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NASA Drops Boeing Sea Knight Chopper Fuselage for Crash Test

NASA photo
NASA photo

NASA engineers deliberately crashed a Boeing-built military helicopter fuselage during a test at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Wednesday, the first of two trials intended to increase industry knowledge and help create computer models used to design helicopters.

The Marine CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter carried 15 crash dummies and traveled through the air while being attached to cables prior to the crash, NASA said Wednesday.

Pyrotechnic devices separated the cables from the 10,300-pound helicopter and the fuselage hit the soil at Langley’s landing and impact research facility.

The U.S. Navy contributed the fuselage, dummies and a manikin, while the Army provided one manikin and a test dummy intended to simulate a patient in a stretcher.

Langley provided six dummies and the Federal Aviation Administration provided a side-facing specialized crash test dummy and helped create the data acquisition system.

“We designed this test to simulate a severe but survivable crash under both civilian and military requirements,” said Martin Annett, NASA lead test engineer.

“It was amazingly complicated with all the dummies, cameras, instrumentation and the collaborators, but it went well.”

Forty cameras were mounted inside and outside the fuselage and researchers also acquired data from 350 instrumentation points for onboard computers.

Engineers also used the full field photogrammetry technique to help collect the data and the helicopter had black-and-white-speckled paint.

“High speed cameras filming at 500 images per second tracked each black dot, so after everything is over, we can plot exactly how the fuselage reacted structurally throughout the test,” said Justin Littell, NASA test engineer.

NASA has scheduled the second test for next summer for the Rotary Wing Project in the agency’s aeronautics research mission directorate.


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