NASA testing helicopter airbags – sounds like fun!

410141main1_helodrop-1_226-170So, big problem with flying in a helicopter: if you crash, you’re screwed. It’s not like a jet, where you can eject (for obvious reasons), and it’s not like helicopters are designed with a crumple zone. For this reason, NASA has been testing a possible solution that utilizes an airbag-type system.

NASA has developed a shock absorber system that mounts from the bottom of the helicopter to take up the force of the impact. Recent tests have involved a small helicopter being dropped from a height of 35 feet. This caused the chopper to hit the ground at 54 miles per hour, which normally would be a severe if not necessarily fatal crash.

Instead of smashing into many small pieces, the helicopter landed on NASA’s “deployable energy absorber,” a honeycomb airbag system. This took the majority of the force of the impact, and the four crash test dummies managed to escape more or less unscathed. Of course, all of this is experimental, so don’t expect to see it in public any time soon.