Aircraft Belts has been promoting aircraft safety for more than 30 years and returns to NBAA this year to present a new brand and a new product that promises a quantum leap in cabin safety.
The new brand is Aviation Occupant Safety (AOS), a joint venture of Aircraft Belts (ABI) and Key Safety Systems, created to focus on inflatable restraint systems. Key Safety is one of the automotive industry’s largest suppliers of inflatable safety products and anticipates fiscal year 2013 revenues from a global footprint of about $1.2 billion. Engineering and development is the primary responsibility of Key Safety, led by an AOS engineer. Both parties are collaborating in development and are contributing engineering, quality control, regulatory, marketing and sales expertise.
According to ABI president and CEO David Devine, the catalyst for the venture is “a desire to be the nose-to-tail safety solution provider with a full range of products [that will meet] emerging FAA regulations.”
At the NBAA show (Booth No. 5774), ABI will not only be featuring its latest line of seatbelts, but through AOS will be introducing a new line of inflatable restraint systems currently in development, “thanks to the research and testing resources of Key Safety.” Among those products are forward-facing inflatable seatbelts and side-safety inflatable solutions, especially for side-facing divans. Devine emphasized the importance of inflatable restraints that would allow passengers to occupy side-facing divans during takeoff and landing. Further, said Devine, “The forward facing, inflatable seatbelt is out there in service, but we want to pull together a new variant that is lighter and more aesthetically appealing.”
David Smith, president of AOS and CFO of Key Safety, recalled that one of his clients was famed Italian auto manufacturer Ferrari, a company that places a premium on aesthetics as well as performance. “We feel like we bring this joint venture an aesthetic appeal born of our facilities in Verona, Italy.”
Rick O’Quinn, sales manager for ABI and head of sales for AOS, pointed out that the aircraft industry is at this point behind the automotive industry in inflatable safety systems. “That transition from simple seatbelts to inflatable systems that went on throughout the auto industry is now taking place in aviation, and we’re excited to be in the right place at the right time with the right products.”
To that end, AOS is also represented on the Society of Automotive Engineers International aircraft seat committee. “We take a proactive role in creating safety guidelines,” said O’Quinn.
ABI is already an OEM provider of seatbelts for many of the major manufacturers, including Cessna, Piaggio and Agusta and according to Devine, has “a significant aftermarket share.” And he further pointed out that ABI’s Wemac-authorized repair station is equipped to manufacture, repair and make-new any seatbelt for any aircraft, fixed-wing or helicopter.
AOS, like Key Safety, is headquartered in Sterling Heights, Mich. but finished inflatable restraint systems will be assembled at ABI production facilities in Creedmoor, N.C.–K.J.H.