Technology to increase the chances of surviving helicopter accidents at sea has won the 2014 Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) Eureka Prize in support of Outstanding Science for Safeguarding Australia.
Assistant Minister for Defence, Stuart Robert, presented the award to Mr Tim Lyons of Western Australia-based company One Atmosphere as part of the 25th annual Australian Museum Eureka Prize ceremony.
“This unique emergency system, called Pegasus, has been specially designed to increase the chance for aircrew to escape safely during a helicopter crash into water by rapidly re-floating the helicopter,” Mr Robert said.
Attached to the helicopter, the Pegasus is a light-weight, bolt-on, bolt-off buoyancy system (like an air bag) that inflates automatically on impact and is capable of quickly retrieving an aircraft of up to 10 tonnes in weight from a depth of 10 metres and keeping it afloat for four hours.
“As Australia’s Landing Helicopter Dock ships are commissioned in the coming years the operation of helicopters in maritime environments will further increase.A capability that enables a helicopter to stay afloat after ditching at sea, such as the Pegasus system, is vital for the survival of the crew and its utility will only grow in the future,” Mr Robert said.
Emergency flotation systems are usually available as permanently mounted fixtures on medium and large helicopters like the Black Hawk and Chinook. However, these built-in units are heavy and affect the performance of the aircraft.
“I congratulate Mr Lyons and his company on developing a system that addresses Defence’s safety concerns but does so without compromising the performance of helicopter operations,” Mr Robert said.
The technology can also be utilised in the civilian environment for helicopters operated by emergency services, police, tourism and oil and gas exploration companies.
The Pegasus system was developed with funding from the Capability and Technology Demonstrator Program managed by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.
With the successful demonstration of the technology, the Pegasus system is now being further developed for integration into the Army helicopter fleet and airworthiness certification.
Imagery is available through the Defence Image Library: http://images.defence.gov.au/12133235
Richard Briedis (Minister Robert's Office) (02) 6277 7730 or 0477 391 174
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999