Helicopter switches to composite rotor blades

QinetiQ’s Sea King helicopter XZ575 has completed its first flight using advanced composite main rotor blades

The four-minute flight was a “significant milestone” in evaluating the Carson Helicopters’ blade for the UK Sea King helicopter. Qinetiq claims “significant performance gains” with the new blade.
Andrew Sleigh, QinetiQ’s group MD for defence and technology said: “Because the new blades had not been certified by any organisation independent of the manufacturer, they were fitted for the trial as a QinetiQ modification – one of the most significant aircraft modifications ever made by us.”
Based on Carson Helicopter’s longer version of blades used on the Sikorsky S61 helicopter, this was the first set of blades produced by Carson for the UK Sea King helicopter.
The rotor blades use advanced aerofoil sections, increased twist and a swept tip to produce significant performance gains. A similar blade to that being tested by QinetiQ has shown a 2000lb increase in hover capability.
Initial results from the test programme, which are supported by theoretical modelling carried out by QinetiQ, indicate that the Carson blades have the potential to significantly increase performance and so greatly increase the operational flexibility of the Sea King.

Tom Shelley

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