SII Receives $6M USAF Development Contract

July 18, 2008 -- Asheville, NC

Survival Innovations, Inc., located in Arden, was awarded a contract on Friday by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to create a unique head and neck restraint system for fighter pilots.

The contract funds Survival Innovations to adapt their patented Head and Neck Restraint System for use in aircraft equipped with ejection seats.  The system will undergo rigorous testing on both mannequins and human subjects.

“This contract award is further proof that Western North Carolina is an important center for high-technology solutions to keep our fighting men and women safe,” said Representative Heath Shuler. “I am particularly proud that this contract was awarded to a disabled veteran-owned small business, and I commend the employees of Survival Innovations for their proven record of quality and innovation.” 

“Our Head and Neck Restraint System concept has the potential to resolve a long-standing issue with neck injuries during high-speed ejection,” said Leon Rhodes, president of Survival Innovations. “We look forward to tailoring this product for the benefit of our military aircrews.”

Improvements in military aircraft technology require better performance by the escape system. Faster ejection intensifies the loads placed on the head.  New devices mounted on the helmet add to the weight supported by the neck, increasing the danger of injury.

Prototypes of the system have been tested at both military and commercial facilities. Early models were tested by the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy.  High-speed ejection sled tests were performed in Ireland in 2007.

“Test data indicate that we are entering a new realm of biomechanical protection for fighter pilots,” said Rhodes.

Survival Innovations began development of the Head and Neck Restraint System in 2004 and patented the device in 2006. 

Located in Arden, Survival Innovations was founded in 2004 as a disabled veteran-owned small business.  The key employees total more than 130 years of experience in the aviation life support industry.  Survival Innovations has developed and tested ejection seats, survival vests, flotation collars, restraint harnesses, and chemical-biological protective gear.

Survival Innovations’ recent contracts involved design and service of equipment for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Border Patrol, and Camlock (UK) Ltd.  Manufacturing contracts were awarded for ejection seat components, restraint devices, parachute system components, chemical-biological vests, and survival equipment pockets.

Survival Innovations has also been instrumental in upgrading military laboratory test equipment, such as horizontal accelerator, windblast, and ejection tower facilities.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.