Helicopters stay afloat with new EFS

GKN Aerospace has created a new helicopter Emergency Flotation System (EFS) that will prevent rotary winged aircraft from sinking if they crash land in water.

By evolving cool gas generator (CGG) technology usually employed in European Space Agency programmes, a ‘direct inflation’ EFS has been created which replaces large gas pressure vessels with small, lightweight CGG units.

Each CGG unit stores gas as an uncompressed solid material and can 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 is said to offer a 25 per cent weight saving and a 50 per cent saving in volume.

‘We believe this new direct inflation, CGG-based system has huge potential for the helicopter operator,’ said John Pritchard, site director, GKN Aerospace, Portsmouth. ‘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.’

With less hardware, a modular design that is easy to install and replace, and each CGG guaranteed safe in storage with a maintenance-free life of 15 years, this new EFS will minimise most maintenance tasks. In addition, the un-pressurised storage method will reduce any risk of inadvertent deployment during routine aircraft maintenance.