Vector Aerospace and RFS complete first AS350 CRFT flight test


Vector Aerospace and its partner Robertson Fuel Systems (RFS) has completed the first test flight of its crash-resistant fuel tank (CRFT), developed for the Airbus AS350 light single helicopter family.

The test was conducted to help the retrofittable CRFT to receive the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certifications and follows an FAA-certified 50ft drop test that confirmed the tank’s ability to withstand impact without any leakage, helping to prevent post-crash fires.

The new CRFT has already been installed on two flight test aircraft, which includes an AS350 B2 and an AS350 B3, with both undergoing extensive ground-testing activities.

Both Vector and RFS are planning to continue the flight-test programme over the next few weeks with an aim to receive the FAA supplemental type certificate (STC) later this year.

Vector Aerospace CRFT programme manager Jeff Booker said: “This milestone is a testament to the team here at Vector, which has been working hard to bring this product to market for our customers.

"This milestone is a testament to the team here at Vector."

“As soon as the drop testing was complete we began the process of installation to move us into this new test phase.”

The CRFT, jointly being developed by Vector and RFS, is set to replace the existing tanks on all the AS350 models, including H125 (AS350 B3e) and EC130 B4.

The tank features a crash-resistant fuel bladder and uses a number of innovations, including a magneto-resistive fuel-quality transmitter to keep the tank from being compromised in the event of an accident.

Vector is also working together with Onboard Systems to incorporate its cargo swing solutions as a compatible option that can be used with the new crash-resistant fuel tank.


Image: An Airbus AS350 light single helicopter family helicopter. Photo: courtesy of Vector Aerospace.