Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chopper drop tests new technology: Expandable honeycomb cushion could make helicopters safer

Date:
December 10, 2009
Source:
NASA
Summary:
How do you make a helicopter safer to fly? You crash one. NASA aeronautics researchers recently dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet (10.7 m) to see whether an expandable honeycomb cushion called a deployable energy absorber could lessen the destructive force of a crash.

Researchers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are testing the "deployable energy absorber" with the help of a helicopter donated by the Army, a crash test dummy contributed by the Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and a 240-foot (73.2 m) tall structure once used to teach astronauts how to land on the moon.
Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

How do you make a helicopter safer to fly? You crash one.

NASA aeronautics researchers recently dropped a small helicopter from a height of 35 feet (10.7 m) to see whether an expandable honeycomb cushion called a deployable energy absorber could lessen the destructive force of a crash.

On impact, the helicopter's skid landing gear bent outward, but the cushion attached to its belly kept the rotorcraft's bottom from touching the ground. Four crash test dummies along for the ride appeared only a little worse for the wear.

Researchers must analyze the test results before they can say for sure whether the deployable energy absorber worked as designed.

"I'd like to think the research we're doing is going to end up in airframes and will potentially save lives," said Karen Jackson, an aerospace engineer who oversaw the test at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, more than 200 people are injured in helicopter accidents in the United States each year, in part because helicopters fly in riskier conditions than most other aircraft. They fly close to the ground, not far from power lines and other obstacles, and often are used for emergencies, including search and rescue and medical evacuations.

For the test at Langley, researchers used an MD-500 helicopter donated by the U.S. Army. The rotorcraft was equipped with instruments that collected 160 channels of data. One of the four crash test dummies was a special torso model equipped with simulated internal organs. It came from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md.

Technicians outfitted the underside of the helicopter's crew and passenger compartment with the deployable energy absorber. Created by engineer Sotiris Kellas at Langley, the device is made of Kevlar and has a unique flexible hinge design that allows the honeycomb to be packaged and remain flat until needed.

Kellas initially came up with the idea as a way to cushion the next generation of astronaut-carrying space capsules, but soon realized it had many other possible applications. So the concept became part of a helicopter drop test for the Subsonic Rotary Wing Project of NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington.

Jackson said researchers tested the deployable energy absorber under realistic conditions. "We crash-tested the helicopter by suspending it about 35 feet (10.7 m) into the air using cables. Then, as it swung to the ground, we used pyrotechnics to remove the cables just before the helicopter hit so that it reacted like it would in a real accident," she explained.

The test conditions imitated what would be a relatively severe helicopter crash. The flight path angle was about 33 degrees and the combined forward and vertical speeds were about 48 feet per second or 33 miles per hour (14.6 meters per second, 53.1 kph).

"We got data to validate our integrated computer models that predict how all parts of the helicopter and the occupants react in a crash. Plus the torso model test dummy will help us assess internal injuries to occupants during a helicopter crash."

Engineers say the MD-500 survived relatively intact as a result of the honeycomb cushion. They plan to recycle the helicopter and drop it again next year, but without the deployable energy absorber attached, in order to compare the results.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA. "Chopper drop tests new technology: Expandable honeycomb cushion could make helicopters safer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209185654.htm>.
NASA. (2009, December 10). Chopper drop tests new technology: Expandable honeycomb cushion could make helicopters safer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209185654.htm
NASA. "Chopper drop tests new technology: Expandable honeycomb cushion could make helicopters safer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091209185654.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Robotic Eyes' Helps Japan's Bipedal Bot Run Faster

'Robotic Eyes' Helps Japan's Bipedal Bot Run Faster

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 16, 2014) Japanese researcher uses an eye-sensor camera to enable a bipedal robot to balance itself, while running on a treadmill. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lockheed Martin's Fusion Concept Basically An Advertisement

Lockheed Martin's Fusion Concept Basically An Advertisement

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Lockheed Martin announced plans to develop the first-ever compact nuclear fusion reactor. But some experts said the excitement is a little premature. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Science Proves Why Pizza Is So Delicious

Science Proves Why Pizza Is So Delicious

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) The American Chemical Society’s latest video about chemistry in every day life breaks down pizza, and explains exactly why it's so delicious. Gillian Pensavalle (@GillianWithaG) has the video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins