The REAPS (Rotorcraft External Airbag Protection System) developed by RAFAEL Armament Development Authority Ltd. successfully performed in a series of tests last month as part of Phase II of the Concept and Technology Demonstration program contracted by the US Navy.
Source: RAFAEL (Armament Development Authority)
The REAPS, is a one-of-a kind external airbag system, attached under the fuselage of passenger rotorcrafts, designed to moderate the crash impact loadings with a surface (hard/soft ground or water). Using a proximity sensor to measure the physical parameters of ground approach, the system is able to deploy its airbags prior to an imminent crash, thereby limiting passenger injuries and airframe damage.
The REAPS testing took place near Phoenix, AZ on Bell 206 rotorcrafts. Two drops were conducted at a maximum gross weight of 3300 lbs, at impact velocities of 27 and 34 ft/sec (1,600 and 2,000 ft/min). The rotorcrafts were equipped with four ATD’s (Anthropomorphic Test Dummies), two 50% (medium size) males, one 95% (large size) male and one 5% (small size) female.
The “passengers” were intact after each drop, and the airframe experienced limited damage, proving outstanding crash worthiness in helicopters that are known for their lack of it. In addition the tests proved that due to the REAPS airbags, the passengers were subjected to an impact of less than 25G with absolutely no rebound and secondary impact.
According to Mr. Ken Bennett, a helicopter specialist at HeliWorks, Pensacola FL, both helicopters were in a repairable state following impact.
“These tests indicate a successful completion of Phase II of the US Navy’s C&TD program.” says Dr. Benjamin Keren Corporate VP and General Manager Ordnance Systems Division at RAFAEL. “We foresee REAPS becoming an FAA certified standard component in all passenger rotorcraft; both in the civilian and military arenas, significantly decreasing the amount of casualties and damage so prevalent in helicopter crashes today.”
RAFAEL designs, develops, manufactures and supplies a wide range of advanced defense systems. These leading edge products include naval, air and ground precision weapons, electro-optic systems, electronic warfare (EW) systems, Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) systems, acoustic defense systems, armored protection and training systems.