Delivering Technology, Innovation and Solutions


Integrated System Solutions

Airborne Systems is the undisputed leader in the design and development of Entry, Descent and Landing Systems (EDLS) for space applications. From Human Spaceflight applications to Planetary Probes; from Parachutes (Ballistic & Ram Air) to Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (IAD); and from Mid-Air Retrieval (MAR) to Landing Attenuation & Flotation Systems, Airborne Systems has extensive experience with space applications.

Unmatched Technical Skills and Innovative Capabilities

Airborne Systems engineers bring unmatched technical skills and innovative capabilities to provide deceleration system solutions ranging from submunitions, personnel, cargo delivery, air launch, and large spacecraft recovery to aircraft spin and stall recovery systems.

Airborne Systems provides the most extensive range of engineering services to enhance the final product.

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Space Systems

Space Systems

Since the early days of the U.S. space program and the development of the recovery system for the Discoverer XIII reentry capsule (the first man made item ever recovered from orbit) Airborne Systems has been at the forefront of Entry, Descent & Landing System (EDLS) development for space and high...
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Air Systems

Air Systems

Airborne Systems has extensive experience and expertise in a variety of applications related to aircraft safety and effectiveness, weapons delivery and delivery of personnel and cargo to the warfighter. Aircraft applications include spin and stall recovery systems for flight test, aircraft escape systems – ejection seat and walk around, and aircraft...
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Inflatable Systems

Inflatable Systems

We have developed a wide range of inflatable products starting with production of hundreds of thousands of BSU-85 Air Inflatable Retarders in the 1960’s to the recent development of large scale Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerators (IADs) for NASA. This experience provides a significant capability to design, analyze, develop and fabricate inflatable and...
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  • Fabric Design
  • System Analysis
  • Control Systems
  • Program Management
  • System Engineering
  • Mechanical Design
  • Product Testing
  • Rigging, Packing and Product Support

Fabric Design

Fabric Design

Fabric design is central to all of our product development.  Our engineers are experts in the design and specification of fabrics including broadcloth, tape, webbing, cords, ropes and coated fabrics.  Airborne Systems is also expert in the joining of all classes of fabrics to create efficient structures for these dynamic fabric-based parachute systems.

Our Space and Recovery Systems engineers work with all modern fibers, and constantly track emerging technologies in fibers, fabrics, film, scrims and coatings.

System Analysis

System Analysis

System Analysis

Multiple structural and dynamic simulation capabilities are an integral part of the systems approach utilized by Airborne Systems to provide the best solution to our customer’s requirements.

Airborne Systems utilizes the Altair HyperWorks suite of engineering codes, and maintains numerous LS-DYNA licenses.  Airborne Systems has pioneered the use of LS-DYNA to perform parachute Fluid Structure Interaction (FSI) simulations.

Parachute Trajectory Modeling and Simulation

An extensive analysis capability exists within Airborne Systems to reliably predict parachute system performance.  MIDAS (Multiple Independent Decelerator Analysis Simulation) is the Airborne Systems developed, industry leading, 6 DOF recovery system trajectory and loads analysis code.  MIDAS is grounded in decades of parachute system testing and includes all of the higher order terms of parachute deployment and inflation including:

  • Time dependent parachute drag area, including highly nonlinear responses
  • Parachute apparent mass growth during inflation
  • Cargo/payload aerodynamic terms
  • Variable atmospheres, Earth or off-planet
  • GRAMM wind profiles
  • Integrated Monte Carlo scripts for system stochastic assessments

Control Systems

Whether for test, demonstration or production flight, Airborne Systems controllers integrate easily with the pyrotechnic and electro-mechanical class actuators common in recovery systems. Other Airborne Systems products have been space-qualified.

Airborne Systems controllers fly daily in aircraft spin and stall recovery systems for many customers. These systems control both pyrotechnic and servomotor devices. Test (BIT) systems have both enhanced flight test safety and reduced system maintenance between flights.

In addition, customers can count on Airborne Systems knowledge of recovery system controller design to support their own designs. Our full knowledge of BIT integration and pyrotechnic device safety and testing are available to support our customers’ controller design and development requirements.

Program Management

Airborne Systems experienced managers provide customers extensive and thorough program management ensuring each program meets identified objectives.

Airborne Systems recognizes that effective project management is one of the key elements required to ensure successful execution of any project. Our Space and Recovery Systems team are experienced project managers who prepare a detailed report of cost, schedule, and technical performance on a regular monthly basis. This cost, schedule and technical performance reporting can be a method to achieve significant cost improvement.

Airborne Systems routinely utilizes schedule management tools such as MS Project to develop an integrated master schedule and then monitor and track progress. As required, Airborne Systems can provide program control and reporting using an earned value management system.

Airborne Systems uses the Syspro management information system which provides timely and accurate cost tracking and reporting, as well as parts / inventory status and purchasing functions.

In addition to tracking against the agreed contract cost, the Airborne Systems program manager regularly reassesses progress against each work breakdown schedule (WBS) item and compares the expenditures against the work completed. This data is presented via estimate to complete / estimate at complete reports. These data, when combined with the progress tracking and the integrated master schedule allows earned value to be assessed and reported.

Airborne Systems has an established supplier base to support its engineering and large-scale manufacturing operations. All suppliers of parts and materials are assessed against Airborne Systems requirements before being entered onto an approved vendors list.

Configuration Management

Airborne Systems has a well-established Configuration Management program, documenting over 90 years of parachute design and manufacture. Configuration control is used to manage all changes to design and documentation throughout the life of a product, from the initial release of sketches for sample manufacture to the final Technical Data Package.

System Engineering

Understanding Customer Requirements

Airborne Systems applies extraordinary levels of system engineering to each project, delivering value to customers from the system engineering process while containing unnecessary costs.

Predictive Capabilities Unmatched in the Industry

System engineering tools including integrated master schedule/integrated master plan, specification compliance, validation tracking and risk assessment are included in all of our programs.

In addition to the development of internal specifications for fabric, parts and equipment, Airborne Systems engineering process also includes programmatic test plans, test reports, final verification matrices and reports.

More rigorous system engineering programs such as technical performance measurements, risk item tracking/database, and multi-level specification requirements databases are used as required by the size of the program or when directed by the customer.

Mechanical Design

Mechanical Design

Airborne Systems mechanical design expertise includes design of mechanical parts and mechanisms, as well as design of pyrotechnic devices.

Parts and Mechanisms

Metal parts and mechanisms are key parts of all recovery systems. These include metal fittings in the parachute structure, servo actuated devices, adaptive structures to interface with the customer vehicle, parachute compartmentation, and integration with pyrotechnic class controls and actuators.

Airborne Systems staff is expert in the mechanical design of these critical components. Airborne Systems engineers work with a wide range of tools for stress analysis, including linear, non-linear and topology and topography optimization.

Product Testing

Airborne Systems test capabilities are unique in the industry. Airborne Systems engineers are fully versed with all aspects of product testing from seam and joint element testing through highly complex, supersonic wind tunnel testing. Airborne Systems experience and knowledge base ensures that tests are conducted with the precision required to validate product performance to federal standards. Test capabilities include:

Tensile Test

Airborne Systems computer controlled tensile test machines are capable of testing the lightest sewing threads up to the highest tensile elements. This test capability is also used for parachute seam and joint testing to validate and verify assumptions made in our Design Analysis process.

Flight Testing & Qualification of Parachute Systems

Airborne Systems flight testing and parachute system qualification is unsurpassed in the industry. Airborne Systems engineers regularly design and conduct parachute flight tests with payloads ranging from 2 lb up to 7,500 lb in weight. Airborne Systems can configure any required weight or mass property. Airborne Systems test equipment includes programmer parachutes, time delay cutters and electronic sequencers that enable Space and Recovery Systems engineers to conduct testing at the highest fidelity possible. Airborne Systems experienced team conducts all aspects of aircraft drop testing including drop zone control, load masters and test jumpers. Airborne Systems also has proven experience working with a number of government agencies in the design and execution of drop tests with payloads up to 42,000 lb in weight.

Airborne Systems maintains dedicated test and drop facilities in several locations to accommodate and respond to various customer requirements. Typical test measurements include video, photo and on board instrumentation (loads, pressure, altitude, acceleration and GPS). Design enhancements and modifications are made on site as part of Airborne Systems continuing product development. Rigging and packing tables are also on site to facilitate training and the development of procedures. Several delivery aircraft are available for parachute testing including Twin Otter, Skyvan, B-25, C-123 and L-39. Test vehicles with a wide range of payloads are available and utilized as part of the parachute test and qualification. Depending on requirements, several drop zones are available with locations in Eloy, Yuma, and Kingman Arizona and Lake Elsinore, California.

Airbag Drop Testing

Space and Recovery Systems engineers are expert in scaled and full-scale testing of airbag landing systems. Local drop test facilities are available for testing of scaled and full scale vehicle models to 7500 lb depending on vehicle geometry. Other facilities are available for larger size and weight vehicles up to and including 50,000 to 60,000 lb weight class and full scale spacecraft/aircraft geometry.

Airborne Systems engineers are fully versed in the scaling of test results and relevant scaling laws. Airborne Systems has published detailed comparisons between scaled testing and full scale simulation.

Water Landing Systems Testing

Airborne Systems is expert in the testing of water landing systems, including direct entry and airbag landing attenuation for water landing. Space and Recovery Systems engineers are fully conversant in requirements for full scale testing and the application of sub-scale testing for both water entry and post landing flotation and stability.

Environmental Testing

Airborne Systems conducts a full range of environmental testing of components and recovery systems. Qualification tests include:

  • Vibration and Shock
  • Thermal
  • Vacuum
  • Thermal/Vacuum
  • Explosive Atmosphere
  • Sand and Dust
  • Salt Fog
  • Rain Environment
  • Impact Testing

Acceptance Testing

Space and Recovery Systems engineers are fully versed in the development and execution of acceptance tests for a specific component or part. Tests are developed and reviewed with the customer during program execution. Equally important, the procedures and test articles are typically maintained and updated over the life of the product. A new product that requires additional tests typically results in an update to the acceptance test, resulting in further observation of that product feature for future years.

Installation Testing

As required, Airborne Systems provides detailed installation and checkout procedures. These are often finalized in the field as Airborne Systems engineers complete equipment installation on the aircraft or system. Recovery system installation, checkout procedures, and detailed packing instructions are completed with the operator technicians during a hands-on training process.

Out year support, including an “Aircraft On Ground” class response is available for customers that require that level of support.

Wind Tunnel Testing

Airborne Systems engineers design and operate a wide range of wind tunnel tests ranging from low speed to full size tests in the NASA Ames tunnel through supersonic scale model testing in the AEDC Transonic Tunnel.

Data Collection

Airborne Systems employs the finest data collection and analysis tools. Airborne Systems test vehicles are typically instrumented with field computers collecting multiple channels of data with rates up to 5,000 Hz or higher. A typical instrumented drop will measure 3 axis accelerations, riser loads, pilot/static pressure, vehicle inclination and GPS position and velocity. The drop also includes an on board camera to film deployment events. Data collected is typically available for review within two hours of the test.

Rigging, Packing and Product Support

Airborne Systems maintains a full parachute rigging and packing capability that includes packing tables, rams for pressure packing and an autoclaving capability. These capabilities allow pressure packing of decelerator systems to world-class packing densities. Packing tables can be configured to provide a clear run of over 280 feet of table length allowing the largest parachutes to be rigged and packed.