A global team of research organizations is quietly working on an active rotor blade in which distributed piezo-electric actuators can change blade twist almost continuously over the course of one blade revolution. Partners can be found in the U.S., Europe and Asia. A full test campaign is scheduled for next year.
With military aircraft are working harder and longer, the task of managing their service life safely and cost efficiently is becoming ever more critical. This has prompted Ultra Electronics Controls to conceive the ASIS aircraft structural integrity system, providing an innovative approach to monitoring and maintaining them.
Canada’s National Research Council has won a patent on “an active and adaptive rotor-blade control system called Smart Spring,” which is designed to reduce the noise and vibration when rotor blades interact with the vortices shed by the tip of the preceding blades. Previous engineering approaches, according to NRC, have attempted to alter the varying aerodynamic load on the blades to reduce the onset of this vibration.
Reducing vibration and noise is key to the goal of gaining public acceptance of the rotorcraft as a routine mode of transport. A Boeing team has now successfully made use of advanced materials to develop and test a new helicopter rotor that could go a long way toward unlocking the vehicle’s potential.
AgustaWestland and Eurocopter might be competitors in the helicopter market, but they seem to be decidedly good friends when it comes to defining rotorcraft for the future. In addition to partnering on the Erica tiltwing research project, they have joined forces on another European-funded project, dubbed Friendcopter.