After 10 years in the RAF and part of a 12-person team Pete McEwan, Survival Equipment Team Leader learnt all there is to know from his vast technical training and from servicing a range of personal survival equipment such as emergency escape parachutes, liferafts, life preservers and survival packs. With a move to the private sector and heading up the Survival Equipment Technician team at Survival Equipment Services, Pete shares a typical day and what it’s like to be responsible for equipment that is designed to save lives.

“The role for me is immensely satisfying, not only because of its technical capacity but ultimately knowing the significance of servicing and maintaining such vital equipment so that it can perform its function and save a life. At SES, our customers range from civilian pilots flying lite aircraft, historical or aerobatic aircraft, to emergency services helicopter pilots, SAR companies and large corporate companies with fleets of ex-military aircraft on contracts around the world.  Whilst no current legislation exists, it is recommended by the industry that pilots flying aircraft over water carry essential personal life saving equipment, stowed appropriately, to be readily accessible at a time of need”.

“The role involves routine service at regular intervals and maintenance of equipment including aircrew helmets, parachutes, life preservers, life rafts and survival packs depending on the geographical zone. At the start of the day we conduct a tool check and a pressure check of the life rafts and preservers, prepare paperwork for the day’s jobs, place orders for parts and requests for repair or manufacture with internal departments. The role requires having a practical mind and thinking on your feet to solving various tasks that occur during a typical week.”

Pete says, “I love the variety and specialism the role entails, working as part of an accomplished team to fulfil a service request. No week is ever the same with orders for service requests from around the world from individual pilots to corporate companies and SAR operators. We could easily be servicing a complete emergency escape parachute system and drogue duplex system, including a complete overhaul and repacking, involving the checking of lifed items and survival aids through to servicing life rafts, overhauling co2 cylinders and even soldering electronic repairs on aircrew flight helmets.”

“In the RAF, I undertook an NVQ in aeronautical engineering and maintenance which gave me the the engineering skills required to maintain such a range of personal survival equipment and a basic level of mechanical and electronical engineering skills, which are suitable for the role”.

SES are recruiting for both a trainee and qualified Survival Equipment Technician’s if Pete’s role sounds of interest to you, with more information to be found on their website at

Pete continues to hope that he never gets to hear of a day of the unfortunate circumstance that the equipment needs to get used. In such a scenario, serviced and maintained equipment in accordance to the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions is essential.