Helicopter Rapid Descent System

The Air Force Research Lab sponsored a team of students to design and build a descent sys-tem for soldiers to exit airborne aircraft that will either improve upon or replace the functional purpose of fast roping. Fast roping is the current method used by the United States military to achieve quick insertion of troops from rotary air-craft onto the ground. The sponsorship took the form of a university competition in which various schools from across the country each came up with solutions for the problem, with the end goal of creating a safer system for our troops.

The team ultimately designed and built a friction brake device that is actuated in two ways: first by squeezing a hand lever that offers a 10x mechanical advantage, and second by using the operator’s own body weight to actuate the press bar with a 1x mechanical advantage. This allows for the device to work equally well for someone weighing 100lbs or 400lbs. The device differs from standard rappelling devices in that it does not rely on bending or de-flecting the rope in any way to achieve stopping power. This is a neces-sary feature because there are often 2 or 3 people descending on the same rope at the same time, and more traditional devices would bind when the rope is loaded in such a manner, similar to how a belay stops a rappeller by tensioning the rope.

The “Ground Aide” or “GrnAde” device, as named by the team, will com-pete in the AFRL University Challenge in Tennessee on April 19th against 12 other universities, including the military academies. BYU has tradition-ally done very well in these competitions and this year’s team is confident that its descent mechanism will perform extremely well and represent Brigham Young University and the college of engineering in the highest manner.

School Year (term): 
Air Force Research Laboratory
Team Name: 
Y Descent
Van Rogers
Team Members: 
Alex Avila - Braquel Burnett, Jorge Carrillo Keenan Eves, Parker Schnepf, Sam Shields

Brigham Young University - Provo | Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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