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HOW HELICOPTERS FLY

CESAR VANDEVELDE ··· 3IO ··· TECHNOLOGICAL DESIGN ENGINEERING


Da Vinci 1480: Leonardo Da Vinci sketches his flying
machine. This is the first time an aerial screw is
used for flying. His machine is considered to be
the first helicopter.

Cornu 1907: Paul Cornu builds the first working


helicopter. It could hover 30cm above the
ground for 20s, and was the first truly free flight
with a pilot.

Gyroplane laboratoire 1933: The gyroplane laboratoire was the first


practical helicopter. This helicopter set new
records for height (158m), distance (circle with
500m diameter), and duration (1h 2m 10s).

Civilian use 1940s: The first widespread usage of


helicopters for civilian purposes. in 1947, a
helicopter is used to deliver air mail for the first
time.

Turboshaft 1951: The turboshaft engine is invented. The


turbine engine is lighter and can provide more
power than piston engines. Turboshaft
helicopters are bigger, faster, and can lift more.
PRINCIPLE OF AN AIRFOIL
Bernoulli’s principle:

½ ρ·v² + ρ·g·z + p = constant v = speed


p = pressure

The shape of the airfoil makes air travel faster above it than below

RESULT: High speed = Low pressure


above the airfoil:
The airfoil is lifted up
v↗ p↘

below the airfoil:

v↘ p↗
ROTORS & ANTI-TORQUE
 Helicopters use rotors (spinning airfoils) to overcome gravity.
 Newton’s laws dictate that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
 Because the rotor rotates in one direction, the rest of the helicopter has a tendency
to spin in the opposite direction. This is the called the anti-torque effect.

SOLUTIONS:
 Tail rotor: A second, vertically mounted tail rotor is added. It pushes the tail of the
helicopter in the opposite direction, countering the anti-torque effect.
 Dual rotors: The helicopter uses 2 main rotors, spinning in opposite directions. Because
of this, the anti-torque effect of both rotors negate each other.
 Coaxial rotors: 2 rotors on the same shaft spin in opposite direction.
 NOTAR: Air is blown through slots on the side of the tail boom. Because of the Coanda
effect, the air from the main rotor sticks to it, and amplifies the air flow.
STEERING A HELICOPTER
 To steer a helicopter, the way the main rotor generates lift needs to be changed.
 Certain areas of the rotor disk need to generate more lift than others.
 The lift generated by an airfoil is changed by changing the angle of attack.
 The angle of attack needs to be changed relative to the position of the blade.
 This is done using a swashplate mechanism
SWASHPLATE MECHANISM
 The following slides will explain the swashplate mechanism of a Robinson R44
helicopter
 Rotor systems are categorized by how many ways a blade can move
independently from the rest of the rotor.
 This helicopter has a semi-rigid rotor system.
 Other rotor systems include fully articulated rotors and rigid rotors.
MAST
 Connects the rotor to the transmission, which is connected to the engine.
 Spins at 550 RPM
 Needs to spin at a constant, predefined speed to maintain optimal performance.
BALL JOINT
 Can slide up and down the shaft.
 Allows the swashplates to tilt.
STATIONARY SWASHPLATE
 Supports the rotating swashplate
 Position and tilt rotation of this component determines how much lift is
generated, and in which direction.
LOWER SCISSOR
 Connects the lower swashplate to the helicopter fuselage.
 Prevents it from rotating with the main rotor.
 Allows the lower swashplate to move up and down, and tilt.
 Is connected using a ball joint.
CONTROL RODS
 Controls the position and tilt of the lower swashplate.
 Is controlled by the pilot using hydraulics.
 A backup mechanical connection to the pilot controls exist, in case of hydraulics
failure.
UPPER SWASHPLATE
 Rests on top of the lower swashplate
 Is connected using 2 angular contact ball bearings
 Is responsible for changing the blade angle of attack
UPPER SCISSOR
 Connects the upper swashplate to the shaft.
 Makes sure the upper swashplate rotates with the main rotor.
 Is connected with a ball joint.
TEETERING HINGE
 Allows both blades to make a seesaw movement.
 When one blade goes up, the other goes down.
 The teetering hinge reduces stress on the blades caused by the Coriolis-effect.
FLAPPING HINGES
 Allows the blades to move up and down independently.
 Rotorblade is connected using a plain bearing made from PTFE (Teflon)
 The combination of centrifugal force and lift cause the blades to cone, the blades
move upward depending on their lift, which in turn depends on their position.
FEATHERING HINGE
 Allows the blades to rotate along their length (= feathering)
 Rods connect the pitchhorn to the upper swashplate, the position and rotation of
the swashplate assembly controls amount and direction of the lift.
 Rotor blade is connected to the rest of the rotor using 6 angular contact ball
bearings.
PILOT CONTROLS
 Anti-torque pedals: Control the tail rotor. By changing the angle of attack of
the tail rotor, the helicopter can turn left or right.
 Throttle: Rotorblades are designed for a specific RPM. The throttle allows the
pilot to increase or decrease the engine’s power output, so he can keep the rotor
speed constant.
 Cyclic control: Controlled by a joystick in the middle. Tilts the swashplate
assembly, which changes the rotor blades’ pitch cyclically, and thus moves the
helicopter in that direction
 Collective control: Moves the swashplate assembly up and down, thus
increasing or decreasing the total lift.
TOUCHDOWN
QUESTIONS?