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Sling Ops Ground Signals

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Hi folks,


I've been doing some long-lining the past couple of weeks, and one thing I've noticed is there doesn't seem to be any consistency as far as ground signals go. Pilots as well as customers all have their way of doing things. I find this somewhat confusing. :huh:


Are there standard ground signals for sling operations ? The only one that seems universal is the sling release signal (arm being extended horizontally in a chopping motion). I've seen people doing big circles with their arms (clockwise for down, counter-clockwise for up) and all kinds of other signals that aren't very clear from 125ft up... :mellow:


Anyone got any standard documentation ?

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Hmmmm... good question Skidz.


Seems to me that there are indeed proper hand signals to use. If I recall correctly from my Airforce days we had training in that area.


Going back a few years, but I will see what I can find. (still have the odd contact). I know on Fighters we did alot with hand signals (and seem to remember we had a pretty standard hand signal procedure for helicopter ops as well).


Funny, after getting out of the Airforce and spending the next 12 or 13 years in civil aviation, I lost some basic, common sense rules of engagement, so to speak.


Maybe we all need to look back a bit and remember some basics.


Great topic Skidz, I'll see what I can dig up in that regard and post here for all.


cheers, and <<S>> Sir!



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What ever signal you are using should be agreed upon prior to commencement of the slinging operation.


Normally arms extended straight out from the shoulders, hands up, means up.


Arms forward of the body, hands down, means down.


All movements are bilingual.



Cheers, Don

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:) Hey Skidz, sounds like things are going well over on the "east" side... :up:


Well your right, standard hand signals that were originally devised for heli operations, did not consider we may be 200 ft above their heads. Tough to distinguish. Not sure about the military, but standards vary from operation to operation.


The best thing one can do is a very thorough pre-flight with ground crew and flight crew. Find what works best for all, and use that as your standard.

Clarity and no confusion is needed. Radio communication is still one of the safest way's of working longline operations, after all, when we use riggers for heli-logging, good radio's are essential. Shoot for that first, but back-up is still required(hand signals).


Remember, good pre-flights are essential to maintain safety for those involved. Precision........ stay over that hook, especially after you are released (clear). A slow vertical take-off before you move off, will help keep all those below (and you), safe, and looking like a pro....... :up:

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Here is a file that gives a few hints and tips in relation to slinging etc,,

if you scroll down to "Exhibit 11-16: Standard Helicopter Hand Signals" on page 29 it may be of a little help.




Just an added note, I believe the signal for "Release load" to be the signal from the link I posted, the one Skidz mentioned about the horizontal arm is I believe to be "Cut/Jettisson load", under certain circumstances the wrong signal could have the wrong result.

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Helog56 is bang on.


this should all be covered in detail at the start up or safety meeting. every operator i have ever flown for goes into great detail in the company operation manual (which is on board the a/c at all times!) with regards to hand signals and procedures to use.


check your hat rack...

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So we get all the pilots trained to look in the ops manual, how do we get the companies to use the same system/signals?


Granted there are signals, (WCB springs to mind) have seen a little booklet showing what they are.


But then, how do we train the customer and then as a pilot expect all customers to have and use the same?


Something to work for, but as was stated, a thourgh briefing is always required.

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Hi I hope this helps.......

The signals on the link above are mainly for belly hook operations and aren't clear from 200' up.

The diagram below shows the signals I usually see on seismic and logging jobs,

if these aren't the 'norm', let us know so we can standardize this stuff.


The crew can use these signals if the load is arriving or departing.


The easy thing about these signals is watching where the hand is in relation to the ground crew's hard-hat. (It doesn't matter whether the palm is up or down).


This is really easy to see from 200' up, and it just needs one hand, (i.e. they can hold the sling/chokers in the other).


I tell my crews to move their hand faster if they want ALOT of up or down, then slow it down as I reach the correct profile, then very slowly......level it out.....and then bring it to a stop.

Basically they fly the hook themselves..........yes, it sounds crazy, but once they get the idea, it works **** well.


P.S. I rarely need the "release" signal, but I teach the right-hand slashing the left-wrist method, as is portrayed in the link above.


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