On August 28, NASA engineers at Langley Research Center crashed a helicopter filled with dummies to gather information on surviving such an incident. As RIA Novosti put it:

NASA, which has been launching objects into space for decades, on Wednesday did things a little differently. It purposely crashed a 45-foot long (14-meter) helicopter fuselage from a height of about 30 feet (9 meters) to learn about safety.

During the test, onboard computers recorded 350 channels of data as the helicopter was lifted by cables and then sent hurtling into a bed of soil, NASA said. The fuselage hit the ground at about 30 miles per hour (48 km/hour), which NASA said was a serious, but survivable crash.

The helicopter was decked out with thousands of painted dots to allow high speed cameras to capture the crash and allow it to be studied. “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 NASA test engineer Justin Littell. This was the first of two CH-46E Sea Knight fuselage crashes planned. NASA‘s objective is to make helicopters and other vertical take-off and landing vehicles “quicker, quieter, safer and greener.”

Read more about the project here.


About the author

Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

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