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Vertical Flight 2019: A glimpse of the rotary future at Farnborough

6th November 2019 - 14:03 GMT | by Glenn Sands in Farnborough


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The Vertical Flight Expo & Conference got under way on 5 November with a shift in focus to UAVs. Several of the opening conferences were quick to highlight the capabilities that this still new technology will bring to the industry, but as Alastair Fallon, aviation analyst (helicopters), IBA Group Ltd, was quick to point out 'they will complement helicopters, but there's still a lot of things that helicopters can do, that can't be done by anything else.'

In safe 'airborne' hands

On show at this year's Expo was the adjustable stretcher from Global Aviation Services, a Germany-based company that configures such types as the AW139, EC135, EC145, AS332 and S-76 to either an emergency medical systems role or for SAR tasking.

The latter configuration includes a medical wall/floor, with the capability to carry intensive care equipment, a FLIR system, a crew command centre, a loudspeaker, search light, sliding door and winch.

All the components are lightweight and STC-approved. The emergency medical system comprises similar options but notably includes an oxygen station, an ICS suite and a medical cabinet.

ABOVE: On display at the Vertical Flight Expo was this adjustable stretcher configuration with a patent locking system.

Staying alive at sea

The latest generation of the survival suits by Biardo was on display. Its latest suit - the SeaWind - is designed for offshore aircrews and can serve as a passenger transportation survival suit.

It created quite a buzz at the show, for all the right reasons. Certified by SOLAS, ISO and EASA, there's no other suit which meets this wide range of properties. The Seawind is already approved and in current use by customers around the globe. Feedback has been nothing but positive, according to Biardo.

One of the unique features of the suit is the wave designed reflective patches to aid being sighted by SAR crews, just in case the worst happens. 

ABOVE: The SeaWind is SOLAS-approved according to LSA Code (uninsulated) and ISO 15027-1. The suit is compatible with several approved lifejackets and offers a one-hour immersion (uninsulated) capability.

Night vision for civilians

Slowly moving from the military market to civilian use on helicopters are night vision goggles. Polish manufacturer PCO Spółka Akcyjna, which has more than 40 years' experience providing military and other specialised users with its high-tech opto-electronic solutions, is now offering cutting-edge night vision and thermal imaging devices to users around the globe.

Its latest product, the PNL-3M, is an ultra-light, passive stereoscopic night vision goggle for helicopter crews, which has both military and civil applications. The goggles can be powered from one or two alternative power supply sources – from the aircraft’s onboard power supply network or from a battery pack that comprises of two independent AA size battery compartments.

When the goggles are tilted upwards and folded over the helmet their image amplifiers are disconnected from the power supply source. These latest goggles are already certified by EASA.

ABOVE: PNL-3M-Aviator’s Night Vision Goggles on display at the PCO S.A stand. They are being aimed at the civilian helicopter market.

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