24-Feb-2010 Source: Eurocopter
Eurocopterâ€™s R&D teams are working on several programs to enhance cabin comfort providing customers with a smoother ride. Five-blade main rotors as on the EC155 and EC225 have led to a significant reduction of vibrations.Â Advanced rotor systems such as a piezo active rotor, designated Blue Pulseâ„¢ and currently under development, are designed to minimize vibrations further. However, advanced anti-vibration systems applicable to present-day helicopters are another, pro-active approach to reducing vibrations.Â Having all aspects of customer comfort in mind, Eurocopter also develops new air conditioning systems to cope with all aspects of cabin temperature.
Advanced anti-vibration system/Grand-comfort pylon isolator:
Vibrations are a major problem for helicopter designers as they can reduce aircraft reliability and comfort levels. Eurocopter therefore continues to innovate in this area and has developed an advanced anti-vibration system with torsion spring, also known as the Grand- Comfort Pylon Isolator. The goal of this program was to develop a new suspension system offering better performance levels at lower costs for Eurocopter’s light helicopters. The system filters the loads transmitted by the struts connecting the main gearbox (MGB) to the airframe, thus reducing helicopter vibration levels.Â It is comprised of a membrane that links the MGB to the transmission deck and four nearly identical units with flapping masses mounted on the attachment fittings of the MGB struts. Each unit includes an arm supporting the flapping mass and a torsion spring.
During initial laboratory testing, adjustments were made to the system and it was determined that it could filter 99% of the loads.Â Major modifications had to be made to the transmission deck architecture and to the flight controls, which had to be adapted to the new suspension system’s operating mode. Modifications to the prototype’s transmission system, airframe, sensors, etc. also proved necessary.Â It was only after many months of work and a series of tests that the aircraft with this new system finally took flight. Subsequently, the flight envelope was progressively enlarged in order to fine tune the characteristics of the flapping masses and the overall system to optimize performance levels. More than 25 flight hours were performed in all, during which the vibration levels were measured at different points throughout the cabin. The results were excellent, with the new system cutting the vibration levels on the aircraft in half. It is the most effective passive anti-vibration system that currently exists. In addition, the system also offers reduced weight, greater reliability and less maintenance work.
Smart air conditioning system:
Eurocopter is developing an enhanced air conditioning system based on what is generally standard in the automobile industry, e.g. featuring automatic temperature regulation, multi-zone air flow, user-friendly interfaces, rapid demisting and air filtering. The company has defined a solid development process that covers even the most critical climatic conditions and defines a standardized range of air conditioning equipment by adopting a modular approach to the system, such as high/low pressure modules, control panels, etc..
An environmental test chamber in the companyâ€™s facility can recreate both hot and cold weather conditions to test heating and air conditioning systems and has been equipped with specialized means to develop the required control and command algorithms for heating and cooling functions. The R&D team can simulate climatic conditions with temperatures ranging from -40 to +70Â°C and humidity levels of up to 95 percent. It can also evaluate comfort levels at given temperatures and the effectiveness of the demisting system for a representative cabin or cockpit. The attitude of the installation can be modified as well, so the drainage system functions can be checked correctly before moving on to the flight test phase.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 15,600 people. In 2009, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the worldâ€™s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover of 4.6 billion Euros, orders for 344 new helicopters, and a 52 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Groupâ€™s products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence is ensured by its 18 subsidiaries on five continents, along with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centres. More than 10,500 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in more than 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and military helicopter range in the world.