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Cockpit Airbag System

Cockpit Airbag System

Cockpit Airbag System

I have a client that has requested that I develope an airbag system for his helicopter.  The purpose is to reduce the potential for cyclic headstrike injuries during a crash.

Are there any other helicopter owner opperators out there that think this would be a useful addition to helicopters?

Are there any engineers with any comments about this?  I am wanting to develope a simple system based on a 3 axis accelerometer and automotive style glare shield mounted airbag.

Obviously, this system will need to be FAA approved on a no hazard basis and it must function correctly.

Nigel Waterhouse
Can-Am Aerospace

RE: Cockpit Airbag System

A shoulder harness would be muuuuuuch cheaper.

Steven Fahey, CET

RE: Cockpit Airbag System

Someone's just proposed an anti-submarining airbag.That might be applicable.

Airbags only really work if the target is sitting in the right place, in which case, he might as well be wearing a full harness.


Greg Locock

Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Cockpit Airbag System

Under high g the belts stretch enough to allow cyclic impalement of the head. I have test data that demonstrates this.

Nigel Waterhouse B Eng (Hon's)
Can-Am Aerospace,LLC, Canadian Aircraft Certification Centre

RE: Cockpit Airbag System

Multi-Axis Airbag system may be useful in a "low G" impact...But most helicopter crashes involve "high G" loads that an airbag would do little or nothing to improve survivability. A good "5-point harness" is the way to go with other attenuation devices (ie seat stroke, "rollbar" airframe design....)

RE: Cockpit Airbag System

Cessna are currently offering a seat harness that has an airbag built in to it. Personally I wouldn't want anything like that in the crew seats of a helicopter, accidental deployment while still in the air would probably cause full control deflection and be fatal.

RE: Cockpit Airbag System

Believe it or not, I found an example:


Cirrus aircraft must have forseen a demand, and gone ahead, just like they did with the chutes.

For heli-pilots, the situation is more complex.  The risky work, long-lining, normally demands that they be postured awkwardly to see down.  Shoulder harnesses get in the way of the work on many machines, so some pilots would take them off, and when the s*** hits the fan, there's no time to put them back on.

This might be documented in TSB reports, it's worth a look into.

Steven Fahey, CET

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