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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Safer Helicopters

NASA engineer Sotiris Kellas has come up with a device to protect the passengers and pilots in helicopter crashes.  The device, called a ‘deployable energy absorber’, is an expandable honeycomb cushion that sits under the belly of the craft, protecting the occupants from the crash.

The device was successfully tested using a MD-500 helicopter and four crash test dummies.  Both the helicopter and the dummies were equipped with numerous sensors.  Although the results must be analyzed further, the 35 foot drop did not appear to damage the dummies.  The same could not be said for the helicopter’s landing gear, though that would be a small price to pay in a real crash.

You can watch the test drop here.

Photo Credit:  NASA/Sean Smith