Home' Army News : April 11th 2013 Contents Army April 11, 2013
Pegasus passes test
A lightweight, bolt-on and bolt-off flotation device will raise a helicopter from 10m below the waves
Leut Samantha Dudley
DITCHING a helicopter at sea will
no longer be a life and death sce-
nario following the successful dem-
onstration of an emergency device
capable of keeping a helicopter
afloat carried out at Fleet Base West
on March 27.
Western Australia-based company
One Atmosphere, supported by L3
Oceania, has developed the Pegasus
Aircraft Buoyancy System (ABS) -- a
lightweight, bolt-on and bolt-off emer-
gency flotation device.
Invented by former clearance diver
and now managing director of One
Atmosphere, Tim Lyons, the device can
be quickly attached, enabling a helicop-
ter to remain afloat after ditching in the
sea and increasing the opportunity for
the crew to safely escape.
"We are in the business of saving
lives and the Pegasus system has been
developed to avoid the devastating
consequences associated with military
aircraft crashes at sea," Mr Lyons said.
"Pegasus ABS provides an option
for Defence to make ADF helicopters
safer when operating in the maritime
A life-size airframe was built to
replicate the buoyancy, in-water weight
and centre of gravity of a medium-size
helicopter such as Army's Tiger.
The airframe was used in a simu-
lated ditch and crash situation, first on
March 14 for an initial demonstration
and again on March 27 for the final
The airframe was dropped into
the water from a height to provide
an accurate simulation of a ditching
incident at sea.
The aircraft buoyancy system
activated, slowing down the sink-
ing and subsequently refloating the
airframe from a depth of 10m to the
surface where it remained buoyant.
The Pegasus ABS has been
developed under Defence's
Capability and Technology
Demonstrator Program within
DSTO. The program office's
deputy-director, Duncan Watson,
said Project Pegasus addressed a
Defence capability gap through
the further development of aircraft
"Pegasus addresses Defence's
desire for Army helicopters to
have the ability to stay afloat
should they ditch into the water
while undertaking maritime oper-
ations and when operating from
Naval platforms," he said.
"The Pegasus concept aims to lift
an aircraft weighing up to 10 tonnes to
the surface from a depth of up to 10m
and keep it afloat for four hours."
The flotation device weighs less
than 30kg and can operate both auto-
matically and manually under pilot
Mr Watson said that with Army
soon to operate its rotary-wing aircraft
from the new LHDs, the flotation capa-
bility that the Pegasus system provided
would be useful.
Although emergency flotation
systems are available as permanently
mounted fixtures on medium and large
helicopters such as the Black Hawk
and Chinook, these units are heavy
and can affect the performance of the
Capability Development Group's
director of Rotary-Wing Development,
Col Anton Leshinskas, said Pegasus
enhanced force preservation by
improving operational capability.
"Army already operates in a mari-
time environment but this will increase
with LHDs. The increased level of
maritime activity leads to an increased
risk factor," he said.
"Pegasus is a timely innovation
to decrease the risks associated with
ditching through increasing survivabil-
Col Leshinskas said the Pegasus
system had world-wide potential to
significantly reduce the burden of
weight in existing flotation devices.
He said the bolt-on and bolt-off
technology could also be adapted to fit
a range of airframes, but most impor-
tantly it increased occupant survivabil-
ity across various helicopter platforms.
afety device: Defence Science and Technology Organisation put to the test a
otation system for the Tiger Helicopter at HMAS Stirling.
Photos by LS James Whittle
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