External Airbag System for Increasing the Small Aircraft Safety during Emergency Landing

Adaptronica was the leader of the consortium, which carries out an international research project within the framework of the European Program Eurostars 2, through the National Center for Research and Development in Poland. Project title: “SOFTLAND – Airbag system for increasing the small aircraft safety during emergency landing”, E113407. Partner: Zall Jihlavan Airplanes s.r.o. , Czech Republic

Project assumptions:

  • an external airbag used together with a parachute
  • velocity reduction from 7.5 m/s (only parachute) to 2.5 m/s
  • acceleration reduction to 5 g
  • small weight
  • short unfolding time
  • no collision with the landing gear
  • possible installation in airplanes in use

Experimental stand:

  • dimensions: 4 x 9 m
  • load capacity: 1200 kg
  • measurements:
    • accelerations
    • pressure in the airbag
    • fast camera (dispalcement & velocity)

Experimental model - ironbird

  • mass: 350 - 600 kg
  • moments of inertia and geometry of the
    bottom part like in the Skyleader 600

Main results:

Reduction of velocity to 2.5 m/s reduction of acceleration to 5 g

First flight test


initiation via the parachute: +
rejection of the cover: +
correct shape: +
opening time: +
energy dissipation: + / -

The flight test needs to be repeated due to the aircraft's unexpected position after release from the helicopter.

Upscaling of the system for a 1200 kg helicopter

From prototype to market:

  • account for horizontal velocity at touchdown
  • more flight tests in various conditions
  • better integration with the airplane e.g. external cover
  • certification of the whole system