The popular single-engine Airbus Helicopters SAS H130 light utility helicopter – originally developed as the EC130 by Eurocopter Group in the late 1990s – is widely used for emergency medical services (EMS), law enforcement, cargo transport, and aerial tourism roles in several countries, including the United States and Canada. To maximize H130 safety, Dart Aerospace Limited (Dart) has acquired supplemental type certificate (STC) approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for a newly developed emergency float system (EFS) for unexpected water landings.
An improved design over previous float systems, the new EFS also incorporates quick release fittings which allow 70 percent of the kit’s weight to be removed from the rotorcraft in under five minutes without tools. The system is also now compatible with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) fixed mounting points, which removes the need for landing skid modification.
With continual improvements in EFS solutions for lightweight rotorcraft and the surge in multi-rotor, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) urban air mobility (UAM) vehicle – or “flying car” – development, it will be interesting to see when and where the two technologies will converge.
According to a recent sustainability study published by the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS) and from the Ford Motor Company’s Research and Advanced Engineering team, UAM systems will likely find a niche application in efficiently transporting multiple passengers across distances of 100 kilometers or more. The study uses a commute between Cleveland and Detroit as a case study.
Given that example and other possible commutes between cities surrounding the Great Lakes, UAM systems will likely be required to incorporate safety features for contingencies such as emergency landings and water ditching before obtaining required operational certification.
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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.
Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at email@example.com.