US-based Kennon has received a small business innovation research (SBIR) grant from Nasa to develop a lightweight, compact raft and inflation system to improve crew survival in the launch, entry, and abort phases of flight.

In addition, the US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) awarded an active SBIR Phase II grant to Kennon to develop lighter, more durable life preservers and rafts for aviation survivors ditching into water.

These next-generation emergency solutions are expected to offer reduced weight and bulk by approximately 50% along with enhanced reliability.

Kennon Research and Development (R&D) vice-president Mark Weitz said: "The two systems really go hand in hand, and the advances made in each project will directly benefit the other.

"The leveraging of each agency’s research and development resources to benefit one another is a great use of precious R&D dollars."

"The two systems really go hand in hand, and the advances made in each project will directly benefit the other."

The existing multi-person raft is heavy and difficult to deploy in an emergency situation as these equipments have not received many alterations since the initial design in the 1950s.

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The current bulky rafts also consume significant cargo space on-board aircraft and spaceships.

According to Kennon, its new technology will allow the company to develop rafts that offer 70% less weight when compared to the existing solutions. In addition, it will be able to offer better strength and durability.

Manufacturer of protective coverings, Kennon uses technical fabrics and materials, along with expert fabrication methods to protect high-value assets from damage.

Image: Navy air crewman during a simulated rescue mission in the pool at Aviation Survival Training Center (ASTC) Miramar. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by photographer’s mate 2nd class Daniel R Mennuto (RELEASED).