NASA Scientists Jubilant After Successful Helicopter Crash

Elizabeth Barber reports in the Christian Science Monitor that when a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter plummeted into the ground at more than 30 miles per hour, there was jubilation from the scientists on the ground at the culmination of some two years of preparation to test a helicopter’s crashworthiness.

‘We designed this test to simulate a severe but survivable crash under both civilian and military requirements,’ says NASA lead test engineer Martin Annett. ‘It was amazingly complicated with all the planning, dummies, cameras, instrumentation and collaborators, but it went off without any major hitches.’ During the crash, high-speed cameras filming at 500 images per second tracked the black dots painted on the helicopter, allowing scientists to assess the exact deformation of each part of the craft, in a photographic technique called full field photogrammetry.

Thirteen instrumented crash test dummies and two un-instrumented manikins stood, sat or reclined for a potentially rough ride. The goal of the drop was to test improved seat belts and seats, to collect crashworthiness data and to check out some new test methods but it was also to serve as a baseline for another scheduled test in 2014. ‘It’s extraordinarily useful information. I will use this information for the next 20 years,’ says Lindley Bark, a crash safety engineer at Naval Air Systems Command on hand for the test. ‘Even the passenger airplane seats in there were important to us because we fly large aircraft that have the same type of seating.’

Original news: http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/_PfSyp8RHZc/story01.htm