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NASA recently crash tested a 45-foot-long helicopter fuselage from a 30-foot height for the second time this year. In collaboration with other United States and international government agencies the full-scale crash test took place on October 1.
The lead test engineer, Martin Annett, said that the major difference between this test and the last one is that three energy absorbing composite concepts are being tested that will, hopefully, help the dummies sustain fewer injuries. Annett said that improvements were made based on things that were learned from the last test, which took place in August.
Approximately 40 cameras are utilized in these tests in order to view impact data inside and outside of the helicopter. Annett explained that the ability to synchronize video and data is extremely beneficial to the aviation experts that will view the results.
“It made a huge difference in understanding how the motion and the occupants corresponded to the loads and acceleration seen in the data,” Annett said.
A photographic technique called full field photogrammetry is also used in these crash tests. High speed cameras film at 500 images per second and are able to track dots painted on the helicopter. This enables aviation experts to plot and see exactly how the fuselages buckled, cracked or collapsed under different crash loads.
In this particular test, crash engineers really wanted to see how well the composite subfloors absorbed the energy of the impact. The impact conditions of the crash represented a survivable condition under both military and civilian standards.
Both the October and August tests are part of the Rotary Wing Project in the Fundamentals Aeronautics Program of NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. The results of the two tests will be used to improve rotorcraft performances and efficiencies. The data gained will also help to increase aviation industry knowledge and create more complete computer models that will help to design safer helicopters.

Hundreds of companies in Canada are using drones to do work in industries like farming and television production, while the United States continues to ban commercial drone use.
Federal Aviation Administration rules completely forbid the commercial use of drones. These outlawed drones can weigh less than 500 pounds and actually offer new ways to capture photographs. Canada allows hundreds of businesses to integrate drone technology in a range of industries through a simple permit system.
Anyone in Canada that wants to operate a drone for commercial use simply asks the aviation regulator for a permit, follows a simple process and typically (if approved) receives the documentation within 10 to 20 business days. In the last three years, the Canadian government has issued about 1500 “Special Flight Operations Certificates”.
The US ban has caused an outrage among business owners because, while their drones may be grounded, the FAA does have a policy that allows hobbyists to use drones. This has caused many American business owners to go rogue, flying their drones illegally until the FAA shuts them down.
Canada decided to allow the use of drones back in 2010 when the government started to recognize the need for the technology that drones offer. Law enforcement and real estate are just two of the many verticals that use drone technology in Canada.
One aviation expert explains that drone operators in the US would obviously be thrilled about a permit system that would allow for the use of drones in certain situations. With that said, a spokesperson for the FAA did suggest that the burden on businesses would soon be lifted in a recent statement.
“We expect to publish a proposed rule on small unmanned aircraft before the end of this year. We can’t discuss specifics because the language isn’t finalized, but the rule will make a start on allowing more routine UAS operations.”