Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Emergency flotation system
Article Type: Equipment and software From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 4
GKN Aerospace has adapted technology employed in European Space Agency programmes and proven in the extreme environment of rocket propulsion, and reapplied it to create a completely new and highly efficient helicopter emergency flotation system (EFS).
By evolving cool gas generator (CGG) technology, a “direct inflation” EFS has been created which replaces the usual large gas pressure vessels with small, lightweight and extremely rugged CGG units. Each CGG unit efficiently stores gas as an uncompressed solid material and can swiftly produce large quantities of usable gas at ambient temperatures through a controlled reaction. This modular, float-mounted direct inflation system replaces the traditional system of heavy pressure vessels and piping and claims a 25 per cent weight saving and a 50 per cent saving in volume.
John Pritchard, Site Director, GKN Aerospace, Portsmouth, comments: “We believe this new direct inflation, CGG-based system has huge potential for the helicopter operator. On average, we estimate it will provide an equivalent performance with only half the volume and three quarters the weight of a Nitrogen-based system – and will require virtually no maintenance. This will clearly lead to significant in-service benefits.”
With less hardware, a modular design that is easily installed and replaced, and each CGG guaranteed safe in storage with a maintenance-free life of 15 years, this new EFS is believed to reduce or eradicate most maintenance tasks. In addition, the un-pressurised storage method will greatly diminish any risk of inadvertent deployment during routine aircraft maintenance procedures.
Pritchard concludes: “This adaptation of this existing technology to the emergency flotation market offers significant and quantifiable benefits across the rotary-wing sector. This and our new single skin fuel tank material are illustrations of our core strength at GKN Aerospace – the considered application of technology to create real operational solutions for our customers.”
For further details, please contact: GKN Aerospace, Tel.: +44 (0) 1983 283649.