In the typical scenario of a helicopter crash, impact with the ground is preceded by a substantially vertical drop, with the result that a seated occupant of a helicopter experiences high spinal loads and pelvic deceleration during such crash due to the sudden arresting of vertical downward motion. It has long been recognized that spinal injuries to occupants of helicopters in such crash scenario can be minimized by seat arrangements which limit the deceleration to which the seated occupant is subjected, relative to the helicopter, to a predetermined maximum, by allowing downward movement of the seated occupant relative to the helicopter, at the time of impact with the ground, under a restraining force which, over a limited range of such movement, is limited to a predetermined maximum. In practice, significant benefits, in the way of reduced injuries and reduced seriousness of injuries, can be afforded in this way in such crash situations even where the extent of such controlled vertical movement permitted by the crashworthy seat arrangement is quite limited. Important increase of accident safety is reached with the installation of crashworthy shock absorbers on the main landing gear, but this solution is mostly feasible on military helicopters with long fixed landing gear. Seats can then give high contribution to survivability. Commonly, an energy absorber is a constant load device, if one excludes an initial elastic part of the load-stroke curve. On helicopter seats, this behavior is obtained by plastic deformation of a metal component or scraping of material. In the present work the authors have studied three absorption systems, which differ in relation to their shape, their working conditions and their constructive materials. All the combinations have been analyzed for applications in VIP helicopter seats.
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