How Do Emergency Floatation Systems Work on Helicopters?
Not many people are aware that helicopters and other aircraft have floatation systems in place in case of an emergency landing on water. These mechanisms are called Emergency Floatation System (EFS), a system which is engineered to keep the aircraft afloat for enough time to get the passengers to a safe place.
The EFS system was invented in the late 70’s and early 80’s when aviation experts realized that the number of fatalities during helicopter crash landings could be drastically reduced if there was a proper floatation system to prevent the aircraft from overturning in the water. They could see from research that by 1979, several helicopters from the US Navy and the Marine Corps had been involved in 64 emergency landings on water. Of those 64, 47 helicopters sunk after landing, thus resulting in the deaths of 47 people. Experts investigated each case and in a study, saw that 50% of those fatalities could have been prevented if the helicopter had been equipped with some kind of floatation system.
Because helicopters have a high mounted engine and transmission, the aircraft carries a high center of gravity. When on water, this will cause the aircraft to overturn in a matter of seconds, no matter how buoyant the aircraft might have been designed. That’s why engineers have crafted a device that could prevent the overturn, and ultimately, save lives. The floatation device
can be stored inside the airframe spaces or fitted as an externally mounted pack on the lower structure of the aircraft. When activated, a blend of helium and other gasses stored in pressurised cylinders is used to inflate the floatation devices.
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Posted on December 11, 2019