Procurement: December 7, 1999


The Navy and Marines want to acquire some Bell-Agusta BA-609 small tilt-rotor aircraft (which carry 6-9 passengers) for use in training pilots to fly the larger Osprey. The Coast Guard wants the handy little BA-609 for coastal search and rescue work. The problem has been getting Congress to come up with the money. Bell-Agusta has recently offered to lease the aircraft to the three sea services, which would take them out of the politically-fractious procurement budget. --Stephen V Cole

The US Army is testing an airbag system for the UH-60 BlackHawk helicopter. During recent tests, pilots were able to retain control of the aircraft when the airbags were deliberately triggered in flight, simulating a false-alarm triggering by the automatic system. The Cockpit Air Bag System surrounds the two pilots with airbags, keeping their heads and upper bodies from being whipped about during a crash. The system provides some limited protection from injury to the pilots by sharp objects inside the aircraft.--Stephen V Cole


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