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Author: Subject: Future Helicopter thread, part 2
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[*] posted on 12-9-2017 at 11:21 AM
Future Helicopter thread, part 2


AGAIN, I restart another thread due to it being deleted or automatically archived OR whatever the f**k this new board is doing with them.............!?

Defiant’s delay due to blade manufacturing challenges

By: Jen Judson   14 hours ago


Photo Credit: Artists rendering courtesy SikorskyBoeing Sikorsky and Boeing have worked together on their offering for the U.S. Army's joint multi-role technology demonstrator called the SB-1 Defiant.

LONDON — The SB-1 Defiant Joint Multi-Role demonstrator aircraft’s delay for first flight can be attributed to challenges in manufacturing its complex rotor blades for the helicopter’s coaxial design, the U.S. Army’s JMR program manager told Defense News at DSEI, a defense conference in London, on Monday.

“The challenge has been the manufacturing of the blades, which is an interesting challenge,” Dan Bailey said. “Some people would think that’s not technology but actually it is.”

The Sikorsky-Boeing team building the demonstrator for the U.S. Army announced it would not fly in 2017 as planned due unspecified problems.

Defiant is one of two demonstrators that will fly as part of the JMR program demonstration that will help define and build requirements for the Army’s Future Vertical Lift program of record expected to launch in roughly the 2019 timeframe. Bell Helicopter is building the second demonstrator – a tiltrotor design called the V-280 Valor. That aircraft will fly in roughly 20 to 30 days, according to Bailey.

One of the efforts underway by the Sikorsky and Boeing team for the JMR program is to design a future program that would make the aircraft more affordable. One way of doing that is to move from having people build the rotor blades to having machines that can handle the complex task.

To achieve the proper aerodynamics for a rotor blade, it “requires some very laborious-type manufacturing,” Bailey said. “They are done in a manner that is multi-sheets of composite material and they have to be laid up in certain patterns, certain directions, for strength properties and they do that pretty much today with people.”

The team instead decided to build the rotor blades with a process that uses a machine that lays up the material as it goes, Bailey said.

“The challenge with that is you have to have a tool that allows you to lay up that material,” he added, which is “a long, tube-like configuration and that machine lays up the composite material around it,” to create a rotor blade spar, the main structural part of the blade, Bailey explained.

The tool has to be “a fairly long piece of tool, it can’t have any sag, it has to be very dimensionally specific and structured and that has been a challenge,” Bailey said.

The team started with one type of material to build the tool and then switched to a different material. This alteration ultimately caused the delay.

“The good news about that is we have completely removed that risk,” Bailey said, because it is going to be the same process the team would use to build rotor blades in a program of record.
The team has built two spars using the new tool and the problem seems to be resolved, Bailey said.

Defiant is still on track to fly in the spring or early summer timeframe, Bailey said, but added that the time associated with building all the rotor blades for the demonstrator is about 10 months behind.
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[*] posted on 12-9-2017 at 11:49 AM


Sikorsky reveals details of S-97 Raider hard landing as NTSB publishes initial report

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Oliver Johnson



The hard landing suffered by Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider in early August was caused by issues with the flight control software as the aircraft performed a vertical takeoff at the beginning of a flight test, Sikorsky has confirmed.

The findings were revealed as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its preliminary report into the incident on Aug. 2, which significantly damaged the aircraft’s retractable landing gear, but caused no significant injuries to either of the two flight crew members on board.

In a conference call with media, Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations, said Sikorsky was “fully committed to the program” and is moving forward on returning to flight with the Raider in 2018 as the investigation into the hard landing continues.

Van Buiten said the incident took place at the beginning of that day’s flight test at the Sikorsky Development Flight Center in West Palma Beach, Florida, after the aircraft had taxied to its takeoff position. He pointed to the “complex interaction between the ground, the landing gear, the flight control system, and the associated pilot interactions” as the fly-by-wire Raider transitioned from operations on the ground to operations in flight.

“In fly-by-wire helicopters, there are transitions in the flight controls that happen during the event, and in our analysis of the [hard landing], that transition didn’t go exactly as it should, and we’re making some changes to the flight control system software to accommodate that and ensure that it never happens again,” he said.

“We have been able to reproduce the event in our simulator and we are confident in operating with the NTSB to . . . get to the root cause and fully understand the issue.”

Van Buiten said the manufacturer had done a “deep dive” into all its fly-by-wire aircraft programs — which include the CH-53K King Stallion and CH-148 Cyclone — and found the software feature that caused the hard landing does not exist on those platforms.

The Raider first took flight on May 22, 2015, and is based on technology developed in Sikorsky’s X2 demonstrator — most notably its rigid coaxial main rotors and a variable-pitch pusher propeller, which enhance both the aircraft’s speed and its maneuverability.

Van Buiten said it was clear the hard landing had no relation to either of these pieces of technology.

“The flight control software issue has nothing to do with the X2 technology itself — the rigid rotor and pusher-propeller configuration; it is absolutely around this complex aircraft to ground interaction,” he said.

He added that the hard landing also illustrated the composite aircraft’s crashworthiness.

“Remember the Raider is an all-composite fuselage, aircraft-retractable landing gear, crashworthy seats, crashworthy fuel system, and we’re just delighted with how all of those systems behaved in the event,” he said.

“The landing gear sustained significant damage, but the flight crew sat in the cockpit, shut off the engines, shut off the electrical system, just checked things out, routinely opened the egress doors, climbed out of the helicopter, walked up to the test crew and started talking about the event.”

Sikorsky has been using the Raider as a “risk reducer” for the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant. Analysis is continuing as to whether the Defiant’s flight software needs modification.

Sikorsky has more than 30 industry partners and suppliers on the Raider program, and Van Buiten said it is keeping them updated on the investigation and the program’s development “within the confines of the NTSB-releasable information.”

Sikorsky was in the process of expanding the Raider’s flight envelope at the time of the incident, having recorded over 100 hours of ground runs and 20 hours of flight testing on the aircraft.

The previous flight had taken the aircraft to 150 knots, with the accident flight scheduled to increase that speed to 180 knots. Sikorsky hoped the following flight would then explore the aircraft’s maximum speed, which it believes is over 220 knots.

The damaged aircraft was the first of two prototypes Sikorsky had built for the Raider program, but was the only one that was flight capable. Aircraft Two — which appeared at AUSA, the U.S. Army Association’s annual convention, in October 2015 — had been brought to a “mostly built, but not completely built” stage by Sikorsky, said Van Buiten.

“There was a notion of having it join the program and be exclusively focused on weapons, but we were still doing those studies and hadn’t made any final decisions,” he said. “We’re just delighted that we have this aircraft available. It’ll help us get on with the program faster than we think we otherwise would.”

With the future of Aircraft One still to be determined, Sikorsky is completing the build of Aircraft Two, incorporating changes that had been implemented on Aircraft One during flight testing, as well as preparing it to accommodate a weapons suite the manufacturer has been maturing in a systems integration lab.

Aircraft Two will then continue the envelope expansion that Aircraft One began, with flight testing set to resume in 2018.

Beyond achieving new speeds, this will include demonstrations of maneuvers that are unique to the aircraft, said Van Buiten, such as the ability to hover nose down or nose up, rapid decelerations and accelerations from a landing zone, and 3-g turns.

Following that, it will be used for customer demonstrations and to start the weapons system maturation and demonstrations. The weapons package will include guns, the next generation Hellfire missile, and precision guided rockets.

Orginally developed for the U.S. Army’s Armed Aerial Scout program, which was subsequently put on indefinite hold, the Raider can carry six troops in its cabin, with Sikorsky highlighting its suitability for long-range reconnaissance missions and light attack.

Van Buiten said Sikorsky is using the Raider to mature the X2 technology for a possible Future Vertical Lift light application for the military, as well as using it as a “risk reducer” for the SB-1 Defiant — the larger high-speed rigid rotor coaxial rotorcraft it is developing with Boeing for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program.

Regarding the Defiant, Van Buiten said Boeing and Sikorsky are “deep into the build” of the aircraft, which is benefiting from the knowledge gained from the hard landing, as well as about 20 other lessons learned from the Raider program. He said the Defiant’s flight software had “similar features” to that of the Raider, so analysis is continuing as to whether the Defiant’s software needs modification.

First flight for the Defiant is still scheduled for 2018.
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[*] posted on 15-9-2017 at 01:33 PM


China, Russia Progress in Talks to Produce Heavy-Lift Helicopters

(Source: Xinhuanet; issued Sept 14, 2017)

TIANJIN --- China and Russia have made progress in talks to produce a new model of heavy-lift helicopters, a well-placed Chinese source said Wednesday.

The two sides have reached consensus on technical terms, split of responsibilities, and a roadmap to implement the project, said Huang Chuanyue, deputy chief engineer of Avicopter, the helicopter arm of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC).

Avicopter's partner is Russian Helicopters. The two agreed to cooperate on the project in 2015. A year later, the two governments signed a deal, giving the project the go-ahead.

Huang revealed the latest development at a helicopter industry forum held in the city of Tianjin.

He said the new helicopters will be made primarily to meet the needs of Chinese clients.

The helicopter will be designed with a take-off weight of 38 tonnes, with internal cargo capacity of 10 tonnes and external sling capacity of 15 tonnes. It will be able to fly over plateaus higher than 3,000 meters and maneuver among mountains, Huang said.

The helicopter will be fitted with aero-engines on a par with those on Russia's Mi-26, he added.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 19-9-2017 at 09:48 PM


New details emerge of Sino-Russian AHL helicopter concept

Richard D Fisher Jr - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

19 September 2017

Chinese rotary-wing specialist Avicopter, a subsidiary of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), unveiled a revised model of its Advanced Heavy Lift (AHL) helicopter concept at the 2017 China Helicopter Exposition, which ran from 14 to 17 September in Tianjin.

Compared to the version revealed two years earlier at the same exhibition, the latest model features a revised fuselage that looks similar to that of the unrealised Russian Mil Mi-46 helicopter, which was proposed as the basis for the company’s joint programme with Russian Helicopters.


Chinese rotary-wing specialist Avicopter unveiled a revised model of its AHL helicopter concept at the 2017 China Helicopter Exposition, which ran from 14 to 17 September in Tianjin. (Via FYJS website)

Information revealed at the show indicates that the AHL helicopter will have a maximum weight of 38.27 tons, an internal payload of 10 tons, an external payload of 15 tons, a cruising speed of 270 km/h and a maximum range of 800 km.

Media reports have also stated that the platform will be powered by the Ukrainian Motor Sich JSC/Ivchenko-Progress AI-136T turboshaft engine.

Following talks with Avicopter, Russian Helicopters announced on 15 September that the two companies had finalised the technical parameters of their proposed joint programme, with Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky stating that the companies are on track to sign a contract by the end of 2017.

China is thought to require more than 200 helicopters of the class within the next few decades across military and commercial domains.

Performance figures were also revealed at the exhibition for the China Helicopter Research and Development Institute (CHRDI) ‘Short-Tailed Falcon’ gyrodyne lift-rotor and pusher-prop helicopter concept. A placard at the show described it as having a 5,500 kg maximum weight, a maximum payload of 700 kg, a cruise speed greater than 400 km/h, a ferry range of 1,100 km and a range at maximum payload of 650 km.

(307 of 497 words)
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[*] posted on 29-9-2017 at 04:43 PM


Sikorsky's S-97 Raider Could be a Revolutionary Light Helicopter (excerpt)

(Source: Forbes Magazine; issued Sept 27, 2017)

The U.S. Army is the biggest operator of military helicopters in the world. However, all of its combat rotorcraft were developed during the Cold War, and despite upgrades are beginning to show their age. In fact, the Army's main reconnaissance ("scout") helicopter, the Kiowa Warrior, grew so decrepit after 16 years of fighting in Southwest Asia that they were retired despite the absence of a dedicated successor.

Apache, the Army's preeminent tank-killer, will do double duty as an armed recon helicopter for the time being, but Army leaders admit lack of a next-generation recon helicopter is the gap in aviation capabilities that most worries them. Armed recon plays a central role in Army plans for securing battlefield intelligence and attacking forward targets, but in today's lethal warfighting environment the mission requires an unusually agile and survivable airframe.

It appears a solution to the Army's needs already exists in the form of the Sikorsky S-97 Raider, a highly maneuverable light helicopter begun in 2010 in response to a solicitation for next-gen scout helicopters that was later canceled due to scarce funding. Raider got some negative media coverage last month when it suffered a hard landing at Sikorsky's West Palm Beach testing facility, but the fact a prototype was undergoing its 15th test flight underscores the fact that this is not just a neat idea. It's a real helicopter.

Sikorsky began developing the S-97 Raider in 2010 as a game-changing replacement for the U.S. Army's scout helicopters. Seven years later, it is poised to revolutionize the performance of light military helicopters

The problem leading to the hard landing can likely be resolved with tweaks to the flight-control software. The test pilots walked away from the incident after setting the helicopter down and shutting off onboard systems. These kinds of incidents are common when advanced airframes are in development. But the larger story here is just how advanced Raider is. Its performance features and technology point to an impending revolution in light helicopter operations.

(Disclosure: Sikorsky is owned by Lockheed Martin, which contributes to my think tank, along with several of its competitors. Lockheed is also a consulting client.)

Compared to legacy helicopters, Raider will offer a 100% increase in speed and endurance, a 50% decrease in turning radius, a 50% decrease in acoustic "signature," and a 40% increase in payload -- all wrapped in a composite airframe that is 15% smaller than the venerable Kiowa. Whereas the current fleet of Army helicopters is only capable of providing coverage to 40% of Afghanistan, Raider will be able to cover 97%.

That is a huge gain in performance, but it is just the beginning of what Sikorsky is developing -- without using any taxpayer money. Raider will incorporate an advanced open-architecture mission equipment package that facilitates rapid upgrades of on-board sensors and electronics without getting locked into particular vendors. It will also host an automated diagnostic system that can detect mechanical issues before they occur.

Perhaps the most important feature of the design, though, is its two counter-rotating main rotors that can be separately adjusted to enable hover and maneuver in "high-hot" environments like Afghanistan. Because the rotors turn in opposite directions, they eliminate the torque that requires other helicopters to have a stabilizing rear propeller. The six-blade propeller at the rear of Raider is used instead for forward propulsion, while the main rotors are dedicated to lift. This division of labor reduces aerodynamic drag, bolstering maneuverability. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Forbes magazine website.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorenthompson/2017/09/27/sikors...

-ends-
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[*] posted on 3-10-2017 at 10:09 PM


Bell V-280 Ready For First Flight

Oct 3, 2017

James Drew | Aviation Week & Space Technology

The next-generation tiltrotor that Bell Helicopter says should replace the 1970s-era UH-60 Black Hawk is about to take flight in Amarillo, Texas.

The U.S. Army operates approximately 2,300 Sikorsky Black Hawks, and hundreds more are either flying or in development for the Navy, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and dozens of militaries around the world.

Looking at what comes next, the Army is considering revolutionary new rotorcraft designs from AVX  Aircraft Co., Bell, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky/Boeing under the Joint Multi-Role (JMR) Technology Demonstrator initiative, a precursor to Future Vertical Lift (FVL).

Next-gen Tiltrotor
- Valor to fly in late October/early November
- V-280 could be pushed above 300 kt. airspeed
- Bell assessing engines options for “Block 1” V-280
- The two leading contenders are the Bell V-280 Valor third-generation tiltrotor and Sikorsky/Boeing SB-1 Defiant, a coaxial rotor and pusher-prop configuration.

From Bell’s perspective, tiltrotor technology is the “future of vertical lift,” and the V-280 is the ultimate Black Hawk replacement, with the capability of flying about twice as fast and three times as far. The company began designing the aircraft in 2012 using Catia V6 digital 3D design software, and construction started on June 26, 2015. Now the company has begun restrained ground testing, including powering on, lighting the engines and turning rotors. The next step is an unrestrained powered test, during which Valor will probably lift off the ground, which counts as the unofficial first flight.

Bell V-280 program manager Chris Gehler says the true first flight milestone will occur sometime in late October or early November, when the aircraft hovers about 20-30 ft. off the ground for about 1-2 hr. of powered hover testing.

Valor will probably fly about 6-9 months ahead of its competitor, the SB-1 Defiant, which is taking form at Sikorsky’s rotorcraft development center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Sikorsky and Boeing might have fallen behind Bell, but they remain stoic in their pursuit of, and belief in, the X2-based SB-1 configuration as the ultimate Black Hawk successor.


Bell’s V-280 is undergoing ground testing ahead of first flight in late October or early November. Credit: Bell Helicopter

During a media tour of the V-280 at the Bell production facility in Amarillo on Sept. 28, Gehler said he wishes Sikorsky and Boeing well, but he believes Valor will prove to be the more mature and capable platform. He says a family of tiltrotors would best meet the Army’s needs under Future Vertical Lift, scaling from the light and middleweight classes up to a super-heavy Boeing CH-47 Chinook or Lockheed Martin C-130 replacement.

“[V-280] will revolutionize military operations through its speed, range and payload,” says Vince Tobin, Bell’s executive vice president for military business. “The V-280 will be an excellent complement to the V-22 already fielded.”

The U.S. Marine Corps was the first service to adopt tiltrotor technology, enduring deaths, delays and cost overruns to finally field the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey in 2007.

With an average flyaway cost of $70-90 million each, the Osprey has been a tough sell, despite its capability to carry 24 troops over 400 nm unrefueled, up to a maximum cruise speed of 270 kt. To date, the program of record stands at 360 MV-22s for the Marine Corps, 50 CV-22s for the Air Force, 17 MV-22s for Japan and potentially anywhere from 40-90 CMV-22s for the Navy’s carrier logistics mission.

V-22s are not going away anytime soon, and remain in active production at Boeing’s plant in Philadelphia and Bell’s Amarillo site. But Bell says the V-280 will take tiltrotor technology to a whole new level. Using lessons learned from the V-22, Valor has been designed from scratch to be more ergonomic, producible, maintainable, repairable and less expensive, with a flyaway price roughly equivalent to the Boeing AH-64 Apache.


Bell’s V-280 Valor is a candidate for the Army-led Future Vertical Lift program, which would replace the Black Hawk and Huey series of helicopters. Credit: Bell Helicopter

The V-280 is being promoted for utility, attack and combat search-and-rescue missions, Bell officials say.

Bell efforts to improve on the V-280 configuration using digital modeling as the prototype have come together. Bell feels confident it could skip another round of technology maturation and roll straight into a full-scale development program for production and fielding by the mid-2020s.

The nearest opportunity to make Valor a reality is Future Vertical Lift Capability Set 3 (CS3), a procurement being jointly pursued by the Army and Marine Corps to replace the Black Hawk and Bell H-1 Huey series by the mid-2030s.

Bell will try to convince the Defense Department to compress the FVL CS3 schedule and jump straight into engineering and manufacturing development by validating Valor’s design through hundreds of hours of  flight testing.

Bell will initially check off seven different test cards over about 7 hr. of hover and traffic-pattern testing before picking up speed and transitioning into airplane mode with propellers tilted forward. The conversion takes place between 70-120 kt.


Spirit AeroSystems produced the V-280 Valor fuselage “ahead of schedule and under cost,” according to Bell. Credit: Spirit AeroSystems

Gehler expects to move into airplane mode by year-end, before beginning flight envelope expansion up to 280 kt. and perhaps beyond to 304-305 kt. next year.

A cadre of five Bell test pilots and three Army pilots will be putting the aircraft through its paces, first in the Valor flight simulator and system integration laboratory (SIL) and then in the actual demonstration aircraft.

Having lost two test pilots and one of its Bell 525 Relentless civil helicopters in a tragic test mishap in 2016, Bell wants to ensure V-280 flight testing goes as smoothly and safely as possible. The company has laid out a test schedule, but will not rush to arbitrary milestones.

“We only have one airplane and the crew’s lives are important to us, which is why we have a methodical testing regime planned,” Gehler says. “We’ve done failure injections into the SIL to prepare pilots for any issues and concerns.”

Gehler is confident that the V-280 will cruise past its advertised maximum airspeed of 280 kt. to perhaps greater than 300 kt., as desired by the Amy and Marines. Its optimal long-range cruise speed is 230 kt., the company says.

Bell also hopes to beat the minimum performance requirement in high and hot conditions (6,000 ft./95F (35C)) by going up to 8,000 ft./95F.

The prototype is powered by two 5,000 shp-class General Electric T64-419A engines borrowed from the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion. Other candidate engines for the V-280 include the V-22’s Rolls-Royce AE1107 and the CH-53K King Stallion’s newly certified GE38/T408, which at 7,500 shp would probably be overpowered on the V-280.

Gehler says engine manufacturers are working on lighter and more efficient models in the optimal 5,000-6,000-shp range that could be available in the 2019-20 time frame.

For Bell V-280 Build Team Manager Jeff Josselyn, the past two years of construction have been a labor of love. He hopes to see Valor eventually be adopted by the U.S. military.

“There won’t be a dry eye once she flies,” Josselyn says. “We’re really looking forward to getting air underneath these tires.

“We’re all very proud of this aircraft,” he adds. “We understand what it means, not just to Bell Helicopter and our partners, but also what it means for our customer. We believe this is the future of vertical lift.” 
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[*] posted on 3-10-2017 at 10:13 PM


Aneto Engine Offered for Future Super-Medium, -Heavy Helos

Oct 3, 2017

Tony Osborne | Aviation Week & Space Technology

Safran has lifted the covers on a new family of dual-use turboshaft engines envisaged for super-medium-lift and future heavy-lift helicopters.

The 2,500-3,000+-shp Aneto family, named after the highest mountain in the Pyrenees, builds on technologies from the RTM322—the military engine developed with Rolls-Royce and now entirely owned by Safran—and the latter’s internally funded Tech3000 research program.

Unveiled Oct. 3 during the Helitech industry event in London, Safran revealed that development is so far along that the engine has already undergone flight tests and will be offered as an alternative powerplant for Leonardo’s AW189 twin-engine super-medium helicopter.

Concentration of Power
- Safran says Aneto promises a 15% increase in fuel economy and 25% improvement in power-to-weight performance
- Leonardo began flight tests of an Aneto-powered AW189 in March
- The 3,000-shp Aneto is planned to enter the market in early 2020s

More than 35 flights with the 2,544-shp Aneto-1K have been performed in the reengined aircraft, which is notionally referred to as the AW189K.

First flight took place on March 9, and service entry is planned for the fourth quarter of 2018.

Several more powerful versions of the Aneto are set to follow later, with the 3,000+ shp “Dash 3” powerplant likely to emerge in the early 2020s.

Previously, Safran turboshafts have been developed in close coordination with Airbus. Safran’s Tech800 eventually emerged as the Arrano, completing development conveniently in time for use on Airbus’s H160 medium helicopter, so it seems likely the more powerful derivatives of Aneto could be onboard Airbus’s X6, the fly-by-wire replacement for the Super Puma family.


The Aneto family will evolve in the coming years, with the 3,000-shp version emerging in the early 2020s. Credit: Safran

Florent Chauvancy, Safran’s vice president for heavy helicopter engine programs, says his company has beat the competition to market, noting that the closest competitor is the U.S. Army’s Improved Turbine Engine Program powerplant, which is due to enter into service in 2025.

“There is a market for around 7,000 new super-medium and -heavy helicopters over the next 20 years,” says Chauvancy, noting that the helicopters will be eligible for a sizable portion of that.

Aneto is being promoted for helicopters in the 8-15-metric-ton category. The X6, India’s indigenous Multi-Role Helicopter, a mockup of which was displayed at the Aero India airshow last February, could also benefit from the Aneto family.  

Safran contends that the engines will deliver up to 25% more power than similar engines of the same volume, and could deliver a 15% increase in fuel economy compared to current-generation turbines.

“These engines will share some commonality, some characteristics, some modules and parts,” says Chauvancy. “But we will progressively introduce new technology and elements to reach the 3,000-shp target,” he adds.

As a result, Tech3000 development will continue to run in parallel, delivering the building blocks for the higher-power engine. While the Aneto-1K has a similar architecture to the RTM322, there are no common parts. The more powerful versions will feature a new compressor and hot section.

Safran is also introducing advanced manufacturing processes.

The inlet guide vane system features additive-manufactured parts, as does the gyratory combustion chamber.


Leonardo plans to offer the Aneto alongside the incumbent General Electric CT7-2E1. Credit: Leonardo Helicopters

The engine has also been designed to be ready for future hybrid and distributed power systems. Safran and Airbus are jointly exploring the potential of an eco-mode, shutting down one of the two engines in cruise flight and then spinning up the second engine using high-voltage electric motors when the additional power is needed.

Leonardo is planning to offer the Aneto alongside the incumbent General Electric CT7 engine.

The European helicopter manufacturer has generally shied away from offering more than one powerplant for its commercial models, although it does offer a Pratt & Whitney or Safran option for its AW109 light-twin. Installation of the Aneto requires some minor changes to the top-deck structure and the engine cowls.

“The engine is a good match,” says Chauvancy. It will improve the type’s hot and high performance, boost the “mission capabilities” and increase its growth potential, he contends.

Because the Aneto is free of U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations, this could make it an attractive powerplant for the AW189’s military derivative, the AW149, which the company is looking to more widely export. As part of this, the airframer is also working on a future attack helicopter incorporating AW149’s dynamic systems. It is possible the Aneto could play a part in this program too.

Leonardo says that a new or alternative engine for the AW149 is “not a priority,” but does not rule out the Aneto.
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[*] posted on 4-10-2017 at 11:54 AM


Bell pushes Valor’s first flight past September

03 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

Bell Helicopter did not reach first flight with its V-280 Valor on 30 September as originally announced and instead projects the tiltrotor aircraft will meet that milestone in November, V-280’s programme manager tells FlightGlobal this week.

In August, Bell finished building its V-280 prototype but only referred to its first flight date as this fall. Bell started ground tests on 20 September, beginning with checks of the GE Aviation T64 engines and later electromagnetic interference checks on the Lockheed Martin-supplied avionics. Bell didn’t add test points to its ground test regimen, but is taking those tests more slowly, V-280 programme manager Chris Gehler says.

“We’re being very cautious and methodical,” Gehler says. “So it’s maybe taking a little bit longer but we’re not pushing the aircraft beyond what we think is safe. We had a couple of items we wanted to investigate.”

Weather also played a role in pushing first flight later into the fall, with even drops of rain threatening to erode instrumentation on the rotor blades.

“I wish I would have installed a carport over my ground run facility so I could run during the rain,” he says. “With all the instrumentation that we have on the blades and everywhere else, we’re really limited to being able to operate when it’s not raining.”

Bell remains well ahead of Sikorsky-Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant, lagging months behind its first flight date for US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD). Defiant was scheduled to fly this fall, but Boeing announced in April the milestone would be pushed to early 2018.

Programme managers did not report a significant issue that caused the delay, though Boeing was still procuring Defiant’s fuselage even as the programme was undergoing wind tunnel tests.

The JMR-TD flight demonstration is intended by the army to evaluate technologies that could be used for a family of high-speed, Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft. Such designs, with speeds well above the limit of about 170kt for most conventional helicopters, would replace the army's fleet of Boeing AH-64 attack, Sikorsky UH-60 utility and Boeing CH-47 cargo helicopters.
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[*] posted on 7-10-2017 at 02:19 PM


AUSA 2017: FVL progress on point (video)

6th October 2017 - 12:10 GMT | by Helen Haxell in London



The US Army's Future Vertical Lift (FVL) programme seeks to shape the services helicopter fleet of the future. 

Dan Bailey, programme director for JMR/FVL with the US Army spoke to Shephard about the technologies being incorporated into the design and latest updates on the project. 

VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/236894471
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[*] posted on 12-10-2017 at 09:45 AM


Second Raider prototype to fly by early 2018

11 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

Sikorsky will fly its second S-97 prototype early next year, following the crash of the first Raider helicopter in August.

No crew members were injured in the 2 August crash at Sikorsky’s flight test center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Following an analysis with the National Transportation Safety Board, Sikorsky traced the cause of the crash to a software issue and has corrected the problem in a simulator, Chris Van Buiten, vice-president of Sikorsky Innovations tells FlightGlobal at the annual AUSA conference in Washington, DC this week.

“It’s a very sophisticated fly-by-wire flight control issue. We’ve worked through it, corrected it and we’re moving on,” he says. “We don’t see any hardware changes. We were delighted with how all the systems behaved in the hard landing, including the fuselage, landing gear, seats and fuel systems.”

Sikorsky has already passed along its findings to the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant team, which shares a similar coaxial-rotor/pusher-propeller configuration based on X2 concept helicopter technology. While Sikorsky doesn’t plan on changing Raider’s outer-mould line or materials, the company is performing a detailed analysis on how the aircraft’s composite material behaved in the crash.

At the time of the accident, Sikorsky had both prototypes though the second was not completely built, Van Buiten says. The company has no plans to build a replacement for the first prototype, but that could remain as an option, he says.

The company is now pivoting its efforts toward returning the second aircraft to flying status, including finishing the Raider’s gearbox. Sikorsky is also using software to experiment with weapons integration on S-97. The company would test hellfire missiles, precision guided rockets and guns on Raider, with a possible demonstration slated for as early as 2019.
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[*] posted on 12-10-2017 at 09:46 AM


US Army all in for FVL

11 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

US Army chief of staff Gen Mark Milley and acting Secretary Ryan McCarthy confirmed the service is pushing the Future Vertical Lift programme over incremental block upgrades during this week’s annual AUSA conference in Washington, DC.

When news broke a week before the conference that the US Army was reorganizing its modernization efforts, the service listed six priorities including “Future of Vertical Lift platforms” that would address attack, lift and reconnaissance missions in manned and unmanned configurations. Conspicuously missing was the army’s Improved Turbine Engine Programme, leading to speculation that the Apache and Black Hawk engine replacement could be on the chopping block.

But Col Erskine Bentley, US Army Training and Doctrine Command capability manager for FVL and ITEP, believes the GE T700 engine replacement programme has some longevity in the army’s portfolio. With the Boeing AH-64 and Sikorsky UH-60M expected to fly for the next 50 years, ITEP will play a crucial role in maintaining those aircraft's relevancy, according to Bentley.

ITEP also fits into the army’s FVL plan, where it would power the next generation of light attack and reconnaissance rotorcraft.

“ITEP is along its way right now, it’s important to FVL because it is a capability set 1 and 2 power plan,” he says. “I think the ITEP will be brought along with that. I don't know if the leadership would decide to make that cut, but obviously that could be a future decision.”

The army’s Apache programme manager also brushed off a possible upgrade from the E model to F model attack helicopter, an offer suggested by Boeing during last year’s AUSA. The army and Boeing are analysing options to bridge the gap between the legacy Apache and FVL, which could include sensor and laser upgrades,Col Joe Hoecherl says this week.

“That could very easily end up being a new model of aircraft, but at this point it’s premature,” he says.“I think right now we’re not talking about a new model, partly because the priority right now is FVL.”

However, Hoecherl also acknowledged the army could extend FVL’s procurement timeline and depending on which capability set is fielded first, some aircraft could hang around the service for longer than expected and need block upgrades.
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[*] posted on 12-10-2017 at 09:48 AM


US Army eyes laser addition for rotorcraft fleet

11 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

The US Army is pursuing a high-energy laser (HEL) capability for its rotorcraft and fixed-wing assets, following a successful test on a Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter.

Raytheon is looking to meet US Army Aviation’s specifications for the airborne laser capability, Ben Allison, the company's product lead for HEL told FlightGlobal at the AUSA annual meeting in Washington DC. Raytheon previously worked on a separate directed-energy effort led by the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which tested a high-energy laser aboard an Apache. The test emerged out of a co-operative research development agreement between the contractor, SOCOM and the Apache programme office.

The experiment marked the first time a laser hit a target from a rotary-wing aircraft, Raytheon announced on 27 September. The HEL system combined a laser pod with a modified version of the company’s multi-spectral targeting system electro-optical/infrared sensor, which directed the beam and engaged the target.

Raytheon displayed a ground-based version of the system mounted on a tactical vehicle at AUSA. In a video demonstration, the ground-based HEL destroys a small quadcopter by cutting away part of the unmanned air vehicle's structure. Unlike a microwave technology that would fry electronics, the HEL can go after sensors, blind a target or physically destroy it.

An airborne laser capability may not be a near-term possibility though, Apache programme manager Col Joe Hoecherl cautions. While the US Army will be ready for directed-energy technology, the service is still working to understand the policy behind employing laser weapons, he says.

“It’s a capability we’re interested in,” Hoecherl says. “But it’s still very early from a policy in how we use lasers and ways to make sure we do everything properly, legally. You have a whole lot of things factored in that are far outside the materiel development realm. How do you do it in a safe manner?”
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[*] posted on 12-10-2017 at 08:37 PM


Safran Helicopter Engines reveals new engine family for rotorcraft

Gareth Jennings - IHS Jane's International Defence Review

11 October 2017


In its military guise, the Aneto high power engine family will replace the RTM 322 powerplant that currently powers the NH90. Source: IHS Markit/Patrick Allen

Safran Helicopter Engines has unveiled a new family of powerplants for military and commercial rotorcraft covering the 2,500 to over 3,000 shp power range.

The Aneto high power engine family was launched in early October and is said by the French-based company to feature “ground-breaking” technologies.

Developed via the Safran Helicopter Engines Research and Development (R&D) Roadmap, the Aneto-series covers several engine models for the super-medium and heavy helicopter market.

The first Aneto-1K engine is rated at 2,500 shp and has already been selected to power the AgustaWestland AW189K. The engine and helicopter combination flew for the first time in March and is slated to enter service in the fourth quarter of 2018.

As noted by the company, the engines should offer superior performance (25% more power compared with existing engines of the same volume is quoted) with reduced operating costs (Safran touts up to 15% in fuel savings), particularly in ‘hot and high’ operating conditions. The engines are also said to be more reliable than existing units, requiring less maintenance.

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[*] posted on 17-10-2017 at 12:06 PM


Russia eyes new military variants of Mi-38 helicopter

16 October, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Dominic Perry London

Russia may develop medevac and electronic warfare (EW) variants of the Mil Mi-38 helicopter, but has so far ruled out an armed model.

In an interview contained in the latest issue of Russian Helicopters' bi-annual magazine, Yuriy Borisov, Moscow's deputy defence minister, says it has so far committed to take 15 examples of the new 15.6t rotorcraft.

The first two, configured for troop and cargo transport missions, will arrive in 2018 and 2019, respectively, he says.

Although "it is possible" that future developments will include medevac or EW variants of the Mi-38, subject to discussions with the manufacturer, he rules out an armed assault version similar to the Mi-8AMTSh.

"It is not stimulated by the technical assignment," he says.

Borisov also says the defence ministry is still considering whether to revive production of the Mi-14 amphibious helicopter, noting that there is "demand for such an aircraft".

"In the near future we will have to determine whether it would be a modernised Mi-14 or a new project of an amphibian helicopter, or maybe both at once."

In addition, Borisov says he is "keeping a close eye" on the development of the 6.5t Kamov Ka-62 commercial helicopter, which is due to gain Russian civil certification in 2019.

Although no military variant has so far been launched, Borisov says a helicopter in the Ka-62's weight category would "undoubtedly" be used by Russia's military.

However, before that can happen "imported components of the helicopter" – such as its Safran Helicopter Engines Ardiden 3G powerplants – would need to be replaced with Russian-made equipment.

"This is quite feasible; currently the systems and assemblies are being developed in Russia, which will make it possible to make such substitution," Borisov says.
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[*] posted on 25-10-2017 at 10:32 AM


Army’s Future Vertical Lift: ‘You cannot use a cookie-cutter acquisition process’

By: Adam Stone   9 hours ago


The U.S. Army’s Advanced Vertical Takeoff and Landing effort could see flying demonstrations of a vertical lift helicopter as early as next year. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — With Bell Helicopters’ V-280 Valor and Sikorsky-Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant nearly ready for prime time, the Army’s Advanced Vertical Takeoff and Landing effort could see flying demonstrations of a vertical lift helicopter as early as next year.

But while progress has been steady, thoughtful management and changes around the acquisitions process could make it go even faster, Army representatives and an executive from Bell Helicopter said in a roundtable that was hosted by Defense News at the Association of the U.S. Army annual convention.

Roundtable participants together painted an optimistic picture of the state of vertical lift.

“The beauty is that we are very close to being right where we expected to be when we started this five-plus years ago,” said Vince Tobin, executive vice president for military business with Bell Helicopter.

Bell was the underwriter of the roundtable.

Nailing the details

The Army has locked down a range of detailed specs for the future aircraft, “everything from how much somebody weighs inside the aircraft [to] how big the seat has to be to accommodate not only the person, but the exoskeleton they’ll be wearing,” said Bill Lewis, the director of the aviation development directorate at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center.

The Army also has asked the vendor community for a faster product, something that could fly twice the speed of a conventional helicopter. “We really pressed configurations for speed. That was the main attribute,” Lewis said.

A two-year demonstration period lies ahead for the emerging aircraft, during which time the Army will work to ensure mission systems can be seamlessly integrated into the new platform. The service is leveraging the advanced architectural design language to hasten that process.

“It’s a different way of working through the software builds,” Lewis said. “It dovetails with model-based systems engineering to get after a better way of writing code the right way the first time as you walk through. It saves a huge amount of money and eliminates a lot of uncertainties. So, as we march through those efforts, we’ll have a capstone in ’19 that will bring all of those elements together.”

A faster buy

With advanced software techniques speeding systems integration, planners are looking at other ways to accelerate both components of the new platform and the whole vertical lift program.

Consistent funding would help – “not just a lot of money, but stable and predictable funding,” said Col. Roger Kuykendall, improved turbine engine program and future vertical lift program manager with the Army.

He’s also looking at a range of variables that could impact the timeline, including the specific program requirements, the level of technology in play and the amount of required testing.

“All that equates to time and money as well. So, I think there are ways to accelerate that, especially with an emphasis from senior leadership. I think those all contribute to accelerating the program,” he said.

Lewis proposes taking things a step further, removing or reducing broad swaths of the conventional process in order to tailor-make an acquisition defined by the needs of the program.

“You cannot use a cookie-cutter acquisition process,” he said. “You have to challenge every piece of that, not only at the [program management] level but at the [Department of Defense]level. I guarantee that if you shoot an engine with a high-caliber round, it will fail, so I’m not sure what we’re trying to prove with the extensive live-fire things that we do. There are things that we deliberately need to look at that will radically alter the timing and the schedule of these production vehicles.”

In the meantime, the Army says it remains committed to supporting its current helicopter fleet while it waits for the vertical lift effort to come to fruition.

“We currently spend about 50 percent of our science and technology portfolio on future fleet and 50 percent on current fleet,” Lewis said. “Any technologies, especially digital capability, that we can attain we will also spiral that into the existing fleet to keep that fleet on par.”
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[*] posted on 3-11-2017 at 09:55 PM


TAI begins development of ATAK 2 heavy attack helicopter

Lale Sariibrahimoglu - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

02 November 2017


First image of ATAK 2 heavy attack helicopter. Source: TAI

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) announced on 31 October that it has begun domestic development of the ATAK 2 attack helicopter.

TAI began the project to build the six-tonne ATAK 2 domestically without foreign help based on technical knowledge and operational experience gained with the T129 attack helicopter currently produced under licence from Leonardo, the company said on its website.

The ATAK 2 will be bigger and heavier than the T129.

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[*] posted on 14-11-2017 at 07:33 PM


DUBAI: Bell closing in on V-280 first flight

14 November, 2017 SOURCE: Flight Daily News BY: Dominic Perry Dubai

Bell Helicopter's immediate attentions at Dubai may be centred on the sale of AH-1Z attack helicopters, but back at its Amarillo, Texas facility the focus is on first flight of its latest rotorcraft.

The airframer plans to perform a maiden sortie of the V-280 Valor tiltrotor before "the end of the autumn", says Vince Tobin, vice-president military business at Bell, ushering in a frantic period of test activity as part of a broader US Army-led effort.

For all the coverage from the Dubai air show visit our dedicated event page

Initially to fly as part of the joint multirole technology demonstrator programme, Bell hopes the V-280 will then form the basis for the multiservice future vertical lift (FVL) initiative, initially as a replacement for the army's fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks.

Ground runs of the Valor's GE Aviation T64 powerplants have been taking place for the past two months, as the airframer gears up for first flight. Recent trials have also seen the aircraft rotate its engines between 75°-95°.

"It is restrained on the run stand, so we have actually had both engines turning simultaneously with greater than take-off power through the rotor system," says Tobin. "We like to say that it's actually sling-loading the earth at the moment."

Initial flights will be confined to low hover manoeuvres, moving to transitions into airplane mode, and then an expansion of the envelope in airplane mode "by the spring of 2018", says Tobin.

Although the V-280 faces competition for the FVL contract from the co-axial-rotor Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant, first flight of the latter has been pushed back into 2018.

"In a perfect world our competitor would be right there with us flying so we could get on with the competition, but if not our goal is to demonstrate as much capability to the army as quickly as possible," says Tobin. "We can't control what [our competitor] does."

While confined by the timeline of any potential future contract, Bell believes it could be in a position to begin the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of any programme of record by 2021, says Tobin.

"Our view is to demonstrate the low technical risk and high technology readiness level [of the V-280] and give the army the opportunity, if they choose, to bring the programme to the left."

Separately, the airframer is also pursuing early development work on its self-funded V-247 Vigilant unmanned tiltrotor.

Currently in the preliminary design phase, the V-247 is proposed for a nascent requirement from the US Marine Corps for a ship-borne UAV to perform surveillance or assault missions.

While Bell is waiting on the launch of an official procurement process for guidance, Tobin says the aircraft "could be in production by 2025", if required.

Tobin believes that ultimately both the Valor and Vigilant will be picked by the US Department of Defense. "Our expectation is that the customer will select both of those aircraft, mostly because they meet their requirements," he says.

"It would be difficult for them to say no to either programme based on the successes we have had."

Tobin says some of the technologies being developed for the Valor, notably the manufacturing processes for the wing, could be adapted for its existing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor if the US Department of Defense chose to launch an upgrade programme for the type. The V-22 is built in partnership with Boeing.
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[*] posted on 16-11-2017 at 08:12 PM


Additional nations could join with Italy for new attack helicopter

15 November, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Dominic Perry Dubai

Leonardo Helicopters is looking for additional partners on its new attack rotorcraft programme, which has now been designated the AW249.

In January 2017 Italy awarded the company a €487 million ($515 million) contract to develop a successor to its army's AW129 Mangusta fleet.

But speaking at a Dubai air show event, Leonardo's group chief commercial officer Lorenzo Mariani said the helicopter is "not only for Italy".

"It is a basis for collaboration – we believe that other nations can join this project," says Mariani, confirming the AW249 designation.

"In agreement with our customer [Italy] we have adopted quite a bullish attitude: we have the contract, we have the design, we have the idea and we have started the development – we are open for other nations to join that."

Mariani's comments raise the possibility that Leonardo could once again partner with state-owned Turkish Aerospace Industries, which has already signalled an intention to develop a successor to the T129 ATAK, a helicopter derived from the Mangusta.

More details on the AW249's proposed specification have also emerged.

A presentation given by the Italian army at a recent conference in Kracow, Poland, indicates that the helicopter will have a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 7-8t, significantly higher than the 5t AW129.

The increase in MTOW is partly driven by a more than doubling of the weapons load, which grows from 800kg (1,760lb) to almost 2,000kg.

Cruise speed, ceiling and endurance figures on the AW249 would all increase compared with those of the Mangusta.

In addition, Leonardo proposes examining means of lowering the new helicopter's radar and heat signatures to give it more stealthy characteristics.

Under the manufacturer's previously disclosed proposals it will use dynamic system components from the current AW149 troop transport helicopter.

No decision has so far been made on the AW249's engines, but it is likely to be a two-way fight between the GE Aviation T700 and the Safran Helicopter Engines Aneto, which was recently selected to power the K-model variant of the commercial AW189.

The development contract runs until 2025 and will see Leonardo produce a total of five aircraft, the final one of which will be a serial example.

Italy projects an eventual requirement for 48 helicopters, with the Mangusta to be retired from 2025.
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[*] posted on 23-11-2017 at 11:19 AM


CH-53K helicopter to make international debut at ILA Berlin show

22 November, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Dominic Perry London

Sikorsky has confirmed that the CH-53K King Stallion will make its air show debut at next year's ILA Berlin event, as the airframer pursues a lucrative export contract with Germany.

The manufacturer had previously expressed an ambition to take the new heavy-lift helicopter to the biennial exhibition, but has now been given the go-ahead by the US Marine Corps, Sikorsky's domestic customer for the CH-53K.

Although the service is seeking to build time on the four engineering, manufacturing and development aircraft, to support an initial operating capability target of 2019, Frank Crisafulli, sales director international, heavy-lift helicopters at Sikorsky, says the USMC recognises the importance of "giving international visibility to the bird".

Export orders would help to lower the per-unit cost of the CH-53K, he adds, as well as potentially allowing the Marines to take advantage of capabilities demanded by overseas customers, such as a higher maximum take-off weight.

Germany is evaluating the King Stallion as replacement for its existing 81-strong fleet of 1970s-era CH-53GA/GS, which will be retired from 2023.

Berlin was due to begin the procurement process earlier this year, but inconclusive national elections and a subsequent failure to form a coalition government have pushed back successive deadlines.

Crisafulli points out that there is no production capacity issue requiring an early decision from Germany in order to meet the 2023 timeline, however.

Nonetheless, he says there a degree of urgency as a number of Germany's helicopters – and those of the other likely export candidate, Israel – are "going to start hitting up against the 10,000-hour airframe mark".

Tel Aviv is looking to replace its fleet of 23 elderly D-model CH-53 "Yas'ur" helicopters from 2024, and Brig Gen Nir Nin-Nun, commander of the Israeli air force's air support and helicopter division, was given the opportunity to experience the CH-53K during a 7 November test flight from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

In fact, Nin-Nun, a Boeing AH-64 Apache pilot, took the controls of the fly-by-wire King Stallion during the 90min sortie.

Despite being more at home with lighter helicopters, "flying the big iron there, he had no problems at all," says Crisafulli.
In both contests, the King Stallion faces competition from the CH-47 Chinook.

However, Crisafulli suggests that in future only Block II-standard Chinooks – due to deliver from 2023 - will be supported, leaving operators of the tandem-rotor type "faced with a bill to upgrade".

"If I had to spend $2 billion to upgrade my [CH-47]Ds, why might I not look at a brand-new helicopter?" he says.

The Block II Chinook modifications will lift its maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 24,500kg (54,000lb), compared with the CH-53K's 33,600kg.

The USMC's total acquisition covers 200 examples of the CH-53K and Crisafulli believes it is "a realistic expectation" that export sales could match that figure.

"That was an aggressive number initially, but as we move forward I think that becomes more and more do-able."

He says Sikorsky has seen strong interest from a number of countries in the King Stallion, which should begin to firm up in the first quarter of 2018.

The CH-53K is powered by three GE Aviation T408 engines, each rated at 7,500shp (5,600kW).
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[*] posted on 27-11-2017 at 03:46 PM


China Has High Hopes For Z-20 Helicopter

by Chen Chuanren - November 22, 2017, 7:15 AM


Two Z-20 helicopters were seen at a civil airport in the highlands of Gansu province. (Chinese Internet Weibo @lyhfire)

China’s new Z-20 medium utility helicopter has come closer to full operational capability by completing high-altitude tests at Xiahe airfield in Gansu Province. Photos of two Z-20s—serials 635, 636 bearing the insignia of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)—emerged on the Chinese internet, indicating that the helicopters were handed over to the service from their manufacturer the Harbin Aircraft Industry Group (HAIG), for final tests and evaluations. The tests were conducted at up to 4,000 m (13,200 feet).

 The Z-20 requirement dates back to the 1980s, when China was seeking a medium utility helicopter for operations in the mountainous west region. The PLAAF eventually acquired 24 Sikorsky S-70C-2s with the enhanced General Electric T700-701A engines. It was reported that the S-70’s performance in the highlands was unmatched, even with the later acquisition by China of Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters from Russia.

Development of the so-called “10-tonne helicopter project” started in 2006 when a small-scale model of the Z-20 was shown at that year’s Zhuhai Airshow. But it was not until December 23, 2013 that the Z-20 made its first flight. It made its first public appearance at the 2016 Zhuhai Airshow.

At first look, the Z-20 bears a strong resemblance to the Sikorsky UH-60/S-70 Black Hawk series. It is commonly referred to as the Chinese Black Hawk. However, Z-20 designer Deng Jinghui told Chinese media that the Z-20 is a  fly-by-wire design. Key visual differences are five main rotor blades on the Z-20, and more angular tail–to-fuselage joint frame. Military observer Huo Yanbin thinks that these features will give the Z-20 more lift and greater cabin capacity and endurance than the Black Hawk.

The most recent photos also show a new fairing installed aft of the engine exhausts and another on the tail spine, which are likely housings for satellite communications or the BeiDou (Big Dipper) satellite navigation system.

A crucial part of a successful development of the Z-20 would be the integration of its engines. It is widely believed that the primary powerplant for the Z-20 is the domestic WZ-10 turboshaft engine, providing 1,600 kW (about 2,145 shp). In comparison, the latest UH-60 GE T700-701D engines produce 1,500 kW (about 2,011 shp).

Beyond highland operations, Huo thinks the Z-20 will be a key air mobility and projection platform for the PLA, and will also provide the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) with a much-needed multi-role naval helicopter. Huo says that compared to the Harbin Z-8/18 series, the smaller size of the Z-20 and its newer systems will enable the Z-20 to be interoperable across all PLAN ships, yet large enough to install a full suite of anti-submarine capabilities. These are not found in the navy’s current Harbin Z-9 and Kamov Ka-28 helicopters.
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[*] posted on 1-12-2017 at 12:36 PM


Textron-owned firm tries out augmented reality in V-280 helo simulator

By: Jen Judson   4 hours ago


Bell's V-280 Valor is on display at the annual meeting of the Association of the U.S. Army at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13, 2014. (Mike Morones/Staff)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Textron subsidiary TRU Simulation + Training is trying out an augmented reality capability in its Bell V-280 Valor helicopter simulator.

The V-280 demonstrator itself is slated to have its first flight by the end of the year in advance of the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role demonstration that will help guide the service’s requirements when developing a Future Vertical Lift program of record. The Army plans to field new helicopters beginning in the early 2030s.

The V-280 Valor simulator has turned heads for several years at defense conferences worldwide for its realism. It’s guided by the helicopter’s actual flight control laws, so flying it in the simulator is the same experience, in a sense, as flying it in real life. The simulator has helped Bell Helicopter show the Army and the public what the helicopter is capable of when it comes to maneuver and speed.

But one of the goals for TRU in developing the V-280 simulator is “to use it as a platform for us to introduce the augmented reality solutions that are out there and we have taken a first cut at it,” John Hayward, TRU’s senior vice president and general manager for the company’s military and business simulation sector, told Defense News at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference on Wednesday.

The technology is “not 100 percent mature and it’s not quite there yet, but it shows you the realm of the possible,” he said.

To bring augmented reality into the cockpit of the simulator, TRU is using an augmented reality/virtual reality headset where users can see their own hands and the actual cockpit controls and avionics. Looking beyond the interior of the helicopter, a virtual scene of a helicopter in flight is superimposed.

The idea is to be able to create a more mobile and easy-setup simulator that breaks free of the need to use an expensive dome and projectors and put the entire virtual reality simulator in a headset environment. And by being able to see your own hands and controls, the learning experience is more real.

While it’s not ready for prime time, Hayward said, “it really gave us the experience to integrate it and learn about it AR and VR, so it’s a good experience for us and it really showcases the current state of technology. The technology is moving so rapidly; by this time next year, I expect it will be amazing.”

And the showroom floor at I/ITSEC is evidence enough that it’s a burgeoning technology. A few other companies brought examples of how to apply the technology to military training, but while closed virtual reality headsets were everywhere, the specific mixed-reality capability didn’t pop up all over the exhibition hall.

Rockwell Collins brought its mixed reality capability ― Coalescence ― to the show again after unveiling it last year.

This year it demoed a gunner in the back of a helicopter and a pilot flying a jet. Using an AR/VR headset like TRU, a user can use a real gun and see their own hands, but beyond that a virtual world appears.

[New 'Mixed Reality' System Blends Real and Virtual Worlds]
For several industry experts at the show, there is great value in being able to see your own hands and real equipment rather than strange avatar versions.

According to Nicholas Scarnato, Rockwell Collins’ director of marketing and strategy for simulation and training solutions, Coalescence is nearly ready for prime time, as compared to where the capability was last year.

TRU’s Hayward said within the rotorcraft industry and particularly with Bell Helicopter, the firm wants to move toward simulator-based training and focus less on aircraft training. This means that the more realistic training can be in a simulator, the better it is for pilots getting less airtime in a real helicopter.

With this understanding, TRU continues — when thinking about simulators for future aircraft — to look at ways to make the experience as real to the pilots as possible.
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[*] posted on 15-12-2017 at 11:19 AM


Airbus flies Project EAGLE rotorcraft automation system

Gareth Jennings - Jane's International Defence Review

14 December 2017


The Project EAGLE on-board image processing system seen mounted under the nose of its H225 host platform testbed. Source: Airbus Helicopters

Airbus Helicopters has undertaken in-flight validation of its Project EAGLE on-board image processing system that is geared at furthering the automation of rotorcraft.

The milestone aboard an H225 testbed, which was announced by the Marignane arm of the company on 14 December, demonstrated the system’s ability to select a small ground target from ranges of up to 2 miles (3.2 km) and to automatically track it during the pilot’s approach. It also validated the architecture and main components of the Eye for Autonomous Guidance and Landing Extension (EAGLE), such as the gyrostabilised optronics package and the processing unit.

Flight trials followed the ground-testing phase that began in May. The next step of the testing campaign will focus on coupling the EAGLE with the automatic flight control system to fully automate the approach to a selected landing area.

As noted by Airbus Helicopters, Project EAGLE “aims to federate the entire helicopter’s image processing functions and feed them into the avionics system, thus improving the crew’s situational awareness and reducing the pilot’s workload by automating and securing approaches, take-off, and landing in the most demanding environments. The system is designed to be integrated on a variety of existing and future Airbus vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) vehicles”.

Previously, Airbus Helicopters has said that future iterations of Project EAGLE could include a laser rangefinder which could aid in obstacle detection and 3D-terrain mapping.

(254 of 377 words)
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[*] posted on 19-12-2017 at 12:46 PM


18 December 2017

Bell V-280 Valor Achieves First Flight

Amarillo, Texas (December 18, 2017) – Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, today announced that its V-280 Valor has achieved first flight. The V-280 Valor is a next-generation tiltrotor that is designed to provide unmatched agility, speed, range and payload capabilities at an affordable cost. This milestone represents exceptional progress on the V-280 development program and brings Bell Helicopter one step closer to creating the next generation of vertical lift aircraft for the U.S. military.



“This is an exciting time for Bell Helicopter, and I could not be more proud of the progress we have made with first flight of the Bell V-280,” says Mitch Snyder, President & CEO for Bell Helicopter. “First flight demonstrates our commitment to supporting Department of Defense leadership’s modernization priorities and acquisition reform initiatives. The Valor is designed to revolutionize vertical lift for the U.S. Army and represents a transformational aircraft for all the challenging missions our armed forces are asked to undertake.

“We are thrilled to share in this success of the V-280 first flight with Team Valor,” added Snyder. “The V-280 intends to completely transform what is possible for the military when it comes to battle planning and forward operations.”

The Bell V-280 Valor program is part of the Joint Multi Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) initiative. The JMR-TD program is the science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense's Future Vertical Lift program. The V-280 program brings together the engineering resources and industrial capabilities of Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, GE, Moog, IAI, TRU Simulation & Training, Astronics, Eaton, GKN Aerospace, Lord, Meggitt and Spirit AeroSystems—collectively referred to as Team Valor.

The Bell V-280 Valor is postured to provide the U.S. Army with the highest levels of maturity and technical readiness. The aircraft is designed to provide the best value in procurement, operations and support, and force structure, while delivering desired leap-ahead performance capabilities with increased maintainability, reliability and affordability to the DoD. With twice the speed and range of conventional helicopters, the Valor is designed to offer maneuver commanders unmatched operational agility to self-deploy and perform a multitude of vertical lift missions currently unachievable in one aircraft. The Bell V-280 is a combat force multiplier with superior performance, payload, survivability, and reliability to give the warfighter the decisive advantage.
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[*] posted on 20-12-2017 at 11:47 AM


Bell Valor V-280 makes maiden flight

19 December, 2017 SOURCE: FlightGlobal.com BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

A prototype Bell Helicopter tiltrotor called the V-280 Valor lifted vertically off the ground and hovered in ground effect for the first time this week.

The V-280, which denotes the aircraft's 280kt top speed, performed basic handling tests in hover mode outside Bell's tiltrotor production site in Amarillo, Texas, including a rapid pedal turn.

The hover test comes after the V-280 began a series of check-outs for first flight in September, including validating the GE Aviation T64 engines and electromagnetic interference on the Lockheed Martin-supplied avionics. Bell also tested the V-280’s gearboxes, actuation, software and rotors, says Keith Flail, vice-president of advanced tiltrotor systems at Bell Helicopter.

“The exciting thing to me is the integration of those and how the air vehicle as a whole is behaving,” he says.

Although Bell originally projected the Valor would fly in September, the V-280 is tracking well ahead of Sikorsky-Boeing’s SB-1 Defiant in the US Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR-TD). The SB-1, a high-speed design that uses coaxial rotors and a pusher propeller, was expected to fly this fall, but Boeing has pushed first flight until early 2018.

The JMR-TD will pave the way for the multiservice future vertical lift (FVL) initiative, which will replace the Boeing AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk.

The Valor’s tiltrotor configuration builds on the heritage of the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, but the V-280 features improvements such as a straight wing and fixed nacelles. By doing away with the V-22’s slightly forward swept and dihedral wing, Bell decreased manufacturing costs by eliminating the need for a mid-wing gearbox, Flail says. Still, the rotorcraft is able to meet Bell’s 280kt cruise airspeed goal, he adds.

“Because of what we now know, it is less complex and less expensive,” he says. “That’s approach on V-280, it’s really hard to get the simple.”
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[*] posted on 20-12-2017 at 01:29 PM


Leonardo Wins National Award for Innovation with Electric Tail Rotor for Helicopters to Reduce Environmental Impact

(Source: Leonardo; issued Dec 18, 2017)

The National Award for Innovation, the most important prize for Italian innovation, was awarded to Leonardo during a ceremony held in the Chamber of Deputies, in the presence of the President of the Chamber, Laura Boldrini.

Established by the Italian Government at the National Foundation for Technological Innovation, COTEC, the Award, better known as the “Premio dei Premi”, aims to enhance and support the best examples of innovation in many sectors including industry, design, education and research. The event is part of the National Innovation Day 2017, established by the President of the Council of Ministers.

"Technological innovation is a necessary condition for growth and a decisive factor for sustainable and lasting development” said Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo's CEO “that’s why Leonardo invests annually 1.4 billion euros, 11% of its revenues, in research and development, and has a policy based on open innovation, using tools and technological skills that come from outside the company".

Leonardo was awarded the prize for the research and development of an electric tail rotor for helicopters, a solution that offers numerous benefits in terms of reliability, safety, maintenance, operational use and fuel consumption, with a significant environmental impact reduction.

This groundbreaking technology is part of a roadmap to increase the use of electrical equipment in aircraft systems and propulsion. The project was developed within Clean Sky, the European programme created with the aim of increasing cutting-edge technologies capable of leading to a significant reduction in the acoustic and environmental impact of airplanes and helicopters and air transport in general.

The objective is the development of aircraft characterised by lower emissions, both in terms of noise and pollutants, and greater fuel efficiency.

Furthermore, within the National Innovation Award, Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Leonardo (33%) and Thales (67%), won another award, ranking it among the most innovative companies in the Industry and Services category.

-ends-
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