PHI Integrates Apical Safety System Into Its Helicopters
Petroleum Helicopters has contracted to purchase one hundred and seventeen Apical Float Raft systems for their fleet of Bell 206/407 and BO-105 aircraft. The system is unique in that it will provide one system which includes emergency floatation and externally mounted life rafts for Bell 206, 206L series, 206L4 and 407. It currently takes four separate systems to service this Bell fleet of aircraft and there is no other integrated life raft solution available. The procurement of the Apical system will lead to aggregate reduced costs by eliminating different configurations of floats to maintain for this fleet.
PHI made the decision to purchase the systems to provide their customers with a higher level of safety. The Apical systems provide two twin tube six man life rafts built into the float system. The system has two separate inflation systems, one to activate the float system and a second inflation system to deploy the life rafts. The life rafts also have deployment mechanisms at each door that activate both rafts. Other operators in the Gulf area usually carry one life raft stored in the cockpit that must be deployed by either the crew or the passengers if the crew is incapacitated in an emergency. The Apical system provides complete redundancy by offering two life rafts and additionally, by having the rafts externally mounted eliminates many of the deployment issues associated with units carried inside the helicopter. Additional cabin seating capacity is created by having the life rafts externally mounted.
Other factors considered by PHI included the benefits associated with the Apical systems ability to allow for successful towing of a helicopter in the water. Many helicopters that successfully land in the water are lost because the bags rip off in tow at very slow speeds. Apical demonstrated in tests that their system could successfully be towed at ten knots with no wear and tear on the attachment of the floats to the skid tubes. The Apical Patented tri-bag design offers increased stability by widening the base of buoyancy for the aircraft. PHI hopes to enjoy a higher rate of aircraft recovery in an emergency landing which will ultimately reduce their costs of doing business.