NASA Crashes a Helicopter for Science

Retired Marine helicopter turned into crash test lab.

NASA crashed a helicopter — again — but don't worry, nobody got hurt and, just like last time, it was done all in the name of science.

A crew of crash test dummies took the brunt of the crash as a CH-46E Sea Knight donated by the U.S. Navy was dropped from a height of 35 feet, hitting the ground at about 30 mph. Data from the test will be used to help make helicopters safer for occupants in accidents.

This was the second crash test at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, after a similar drop in August 2013. This time the helicopter was fitted with composite components in the subfloor to test how well they hold up to the abuse.

Footage of the crash was captured by 40 cameras of various speeds. Researchers will use the video along with sensor data to evaluate the test results. NASA said early indications show this recent drop produced a more forceful impact than last year's, yet created higher longitudinal loads with less crushing of the subfloor than expected.

Still, watching the video of the violent drop, this is a crash-landing only a dummy would want to experience.

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