Leonardo has modified helmets and oxygen masks to keep pilots safe from getting infected from COVID-19 infection.
“As the situation surrounding Covid-19 evolves, Leonardo Helicopters (UK) has found unique ways to adapt social distancing methods to the cockpit ensuring crew safety. An innovative helmet and oxygen mask modification now means the crew can operate the aircraft whilst in close proximity to each other in the cockpit,” the company said Wednesday.
These were developed by Leonardo Helicopters’ (UK) Deputy Chief Test Pilot, Charlie Pickup, who was assisted by Safety Equipment Officer, Les Medhurst and the Structural and Mechanical Test Engineering Department, Dave Jenkins, Will Miller and Andy Chilcott.
“We have taken our existing oxygen mask, which is compatible with our helmets/visors and has a built-in microphone for comms, and hose, and then connected a standard filter from an industrial Respiratory Protection equipment [RPE] face mask,” said Chief Test Pilot, Mark Burnand of Leonardo Helicopters.
Burnand said further how the filters have a screw thread which enables them to be replaced and the mask usually has one or two of the filters fitted.
He continued: “We have modified the end of the hose with a bespoke attachment which allows us to fit the filter effectively and also a connector that allows us to attach the assembly to our life vests securely.”
In addition to the regular personal protective equipment that the crews use including gloves, helmets with visors and layered flight clothing, the crews are utilising their existing oxygen masks and systems, designed for high altitude testing, in combination with the P3 RPE filters this ensures the crews receive uncontaminated air during their essential work. It is important to note that the aircraft maintenance team spend time cleaning the switches and controls with an alcohol solution prior to the crew entering the cockpit and this action is repeated when the crew completes its flight duties.
The new system also reduces the risk to and from the maintainers who service the aircraft before and after the flight. Leonardo Helicopters (UK) has design and operating approvals that permits Aircraft Equipment Assemblies via the Military Aviation Authority.
“We have a standard procedure to go through to evaluate any safety equipment that goes into our aircraft. We assessed the airflow when breathing to ensure no restriction in the flow, then looked at how the hose and filter fitted to our life preservers so that it did not become a loose article in the cockpit or a snagging hazard. We then conducted a cockpit assessment looking at normal cockpit operations and emergency egress with the equipment before final approval was granted.”