A consortium led by Scott Aviation has been contracted by the US Department of Defense (DoD) to supply more than 76,000 protective masks to US military aircrew.

The Joint Service Aircrew Mask (JSAM) will provide head, eye and respiratory protection against chemical and biological threats. It is intended for aircrew of all military aircraft with the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines from 2006.

The DoD has already taken delivery of two prototype masks, one suitable for helicopters and transport aircraft, and a second suitable for tactical aircraft. The second mask can function and ensure continuous oxygen supply during high-g manoeuvres.

The units are fitted with filters that protect against chemical and biological agents. JSAM specifications stipulate that the masks provide eye and respiratory protection with a quantitative fit factor (QFF) of 20,000 against a vapour concentration of 20,000mg/min/m3 for chemical agents and a QFF of 50,000 against biological agents. QFF is the ratio of agent concentration outside the mask to that inside. Protection can be provided for up 16h.

The specialised oxygen mask and breathing valve developed for the tactical version allows pilots to breathe pressurised air during manoeuvres of up to 9g.

"The mask has potential commercial applications, including protection for firefighting and other hazardous environments," says UK research agency Qinetiq, a member of the winning consortium.

Following a three-year development and evaluation phase, the consortium is embarking on a four-year $21 million further development phase and will begin delivering the JSAMs from 2006, with all examples delivered by 2011.

Source: Flight International