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NASA Crash Test Aimed At Safer Helicopters

posted 2 Sept 2013, 08:46 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 Sept 2013, 08:47 ]

Engineers have dropped a 45 foot-long helicopter fuselage from a height of 30 feet to the ground as part of a project designed to improve helicopter safety. The researchers hope the crash data will lead to the development of better seats and safety-belts and stronger air-frames.

LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER, HAMPTON, VIRGINIAUNITED STATES (AUGUST 28, 2013) (NASA) -  NASA says the helicopter crash test was one of the most ambitious ever undertaken atLangley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

A 45-foot long CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter fuselage, loaded with 13 crash test dummies was raised 30 feet into the air on a gantry and dropped to the ground. With 40 high-speed cameras recording the event, the fuselage hit the ground at approximately 30 mph, representing what the engineers describe as a severe but survivable crash.

The cameras are designed to record the movement of the dummies on board and the effects of the crash on the fuselage, using hundreds of white dots painted on one side as reference points. Each dot represents a data point. Each camera, filming at 500 images per second, tracked each dot, allowing researchers to establish how the fuselage buckled, bent, cracked or collapsed under the crash load.

NASA is collaborating with the Navy, Army and Federal Aviation Administration. Apart from improving safety, engineers want to increase industry knowledge and create more complete computer models that can be used to design better helicopters. The ultimate goal is to help make helicopters and other vertical take off and landing vehicles more efficient, quicker, quieter, and environmentally friendly.