CTAF provides life-saving protection

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jasmine M. Barnes
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

As pilots and aircrew fly over bodies of water, it is imperative to have equipment that will provide safety and security in a moment’s notice.


With the goal of replacing older models of life-preserving units (LPUs), the 347th Operations Support Squadron began preparing new combat tactical aid flotations (CTAF) at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, on May 23, 2022.


“Being in the (347th) Rescue Group, anything can happen at any time so we have to prepare for anything,” said Staff Sgt. David Burks, 347th OSS aircrew flight equipment craftsman. “A boat could go down right now and while they used to have to put their LPUs on then put their vest on, now they can just throw on one thing and say, ’Boom, let’s go. Anytime, anywhere.’”


The new model of CTAFs are life-saving flotation devices that will provide pilots and aircrew the safety measures necessary for flying over water without the need for extra equipment.


“We’re heading in the right direction,” said Staff Sgt. Rebollar Cintron, 347th OSS noncommissioned officer in charge of aircrew flight equipment. “This equipment is not only easier for aircrew, but it also makes it easier to work on and it’s more efficient to prepare less pieces.”


The current LPUs are holsters that are placed underneath the arms, but remain separate from the protective vest. However, the new CTAFs will be attached to aviation body armor vests as aircrew wear and deploy it, which will provide the same level of protection with fewer components.


“The aircrew already carries so much equipment,” said Cintron. “The new vest is smaller in size, but protects the area it needs to protect and it has components that can be swapped around to make it more efficient for whatever mission they are handling at that moment.”


When time is of the essence, Airmen need to be able to attack the mission with a lighter load. The substitutable factor of the CTAF in the vest allows Airmen to be more flexible, which allows them to be more focused on the specific tasks at hand rather than their equipment.


“It’s easy to interchange the CTAF with other components for the side of the vest,” said Cintron. “When they’re flying over water, they will use the CTAF whether or not they use the other components. Once you hit the water or land on water, pull from the sides. It will activate and it will help you float with all your equipment on and will keep you safe.”