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MD Helicopters to Qualify Ballistic Tolerant Crashworthy Fuel System

MD 530F. Photo By Dan Megna.

Military Need sees MD and Robertson Fuel Systems team up for common Military goal.

MD Helicopters and Tempe, Arizona-based Robertson Fuel Systems announced in a press release today that both companies have joined forces to jointly develop under an agreement  between the two that will see the two companies develop the next generation of ballistic tolerant crashworthy fuel systems (BTCWFS) for MDHI’s family of military helicopters. MD Helicopters and Robertson will work together to qualify the BTCWFS for 369FF type– certified aircraft with a U.S. Army Airworthiness Release (AWR). MDHI has initiated an internal R&D program for airframe provisions to support this effort, and to ensure compliance with all future FAR 27 certification requirements. MD anticipates receipt of airworthy release status by the end of 2017. Military certifications, although at times much more strict in design and delivery specifications, are processed in a much more timely manner than the civilian STC program in the United States that often requires ongoing months of testing and retesting to meet FAA specifications to obtain an STC.

The MD530F still holds favor with the U.S military efforts in Afghanistan as an easy to use solution for Afghani Military. Photo by MD Helicopters.
The MD530F still holds favor with the U.S military efforts in Afghanistan as an easy to use solution for Afghani Military. Photo by MD Helicopters.

Our commitment to the continued advancement of our fleet is matched only by our unwavering support of and service to the warfighter,” said Lynn Tilton, Chief Executive Officer for MD Helicopters. “369FF (Known as the MD500/530 in civilian markets) type-certified helicopters have long been heralded as among the safest ever manufactured, and have been preferred by U.S. and Allied militaries since the Vietnam Era. With this enhanced qualification, our already proven light scout attack fleet will be further prepared to execute their missions and better able to protect their crew.

Driven by an urgent requirement from our military operators, we have partnered with Robertson Fuel Systems to ensure our ballistic tolerant crashworthy fuel system exceeds all requirements for self-sealing, fuel containment, survivability and ease of installation and maintenance.

It is our honor to partner with MD Helicopters on the qualification of a ballistic tolerant crashworthy fuel system for the MD 530,” said Robertson Fuel Systems’ Chief Executive Officer Newman Shufflebarger. “We believe our expertise as a global leader in the development of military-grade fuel systems made us a natural choice for this effort, but it is our shared commitment to excellence, to exceeding operator expectations, and, ultimately, to the safety and security of the warfighter that truly makes this a perfect partnership.

The Ballistic Tolerant Crashworthy Fuel System will feature:

  • Self-sealing fuel cells
  • Crashworthy bladders compliant to MIL-DTL-27422
  • Gravity feed auxiliary fuel transfer
  • Compatibility with 38-gal LBATS
  • Accessibility for easy maintenance
  • Combat proven performance

We are excited to collaborate with a company having Robertson’s breadth and depth of experience developing and perfecting military-grade fuel systems for combat aircraft,” said Mike Bartlett, Vice President of Product Engineering for MD Helicopters, Inc. “We are confident this development will enhance the already exemplary record of 369FF type-certified helicopters, and continue to provide the modern warfighter with the safety and survivability they deserve.

MD also added that all future U.S. Army Foreign Military Sales of armed MD 530 aircraft will include the BTCWFS as the baseline fuel system to increase the safety offering on the MD 530 range. Robertson Fuel Systems is also the manufacturer of the only retrofit capable crash resistant fuel tank for the AS-350 range that performed its first flight recently. MD’s range of helicopters has had CRFS in the civilian marketplace for decades with the exception of military models.

In addition to delivering military rotorcraft aviators unmatched safety and survivability,” Tilton concludes, “the completion of this effort will also increase auxiliary fuel capacity for our MD 530 gunships by 65%, improving range and endurance, and broadening the performance envelope for an ever-expanding array of mission profiles.

MD Helicopters CEO, Powerhouse female business identity Lynn Tilton (seen here with Heliweb Magazine Photographer Tim Pruitt at Heli-Expo 2016) continues to push the envelope on the military sales for MD, doing whatever possible to assist the growth of the company she bought back from the brink after years of poor sales and lack of support under previous ownership. Photo by Colt Roy.
MD Helicopters CEO, Powerhouse female business identity Lynn Tilton (seen here with Heliweb Magazine Photographer Tim Pruitt at Heli-Expo 2016) continues to push the envelope on the military sales for MD, doing whatever possible to assist the growth of the company she brought back from the brink after years of poor sales and lack of support under previous ownership. Photo by Colt Roy.

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