ILC Dover Demonstrates Flood Mitigation Solution in Lower Manhattan on Sandy Anniversary

Collaborating with the MTA and other agencies to protect valuable infrastructure


ILC Dover, developer and manufacturer of the Spacesuits used by NASA since man first walked on the moon as well as those in use outside the International Space Station today, conducted a demonstration of the Resilient Tunnel Plug (RTP) to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Undersecretary for Policy at the Department of Transportation, the Chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and other local officials.  The RTP is one of many proactive efforts being examined by New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to protect the city's infrastructure against flooding as seen with Superstorm Sandy.

The RTP is a high strength, inflatable system that resists the force of the storm water with a combination of pressure and frictional resistance along the wall of the tunnel.  The technology, originally developed under a program with the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, and several other agencies, is based on materials and lessons learned by ILC through innovations from their work on the Space Suits for NASA, the Mars Pathfinder Landing Bags, Space Habitats, and airships such as the MetLife blimp that you see at major sporting events.

The RTP system consists of the inflatable plug, the container that it is packed in until needed, pumps and a backup system for inflation, and a control system.  The container fits the contour of the tunnel.  Once the signal to inflate is received, the container opens and the plug inflates in minutes.  The plug is the key to resisting the high pressure of the flood waters and is made of three layers of materials that include an air retaining bladder, a high strength puncture-resistant and secondary pressure retention liner, and an outer fabric "armor" shell that is a unique woven, webbing design that provides the primary pressure retention and puncture resistance.

The plug when inflated is over 16 feet in diameter and 32 feet long.  To give you a perspective of this, the plug is approximately six feet taller, twice as wide and just 13 feet shorter than a city bus. However, the plug is scalable to just about any tunnel size, cross-section, and pressure threat.

Resilience means protecting our critical infrastructure so that we can recover quickly and with minimal damage from an emergency.  The Resilient Tunnel Plug is just one example of ILC's solutions for protecting critical infrastructure such as transportation, power, and other key operating systems that are relied on for a strong economy with minimal downtime when large storms occur.  This also results in significant cost savings by avoiding the damage from flooding caused by another weather event like Superstorm Sandy.

ILC is also supporting efforts to close off other water entry points.  These devices leverage the RTP technology and include high-strength tensioned fabric doors for rail yard portals and stairwell entrances, and self-sealing vent shaft covers.

About ILC Dover (

Since 1947, ILC Dover has provided engineered solutions to complex customer problems, serving the aerospace, personal protection and pharmaceutical industries. Known for production of space suits for NASA, ILC is a world leader in the use of high-performance flexible materials, allowing for unique solutions to meet customer needs. ILC's innovative products have been used on the moon, on Mars and around the globe.

For additional information contact Alan George at

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