Washington: Researchers from NASA are going to crash a 45-foot-long helicopter fuselage from 30 feet to test improved seat belts and seats and advance experimental techniques and crashworthiness data.
NASA is collaborating with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and Federal Aviation Administration on the Transport Rotorcraft Airframe Crash Test Bed full-scale crash tests at Langley`s Landing and Impact Research Facility.
Lead test engineer Martin Annett said that they have instrumented a former Marine helicopter airframe with cameras and accelerometers, asserting that 40 cameras inside and outside the helicopter will record how 13 crash test dummies react before, during and after impact.
During the test, onboard computers will record more than 350 channels of data as the helicopter is swung by cables, like a pendulum, into a bed of soil. Just before impact, pyrotechnic devices release the suspension cables from the helicopter to allow free flight.
The helicopter will hit the ground at about 30 mph. The impact condition represents a severe but survivable condition under both civilian and military requirements.
For the first time ever in any test, technicians installed a video game motion sensor in the helicopter.
The outside of the fuselage also is new for this test. Technicians painted one entire side in black polka dots over a white background -- a photographic technique called full field photogrammetry.
Each dot represents a data point. High-speed cameras filming at 500 images per second track each dot, so after over the drop researchers can plot and see exactly how the fuselage buckled, bent, cracked or collapsed under crash loads.