France’s Musthane has invented a 20x20m Helicopter Landing Mat that is specially designed for desert use, overcoming the problems of ‘brown-out’ and foreign object damage that occur when operating from unprepared desert surfaces.
It has taken more than four years of research and development (and three pending patents) to bring the mat to market, but the company suggests that it provides a quantum shift in safety, compactness and speed of deployment.
According to Musthane (Stand 07-B22), it is the innovative combination of polymers, composite materials and technical textiles that allows its Helicopter Landing Mat to exceed the performances of existing rapidly deployable plastic or metallic mats.
The mats are of double-ply, rubber-coated, anti-skid, abrasion-resistant fabric construction, reinforced with composite rods. This allows the use of heavy ground support equipment around the helicopter, even on soft ground with a lower California bearing ratio rating.
Moreover, Musthane claims its mat is 100 per cent impermeable to mud and sand, and that it is easier to remove from wet and muddy ground than other solutions, as well as being repairable and easy to clean. The basic product can be customised (in colour, size and surface markings) to meet individual customer requirements.
While most existing deployable Helipad solutions use heavy metallic stakes to fix them to the ground, the new Musthane mat uses a lightweight anchoring design comprising an anchor, a flexible link and an arming and blocking device.
The mat is compact and of light weight, and can be stowed in an air-portable box measuring 3x1.2x1.2m and weighing just 1,000kg. Installation and removal take a four-man team less than three hours.