On the right flight path
After the US Army, the RAF operates the largest fleet of Chinook Support Helicopters and employs them in three operational squadrons. They are used in a heavy-lift element capacity for the Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) and can carry up to 55 troops or 10 tonnes of freight. They also perform a secondary role; carrying out search and rescue and casualty evacuation duties, in which, up to 24 stretchers can be carried.
Playing such a vital lifeline role for troops on active duties, in hostile terrains such as Afghanistan, demands that the amount of time they are out of commission is kept to the very minimum. When being stored, serviced or transported across land, they need to be protected against the elements in diverse environments, ranging from cold weather ‘arctic’ conditions to desert warfare operations.
The Fine Group has assisted the RAF in this respect by designing and manufacturing a number of bespoke covers to protect sensitive parts of the Chinook; having successfully tendered for the project. The different covers required were diverse in size and shape and included those for the cockpit, pylon aperture, rotor
head and rotor blades, the latter being nine metres in length. The covers are currently undergoing functional road tests and the Fine Group is working on a fitting instruction manual.
Working with the RAF in this way has been very “hands on” with various members of the Fine Group’s Design and Technical teams making frequent visits on site to ensure that these bespoke covers were fit for purpose. Clearly, in the Theatre of War there can be no excuses for not getting it
The Fine Group has also worked with the RAF on thermal windscreen covers for their Puma helicopters. In hot climates helicopter screens are susceptible to thermal shock, causing them to crack as temperatures rise rapidly from lower nighttime levels.
The result was a tight-fitting, lightweight cover that protects against windscreen scratching by dust and grit. Production was fast tracked at The Fine Group’s UK manufacturing base in Wembley, as the covers were required for current deployments.
Updated: 5/20/2015 12:41