The good people at NASA dropped a lightweight helicopter from 35 feet to watch it crash. This was the same helicopter that was dropped in December for crash testing. The first time, the helicopter suffered minimal damage due to a new "expandable honeycomb cushion" that absorbs the impact. This time, the helicopter was not outfitted with the cushion. The result was more like what you might expect. From NASA:
"Three, two, one, release," said the technician on the loudspeaker at the Landing and Impact Research Facility. With that countdown the helicopter smacked hard into the concrete. Its skid gear collapsed, its windscreen cracked open and its occupants lurched forward violently, suffering potentially spine-crushing injuries according to internal data recorders. The crash test was all in the name of research to try to make helicopters safer."Chopper Crash Test a Smash Hit"
"The goal of any research program that has an element of impact dynamics is to develop an understanding of the crash response of the vehicle," said Karen Jackson, an aerospace engineer who oversaw the test. "Once we understand that response we can look at ways to improve the crash performance..."
Researchers say the "g" forces the MD-500 experienced more than tripled those recorded in the previous test. But that doesn't mean the research is over. Engineers have gigabytes of data to analyze to confirm exactly what impact the new honeycomb cushion technology might have for helicopters in the future.