By By Emma Kelly, Australia and Pacific Correspondent | October 15, 2014
Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Organization (DSTO) has presented One Atmosphere with its 2014 Eureka award in support of outstanding science for safeguarding Australia for its Pegasus helicopter emergency buoyancy system.
The system is a lightweight, bolt-on/bolt-off buoyancy system – like an air bag – that inflates automatically when the helicopter impacts water. It is capable of quickly retrieving an aircraft up to 10 tons in weight from a depth of 10 meters and keeping it afloat for four hours.
“This unique emergency system has been specially designed to increase the chance for aircrew to escape safely during a helicopter crash into water by rapidly re-floating the helicopter,” said Australian assistant minister for defense, Stuart Robert.
The system, which was developed by the Perth, Western Australia-based company with funding from the DSTO’s Capability and Technology Demonstrator program, has been successfully demonstrated by the Australian Department of Defence during trials in a simulated ditch and crash into seawater at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia. During the trials, a test rig representative of the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter was used.
The system is now being developed for integration into the Australian Army helicopter fleet and airworthiness certification. The system is also expected to be used by civilian helicopters, particularly those used by the police, emergency services, tourism, and oil and gas exploration.
STO notes that emergency flotation systems are usually available as permanently mounted fixtures on medium and large helicopters like the Black Hawk and Chinook, but such systems are heavy and affect aircraft performance, but the Pegasus does not compromise helicopter performanc