46th annual Cribbins Aviation Symposium

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- This year marks the 46th year the Army Aviation Association of American has hosted the Cribbins Aircraft Sustainment Symposium.

When asked why the event is so important, organizers will tell you because it saves lives. This year's theme for the symposium is “Preparing Army Aviation to Fight Tonight and Tomorrow". To make that happen, you need industry partners with ideas.

"We're here because this is one of the most important Army shows of the year. We're here to show Army aviation the products that we develop and the programs we're working on to support the War Fighter at the sharp end of the spear," explained Joe Spinosa with East West Industries.

Among other things on display, the event featured a device similar to the seatbelt in your car. If you don't jerk it, it would allow the aviator to move around the cabin of the helicopter. The Army doesn't use it, but some think they should.

"I believe they should have it for safety. Currently, the Air Force and the Navy are using it on their Black Hawk helicopters," said Chad Cuomo with Cobham Systems. "As a former crew member in a Black Hawk for the Army, walking around the cabin performing your mission, it's safer if you have a reel versus a strap."

These days you can't talk about Army aviation without talking about Unmanned Aircraft Systems. It's a perfect example of where the Army might be headed. It takes off and lands using helicopter rotors, small ones and then it uses a push propeller to fly like an airplane. The Army hasn't picked this, but it might.

Event organizers have a goal for those in attendance.

"I want them to come back because what's happened here was of value to them. It's a return on investment. And I want them to leave believing they are making an investment into the young men and women who wear the nation's uniform," said Brig General (Ret.) Stephen Mundt, with the Army Aviation Association of America.

The Aviation Sustainment Symposium wraps up Wednesday evening.