Air Force

Belay descending load attachment with pulley brake

This controlled braking mechanism may be used in connection with the Air Force Auto Belay Insertion System or as a component in an alternative configuration

Military Technology

The use of automatic belaying devices is common for the controlled descent of individuals in the recreational rock climbing community and the most common of these devices use a flat webbing as the tensile connection from the auto belay device to the individual. Auto belays use eddy current braking to control the rate at which the webbing is played out from the housing. While this provides a constant rate of descent it does not consider the need to stop the descent for a period of time.

The incorporation of the auto belay system into military personnel insertion systems (a soldier belayed from a helicopter) requires an additional operator-controlled braking function for more precise landing situations. In these conditions the individual may need to slow their descent to a stop prior to completing the full belay which occurs if a helicopter drifts relative to pre-determined a landing position. Similar problems are encountered when a soldier descends a rope to a ship which is moving. To address this point Air Force personnel have developed a braking system for use with auto belays which incorporates a pulley-based braking mechanism for looped webbing that is being spooled from the auto belay system. The operator can manually apply a braking force on the rotating webbing which slows or stops their descent while transferring the loads through the fixed side of the auto belay webbing.  The unique aspect of this technology is that the system is designed to brake in a controlled manner to avoid undesired impact and pulse loads on the auto belay system. Other methods for rope and webbing braking are insufficient due to incorrect geometry for webbing and fast brake onset.

This component may be used in conjunction with the Air Force Auto Belay Insertion System.

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