Despite enormous innovations in the field of aerospace engineering, both manned and unmanned aircraft still manipulate lift and thrust to take off from the ground – with the notable exception of rotorcraft that can lift off vertically. Fixed-wing aircraft are subsequently limited with respect to their performance areas, requiring runways with generous amounts of space to safely take off and land. This is problematic if the aircraft develops technical or mechanical difficulties and needs to put down in adverse conditions.
Aeronautic engineers attempt to mitigate the dangers of non-optimal or emergency landings using innovative safety systems and specialty airbag fabrics. These are based on conventional airbag textiles such as heavyweight nylon fabric, which combines outstanding thermal-resistivity with good mechanical integrity. This is essential as the underlying principle of all airbag systems uses propellant chemicals to rapidly inflate the component when an integrated sensor detects a collision.
The automotive industry has used this established methodology for decades, and it has found increasing application in the emergency landing systems of fixed-wing aircraft.
The Purpose of Specialty Airbag Fabrics in Aerospace Applications
The primary use of specialty airbag fabrics in aeronautic engineering is to reduce the risk of damage to the aircraft if it is forced to land in confined conditions, or on water. These systems are differentiated from automotive airbags in that they typically activate prior to a collision. This absorbs some of the shock as the aircraft touches the landing surface and limits the amount of damage caused to the fuselage. Passengers and crew are subsequently protected from the most severe impact damage. The soft-landing capabilities of specialty airbag fabrics are also used to cushion cargo in airdrop systems.
Benefits of Mid-Mountain Materials, Inc.’s Specialty Airbag Fabrics
Thermal resistance and mechanical toughness are integral for specialty airbag fabrics in aerospace applications, but there are additional requirements for ensuring that the emergency landing system will perform to specification. Mid-Mountain provides a range of specialty airbag fabrics comprising extremely tough yet flexible substrate materials and high-performance coatings.
For example, our specialty airbag fabrics can be engineered using our proprietary ARMATEX® product range. These combine the outstanding flexibility and packability of a base textile with an abrasion-resistant silicone coating. This combination of properties allows engineers to manufacture emergency landing systems that can withstand a range of adverse conditions, including: abrasion with landing surfaces; and permeation in the case of amphibious landings.
Our specialty airbag fabrics have successfully been used in the most demanding aerospace applications. We have over 40 years’ experience in the development of lightweight yet high-performance emergency systems for automotive, aerospace, and aeronautic applications.
If you would like to learn more, read our recent article: Specialty Airbag Fabrics and their Military Applications. Otherwise, contact us if you have any more questions.