Flying over cold water is a hazard faced by military aviators, and one that is increasing as global threats emerge and move about. Ditching an aircraft in cold waters is dangerous and difficult. Egress is challenging under ditching conditions, and crew members who escape successfully can encounter immersion hypothermia in minutes if not properly protected. Aviators/aircraft are equipped with life preservers, insulating suits and inflatable rafts. Of the three, the life raft is considered the most versatile and functional component.
Kennon Products, Inc. of Sheridan, Wyoming has been awarded an SBIR Phase I grant from NAVAIR to develop lighter, more compact rafts, as well as lighter insulating suits, and a lighter, more reliable raft-filling system. Kennon is teaming with specialty material suppliers and fabricators, as well as engineering faculty at the University of Wyoming and Auburn University, with goals of developing solutions that are 1/3 the weight and 1/2 the bulk of current equipment.
Kennon was supported in developing this proposal via a Phase 0 grant from Wyoming’s SBIR Strategic Initiative (WSSI), a technology support arm of the Wyoming Business Council. Kennon will work over the next 6-9 months to produce prototypes that demonstrate how advanced materials and fabrication techniques can produce lighter, more effective cold water survival gear.
Kennon is a manufacturer of products that protect high value assets. This is one of several SBIR grants that Kennon has received from the Department of Defense. The company is currently commercializing products that have been derived from its earlier research.