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Understanding helicopter flight theory

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provides three basic functions:

Generation of Lift

Generation of propulsive force for forward

flight

Generates forces to control attitude and

position

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 1

Momentum Theory

The helicopter must be able to operate in a

variety of flow regimes:

Hover

Climb

Descend

Forward flight

Backward flight

Any flight regime that is a combination of the

above

Slide 2

Momentum Theory

The main goal of the helicopter is its ability to

HOVER

Hover is also the simplest of the flight regimes, so

it should be the easiest to model

Although its the simplest flight regime it is still

complicated enough.

Slide 3

Momentum Theory

Lets simplify our first approach and develop a

simple method capable of predicting the rotor

thrust and power

Momentum Theory

First developed by Rankine (1895) for marine

propellers and developed further and generalized

by several other authors

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 4

Assumptions

Conditions in hover:

No forward speed

No vertical speed

The flow field is axisymetrical

There is a wake boundary with the flow outside this

boundary being quiescent

The flow velocities inside this boundary can be quite

high

Slide 5

Assumptions

Momentum theory concerns itself with the global

balance of mass, momentum, and energy.

It does not concern itself with details of the flow

around the blades.

It gives a good representation of what is

happening from a view far away from the rotor.

This theory makes a number of simplifying

assumptions.

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 6

Assumptions

Rotor is modeled as an actuator disk which adds

momentum and energy to the flow.

Flow is incompressible.

Flow is steady, inviscid, irrotational.

Flow is one-dimensional, and uniform through the

rotor disk, and in the far wake.

There is no swirl in the wake.

Slide 7

Slide 8

Conservation of Mass

Air inflow trough control surface 0:

Slide 9

disk

Air inflow trough the rotor disk control surface 1:

induced velocity at the rotor disk.

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 10

Hover conditions

In hover Vc0:

The velocity at station 0 is 0

The velocity at the rotor is the induced velocity at the

rotor vi

The velocity at the far field is the induced velocity at

the far field w

Slide 11

The momentum rate of change is equal to the applied

force:

The work done per unit time (power) done by the rotor is

equal to the energy rate of change

Eliminating

Slide 12

rotor disk

At control surface 1:

At control surface

And:

Slide 13

Conservation of Mass

velocity at the disk

The far wake area is half the rotor disk area

In reality

Slide 14

Bernoulli equation

Consider a particle that goes from Station 0

to station

We can apply Bernoulli equation between:

vh

Stations 0 and 1,

Stations 2 and .

irrotational, inviscid.

Slide 15

Bernoulli equation

From the previous expressions we have:

p

Disc

Flow field

p

Pressure

w

Velocity

Slide 16

We can now compute the induced velocity at the

rotor disk in terms of the thrust T

and

Slide 17

And the following expression can be obtained:

Slide 18

Ideal Power

Power consumed=Energy rate flow out-Energy

rate flow in

So:

Or in terms of the induced velocity:

Slide 19

Disk Loading

Disk loading is defined as the ratio of the thrust by

the disk area:

The expression of the induced velocity at the rotor

can then be expressed in terms of the disk loading:

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 20

Power Loading

Power Loading is defined as:

On the other hand the induced velocity at the rotor

can be obtained from:

Slide 21

The induced velocity at the rotor can be expressed

in the following manner:

h is called the induced inflow ratio

For rotating-wing aircraft it is the convention to

nondimensionalize all velocities by the blade tip

speed in hover

Slide 22

Thrust coefficient

Since the convention is to nondimensionalize the

velocities by the blade tip speed, we can define

the thrust coefficient:

Slide 23

Power coefficient

The rotor power coefficient is defined as:

by P=Q and the rotor shaft torque is defined by:

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 24

The two coefficient can be related using the

momentum theory.

Therefore

Slide 25

Figure merit

All the previous expression were calculated for an

ideal rotor in an ideal fluid

There is the necessity to calculate the rotor

efficiency

In 1940 Prewitt of Kellett Aircraft introduce the

Figure of Merit

Slide 26

Figure of Merit

The ideal power is calculated

momentum theory so we can write

using

the

Slide 27

Figure of merit

Because a helicopter spends considerable portions

of time in hover, designers attempt to optimize the

rotor for hover (FM~0.8).

A rotor with a lower figure of merit (FM~0.6) is

not necessarily a bad rotor. It has simply been

optimized for other conditions (e.g. high speed

forward flight).

Slide 28

Until now we have considered ideal situation

We did not take into account situations like:

Non-uniform inflow

Tip losses

Wake swirl

Non ideal wake contraction

Finite number of blades

compute more accurately the necessary rotor

power

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 29

First lets correct the power coefficient using a

correction factor (induced power coefficient):

Typical value of is 1.15

Slide 30

Secondly lets take into account the blade drag:

D is the drag per unit span

Nb is the number of blades

y is the blade element distance to the rotor hub

is:

Slide 31

The drag force per unit span can be obtained using

the drag coefficient of the section profile

It is assumed that:

Cd0 is independent of Re and M

The blade is not tapered or twisted

Slide 32

The profile power is:

Slide 33

The rotor solidity is defined as:

Slide 34

The actual rotor power can then be expressed as:

with the non ideal approximation for power the

rotor figure of merit can be written as:

Slide 35

R

BR

A portion of the

rotor near the tip

does not produce

much lift due to the

leakage of air from

the bottom of the

disk to the top

We can account for

it by using a smaller

modified radius BR

Slide 36

So the effective blade radius Re that produces lift

is smaller than the blade radius R:

a factor of B2.

Helicopters / Filipe Szolnoky Cunha

Slide 37

There are several propositions to calculate the

factor B:

Prandtl theory

Since i (inflow ratio) is small and in hover related to CT

Slide 38

Empirical geometric calculations:

Gessow & Meyers

c is the tip chord

Sissingh

c0 is the root chord and r is the blade tapper ratio

Slide 39

The blade loading coefficient is defined as:

to the occurrence of blade stall

Slide 40

Power Coefficient

We have defined power loading as:

Since

T depends on (R)2

P depends on (R)3

Slide 41

Power Coefficient

We have already reach to the relations:

Slide 42

Power Coefficient

We can also write:

Slide 43

Power Coefficient

Or alternatively:

That is

Slide 44

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