CiES Inc. a Partner in Building Safer Helicopters
CiES, Inc., based in Bend, Oregon, is providing a critical component in a newly approved Crash-Resistant Fuel Tank system for helicopters. The new system was developed for AS350 & EC130 Series Airbus Helicopters in order to reduce helicopter fatalities resulting from a helicopter fuel tank rupturing, spilling fuel, and igniting. Thermal injuries from a post-crash fire are a significant cause of helicopter crash-related fatalities.
The FAA issued its approval for the new system earlier this week. CiES makes an innovative magnetic field fuel sensing technology that adapts easily to this new fuel protection system and to a variety of cockpit interfaces.
The new system was jointly developed by Vector Aerospace and Robertson Fuel Systems. Robertson is a premier manufacturer of U.S. military aircraft fuel systems; Vector Aerospace now part of Standard Aero a leading helicopter modification provider.
Since 2012 there have been three high profile crashes of medical evacuation helicopters; in each case the passengers survived the initial impact, but were killed by the fire caused by the ruptured and spilling fuel.
Under the solution developed by Robertson Fuel Systems, the fuel tank is lined internally by a flexible bladder. In a crash, the bladder flexes within the walls of the fuel tank and contains the fuel even though the tank structure is compromised or destroyed.
CiES manufactures an electronic magnetic field fuel measurement system that rides freely inside the bladder; it lacks any sharp edges or features that could puncture the bladder in a crash situation. CiES patented technology is a key component in the new tank design.
In developing a system, Airbus required that it measure fuel quantity to within 1.5 gallons on a 140-gallon tank, throughout the full range of fuel level. The CiES fuel measurement system was found to be accurate within several tenths of a gallon at all temperatures and fuel mixtures for this helicopter test. By comparison, it’s the equivalent of being within a cup or two of avgas on an average aircraft fuel system.
According to CiES founder and CEO Scott Philiben, “This is a major milestone in the growth and success of CiES and should represent millions of dollars in sales over the next two to three years, as medical evacuation and other helicopters are retrofitted with the new tank system.” Philiben continued, “we are already getting inquiries from other helicopter and turbine aircraft producers, in both military and civilian markets, about the new system.”
This innovative, safe and accurate fuel quantity system utilized in this modification is available for STC retrofit to a wide range of GA aircraft. It is hard to imagine, but a turbine quality fuel gauging system that can be retrofitted to any Beech, Cessna or Piper aircraft.
CiES is the largest U.S. producer of fuel quantity systems for aviation and supports small to commuter size aircraft for manufacturers located around the world.
" Gone are the mechanical fuel quantity gauges that used to live next to the fuel selector between the two seats.
Instead, new fuel-level senders with electronic fuel quantity data is displayed on-screen, providing far more precision than most mechanical fuel gauges.
The system helps keep fuel balanced between the left and right tank, periodically reminding the pilot to switch tanks with onscreen CAS alert messaging and warnings"