By By Emma Kelly, Australia and Pacific Correspondent | September 29, 2014
Australian company One Atmosphere hopes to have its Pegasus Aircraft Buoyancy System (ABS) certificated for use on civil helicopters within 12 to 18 months.
Pegasus is a lightweight, bolt-on/bolt-off buoyancy system that inflates automatically when the helicopter impacts water. It can quickly float an aircraft up to 10 tons in weight from a depth of 10 meters and keep it afloat for four hours.
The system is currently being flight tested and developed for the Australian Army’s Tiger helicopters, with that program working towards Australian Defence Force airworthiness certification.
There is substantial interest in the system from civil operators, says Tim Lyons, managing director of the Western Australia (WA)-based company, due to its safety enhancing abilities and the fact it is lightweight. “For something like a Bell 206, you would be looking at two units at around 15kgs each – although we are confident we’ll reduce this weight further – which shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to attach,” says Lyons.
A skid-mounted Pegasus, to be available within 12-18 months, would be a quick attachment system that can be easily attached prior to flight over water and removed for flight over land so there is no weight deficit.
The system was previously tested out during trials in a simulated ditch and crash into seawater at HMAS Stirling in WA involving a test rig representative of a Tiger. Further trials are planned for civil and military helicopter types, he says. “Pegasus trials will continue long into the foreseeable future to provide a very broad spectrum of useful data, especially in simulated crash in water events,” says Lyons. He adds: “Our technology is about improving safety when a helicopter ends up in the water, especially in a crash situation. As trial programs continue, different technological aspects are improved and re-trialled to ensure Pegasus is capable of providing the best possible outcome to increase survival.”
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