Collins Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), has conducted several major reviews on the upgraded version of its ACES II ejection seat for the U.S. Air Force’s Safety and Sustainment Improvement Program (SSIP) for B-2 bombers. After closing out final action items, deliveries are on track to begin this summer.
The ACES ejection seat for the B-2 will feature a new modular structure which is designed to significantly reduce maintenance cost and time. It features a detachable seatback and bucket structure that provides easy access for maintenance technicians by eliminating the need to remove the top cockpit escape hatch. It is estimated that the upgrade will reduce the B-2’s current maintenance period of 720 hours over a 30-day period to just 2 hours, providing a significant increase in aircraft availability.
The new safety features implemented with the B-2 ACES SSIP seat upgrade provide the performance equivalent to the ACES 5, the company’s next-generation ejection seat that demonstrates compliance with the Air Force’s latest MIL-HDBK-516C airworthiness standards. The ACES 5 seat was the first and only seat to complete a U.S. government qualification program based on these latest requirements.
“The introduction of new helmet-mounted devices, varied aircrew weights and different aerodynamic effects in flight, have made it necessary to evolve ejection seat design over time,” said Brad Haselhorst, vice president and general manager, Training and Mission Solutions for Collins Aerospace. “Our ACES seats provide life-saving safety improvements to handle all those scenarios, reducing ejection-related injuries to extremely low levels so pilots can live to fly another day.”
The ACES II ejection seat has helped save more than 650 lives since it was first introduced in 1978 and has a spinal injury rate of less than one percent. ACES II is currently in service on more than 6,000 aircraft, including all F-15s and F-16s worldwide as well as the Air Force’s A-10, F-22, B-1 and B-2.