Saelig Company, Inc. (Saelig) has introduced the improved Sensor Technology HeliNav-LoadMaster - an intelligent load sensor designed for use in weight-lifting workhorse helicopters. The wireless HeliNav TrackMaster sensing system simply incorporates a strain gauge into the underslung cargo load hook.
Inclinometers have been added so that it can be used with three-point fixing for large loads; a new receiver wirelessly collects live load data for analysis, interpretation and reporting, and a new touch-sense display gives real-time information on operational variables to aid calculation of flight and operational profiles. The Load Sensor works in the license-free 2.4GHz band using dual antennas and advanced error-correcting technologies to send and receive data error-free. Data is transmitted to a compatible cockpit-mounted full-color touch display. Data can also be stored internally. Its built-in 32Mb memory can hold up to 280 hours of data, which can then be downloaded to a PC via a USB cable. The HeliNav LoadMaster sensor is available in ranges from 1.5 to 10 tons. This system marries GPS tracking guidance with load sensing and other intelligent functions to automatically optimize complex operations such as load safety, spraying, and random load billing.
Helicopter-based tree extractions can now be safely accomplished in inaccessible or environmentally-sensitive areas, e.g. in forests where the ground is water-logged, or areas of special interest, insuring minimal disruption to the environment. When lifting stone from a quarry to a hillside, it is currently very difficult to know the exact weight of each load and the total distance flown during the day. HeliNav-LoadMaster keeps exact records, accurate to the kilogram and meter. The data can be quickly downloaded and the customer accurately invoiced immediately. HeliNav-LoadMaster takes the guesswork out of commercial operations. Crop spraying and fire-fighting water bombing are other ideal applications. When multiple flights are needed, HeliNav LoadMaster can ensure that the second drop starts exactly where the first finished. This guarantees even coverage and efficient use of sprays or fire retardant. Another significant feature is that, as the supply bucket empties, its flow will naturally slow down; HeliNav-LoadMaster can compensate for this by gradually opening the release valve in proportion to the weight of remaining spray. GPS can also be used, in conjunction with standard SHAPE files, to avoid houses, streams, lakes, roads, etc.
With both Windows and LabView software embedded in the unit, operation is not only simple, it is also familiar to today's pilots, making training unnecessary. Additionally, a remote monitor can be used by ground crew to double-check loads. Because the unit is simply slung under the aircraft, it is easy to move a single unit between a fleet of several operational helicopters.
The HeliNav LoadMaster is made by Sensor Technology, one of Europe's premier torque transducer suppliers, and is available from their USA distributor Saelig Company, Inc. Fairport, NY.