An Australian-developed personnel safety device offers a significant advance in the survivability of helicopter crews and occupants for maritime operations.
Originally developed to meet an Australian Army Special Operations Command requirement, the Helicopter Emergency Operator Release (HERO) addresses the requirement for automated release of personnel strops/restraints in the event of a helicopter crash into the sea where manual release of the restraint is not possible or hindered.
HERO, according to Omega Dev Group chief executive officer Blair Hickey, solves the problem of crew or occupants being unable to manually release their restraint, an issue that can result in them being unable to escape from a sinking helicopter.
A dual-purpose system that acts as both a restraint and emergency release system, HERO connects the crew member’s or occupant’s restraint to the helicopter anchor point, effectively restraining them during flight.
In an emergency ditching or crash where the occupants become submerged, HERO automatically activates within 2 seconds, separating at each end and thereby breaking the connection between the anchor point in the helicopter and the restraint. This is achieved in a single ‘hands-free’ action, allowing the occupant to concentrate on escaping from the sinking aircraft.
Mr Hickey says that HERO’s hands-free disconnection of the strop/restraint from the anchor point both simplifies and reduces the time taken for occupants to extricate themselves from a sinking helicopter so that they exit the aircraft at a shallower depth – greatly improving the chances of survival.
Measuring around 200mm long, HERO features a built-in self-test function for the electronics and has dual mechanical redundancy by releasing at both ends. It is also aircraft type agnostic and compatible with all types of ceiling rings, floor tie-downs and strop/harness clips. Powered by standard AA batteries, the device is designed to operate only when submerged in salt water; it is unaffected by rain, salt spray or fluid spillage.
Find out more: Omega Dev Group is exhibiting at LAND FORCES 2022 on stand GP4.