TALON Auto-Loc Cargo Hook System
Designed to enable helicopter pilots to pick up unattended loads from unmanned locations, this specialized remote cargo hook system has two components: an Auto-Loc cargo hook (which is suspended from the belly of the helicopter on a longline) and a Target (which is attached to the load in advance and left unattended). The pilot slings the hook onto the target to automatically lock the pair together, then lifts the load for transport. The pilot can release the load by either setting it down on the ground or releasing it in air. No ground crew needs to be present during the loading/unloading operations.
The TALON Auto-Loc Cargo Hook System is ideally suited for picking up loads in remote locations, such as drill equipment used for mining, and has a lot of potential for working with unmanned helicopters and drones. It will also prove useful if flying conditions aren’t favorable on a particular day, as the ground crew can still rig up the loads and move onto their next project, and the helicopter can fly in at another time to pick up and move the cargo.
How it Works
The Auto-Loc Cargo Hook System was developed in response to customer requests for a cargo retrieval system that would allow helicopter pilots to pick up pre-rigged, unattended loads. Operators wanted a system that would be able to work with a wide variety of aircraft while supporting loads up to 6,000 LB (2,722 KG). They also wanted to give their pilots the ability to either set the load down on the ground or release loads while airborne.
As the cargo hook component is attached to the end of a longline and suspended under the belly of an aircraft, an important design consideration was to make the unit heavy enough to remain steady while lowering it down onto the target, but light enough for the pilot to attach it to the longline before flight without assistance. Because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) single man lift guidelines recommend that most people shouldn’t try to lift more than 50 lb. (23 kg) by themselves, Onboard's engineers worked hard to ensure that the final product met this safety requirement by weighing in at just 46 lb. (21 kg). A quick look at the demonstration video shows how quickly the pilot is able to maneuver the cargo hook over the target and latch onto it, despite the strong rotor wash from above.
To help eliminate accidental releases caused by contact with branches, the hook has a dual actuation release lever that must be pinched together to pull open. But it's easy for a ground crew to open—even with gloves. In addition, the TALON Auto-Loc Cargo Hook includes Onboard’s Surefire® Release Technology to ensure maximum load security when lifting expensive equipment. The Surefire circuit requires a purposeful, half-second press against the remote hook release button to guard against inadvertent releases caused by accidentally brushing against the button during flight.
Some of the most innovative features of the new TALON Auto-Loc System are in the target itself. The increased width-to-height ratio and unique legs provide incredible stability, while still allowing for the entire piece to fold down like an umbrella. The brightly colored synthetic fabric on two of the side panels makes the target highly visible from above, while the open panels on the other sides make it easy to fasten the load to the hardpoint and help ensure that the attach line doesn’t get tangled up in the target. The target is also light and compact in design, folding up for easy stowage, transport, and setup by the grown crew when pre-rigging the loads for later pickup. Finally, the hardpoint can be quickly attached to the load using a wide variety of shackles or rigging.
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