A friend is planning a trip to the Bahamas in his new Cirrus SR22 (more than 1 million Bidies for a piston-powered airplane!). When out of gliding distance from land, it is prudent to carry both life jackets and a life raft in an aircraft. Pre-coronapanic, rafts of all kinds were in stock at retailers and would ship within a day or two of being ordered. What does it look like after Americans took months or years off work? “I can’t find any of the brands that people like without a multi-month wait,” he said. “Winslow dealers are telling me 8 months to 2 years.”
It is unclear to me why Winslow is so backlogged given that the company is located in Florida and they were never ordered by a governor to shut down. But perhaps they are having trouble getting the components and/or being part of Collins Aerospace (a big bureaucratic presumably corona-averse company) has contributed to the shortage.
What do these look like? Here’s one from Switlik, which I like because it can go 5 years between recertifications (cumbersome and expensive):
Also, Switlik is a supplier to the U.S. Coast Guard, which presumably knows water at least as well as Dr. Fauci knows SARS-CoV-2. When is the Switlik available? They can’t even say on their web site! “Due to demand and limited inventory, this product is experiencing longer than normal lead times. Please call for quote – 609-587-3300.”
A raft isn’t required for a private single-engine airplane headed over water so it is quite possible that the disruption in the economy caused by COVID lockdowns will lead to additional risks being taken. And for every aviator who is at risk there are presumably 100 boaters who are having trouble getting the life rafts that they want. This is a consequence that I don’t think the technocrats recommending lockdowns in the spring of 2020 would have factored into their decision.
- AOPA Bahamas and Caribbean guides
- Can we trust Customs and Border Protection to screen refugees and asylum cases given what they’ve done with their eAPIS web site? (makes healthcare.gov look like a huge success!)
- Survival Products, which aren’t nearly as seaworthy as the above, but are much lighter
- The latest and greatest in Personal Locator Beacons
- Why don’t smartphones have PLB capability? (May 2021; Apple introduced the iPhone 14 with PLB capability in September 2022)