crew are required to wear an FAA approved life vest at all times during transit over water beyond the rotorcraft’s autorotational distance, it is going to be all the more important to consider comfort when purchasing your life vest.


SWITLIK’s selection of constant-wear life vests has a superior advantage in comfort and durability over their competition. Each vest is FAA Approved and specifically designed for constant wear in the seated position in your helicopter or fixed wing aircraft. The vests allow for full range of motion and fit well with harnesses and other required gear. The vests are so comfortable you'll forget you're wearing them!

Start planning for 2017 now by purchasing a SWITLIK constant wear life vest such as the X-Back  (HV-35C)  or Aviator  (EV-35).

For More information on SWITLIK's FAA lifevest products visit today.  


Life Rafts: Determining your capacity needs

by S Switlik on 29. Jan, 2014 in Life Rafts

Looking at life rafts and trying to determine what the capacity is can be confusing. There are several questions that you could ask. Is it simply based on a body  6-man, 8-man? Is it about the total weight of the passengers? Does it change depending on what type of trip you take? The short answer is, yes, to all of those questions. There is no one universal method of rating life raft capacities.

In fact, there are several different methods and governmental agencies worldwide that rate the capacity of a life raft based on the following criteria: usable floor area, inflated buoyancy, their concept of how long someone might be in the raft before rescue, and how big that agency thinks users might be on average. In addition, consideration needs to be put into how you find yourself to be there, i.e. from a sinking vessel or a ditched aircraft.lifeIn general, a life raft's capacity is defined by its total size in floor area and inflated buoyancy. How many "people" that translates into depends upon your usage; your typical passengers, your boating location and, most importantly, how long you might be in it before rescue.

A raft that might safely support 6 or 8 people in an emergency for 24 hours will seem a lot smaller for a transoceanic passage where rescue might be weeks in coming. The longer amount of time that is, and the bigger your passengers, the smaller the raft will seem.

Additionally, a life raft that is rated as a 6-person life raft by ISAF standards may be considered an 8-person life raft by FAA/TSO standards. It all depends on who is asking the question. See a detailed description of capacity specifications from different organizations below. Each specification has been established by various governmental personnel's ideas of how long you might be in the raft until rescue.

Get Capacity Specifications

At Switlik, we believe that, as a responsible boater or aviator, it is your responsibility to determine the appropriate size needs of your emergency flotation equipment, not some bureaucrat or marketer.

So we provide you with the total floor area and the total inflated buoyancy of our life rafts and let you determine its "capacity" based upon where you will go, who you usually have on board and how long you might go missing

Changes to Switlik Sales and Marketing Staff

by Anthony Florio on 06. Sep, 2013 in Press Releases, Uncategorized

September 4, 2013

As many of you know, Switlik has been moving forward on a revitalization plan which has seen the company make some significant improvements over the past 12+ months (with more still to come). Part of the plan involves the company’s commitment to invest in its workforce to both modernize and expand company capabilities in critical departments such as sales, marketing and engineering. With this said, Switlik has had some recent employee additions and position changes and as such we would like to provide you with an updated list of sales and marketing personnel:
Anthony Florio- Director of Sales,
Ross Hallen- Director of Marketing,
*Sarah Switlik- Marketing Manager,
*Brian Kender- Sales Manager,
Marie Gowen- Customer Service Manager,
Salina Delgado- Sales Assistant,

New to the Switlik Sales and Marketing team (*) are Sarah Switlik and Brian Kender.

Sarah comes to us from Brooks Brothers in NYC where she was an integral part of the marketing team. In her short time as Marketing Manager at Switlik, Sarah has already had a number of significant accomplishments with many more exciting things on the horizon.

Brian is our newest team member and he comes to Switlik with a technical sales background and proven record of success. Brian is also a world ranked kite board professional. His drive, determination and commitment has brought him to the top of his sport and we look forward to Brian bringing those same qualities to his new position as a Switlik Sales Manager.

NOTE: As of the date of this letter, Brian will be filling the sales role previously held by Phil Camacho. I am pleased to announce that Phil has accepted a company promotion and will now be playing an important role in Switlik’s growing engineering department.
If you have any questions about this announcement please feel free to contact me or any member of our Sales and Marketing team.

Red Baron appointed Switlik Technical Representative in Australia

by on 02. May, 2013 in Press Releases

Trenton, NJ – May 2, 2013 – Switlik Parachute Company, Inc., manufacturer of quality sewn and heat sealed inflatable safety and survival products for the aviation, marine, military/government markets, has entered into an arrangement with Red Baron ALSE  to become Switlik’s exclusive technical sales representative to the Australian Federal Government Agencies, i.e. the Australian Defense Force (ADF) (including the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Australian Army, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as well as any other ‘tri-service’ units) and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

Greg Bayne, Managing Director of Red Baron ALSE brings over 26 years of experience with Aviation Life Support Equipment. Greg began his career with the Royal Australian Air Force and has continued his work within the defense and airline industries. Red Baron has successfully completed projects for the following organizations: Australian Defense Force Government, Defense Industries, Helicopter, General and Commercial Aviation.

Ross Hallen
1325 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08609
Phone: 609-587-3300


The new Switlik Aviation