Seat cushions mitigate vibration exposure of aircrew

- Paris, France 

A novel helicopter seat cushion to reduce the health and safety risks for aircrew

NRC's human-rated shaker tests the vibration mitigating seat cushion.

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) has developed a vibration mitigating seat cushion configuration with novel energy-absorbing materials. The new cushions are designed to reduce the health and safety risks associated with whole-body vibration on helicopters. The success of this technology stems from a project funded by the Directorate of Technical Airworthiness and Engineering Support of the Department of National Defence (DND-DTAES).

The innovative design integrates traditional foam with energy-absorbing engineered materials. Its unique hexagonal cell pattern interconnects with air vents to dissipate vibration energy while maintaining the airworthiness and crashworthiness requirements of aircraft seats. The technology was validated and advanced through mechanical shaker tests using NRC's human-rated shaker device. Its performance was verified during flight tests on the NRC Bell-412 helicopter at the National Research Council's Flight Research Laboratory in Ottawa.

"At NRC, we leverage our expertise and unique research infrastructure to provide the aerospace industry with innovative solutions that can be effectively transferred to the marketplace," said Dr. Ian Potter, Vice-President of Engineering at the National Research Council of Canada. "Our engineers and experts in the areas of environmental controls, vibration, acoustics, and human factors are working with clients across the value chain to advance and de-risk technologies that will improve the health and safety conditions for both aircrew and passengers."

The seat cushion, which has been selected for integration into the armored seat CH-146 Griffon fleet, will help reduce fatigue, chronic back pain and neck strain, diminished situational awareness, and, in extreme cases, disability.

"We needed a cost-effective yet high-quality solution to mitigate helicopter vibrations," said Major Matthew Maxwell, Team Leader, Human Factors Engineering/Human System Integration at DND-DTAES. "We have been working with NRC in this area for over a decade and we knew they would be the right partner for this research and technology development project."

For the past five years, the team worked closely together to research, develop and test the cushions and prepare them for market. The National Research Council signed a licensing agreement to transfer the technology to DART Aerospace of Hawkesbury, Ontario for use in the commercial helicopter market.

For more information about the National Research Council's aerospace programs, capabilities and facilities, visit our Aerospace research and development expertise website.

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