Both main rotor blades and tail rotor blades are now undergoing qualification testing at Sikorsky's Stratford, Conn., headquarters. Tests completed to date include spinning of the blades on whirl towers to measure balance, and initial fatigue tests to determine structural strength. Blade qualification testing will continue over several years to include stress and fatigue tests, and additional whirl tower testing to validate aerodynamic stability, tip deflection, and rotational twist along each blade's length.
This first set of blades will be attached to the CH-53K Ground Test Vehicle at Sikorsky's Developmental Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. Marine Corps pilots and Sikorsky test engineers will spin the blades on the GTV as part of the Shakedown Light-Off, a term used to describe the test of engines, transmissions, and blades running together for the first time.
Sikorsky began fabricating composite rotor blades in the early 1970s for the UH-60 BLACK HAWK helicopter. Composite blades made by Sikorsky are flaw tolerant to ensure that any small anomalies present in the blade during its initial fabrication will not grow into larger problematic anomalies.
The 4 th generation blade design is part of a long chain of Sikorsky rotor systems innovations and investment to improve blade aerodynamics.Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries. SOURCE Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation