Next Generation Seat Cushion for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Helicopter
December 2011 – Asheville, North Carolina
LME® and Survival Innovations have released the next generation Seat Cushion Set for the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter, with production expected to begin in 2012.
The Kiowa helicopter, in service since 1969, remains a steadfast tool in the war on terrorism. The OH-58D Kiowa Warrior serves an armed reconnaissance role, providing observation and direct fire support. In 2008, the OH-58D Program Manager selected the LME® Seat Cushion Set as a fully Air Worthiness Certified replacement cushion for all the OH-58D aircraft in the Army inventory.
Throughout 2011, LME® and Survival Innovations worked directly with Army PEO Aviation to evaluate surveys of helicopter crewmembers based on actual combat flight experiences. Design modifications incorporated the reconfiguring of cushions to a multi-piece seat back cushion and larger lumbar support. Other revisions were made to extend the already superior service life of the product. Test units were provided for a rigorous flight test evaluation, resulting in a “thumbs up” from the battlefield aviators.
The new OH-58D Seat Cushion Set consists of a Bottom Cushion Assembly, a two-piece Back Cushion Assembly, and a Lumbar Support Assembly. Inflatable Bladders are provided for both thigh support and lumbar support, easily adjusted in flight to individual comfort levels.
“LME® and Survival Innovations are dedicated to providing a product that allows the crewmember to focus on the mission,” said Jason Smith, Vice President of Survival Innovations. “We actively solicited user input, and the excellent response allows us to keep up with the changing needs of our military aviators.”
The adaptable configurations of the cushion set allows crewmembers to tailor the installation to personal comfort, thereby reducing fatigue that results from extended flight scenarios. The design also addresses issues of accommodating diverse mission equipment requirements by allowing a variable distance between the occupant and the seat back to be maintained while providing lumbar and back support.
Last year, a Kiowa Warrior pilot on leave from duty in Afghanistan dropped by Survival Innovations to praise the comfort and durability of the seat cushions.
“What better evaluation could a company ask for?” said Jason Smith. “That’s what we like to hear. And the next generation cushion is even better.”
The Kiowa Warrior seat cushion design and manufacture is the result of a teaming agreement between LME®, Survival Innovations, and Dynamic Systems. A patent is pending for the unique design.