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Strong helicopter presence helps lift AERO 2011, April 13~16

AERO, the Global Show for General Aviation, will be presenting a significantly expanded helicopter area, the Helicopter Hangar, as part of the exhibition from Wednesday, April 13 to Saturday, April 16, 2011.

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The show¡¦s organizer, Rainer Herzberg, promises a high concentration of helicopter power, with large helicopters from various manufacturers being shown for the first time, including a first appearance at AERO by the company Eurocopter.  

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The topics of pilot training and careers in the helicopter industry will be covered even more thoroughly.  

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A total of 550 exhibitors from 26 countries are expected at the Global Show for General Aviation. Klaus Wellmann, CEO of Messe Friedrichshafen, and Roland Bosch, Project Manager of AERO, are both pleased with the ¡§exceptionally high number of participating exhibitors¡¨ and the large proportion of foreign companies who have signed up as exhibitors at the show on the shores of Lake Constance.

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The entire spectrum of general aviation will be on display across nine exhibition halls and the well-booked open air grounds. The leading glider manufacturers will be on hand in Friedrichshafen, and the business jet sector will also be strongly represented.

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Helicopters were presented for the first time within general aviation in their own exhibition hall at AERO in 2009. Already in 2010, the number of exhibitors more than doubled, and Hall A6 was filled to capacity with 28 helicopters.

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The topic of helicopter pilot training was also a great success ¡V not only for the exhibiting flight schools, but also for the German Bundeswehr (Army, Navy, Air Force)and the German Federal Police and state police forces, who were able to attract numerous potential applicants through their recruitment campaigns.

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Over the past two decades, AERO Friedrichshafen has become the leading general aviation exhibition in Europe. For this reason, the show will be setting signals in the helicopter sector to an even greater degree in the future.

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A clear sign of this is the fact that in 2011, two halls will be devoted to presenting the current models, new developments, research projects and products from the supplier industry. Furthermore, rarities and classic models will also be on display, giving interesting insights into the development of helicopters in the past. Hall B4 is reserved for general aviation helicopters. AERO Project Manager Roland Bosch is pleased to welcome Eurocopter as a first-time exhibitor. The company will be taking this opportunity to give a large rescue exercise on Lake Constance entitled ¡§Rotor + Rescue.¡¨ Exhibits from the military, police and rescue services will be located in Hall B5.

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Among the highlights of the Helicopter Hangar at AERO 2011 will be several large turbine helicopters. These will likely include the Bundeswehr¡¦s new NH 90 transport helicopter and an enormous Sikorsky Seaking from the German Navy. The German Federal Police are expected to present an AS 332 Superpuma, and the state police forces will be showing an EC155. There will also be other current turbine helicopters from the manufacturers Bell, Eurocopter, Sikorsky and PZL.

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But of course the proven small-scale and training helicopters will also be represented at AERO 2011: the Robinson R22, R44, and most likely also the brand-new R66 turbine helicopter will be on display, as well as other piston engine helicopters from companies such as Schweizer, Enstrom and Guimbal.

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Ultralight helicopters, which are not yet approved in Germany, but are in neighboring European countries, will fill out the category. Furthermore, many exhibitors will be offering up-to-date information not only on training to become a private or professional helicopter pilot, but also on other jobs in the flourishing helicopter industry.

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AERO coordinator Rainer Herzberg promises: ¡§Unlike many other aviation exhibitions, helicopters at AERO 2011 won¡¦t be placed behind railings far away from visitors. Instead, attendees can marvel at them up-close in the exhibition halls, and even get into them and talk to crew members and training officers. The Helicopter Hangar at AERO 2011 thus truly offers a hands-on experience with helicopters!¡¨

Boeing: Fly out of traffic jam? Dream may come true soon.

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Project Electric Firefly

Officially announced at AirVenture 2010, Sikorsky's Project Firefly sets out to demonstrate the feasibility and showcase the benefits of electrically powered helicopters. The technology demonstrator is based on an S-300C light helicopter, with a 190-horsepower electric motor replacing the standard piston-engine and lithium ion battery packs added to either side of the cabin. The result is a significantly more efficient system that ¡V although it's expected to fall short of typical helicopter performance when the first flight takes place later this year ¡V is just the tip of the iceberg for the new era of manned electric rotorcraft.

Performance and efficiency

The comparative figures Sikorsky has released for the testbed helicopter show huge improvements in efficiency. The main rotor output, for example, is 76.3 percent efficient in the electric version versus 25.5 percent for a Sikorsky 76D running two PW210S turboshaft engines on JetA fuel. The other notable comparison is heat loss, where the electrical system loses just 15 percent compared to 73.4 percent on the 76D according.

¡§Through the electrical conversion, propulsion efficiency of the aircraft has been increased roughly 300 percent from baseline," said Mark Miller, Vice President, Sikorsky Research & Engineering. "Electric propulsion also inherently simplifies the complexity of the propulsion system by reducing the quantity of moving parts, increasing reliability while reducing direct operating costs.¡¨

While both the cruising speed of 79 knots and the gross weight of 2150 lbs are comparable to the S-300C helicopter, the big issue, as with electric cars, is range. The demonstrator has an expected flight time of 15 minutes (compare this to the 3.7 hrs the S-300C gets from its 32 gallons of fuel) but as battery technologies get better, this will improve exponentially.

Lauder sees lithium air batteries as one of the most promising of these developing technologies. "Lithium air batteries would be lighter (because they have no anode) and provide nine times the energy density of the current batteries, enabling three hour flights and rivaling combustion engines."

The problem at this stage is that these batteries are non-rechargeable, but research and development of rechargeable versions is ongoing.

It's safe to say that the future for electric helicopters is bright. As battery technology matures the value of the systems showcased on Sikorsky's test bed can only increase. Although the company has chosen to use an existing airframe to showcase the technology at this early stage of development, it is already looking towards ground-up designs that will run two electric motors ¡V one in the main rotor and another in the tail rotor. This approach, like electric car designs that place motors at or in each wheel, will further reduce weight and improve efficiency by bypassing the need for any conventional drive train.

Along with the electric motor and battery packs, the demonstrator includes a new digital motor controller and next generation cockpit display. The drive train, rotors and flight controls from the S-300C have been retained and very little has been changed on the airframe, as the electric motor has been designed to pick up the same hard points as the piston engine it replaces.

The 190 hp (142 kW) motor built by Californian firm U.S. Hybrid from California is derived from a unit developed for ground based vehicles but, as Sikorsky's Tim Lauder explained, it's been specifically tailored for use in rotorcraft. These changes include an additional 40 horsepower, constant operation at 3200 RPM and forced air cooling as opposed to water cooling.

Sikorsky electric helicopter specifications

  • Max Gross weight - 2,150 lb
  • Power - 190 hp (142 kW) Permanent Magnet electric motor
  • Lithium Ion Battery - 45 Ah, 3.6 V, 3 cells in Parallel = 135 Ah, 100 set in series = 360 V
  • Forced Air Cooling
  • Endurance - 15 min
  • Max Velocity - 79 kt
  • System Efficiency - 79 % (Cruise), 91 % (Max Power efficiency)

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The Yoshine Coaxial Drive System : CDS-3

Yoshine has developed since 2003 and been offering since 2008 a coaxial system with an integrated coaxial 3:1 gearbox called a "coaxial drive system" (CDS), priced for less than US$40K with an all-in-one cyclic/collective/yaw controls.   Following shows a typical CDS-3 development with aviation grade alloy. A new CDS-4 is being developed for an European client that may be optionally driven by modern electric power.

Videos below describes how coaxial helicopters may be built with a Coaxial Drive System¡iCDS¡jkit and tested:


December 27, 2010 | Source: Shephard UK

Unconventional look for Eurocopter's X3

Eurocopter has revealed its hand in the race for high-speed rotary-wing flight, unveiling the extraordinary-looking X³ high-speed prototype on 27 September.

The aircraft was shown to reporters for the first time during a ceremony at Istres airbase in the south of France, where the X³ - short for High-speed, long-range Hybrid Helicopter - has been undergoing testing since the beginning of September.

Clearly recycled from the fuselage of an EC155, the demonstrator is a compound design equipped with two turboshaft engines powering a five-bladed main rotor and two propellers on stub wings. At the rear, the fenestron has been removed and replaced with a standard tail plane and twin-vertical stabilisers fitted with rudders.

Eurocopter says this configuration allows it to offer the speed of a turboprop-powered aircraft as well as the capabilities of a helicopter.

The X³ flew for the first time on 6 September from Istres AB ¡V the flight test base of the French armed forces ¡V 24km southwest of the Eurocopter factory at Marignane.

The aircraft was built at Marignane and then trucked to Istres for flight testing.

Eurocopter CEO, Lutz Bertling, said all the OEMs were looking to increase the range and speed of helicopters but argued that the technology demonstrated by the V-22 Osprey and BA609 tiltrotors and Sikorsky's X2 Technology demonstrator might be costly to implement and operate.

'We are looking at a lower level of complexity and cost,' explained Bertling. 'We believe it makes more sense to increase speed, but generate that speed by not over-compensating on cost.'

Phillippe Roesch, VP of technology and product innovation said the idea to deliver 50 % more speed but do this without pushing up operational costs beyond 20-25 %.

The entire program is funded by Eurocopter and the aircraft is more than just a hybrid by design but also in terms of parts. The airframe was the development frame for the AS365N4 which became the EC155. The main rotor is also from the EC155 while the gearbox and engines came from the EC175 and NH90 respectively. 

Eurocopter test pilots will now take the aircraft through initial flight testing opening the flight envelope to speeds of up to 180kts. The aircraft will then go into a three-month layup before resuming flight in March 2011 with the goal to achieving 220kts.

According to Eurocopter, the company envisions a wide range of uses for the X³ configuration, including long-distance search and rescue (SAR), coast guard duties, border patrol missions, passenger transport and inter-city shuttle services.

¡¥It also may be well-suited for military missions in special forces operations, troop transport, combat SAR and medical evacuation ¡V benefiting from the hybrid aircraft¡¦s combination of higher cruise speeds with excellent vertical takeoff/landing performance,¡¦ the company said in a statement.

September 21, 2010 | Source: Darren Quick

Sikorsky¡¦s X2 demonstrator sets unofficial world record speed of 250 knots

Sikorsky Aircraft¡¦s coaxial X2 Technology demonstrator has achieved the 250-knot (287.69 mph) milestone that was established as the goal of the craft from its inception. The speed, which was achieved in level flight during a 1.1-hour flight on Wednesday, September 15, is an unofficial speed record for a helicopter, easily beating the current official world record that stands at 216.46 knots (249.1 mph) set by the British built Westland Lynx ZB-500 in 1986.

Earlier this year, the X2 demonstrator achieved a speed of 181 knots in a test flight ¡V faster than the 160-170 knot (184-195 mph) speeds generally possible with conventional helicopters ¡V but achieving a speed of 250 knots was always the ultimate aim for the X2 Technology program since its beginnings in 2005. The 250-knot milestone was reached at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center where the demonstrator also reached 260 knots (299.2 mph) in a very shallow dive during the flight.

¡§The aerospace industry today has a new horizon,¡¨ said Sikorsky President Jeffrey P. Pino. ¡§The X2 Technology demonstrator continues to prove its potential as a game-changer, and Sikorsky Aircraft is proud to be advancing this innovative technology and to continue our company¡¦s pioneering legacy.¡¨

April 19, 2010 | Source: Aviation Week

We have learned that a start-up company, AVX Aircraft, proposing to upgrade the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior with "coaxial rotors" to meet the US Army's Armed Aerial Scout (AAS) requirements. Founded in 2005 and staffed mainly by former Bell Helicopter Textron employees, the Fort Worth-based company is hoping the US Army will agree to fund a concept demonstrator.

The proposal is to remove the OH-58D's "four-blade main and tail rotors", and install a pair of three-blade "Coaxial Rotors", a new transmission, and a shorter tail boom, on which a pair of ducted fans would be mounted. Compared with a single main rotor, AVX president and chief engineer, Troy Gaffey says: "Coaxial rotors require 5% less power for the same disk loading. Also, there is no need to counter torque with a tail rotor that consumes at least 10% of available power. That means net savings in power required of 15~20% versus a single rotor with the OH-58D's existing engine."

AVX is said to have thus far spent around $4 million on design work and is looking for funding around $30 million to build a "bare bones" demonstrator, possibly based on a commercial Bell 206.


May 25, 2010 | Source: Yoshine Helicopters

The CoAxe Engine

CoAxe Engine Company has presented to Yoshine Helicopter Company (Taiwan) a concept for an opposed piston diesel internal combustion engine for helicopter applications, described as the ¡¥CoAxe Engine¡¦.  Of interest to Yoshine Helicopter Company, manufacturers and distributors of the CDS (coaxial Drive system) for easy to fly and affordable helicopters, is the fact that the CoAxe Engine delivers power to twin coaxial counter-rotating drive shafts. The engine is a 2-stroke design with counter-rotating cam profiles at each end working to drive the twin torque tubes in opposite directions, a perfectly balanced arrangement of components. This design is of great interest to Yoshine Helicopter Company for its range of coaxial manned and unmanned (UAV) helicopters.

In addition to the ability to integrate the CoAxe Engine into the existing Yoshine Helicopter Company CDS powered helicopters, there is the potential to utilise a very powerful, lightweight, efficient and vibration- free diesel internal combustion engine into a range of unmanned aerial vehicles already developed and demonstrated by Yoshine Helicopter Company. 

Following my review of the CoAxe Engine during the visit by representatives of CoAxe Engine Company to the Yoshine facilities in Taichung, Taiwan during May 2010, it is my opinion that the CoAxe Engine is possibly an ideal engine for existing Yoshine CDS helicopter designs, but could also prove to be a solution for future helicopter designs that presently are restricted to the pages of science fiction and images from movies.

Everything about the engine is a known technology just configured in a unique way.  The market for this type of engine and the ease of availability of Jet fuels globally, would be significant. 

With the latest manufacturing technologies and advanced aviation materials, challenges presented by the CoAxe Engine are quite achievable. 

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January 19, 2010 | Source: Scientific America

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