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Defence flotation technology saves lives at sea

An emergency floating device, designed to save lives and help recover navy helicopters ditched at sea, has won a national military innovation award.

The Pegasus buoyancy system can lift a helicopter weighing 10 tonnes to the ocean surface, from a depth of up to 10 metres. It can keep the helicopter afloat for around four hours, allowing crew to escape safely. The technology also has potential to be commercialised for the civil aviation market, and to be fitted to search and rescue aircraft such as police and emergency services helicopters.

The flotation device weighs less than 50kg, has no wired connection to the helicopter, and can operate automatically or under pilot control. It inflates on impact and raises the aircraft to the surface. Many helicopters are fitted with permanent emergency flotation systems, but these are heavy and can affect the aircraft’s performance.

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