SIREX® PE foam protects search and rescue helicopters against corrosion

One of the tasks of the Belgian and Dutch Royal Air Force is to carry out search and rescue operations (SAR) in the North Sea. Belgian and Dutch NH90 helicopters carry out rescue operations off the Belgian and Dutch coast. In order to ensure that people who are rescued from drowning can be transported safely and to stop seawater from getting into the helicopter, Imbema SMT developed a drip pan made of PE foam.

Corrosive seawater

When a diver rescues a person from drowning in the sea, a lot of seawater is brought on board the helicopter. If that seawater was allowed to flow freely, it would corrode metal and composite components. It could also affect vital control electronics (avionics). For that reason, the person rescued from drowning and the diver are set down in a sail maker’s drip pan which contains the corrosive seawater.

Foam edge

It was important for the edges around the drip pan to retain their shape, even if subjected to pressure, for example. An edge made of rigid unforgiving material was therefore not an option. The decision was made to call in the experts from Imbema SMT. They developed a soft but dimensionally stable edge made of SIREX® PE foam.

Compliance with stringent aviation requirements

Besides being dimensionally stable, the solution also had to comply with the stringent requirements that apply in the military aviation sector, such as fire requirements. The edge made of SIREX® PE foam met all the requirements and was awarded the certification required. The foam edges are now being used in SAR helicopters.

Video of NH90 helicopter

Watch this YouTube video to find out more about the NH90 helicopter and its rescue missions from the Belgian airbase at Koksijde.

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