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Sensor flies conservation into new levels of control

07 August 2015

An innovative device that simultaneously senses a helicopter’s position and weighs the load it is carrying is being used as part of a programme that brings together the expertise of the National Parks, the National Trust, Natural England to restore the UK's upland peat moors to their natural state and protect their vital ecosystems.

The HeliNav TrackMaster is a simple and accurate system that simultaneously monitors underslung loads and logs actual flight paths while also providing navigational guidance. Over the last few years Heli-Lift Services has worked closely with Sensor Technology to develop, test and prove the HeliNav TrackMaster. The concept behind HeliNav TrackMaster is based on incorporating a strain gauge into the cargo hook that carries a helicopter’s underslung load.

The wireless load sensor is a strain gauge-based stainless steel tension type sensor. It has the capability of wirelessly transmitting its data to a readout where it both displays live readings and records them to build up an exact profile of each operation.

Its inbuilt 32MBit memory can hold up to 280 hours of data, which can then be downloaded to a PC via its USB cable. The Load Sensor transmits using the worldwide licence-free frequency of 2.4GHz using two built-in antennae.

The readouts can be cockpit-mounted for the pilot’s use or handheld by an assistant on the ground (in fact, signals can even be transmitted to multiple control units simultaneously).