The force of the impact shattered the MD-500's windscreen. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith
The more recent drop on March 10, 2010 involved just the helicopter. No new technology was attached. That was the point. Engineers wanted to determine exactly how efficient the deployable energy absorber had been in the earlier test and how much it might help reduce occupant injuries. So they dropped the same helicopter in the same way and measured and recorded the same conditions with the same instruments."We were fortunate enough that the helicopter survived so well the first time that we could use it again," said engineer Martin Annett.There will be no third crash test for this helicopter. It was too damaged. Researchers say the "g" forces the MD-500 experienced more than tripled those recorded in the previous test. But that doesn't mean the research is over. Engineers have gigabytes of data to analyze to confirm exactly what impact the new honeycomb cushion technology might have for helicopters in the future.The drop tests were conducted by the Subsonic Rotary Wing Project of NASA's Fundamental Aeronautics Program, and funded by the agency's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate in Washington.
Kathy BarnstorffNASA Langley Research Center