Flotation devices have been used on helicopters for some time but this story from Defense Update caught my eye. The system is being displayed at Aero India by Aero Sekur and consists of a series of dual use flotation and shock attenuation bags.
NASA carried out a series of helicopter crashes to investigate survival technologies some years ago including what they called a deployable energy absorber that consisted of a hinged honeycomb matrix that deployed on command.
Bell Helicopter also registered a patent on a similar system in 2006
Helicopter airframes are engineered to be very strong under impact conditions and a variety of other systems like crash resistant seating are added to improve survivability, these all add weight. Aero Sekur claim that incorporating a system like this would allow manufacturers to reduce weight significantly.
The first integrated system should be available next year and commenting at Farnborough last year Giacomo Giovangrossi, Aero Sekur’s space business unit director, said;
“The shock attenuation aspects of the system were originally developed as part of the ESA ExoMars programme and designed to bring payloads including Mars probes safely to rest, The system ensures that orientation is maintained on uneven or sloping surfaces. The airbag also features our non-pyrotechnic inflation system, significantly enhancing maintainability, reliability and operating costs.”