Friday, April 12, 2013

Trials Begin of Airbags for Defence Helicopters

A West Australian company will begin trials of its new airbags designed for defence force helicopters in case they crash into water.
The airbags are planned to bring helicopters back to the surface if they are submerged, keeping them afloat for up to four hours.

The Defence force's Duncan Watson says he believes it is the first time the lightweight bags will be deployed on the land-based helicopters.

"With the past history where we had an aircraft go down and a loss of crew obviously in today's world life is more important than anything else," he said.

"Thus, this is why we need these ability to be able to operate safely over water."

The L3-Nautronix company developed the lightweight, detachable emergency floating device which will enable the helicopter to remain afloat.

It operates automatically or under pilot control with no wired connection to the chopper.

Duncan Watson says existing airbags on the market were inadequate.

"The weight of these current bags that are in operation grossly outweighs what we could be carrying underneath the helicopter," he said.

"These helicopters give you that ability to survive over water if you have to ditch so it's mainly to be able to recover the crew more than anything else but the aircraft possibly."

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