Cabin Solutions for the STH-Program – The best equipment for troops
RELLIGEN, Germany, 6 March, 2018 – For several months now, Sikorsky, A Lockheed Martin Company and the German aviation company AUTOFLUG have been in talks regarding cooperation in the planned new purchase of heavy-lift transport helicopters for German armed forces.
Sikorsky and AUTOFLUG signed a Letter of Intent to collaborate more closely together on AUTOFLUG’s equipment portfolio and Sikorsky’s CH-53K helicopter for the German STH program. AUTOFLUG views Sikorsky CH-53K as the most modern aircraft solution in the Heavy Lift Market and would assure the Germany Air Force has the safest and most technological aircraft with the best equipment available today. Each company views this as an opportunity to expand beyond only the STH Program for potential requirements in both the military and civilian markets. AUTOFLUG is a leader in aircraft seats, mission equipment for MedEvac and auxiliary fuel systems.
The companies have held talks regarding the CH-53K, the newly developed, state-of-the-art, heavy-lift transport helicopter made by Sikorsky, which is competing to be the successor to Sikorsky’s CH-53 GS/GA currently being flown in Germany. AUTOFLUG is already developing safety seats for current German fleet to improve crash safety for its remaining service life. The seating systems also have a low weight and are extremely quick to fit and remove, as well as being durable with no maintenance, and providing the occupant with maximum freedom of movement. If the requirements remain the same or similar for its potential successor, AUTOFLUG could adapt for a configuration of up to 48 troop seats in the CH-53K, with minimal development effort. The management of AUTOFLUG is sure that an important factor in the selection process of the successor to the CH-53 GS/GA will be the ratio of German industry in the overall program. A high degree of German participation is the precondition for a high level of constant availability during the planned life-time of the helicopters to be procured.
As part of the ILA 2018 in Berlin, AUTOFLUG will present not only a first prototype of a possible troop seat, but also an additional tank solution for the range extension of the
CH-53K. This will be done within the framework of Sikorsky’s Team STH CH-53K Supplier Chalet”, where in addition to AUTOFLUG, other German industry teammates to Sikorsky will exhibit their possible products and services for the CH-53K program.
The newly developed helicopter seat from AUTOFLUG should be lightweight, robust and extremely safe. After one year of development, AUTOFLUG presented the result to the world public for the first time this week at the HAI Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, USA – AUTOFLUG FLYWEIGHT®. “We have not only reached the set of goals,” says Björn Kanstorf, Head of the Business Unit Cabin Solutions at AUTOFLUG, “rather a seat family has emerged on the basis of which nearly all requirements for modern cabin layouts in civilian helicopters can be realized.“ Thanks to the use of state-of-the-art composite materials in the production of the seat-shell and the sophisticated design, the AUTOFLUG FLYWEIGHT® seats are among the lightest seats on the market. The energy absorption system used to achieve high crash-safety is a proven system that has been used for several years. “Right from the start, my team was looking for the best compromise between proven technology and innovative approaches,” continues Kanstorf. Only in this way has it been possible to realize a seat with a weight of less than 9 kg in the basic configuration. However, the family approach hides more than just a seat. The concept includes a variety of features that can be combined on the basis of three configurations. Depending on the purpose, desired flight time and comfort level, there is the right FLYWEIGHT® seat for a wide variety of helicopter cabins. The seats are also characterized by a modern design that can be custom-tailored in numerous details.
AUTOFLUG has been actively involved in the development and production of seating systems in military helicopters for more than a decade. In the current development of a seat-family for civil applications, it was thus possible to draw on a tremendous amount of experience from a large number of different projects. Initial discussions with major OEMs in the helicopter industry have shown keen interest in the modern and safety-oriented approach of the AUTOFLUG FLYWEIGHT® seating solutions.
“A substantially extended range of applications and increasingly stringent requirements for usability in various mission scenarios require optimization of modularity, ergonomics and especially the crash safety of seating systems.”
In this statement from Björn Kanstorf, Manager of the Business Unit Cabin Solutions at the company AUTOFLUG, the subject is the latest developments of crash-safety for the occupants of the latest generation of military helicopters. “Especially the increase in the load on seating, due to highly developed personal equipment and the accompanying increase in weight also calls for light seating systems to realize efficient use of the air vehicles”, adds Kanstorf.
Recently, the medium-sized company AUTOFLUG received the order for adaptation of the in-house developed passenger seats for use in CH-53 in the GS configuration as currently used in the German armed forces. The
modification of all machines in service is to begin immediately after the development stage.
The main characteristics of the new seating system are very low dead weight, flexible and fast installation and dismantling in the helicopter to achieve optimal “mission flexibility”, and substantially increased occupant protection, especially in the event of a crash.
The family concept worked out at AUTOFLUG for such seating systems enables swift development and qualification. At the same time it allows swift reaction to new operational, ergonomic and safety-relevant requirements. For example, AUTOFLUG, based in Northern Germany, has also been entrusted with the development of a special “Mission Troop Seat” for the NATO helicopter NH90, which will be put to use on the basis of the requirements of a user nation in its organizations. Use by further user states is, however, possible at any time. The seats in this development only represent a component which can be built up into a complete cabin system with a large number of further items of equipment. The solutions here range from stretchers for the transport of the wounded through a wide range of storage solutions for items of equipment to special racks for the storage of “personal survival packs”, PSPs for short, to make survival possible in emergency. All components of the AUTOFLUG airFLEX family of products are here optimally coordinated with each other, thus ensuring the efficient use of the limited available space in helicopter cabins.
Mit Wirkung zum 1. Januar 2017 tritt Herr Martin Kroell (40) in die Geschäftsführung der AUTOFLUG GmbH ein. Herr Kroell wird neben seinen bisherigen Aufgaben Vertrieb und Geschäftsentwicklung künftig als Geschäftsführer auch die Bereiche Operations und Entwicklung verantworten. Herr Kroell ist bereits seit 2013 im Unternehmen tätig.
Herr Andreas Sedlmayr wird als geschäftsführender Gesellschafter weiterhin die kaufmännische Verantwortung des Unternehmens
AUTOFLUG took another strategic step in the development of its international sales network last month when it launched a long-term partnership with Yepsan SSH. Under the initial contract, YEPSAN SSH will be the exclusive distributor of all AUTOFLUG products on the Turkish market. “YEPSAN will have access to advanced AUTOFLUG technology, and together, we will be able to develop the Turkish market with innovative safety solutions”, said Andreas Sedlmayr at the official signing of the contract in Ankara on April 7.
In the longer term, however, the partnership will not be limited to distribution by Yepsan. A second contract is gradually to establish some aspects of production at Yepsan sites in Turkey. This will not only offer logistical advantages, it will also create value added in Turkey – which could be extremely useful in meeting offset requirements, not least as regards the aviation sector. Yepsan already has manufacturing expertise in metalworking and also in textiles; the latter is for example key to production of AUTOFLUG GmbH’s leading global textile safety seat solutions.
“Growing demand for our safety solutions, in particular in the aviation and ground vehicle sector, is challenging us to find efficient solutions. Our top priority is constantly to adapt our products to the needs of our users so that we can offer maximum safety and the best possible protection.” YEPSAN already meets the strict military and aviation quality requirements and is therefore an ideal partner for rapidly achieving long-term goals.