Strap In for the Ride

Engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing, teamed with a company called Wolf Technical Services, have developed a new mobile restraint system for helicopter aircrews that holds the promise of reducing injuries. The Universal Mobile Aircrew Restraint System, when coupled with an improved body harness, is designed for helicopter loadmasters, flight engineers, medics, pararescue personnel, and gunners, all of whom must be able to move around the cabin during flight in sometimes unpredictable and dangerous conditions. USAF has identified slack in existing tether systems as the cause of five fatalities in incidents defined as “Class A survivable crashes,” so it seeks a better system. UMARS is based on technology used to bring roller coaster to a smooth stop. “It will give you a little bit of restraint force in a benign situation but a lot of restraint force in a crash,” said Stuart Nightenhelser of Wolf Technical Services. (Wright Patterson report by John Schutte)