The Israeli air force is considering introducing an altitude hold and hovering stabilisation system now in use by its Sikorsky CH-53 assault helicopters to additional rotorcraft types, the service says.

Acquired after a 1997 mid-air collision between two CH-53s that killed 73 Israeli soldiers and aircrew, the design enables the aircraft to hover safely over an area of just 1m2 (10ft2)at an altitude as low as 3m (10ft). The air force took the lead in developing the system in 2002 after trials of an off-the-shelf design from US firm DRS-IAS fell short under harsh operating conditions, such as dust and smoke.

The operational system comprises a computer which receives inputs from the aircraft's flight control system, GPS/INS navigation suite and other onboard sensors.

"With hand off the collective, the system responds to every outside condition and compensates with counter-movements," says an air force pilot. DRS has already sold the system to other undisclosed air force customers.

Source: Flight International