SOFIC 2018: New harness could save lives

Ground combat reporter Todd South introduces us to a harness for those riding Blackhawk helicopters. (Jeff Martin/Staff)

TAMPA, Fla. — For decades, troops traveling in a Black Hawk helicopter to or from a mission had little keeping them in the aircraft except for a web strap or some modified version of that gear with a bungee-type cord for maneuverability.

Climbing gear company Petzl debuted a new device at the annual National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference that should solve that problem.

The HELO ADJUST is a one-handed adjustable tether device that allows riders to hook in, unhook, adjust length, and use a single motion quick-release if they have to get out in a hurry.

Steve Petty, regional sales manager for Petzl, demonstrated how the rope provides more protection from fraying than web straps. And, with one hand, the carabiner can quickly attach to a floor anchor, then a metal slider can be slipped to shorten or lengthen the slack in the rope.

A new tether device made by the climbing gear company Petzl is a small piece of equipment that changes helicopter rides in a big way. (Petzl)
A new tether device made by the climbing gear company Petzl is a small piece of equipment that changes helicopter rides in a big way. (Petzl)

In standard operations the user would detach the carabiner, but if the user gets hung up or needs to exit in an emergency or while hanging upside down, they can pop the quick release.

A new tether device made by the climbing gear company Petzl is a small piece of equipment that changes helicopter rides in a big way. (Petzl)
A new tether device made by the climbing gear company Petzl is a small piece of equipment that changes helicopter rides in a big way. (Petzl)

Petty said testing shows the device capable of holding up to 3,000 pounds.

The equipment has met all of the standards put forward by the Program Manager, SOF Survival, Support and Equipment Systems at the U.S. Army Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center and has been included in the Approved Products List by the organization.

A new tether device made by the climbing gear company Petzl is a small piece of equipment that changes helicopter rides in a big way. (Petzl)
A new tether device made by the climbing gear company Petzl is a small piece of equipment that changes helicopter rides in a big way. (Petzl)