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Introduction and Basics of RC Helicopter

Saurabh Rangari , Shailesh Kumar , Shakti Bhim Bhan Singh

Shashank Nitundil , Shikhar Gupta , Steaphen Sigatapuk
Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by rotors. This allows the
helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward, and laterally. These
attributes allow helicopters to be used in congested or isolated areas where fixed-wing aircraft and
many forms of VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft cannot perform. This report deals with
the basic components, working and principles of a helicopter which was studied as part of the lab



To familiarize with the various parts of the helicopter and their functions and the overall working principle and its
aerodynamics. To understand the swash plate mechanism and its working features during various maneuvers of the
helicopter. To study the difference of the cyclic and collective control. To explore the Bell Hiller mechanism and use
of paddles.


Apparatus Required

1. RC Helicopter
2. Remote controller
3. Power packs to power transmitter and receiver.



A helicopter is an aircraft that is lifted vertically and is propelled in different directions by tilting the thrust vector of
the main rotor rotating in a plane perpendicular to the vertical axis of the helicopter. The rotor has two or more propeller
blades, which have an airfoil cross section along its length. Apart from the main rotor, most of the conventional rotors
have a tail rotor to counteract the reaction torque of the main rotor on the helicopter body by imparting an opposite
yawing moment to the helicopter. Helicopters are also known as rotary wing aircraft because unlike fixed wing
aircrafts, the wings are in the form of blades in a helicopter which keeps on rotating so as to maintain a flow of fluid
through them which generates lift as in the case of fixed wing aircraft where the engines or propellers are used to
maintain a relative velocity between the wing and the air.


Different parts of the helicopter

1. Main rotor: this is the main source of thrust in a helicopter producing enough thrust to balance the helicopter
weight and forces required in different directions for maneuvering purpose. It comprises of two or move rotor
blades which upon rotation creates a relative motion in the surrounding air and the cross section of blades which
are basically airfoils and thus lift is generated which is varied by varying the angle of attack of the blades.
2. Tail rotor: Usually tail rotors are found in conventional helicopters attached to the tail with its axis along the
pitch axis. It is attached to tail with its axis along the pitch axis. It is attached to the tail with a long tail boom
and its sales purpose is to provide counter yaw moment to the reaction of the main rotor torque on the helicopter.

Student, Department of Aerospace Engineering .

Student, Department of Aerospace Engineering .
Undergraduate Student, Department of Aerospace Engineering .
Undergraduate Student, Department of Aerospace Engineering .
Undergraduate Student, Department of Aerospace Engineering .
k Undergraduate Student, Department of Aerospace Engineering .

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Its pitch is also adjustable and it is attached with the help of gears with proper gear ratios to exact balance the
reaction torque of main rotor. Tail rotor can be independently controlled by pilot for yaw maneuvers.
3. Cockpit:This part of helicopter accommodates the passenger, payload and pilot and all the control systems and
levers and navigation instruments as well.
4. Landing skid: It is used to support the helicopter during landing and when it is stationed on the ground.
5. Tail skid: To protect the tail rotor from getting hit during landing accidentally, tail skid is provided.
6. Tail boom: It provides a large moment arm for a small force produced by tail rotor so as to balance the reaction
torque of main rotor.
7. Swash plate: This is a mechanism to transfer the pilot inputs for changing the blade pitch and hence the angle
of attack to the rotating blades. It controls every motion of the helicopter other than its rotation. It comprises of
two discs one of which is attached to the rotor shafts and rotates with it while the other one is joined to the first
one via bearings and does not rotate. It is able to tilt in all directions and move vertically.

Figure 1. Main Rotor and Swash Plates Assembly


Working principle

The flying methodology of a helicopter is quite different from the fixed wing aircrafts except for the fact that both
generated lift by accelerating the flow over airfoil actions as in wings and the rotor blades in a helicopter. When the
rotors rotate the air is accelerated over the airfoil and lift is generated but unlike fixed wing aircrafts, they can generate
lift without moving forward.



A helicopter can undergo all kinds of maneuvers that is possible in a fixed wing aircraft. All the maneuvers is
attained with the help of cyclic and collective pitch controls
Collective Pitch:For collective pitch control, when the lever is pulled, the pitch of all the rotor blades (main)
changes simultaneously and the entire swash plate moves up or down depending upon the case when it has to
climb or descend. Here there is no change in the orientation of the swash plate but it only moves axially along
the rotor axis. It results in simultaneous change in angle of attack of the blades which in turn increases or
decreases the amount of lift generated aiding the helicopter to climb up or sink down.

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Figure 2. Collective Pitch

Cyclic Pitch:Cyclic controls are used to change the helicopter orientation and hence the movements of helicopter in that direction. It helps in forward, backward and sideways motion of the helicopter by aligning the
thrust vector of main rotor in the desired direction. In this case, when the control lever is pulled, the swash plate
tilts in the appropriate direction depending upon pilot input and thus the angle of attack of the blades changes as
the function of their position in their plane of rotation so that the lift vector is tilted in a selective direction.

Figure 3. Cyclic Pitch

Both cyclic and collective control can be given to the helicopter making the helicopter to undergo the motion corresponding to both the inputs. Thus by controlling the collective and cyclic pitch of the helicopter, it is made to fly

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Helicopter Control Mechanisms

These control mechanisms describe the transfer of pilot input to the final alteration of rotor blades necessary for
directional control of the helicopter. This section describes the different kinds of mechanisms that produce the required
swash plate configuration, orientation and motion which in turn controls the rotor blades. It uses the coupling of the
swash plate motion with yet another mechanism that makes use of aerodynamic and gyroscopic concepts. So with the
help of such mechanism pilot never controls the swash plates directly but only controls this coupling mechanism to
direct his helicopter.

Figure 4. Pivot and Flybar

A. Bell Section
The upper swash plate is directly connected to the main blade grips. It eliminates the stabilization issues of the
helicopter by imparting sort of gyroscopic stability by adding dead weights to a stabilizer bar perpendicular to the main
rotor blade. These weights keep on spinning with the rotor and any perturbations in the motion of helicopter which
may destabilize the helicopter in roll or yaw direction is counteracted by its angular momentum change resistance
providing gyroscopic stability.
B. Hiller System
As a modification to Bells system, Hiller proposed to put to aerodynamic symmetric airfoil shaped paddles instead
of dead weights with the paddles being attached to the stabilizer bar at the quarter chord point for the paddle airfoil.
Being symmetric , the aerodynamic center of the paddle lies at quarter chord point, thus moment required to rotate this
paddle remains invariant of its angle of attack i.e. a small power is required to rotate these paddles which is coupled
to the main blades and thus their tilting causes the swash plates to change its orientation which then reorients the main
blades in a desired manner as per the command given to the paddles by the pilot. In this manner it in addition to
providing stability to helicopter reduces the pilot power input and to turn the blade angles.

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Figure 5. Hiller Control System

C. Bell Hiller Control System

It is considered as the hybrid of both Bell and Hiller system. The key component is Bell-Hiller mix up which mixes
the fly bar tilt and the swash plate tilt mechanically. It uses the Hiller paddles attached to the fly bar. The pitch of the
paddles is controlled by a linkage from swash plate like Hiller system. It has a number of advantages which include
less control, force/moment is required, more stable than Bell system and faster cyclic control than Hiller system due
to some direct swash plate input. But it has a major disadvantage of more complexity of the mechanisms involved in
the control.

Figure 6. Bell-Hiller Control System

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1. Vertical take-off and landing capability of the helicopter makes it a very versatile aircraft. Practically zero
runway length is required for a helicopter as compared to fixed wing aircrafts.
2. Rough terrains do not pose a problem for the helicopters. They can land anywhere, whenever it is needed. It can
be landed on a building roof.
3. It has a distinct capability to hover at a place which has major applications in the field of defence and survelliance.



A. Dissymmetry of Lift
It refers to the conditions of uneven amount of lift on the opposite sides of the rotor disk. It effects single-rotor
helicopters in forward flight. The amount of lift generated by an airfoil is proportional to the square of the air speed.
In a zero airspeed, lower the rotor blades have equal airspeeds and therefore equal lift. In forward flight, the advancing
blade has a higher airspeed than the retreating blade, creating unequal lift across the rotor disc.
B. Speed Limit
The speed of a helicopter is fairly small as compared to a typically fixed wing aircraft also the rotational speed of the
blade have a practical limit due to the stall and flow separation problems. The faster the helicopter goes forward, the
slower the sir is going on the blade that is moving backward in relation to the forward motion of the a
point the backwards moving blade will not have the air speed required to make lift on that side so the helicopter rolls
to the side of the retreating blade and pitches up therefor slowing the helicopter down. Another reason can be that
the advancing blade may have supersonic flows over it and my result in shock formation when the critical pressure
coefficient is crossed.
C. Tail rotor and tail boom
Just to counteract the reaction torque from main rotor helicopter have to carry a tail boom and tail rotor which increases
the overall length of the helicopter. There are several configuration which elimination the need of tail rotor.
Ducted Fan
Coaxial Rotors
Tandem Rotors
Intermeshing Rotors


Other Features

ANTI-TORQUE PEDALS Its purpose is to control the direction in which the nose of the helicopter is pointed.
Application of the pedals in a given direction changes the pitch of the tail rotor blades by increasing or decreasing
the thrust produced by the tail rotor and carrying the nose to yaw in the direction of the applied pedal. The pedals
mechanically change the pitch of tail rotor acting amount of thrust produced.
RATE GYRO This is a small electronic device used to induce stability to the aircraft heading by the detecting the rotation of the helicopter and seeing a feedback signal to the microprocessor which then sends appropriate signals to the anti-torque system and apply necessary moments in order to regain stability if external
im-balancing moments due to great and perturbations start acting on the helicopter.
THROTTLE Whenever a pilot gives input to the controls, the angle of the blades changes and therefore the
amount of lift as well as drag of the helicopter changes, so the amount of engines power needed to keep the
blades rotating will also vary to another mechanism is coupled to the pilot controls which accordingly vary the
engine throttle to keep the blades rotating with a given speed.

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As compared to fixed wings aircrafts, rotating using helicopter are not even close to economical. In the cruise
condition of the fixed wings aircraft, it has to spend enough power just to overcome the drag acting on it which is
considered lower in the cruise condition because fixed wing aircrafts fly at maximum L/D during cruise which for
commercial plane is generally greater than 17. Thus for example, if a fixed wing aircraft has to carry X number
of people then it has to spend power to overcome drag corresponding to X/(L/D) number of people but in case of
helicopter if it has to carry X number of persons than it will have spend power corresponding to X number of persons
as in helicopter input power has to balance the passengers weight as well as provide thrust for different motion and

We are highly indebted to Dr. Satheesh K. for his guidance and supervision as well as for providing necessary
information regarding the experiment. We also thank all the lab assistants for their support in completing the experiment.

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