There is sometimes a legal requirement for aerostats to have fitted a system whereby they will deflate if they get loose from their tether. This ensures that they cause as little damage as possible to buildings or overhead wires and also that they do not disrupt air traffic.
Most normal blimp aerostats are seldom capable of flying more than a few hundred feet which means that a simple second line to a plug is often sufficient. However, Helikite aerostats fly thousands of feet high which makes the second line system impractical. So Allsopp Helikites Ltd has devised methods of deflating Helikites (and other aerostats).
Air pressure reduces with altitude. A sensor on the aerostat detects the difference between the atmospheric barometric pressure of its launch height and its present barometric pressure. If it detects that the Helikite is at too great an altitude, it initiates a hot wire cutting device that creates a large hole in the balloon material which quickly release the helium gas and causes the Helikite to descend. This system requires no human interaction besides the initial setting of the height parameters and so should satisfy any legal requirements.
2) Radio-Controlled Balloon Cut-Down.
An encrypted radio signal is sent from a ground station transmitter to a radio receiver on the Helikite, which initiates a hot wire to cut a large hole in the balloon material to cause the gas to escape and the Helikite to descend. The signal can be sent within 10 Km of the Helikite. This can be a very rapid method of downing a Helikite. So it is quite possible that the operator would be able to retrieve the Helikite quickly and with minimal damage.
Both these systems are extremely simple to use plug-and-play designs for very fast deployment, and yet they are very sophisticated and computer controlled with an ability to test the circuits and wires for faults before deployment. They also check the battery power is sufficient. They use Lithion Ion batteries which operate at very low temperatures and have years of shelf-life. The electronics of both the ground station and the airborne components are water-resistant. The total weight of the airborne components is 1.3Kg.
*New* GPS Controlled Balloon Cutdown system
The HCS-03M is a safety device for tethered plastic skinned
helium balloons, blimps or Helikites. It is
designed to deflate the balloon in the event of a
tether break in order to help recover the payload
and protect other airspace users. It uses the GPS
satellite system to monitor the position of the
balloon. If the balloon moves more than a certain
distance away from its launch point, the HCS-03M
will pass a current through a wire placed in contact with the balloon material. The wire
heats up and melts a hole in the balloon, allowing the helium to escape and the balloon to
● Simple operation
● Light weight
● Can protect blimps, Helikites and other lifting balloons where there is insufficient free lift to trigger a conventional barometric or pressure-operated deflation device
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