Three of the seats, developed as part of the main cabin upgrade (MCU) project for the Army Aviation Systems Program Office (AASPO), are on display at QinetiQ Australia’s Avalon exhibit.
Managing director of QinetiQ Australia Greg Barsby said: “Appearing in public for the first time, these seats are designed to afford much better protection for Chinook passengers. Visitors to our exhibit will be able to see and experience for themselves the improvements that have been made to the seats.”
Working on the logic that troops being transported in and out of theatre should have the same protection as helicopter pilots have had for years with seats and seatbelts, AASPO decided the CH-47 Chinook’s red canvas wall-mounted seats should be replaced with properly engineered crashworthy seats.
QinetiQ Australia, working with the US manufacturer of the seats on behalf of the Directorate Technical Airworthiness as an authorised engineering organisation for the ADF, provided independent certification of the design and the modifications required to the helicopter for the MCU.
The new crashworthy seats use a five-point harness system and dampening to lessen the impact of a hard landing. To offset the weight of the new crashworthy seats, new and lighter flooring also is needed to provide enhanced and less obstructive ballistic protection.
MCU project manager Len Brown said: “QinetiQ’s involvement in this project made it possible for Defence to approve a design it would not have been able to approve within schedule and resource constraints. Many players have been involved in this endeavour but the nucleus of ensuring AASPO received a fully integrated solution was QinetiQ.” The design has attracted the interest of other CH-47 Chinook users including the US Army, UK Ministry of Defence and the Canadian and Dutch defence procurement agencies.
It also has received industry recognition as a finalist in the category of ‘Best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue’ at the 2012 Safe Work Australia Awards.