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NASA Technical Paper 1921

Vehicle Concepts and Technology

Requirements for Buoyant
Heavy-Lift Systems

Mark D. Ardema


NASA Technical Paper 1921

Vehicle Concepts and Technology

Requirements for Buoyant
Heavy-Lift Systems

Mark D. Ardema
Ames Research Center
Moffett Field, California

National Aeronautics
and Space Administration
Scientific and Technical
Information Branch


Mark D. Ardema

Ames Research Center

Several buoyant-vehicle (airship) concepts proposed for short hauls of heavy payloads are described. Numer-
ous studies have identified operating cost and payload capacity advantages relative to existing or proposed
heavy-lift helicopters for such vehicles. Applications mvolving payloads of from 15 tons up to 800 tons have
been identified. The buoyant quad-rotor concept is discussed in detail, including the history of its development,
current estimates of performance and economics, currently perceived technology requirements, and recent
research and technology development. It is concluded that the buoyant quad-rotor, and possibly other buoyant
vehicle concepts, has the potential of satisfying the market for very heavy vertical lift but that additional
research and technology development are necessary. Because of uncertainties in analytical prediction methods
and small-scale experimental measurements, there is a strong need for large or full-scale experiments in ground
test facilities and, ultimately, with a flight research vehicle.

INTRODUCTION world vehicles is about 18 tons. Listed in the figure

are several payload candidates for airborne vertical
lift that are beyond this 18-ton payload weight limit,
Feasibility studies of modern airships (refs. 1-18) indicating a market for increased lift capability.
and other studies (refs. 19-27) have determined that Extension of rotorcraft lift toa35-ton payload is
modern air-buoyant vehicles (airships) could satisfy possible with existing technology (refs. 28, 29), and
the need for air transport of heavy or outsized pay- future development of conventional rotorcraft up to
loads over short distances. a 75-ton payload appears feasible (ref. 29). With HLA
There are two reasons that such aircraft, called concepts, however, payioadcapability of up t o
heavy-lift airships (HLAs), appear attractive for both
civil and military heavy-lift applications. First, buoy-
ant lift does not lead to inherent limitations on pay-
loadcapacity as does dynamiclift. Large conven- INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT
tional dynamic-lift vehicles, including rotorcraft, tend AND CONSTRUCTION
to follow a “square-cubelaw” in that lift increases
CRANE, SHOVEL - 40 ton
with the square of the vehicle’s principal dimension,
while empty weight increases with the cube, notwith-
standing the effect of fixed-weight items. This means
thatthe vehicle’s structural weight increases faster CONTAINER (8 x 8.5 x 35 f t )
than the gross weight as size is increased; thus, as the
size is increased, the percentage of the total weight
available for useful load decreases. On the other hand,
buoyant-lift aircraft tend to follow a “cube-cube law”
and thus have approximately the same
1990 1980
at 1960 1950
all sizes. CALENDAR YEAR
Figure 1 shows the history of rotorcraft vertical-
lift capability. Current maximumpayload of free Figure 1.- Potential heavy-lift payloads.
200 tons is possible using existing propulsion-system TABLE 1 .- PRINCIPAL HEAVY-LIFT
technology or even, if desired,existing rotorcraft AIRSHIP MARKETS
propulsion-system hardware. [From refs. 30,311
The second reason airships appear attractivefor
Useful Number of
heavy lift is cost. Most HLA concepts are projected
Market area load, vehicles
to offer lower development, manufacturing, mainte-
tons required
nance, and fuel costs than large rotorcraft with the
same payloads; thustotal operating and life-cycle
Heavy lift
costsmay be lower. The lower developmentcost
Logging 25-75 >I 000
arises from extensive use of existingpropulsion-
Unloading cargo in
systemtechnology or hardware orboth, making
congested ports 16-80 200
major new propulsion-systemdevelopmentunneces-
High-voltage transmis-
sary. Low manufacturing and
sion tower erection 13-25 10
accrue because buoyant-lift components are less
Support of remote
expensive to produce and maintain than dynamic-lift
drill-rig installations 25-1 50 15
components. Lower fuelcosts follow directly from
lower fuel consumption. As fuel prices increase, the
Ultraheavy lift
high fuel efficiency of HLAs will become increasingly
Support of power-
important. HLA costs and fuel efficiency will be dis-
generating plant
cussed in more detail later.
construction 80-900 30
Because the market for vertical lift of payloads in Support of oil-gas off-
excess of 20 tons is a new one for aerial vehicles, the shore platform
size and characteristics of the market are somewhat construction 500 3
uncertain. As aresult, several studies have been Other transportation 25-800 10
undertaken. Many of these studies have been pri-
vately funded and theirresults we proprietary, but
the results of some have been published (refs. 26,27,
30-33). HLA market-study conclusions have been The availability of vertical aerial lift in this payload
generally favorable. Table 1 summarizes the results range will make the expensive infrastructure asso-
of one of these,the recentlycompleted NASA- ciated with surfacemovements of heavy or bulky
sponsored study of civil markets for HLAs (refs. 30, items largely unnecessary. It would also allow more
3 1). freedom in the selection of plant sites by eliminating
the restrictions imposed by the necessity for readily
The HLA civil market tends to fall into two cate- accessible heavy suface transportation.Further,it
gories. The first consists of services that are now or could
reduce construction costs of
could be performed by helicopters, but perhaps only complex assemblies by allowing more extensive pre-
on a very limited basis. Payloads are low to moderate, assembly at manufacturing areas. This application is
ranging from about 15 to 80 tons. Specific markets relatively insenstitive to cost of service.
include logging, containership offloading (of interest
also to the military), transmission-tower erection, and In the remainder of this paper, HLA concepts will
support of remote drill rigs. HLAs would be able to be reviewed. The buoyant quad-rotor (BQR), or heli-
capture greater shares of these markets than helicop- stat, will be emphasized because it has been the prin-
ters because of their projected lower operating costs. cipal subject of technologydevelopment efforts to
Most of these applications are relatively sensitive to date. As a result, there is more technical information
cost.The largest market in terms of thepotential available about the BQR than other HLA concepts.
number of vehicles required is logging.
The next section briefly describes free-flying HLA
The second HLA market category involves heavy concepts other than the BQR. The following section
payloads of 180 to 800 tons - a totally new applica- discusses the BQR in terms o f (1) development his-
tion of vertical aerial lift. This market is concerned tory, (2) description of the concept, (3) technology
primarilywith support of heavy construction proj- needsascurrentlyperceived, and (4) thecurrent
ects, especially power-generating plant construction. NASA research and development program.

HEAVY-LIFT AIRSHIPCONCEPTS OTHER by Nichols (ref. 20), and by Nichols and Doolittle
THANBUOYANTQUAD-ROTOR (ref. 24). References 20 and 24, in
describe a wide variety of possible hybrid HLA
The classical fully buoyant airship is unsuitable for Perhaps the simplest and least expensive of the
most heavy-lift applications because of poor low- HLA concepts are those which combine the buoyant
speed controland ground-handlingcharacteristics. and dynamic-lift elements in discrete fashion without
Therefore, almost all HLA concepts that have been majormodification.Examples, takenfrom refer-
proposed are “hybrid” aircraft, that is, vehicles that ences 7 and 24, are shown in figure 2. Although such
obtain part of their total lift from the displacement systems will obviously require minimal development
of air by a lighter gas (buoyant lift) and the remain- of new hardware, there may be serious operational
der by dynamic or propulsive forces. Because buoy- problems associated with them. Safety and controlla-
ant lift can be scaled up to large sizes at low cost per bilityconsiderationswould likely restrict operation
pound of lift (as previously described), it is advan- to fair weather.Further, cruise speeds would be
tageous from a cost standpoint in hybrid aircraft to extremely low. The concept from reference 24 that is
provide as much of the total lift as possible by buoy- shown in figure 2 was rejectedby theauthors of
ancy. The fraction of total lift derived by dynamic or reference 24 because of the catastrophic failure which
propulsive forces is determined primarily bythe would result from an inadvertentballoondeflation.
amount of control powerrequired. Thedynamic An earlyhybrid HLA concept, which has subse-
forces therefore provide propulsion andcontrol as quently received a significant amount of study and
well as a portion of the total lift. some initial development, is a rotor-and-balloon con-
The characteristics of hybrid aircraftandtheir figuration (called Aerocrane byits inventors,the
potential for the heavy-lift mission were clearly recog- All American Engineering Company). Early discus-
nized (by the mid-1970s) by Piasecki (refs. 12, 21), sions of thisconcept appear in references 19,20,

Figure 2.- Combined discrete concepts (refs. 7 , 24).

23-25,34; two versions of the Aerocrane are ing a suitable control system. A remotely controlled
depicted in figure 3 . The original configuration con- flying model was built to investigate stability, con-
sisted of a spherical helium-inflated balloon with four trol, and flying qualities (fig. 4). Results (refs. 35-37)
rotors (airfoils) mounted at the equator. Propulsors have shown that the rotor-balloon is controllable and
and aerodynamic controlsurfaces are mounted on the that it promises to be a vehicle with a relatively low
rotors.Theentirestructure(exceptthe crew cabin empty-to-gross weight ratio and low acquisition cost
and payload support, which are kept stationary by a across a wide range of vehicle sizes. Technical issues
retrograde drive system) rotates (typically at a rate of that emerged were (1) the magnitudeandeffect of
10 rpm) to provide dynamic rotor lift and control. the Magnus force on a large rotating sphere and
Principal applications envisioned for the rotor-balloon (2) the high acceleration environment (about 6 g in
are logging and containership offloading. most designs) of the propulsors.
Study and technology development of the rotor- Although the rotor-balloontechnical issues are
balloon concept have been pursued by All American thought to be solvable, two characteristics emerged as
Engineering and others, partly under US. Navy spon- being operationallylimiting. First, large vehicle tilt
sorship. Emphasis of the program has been on devis- angles would be required to obtain the necessary con-

ORIGINAL Figure 4.- Aerocrane remotely controlled flying


n trol forces in some operating conditions. Second, the

high drag associated with the spherical shape results
in very low cruise speeds,typically 25 mphfor a
16-ton payload vehicle. This low speed means that
operation in winds of over 20 mph probably is not
possible and that the efficiency of operation in even
light winds is significantlydegraded. Even with no
wind, the low speed will result in low productivity.
Thus, the original rotor-balloon concept was limited
to very short-rangeapplications in very light winds.
The advanced configuration rotor-balloon depicted
in figure 3 (ref. 38) is designed to overcome the
operational shortcomings of the original concept.
Winglets with aerodynamic control systems are fitted
to allow generation of large lateral-controlforces,
thereby alleviating the need to tilt the vehicle. A len-
ticularshape is used for the lifting gas envelope to
Figure 3.- Aerocrane concept. decrease the aerodynamic drag. The increase in cruise

. ..
speed of the advanced concept is, however, accom- speed and yaw angles of the wings on their strutsare
panied by some increase in design complexityand controlled to keep the airspeed over the wings at a
structural weight. constant value, namely, a value equal to the vehicle
Amoresubstantial departurefromthe original cruise speed. Thus, for hover in still air, the wingspan
Aerocrane concept has been proposed recently. The axes are aligned with the envelope longitudinal axis.
Cyclo-Crane of Aerocranes of Canada (refs. 39, 40) As forward speed is increased, the vehicle rotational
is essentially a new HLA configuration concept speed decreases and the wings are yawed until,at
(fig. 5). It consists of an ellipsoidal lifting gas enve- cruise speed, the rotationis stopped and thewingspan
lope with four strut-mounted airfoils at the midsec- axes
perpendicular tothe forward velocity.
tion. The propulsors are also located on these struts. Hence, in cruising flight the Cyclo-Crane acts as a
This entirestructurerotatesaboutthe longitudinal winged airship.
axis of the envelope to provide control forces during Preliminary analysis of the Cyclo-Crane has indi-
hover.Isolated from the rotating structure by bear- cated that a cruising speed of 50 mph would be pos-
ings are the control cabin at the nose and the aerody- sible witha 10-ton payload vehicle and thatthe
namic surfaces at the tail. The payload is supported economic performance would be favorable. However,
by a sling attached to the nose and tail. The rotation there are obvious questions of structural weight and


Figure 5 .- Cyclo-Crane concept (refs. 39,40).

aerodynamic interference between the various vehicle while in the air. The technique forjoining the vehicles
components, and more
investigation is and the controllability of the combined system need
required to resolve them. further study.
Another approach to heavy lift withbuoyant
forces is the clustering of several small buoyant ele- Finally,another HLA conceptthathas received
ments. Examples of this are the ONERA concept and some attention is the “ducted-fan hybrid” shown in
the Grumman concept (ref. 41) shown in figure 6. In figure 7 (ref.24). In this vehicle, a toroidal-shaped
the Grumman idea, three airships of approximately lifting gas envelope provides a duct or shroud for a
conventional design such as the one shown are used centrally located fan or rotor. Therehasbeen too
t o lift moderate payloads. When heavy lift is needed, little study of the ductedfan hybrid, however, to per-
the three vehicles are lashed together temporarily mit an assessment of its potential.


Figure 6.- Multielement concepts (refs. 7,41).

Figure 7.- Ducted-fan concept (ref. 24).

BUOYANT QUAD-ROTORCONCEPT Oehmichen’s later effort was a quad-rotor design
with tworotorsmounted in the vertical plane and
two in the horizontal (bottom photograph in fig. 8).
History and Description The hull was changed to an aerodynamic shape more
characteristic of classical airships. Existing motion
The idea of combining helicopter engine/rotor sys- pictures of successful flights of the Helicostat demon-
tems with airship hulls is not new. In the 1920s and stratethatthebuoyantquad-rotor (BQR) concept
1930s, aFrenchengineer, E. Oehmichen, not only was proven feasible in the 1930s.
conceived this idea but successfully built and flight- Themodernform of theconcept was first pro-
tested such aircraft, which he called the Helicostat posed by Piasecki (refs. 12, 21). Piasecki’s idea is to
(ref. 26). One of his first designs (top photograph in combine existing,
somewhat modifiedhelicopters
fig. 8) hadtworotors driven by a single engine with a buoyant hull, as exemplified in figure 9. The
mounted beneath a cylindrical buoyant hull. Accord- configurationshown in figure 9 will be called the
ing to reference 26, Oehmichen’s purpose in adding “original” BQR concept in this report. The attraction
the buoyant hull to the rotor system was threefold - of the idea lies in its minimal development cost. In
“to provide the helicopter with perfect stability, to particular,no new major propulsion-system compo-
reduce the load on the lift-rotors, and to slow down nents wouldbeneeded(propulsionsystems are his-
descent with optimum efficiency.” torically the most expensive part of an all-new air-
craft development). A fly-by-wire master control sys-
tem would command the conventional controls
within each helicopter to provide for lift augmenta-
tion, propulsive thrust, and control power.
Other variants of the BQR idea are currently under
study. A design by Goodyear Aerospace (ref. 42) is
shown in figure 10. As compared with original con-
cept (fig. 9), this design (called the “advanced” con-
a new propulsion system,
horizontal-thrusting propellers, and aerodynamic tail
surfacesandcontrols. Thefour propulsionsystem
modules would make extensive use of existing rotor-
craft componentsand technology but be designed

Figure 9.- Buoyant quad-rotor, original concept


Figure 8.- Oehmichen’s Helicostat flight vehicles. Figure 10.- Buoyant quad-rotor,advanced concept.

specifically forthe BQR. Thehorizontal-thrusting TABLE 2.- WEIGHT STATEMENT
propellers would be shaft-driven from the main rotor AND PERFORMANCE OF 75-TON
engines. These propulsion modules would be designed BUOYANT QUAD-ROTOR,
more for high reliability and low maintenance costs ORIGINAL CONCEPT
and less for low empty weight than are typical heli- [From refs. 12,161
copter propulsion systems. They would be “de-rated”
relative to current systems, leading to further reduc- Gross weight: lb 324,950
tions in maintenance costs. Rotor lift,lb 180,800
In a revival of the Helicostat concept, a buoyant Buoyant lift, lb 144,150
dual-rotor HLA is currentlyunder studybyAero- Empty weight,lb 148,070
spatiale (ref. 26). It would use the engines and rotors Useful load: lb 176,800
from a small helicopter,but propellers would be Payload, lb 150,000
fitted forforward
propulsion and yaw control Static heaviness: lb 3,920
(fig. 11). Payload would be about 4 tons; the princi- Envelope volume, ft3 2.5X106
pal application is envisioned to be logging. Ballonet volume, ft 5.75X lo5
Ballonet ceiling, ft 8,500
Hull fineness ratio 3.2
Design speed (TAS), knots 60
Design range
With maximum pay-
load, n.mi. 100
No payload, n .mi. 196
Ferry, n. mi. 1,150

%ea level, standardday, 93% infla-

tion, one engine out, reserves for
100 ft/min climb.

“heavy” when completelyunloaded. Ineffect,the

buoyant lift supports the vehicle empty weight, leav-
ing the rotor lift to support the useful load (payload
Figure 11.- Modern Helicostat (ref. 26). andfuel).Adifferent approach hasbeen suggested
and studied by Bell et al.(ref. 43). Bell et al. pro-
posed that @ be selected so that the buoyancy sup-
Performance and Economics ports the empty weight plus half the useful load. It is
then necessary fortherotorstothrust downward
The performancecapability of the BQR design when the vehicle is empty with the same magnitude
(fig. 9) examinedin the feasibility studies of refer- that they must thrust upward when fully loaded. This
ences 12-14 and 16 is listed in table 2. This design same principle has been used in thestudies of the
employsfour CH-54B helicopters,somewhatmodi- rotor-balloon. Use of the approach suggested by Bell
fied, and a nonrigid envelope of 2.5X lo6 ft3. Total et al. (high @),as opposed to the approach assumed in
gross weight with one engine inoperative is about table 2 (low p), has the potential of offeringlower
325,000 lb, of which 150,000 lb is payload. Empty- operatingcosts (since buoyant lift isless expensive
to-gross weight fraction is 0.455 and design cruise than rotor lift) and better control when lightly loaded
speed is 60 knots. Station-keeping is estimated to be (because higher rotor forces are available). In compar-
possible in crosswinds up to 30 knots. Range with ison, the low @ approach may result in a vehicle that
maximum payload is estimated to be 100 n. mi.; with is easier to handle on the ground (since it is heavy
the payload replaced by auxiliary fuel, the unrefueled when empty) and one that is more efficient in cruise
ferry range would be over 1,000 n. mi. Performance or ferry when lightly loaded or with no payload
of the advanced concept (fig. 10) should be much (because of low rotor forces). Selection of the best
better than that of the design shown in figure 9. value of 0 depends on these and many other factors
In references 12, 16, and 21, the ratio of buoyant- and will require a better technical knowledge of the
to-total lift (0) is chosen so that the vehicle is slightly concept.

The BQR vehicle will be efficient in both cruise tenance costs. The advanced concept would be partic-
and hover compared with conventional-design heavy- ularly efficientwhen cruising lightly loaded (as in
lift helicopters (HLH). This arises primarily from the ferry), since it would operate essentially as a classical
cost advantages of buoyant lift when compared with fully buoyant airship.
rotorlifton aper-unit-of-lift basis, as discussed Studies have shown that precision hover and
earlier. Fuelconsumption of the BQR vehicle in station-keeping abilities approaching those of pro-
hover will be approximately half that of an equivalent posed HLHs are possible with BQR designs (refs. 12,
HLH. Relative fuel consumption of the BQR in cruise 21, 44-46). Automated precision hover systems
may be even less because of the possibility of generat- recently developed for an HLH (ref. 28) can be
ing dynamic lift on the hull, thereby reducing or elim- adapted for BQR use.
inating the need forrotorlift in cruising flight. Ultimateselection of the original (fig. 9), the
When cruising with a slung payload, the cruising advanced (fig. lo), or some other variant of the BQR
speeds of HLHs and BQR vehicles will be approxi- concept will dependonthe relative importance of
mately the same since external load is generally the development cost, performance, and efficiency. This
limiting factoron maximumspeed. When cruising choice will obviously depend on the uses to which the
without a payload, as in a ferry mission, the speed of vehicle is to be put as well as on the total number of
the BQRwill belower thanthat of an HLH. The vehicles to be built.
many HLA studies have shown,however, thatthe
higher efficiency of the BQR more than offsets this
Technology Needs
speed disadvantage. Therefore, the BQR should have
appreciably lower operatingcosts per ton-mile in The many recent studies of the BQR concept have
either the loaded or unloaded condition. all concluded that the concept is basically technically
Total operating costs per ton of payload per mile feasible, as was in fact verified by Oehmichen’s lim-
in cruise flight are compared in figure 12 (based on ited flight tests more than 40 years ago. However, to
data provided by Goodyear). The figure shows that realize the best economic performance and most suit-
the advanced BQR concept offers a decrease in oper- able operational characteristics from the concept, as
ating costs by as much as a factor of 3 compared with well as to minimize development risk and cost, a sig-
existinghelicopters. Of course,much of this cost nificant amount of research and technology develop-
advantage results from the larger payload of the BQR ment will be required. There are technology needs in
(approximately eight times larger). The low operating the areas of aerodynamics, propulsion, controls,
costs in cruise flight of the advanced concept com- structures and materials, and operations.
pared with those of the original arise from the use of In aerodynamics, the most important requirement
propellersinstead of rotor cyclic pitch for forward is to develop an accurateanalyticalcharacterization
propulsion and from lower assumed propulsion main- of the flow field around the vehicle. This character-
ization must accountfor aerodynamicinterference
between all elements of the vehicle and must be veri-
fied by experimental data.Many of the other technol-
E 2.0 r
ogy needs depend on an accurate aerodynamic
description of the vehicle. Specific aerodynamic items
of interest are (1) effect of the hull on the aerody-
namicenvironment of therotors, particularly for
rotors in the hull wake; (2) effect of the rotor wake
on the hull flow field; (3) interactions between the
QUAD-ROTOR vehicle and the ground, such as rotor fountain effects
WITH 5-64 and suckdown on the hull caused by crossflow; and
(4) accurateestimation of cruise and hover perfor-
a BUOYANT mance in all flight conditions, includingoblique
WITH ROTOR crosswinds and atmospheric turbulence.
a MODULES Propulsion needs include better definition of the
- 1
1000 1500 2000 design of BQR propulsion modules based on existing
helicoptersystemstechnology. The effect of rotor/
Figure 12.- Relative heavy-lift operating costs. hull aerodynamic interference on rotor loads must be

determined. Rotor/rotorand
rotorlground inter- ant quad-rotor aircraft also are being considered for
actions, such as groundresonance,must also be the heavy-lift mission. Such aircraft have many tech-
investigated. nical similarities tothe BQR (e.g., both will need
In flight controls, the most important task is to development of fly-by-wire control systems for multi-
define suitable and optimal control-systems concepts. ple rotors).Modernconventionalairshipsarebeing
This will be a formidable task because of the many proposed for coastal patrol and relatedapplications
flight-control inputs that are available. A BQR design (refs. 50-53);
theseaircraft will be required to
may employ many or all of the following controls: station-keep andhover andtherefore will require
rotor collective pitch (used in unison or differen- development of control systems for hover-capable
tially); rotor cyclic pitch; tilting or gimballed rotors buoyant vehicles.
in one or two axes (free or forced); aerodynamic sur-
faces; buoyancy distribution (e.g., ballonets); auxili-
Research and Technology Development
arythrustors; deflectedslipstream;and cold jets.
Activity at Ames Research Center
Also of importance is characterization of handling
qualities, which are likely to be quite different from Over the last seven years, many organizations and
those of helicopters and other VTOL aircraft. A new individuals, both foreign anddomestic, private and
subset of handling-qualitiescriteria will probably public, have studied HLA concepts in general and the
need to bedeveloped. Automatic precision hover BQR concept in particular. Foreign countriesthat
systems need to be developed or adapted, possibly have conducted or funded published studies include
including active control systems for payload support. Canada (the Province of Alberta (ref. 27); the
Preliminary work in BQR flightdynamics and con- National Research Council, Canadair (ref. 25); the
trols is reported in references 1 2 , 2 1 , and 4 4 4 6 . Forest Engineering Research Instituteof Canada
New technology in structures and materials could (ref. 32); Aerocranes of Canada (ref. 39); and others);
be quite crucial to successful HLA production Japan (Japanese Buoyant Flight Association (refs. 54,
vehicles. Perhaps the most importantitem in this 55), and others); France (Aerospatiale (ref. 26), and
category is analysis of the propulsion-system/flexible- others); and the U.S.S.R. In the United States, gov-
structure/aerodynamic interactions, which may lead ernment agencies with HLA interestand programs
to critical design conditions for many vehicle compo- include NASA, the Navy, andtheForest Service.
nents. Design and manufacture of nonrigid envelopes Many private U.S. companies have pursuedHLA
and interconnecting structure in the sizes being con- work, some under government sponsorship and some
templated is state of the art, provided state-of-the-art with private funds. In this report, only the BQR
materials are used. Modern filimentarycomposite research and technology program at Ames Research
materials have thepotentialfor reducing empty Center are reviewed. A comprehensive review of all
weight and permeability andtherefore increasing HLA work under way wouldrequireamuch more
vehicle performance. Theywould, however,need lengthy report.
further development for thisapplication.If large- Figure 13 is an overview of Ames Research Cen-
sized BQR vehicles are contemplated, rigid-structure ter’s LTA activity from the MontereyWorkshopin
envelopes will have to be considered.Preliminary 1974 through the endof 1979. Using the LTA vehicle
work in BQR structures and materials is reported in concepts and potential missions collected atthe
references 47-49. workshop as a data base, the feasibility studyof
As for any lighter-than-air (LTA) vehicle, opera- modern airships provided a preliminary evaluation of
tionalfactors will be important. Mooring systems the LTA field.There were two principal feasibility
need to be defined and analyzed. The mooring con- study contractors, Boeing Vertol and GoodyearAero-
cept will influence operating suitability and econom- space, and funding was provided both by NASA and
ics and may affect vehicle design. Flight procedures the Navy. The most important conclusion of the
need definition, taking into account the fact that the studies was the identification of thepotential of
vehicle will typically be operatingin turbulent air LTA vehicles for heavy vertical lift.
near ground level. Finally, procedures and operating Subsequenttothe feasibility studies, NASA has
systems must be developed to handle all foreseeable focused on technology development of HLA, specifi-
inclement weather. cally on the BQR concept. Thus far, the work has
BQR technologyneeds have commonalitywith been confined to the areas of aerodynamics and con-
needs of other vehicles of current interest. Nonbuoy- trols, in the belief that these are themost critical


1974 1977 1976 1978 1979

I I I I v



Figure 13.- History of lighter-than-air programat Ames Research Center.

technical areas. The programconsistsof theoretical A small-scale, wind-tunnel test program is cur-
wind-tunnel experiments, moving-base rently in the planning stage (refs. 58, 59). Tests will
piloted simulation experiments, and studies. bedoneinthe12-Foot Pressure Wind Tunnel at
Ames Research Center.The purposes ofthewind-
A theoretical study of BQR aerodynamic interfer- tunnel tests are (1) validation of theoretical analyses,
ence has been completed by Nielsen Engineering and (2) establishment of the influence of Reynolds num-
Research (NEAR) (refs. 56, 57). In that study, a pre- ber, (3) determination of aerodynamic loads,
liminary computer program tocompute BQRflow (4) determination of pressure distributions, (5) flow
fields was developed. Figure 14 shows the velocities visualization, (6) determination of the effect of con-
induced on the surface of the hull and the circumfer- figurationalchanges on aerodynamiccharacteristics,
ential pressure distributions as predicted bythe and (7) provision of experimental data for a flight-
NEAR program for a specific case. dynamics analysis andsimulation effort. Figure 15

U/Vj = 0.1 / f i INDUCED


I 42.9 ” v I
x, ft
\\ Q\
> I
0 48
i I, i CP
A -16

0 90
270 180 360

Figure 14.- Interference analysis results (refs. 56,57).

Further, flight vehicles will be needed eventually t o
verify theoperational feasibility of theconcept.
Many of the remaininguncertainties are connected
withoperationalaspects, such as groundhandling,
adverse weather effects, and manpower and ground
facility requirements; these can be adequately inves-
only by flight test of sufficiently large
vehicles. Finally, an FRV will be a valuable aid in
establishing the certificationandairworthiness cri-
teria for this new and unique class of vehicles.
As currently envisioned, the buoyant quad-rotor
research aircraft (BQRRA) would use the propulsion
system componentsofan existing small helicopter
type. The vehicle would be capable of incorporating a
large variety of flight-control schemes and have a cer-
tainamount of variable-geometry capability (e.g.,
changeable location of rotors relative t o the hull).
Figure 15.- 7- by 10-FootWind Tunnel buoyant
Two envelope sizes wouldbe desirable for use in
quad-rotor model (ref. 14).
investigating twodifferent regimes of buoyant-to-
total-lift ratio. The smaller envelope would be sized
shows the model used in an earlier test of the BQR.
to allow testing of the BQRRA in the future 80- by
Thismodel was built by NEAR(funded by Good-
120-foot section of the Ames Large-Scale Wind
year) and tested in the 7- by 10-Foot Wind Tunnel at
Tunnel. This would allow safe and systematic
Ames. Results of thisearlytest were somewhat
exploration of the flight envelope and collection of
inconclusive because of insufficiently high Reynolds
data before manned flight.
numbers (ref. 14).
A major effort that is under way is flight-dynamics
simulation and analysis of the BQR concept. The pri-
mary goal of this contracted effort is to develop an CONCLUDINGREMARKS
accurate, nonlinear, off-line simulation of the generic
BQR, including all aerodynamic interference effects.
The contractor, Systems Technology, Inc., will also Thehistory and currentstate of knowledge of
develop linearized and real-timesimulations for use several buoyant heavy-lift vehicle concepts have been
inpiloted moving-base simulators.Development of reviewed. Many of these concepts appear to have
suitable turbulence models and correlation with promise, and the technical feasibility of afew has
experimental data are important parts of this effort. been largely established. Thebuoyantquad-rotor
In future work, theflight-dynamics simulation will vehicle, in particular, hasbeenstudied by many
be used incontrol-system research for the BQR. organizations, and results to date have been generally
Included will be defintiion of suitable control-system positive. Research and technical development of this
logic and investigations of handling qualities. Moving- concept is under way at Ames Research Center and
base simulators will be used extensively in this work. at several other government and private organizations.
Studies will continue to be made primarily in sup-
portofthe research and technologyprojects.Cur- Ames Research Center
rently under way are design studies of BQR research National Aeronautics and Space Administration
aircraft and studies of ground handling systems and Moffett Field, California 94035, April 10,198 1
Because the BQR is a new aircraft concept, large-
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Phase 11. Executive Summary. NASA
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9. Lancaster, J. W.: Feasibility Study of Modern 20. Nichols, J. B.: The Basic Characteristics of
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10. Lancaster, J. W.: Feasibility Study of Modern 21. Piasecki, F. N.: Ultra-Heavy Vertical Lift Sys-
Airships, Phase I, Final Report. Vol. IV. tem: The Heli-Stat - Helicopter-Airship Com-
Appendices. NASA CR-137692, Aug. 1975. bination for Materials Handling. In: Proceed-
ings of the Interagency Workshop on Lighter
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Million Pounds Gross Lift. AIAA Paper
75-931,1975. 22. Keating, S. J., Jr.: TheTransportof Nuclear
Power Plant Components. In: Proceedings of
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Phase 11. Vol. I. Heavy Lift Airship Vehicle. Air Vehicles, Jan. 1975, pp. 539-549.
Book I. Overall Study Results. NASA
CR-151917, Sept. 1976. 23. Perkins, R. G., Jr.; and Doolittle, D.B.: Aero-
crane - AHybrid LTA Aircraft for Aerial
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Phase 11. Vol. 1. Heavy Lift Airship Vehicle. Interagency Workshop on Lighter Than Air
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24. Nichols, J. B.; and Doolittle, D. B.: Hybrid Air-
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Phase 11. Vol. I. Heavy Lift Airship Vehicle. and Lighter-then-Air Elements.Presented at

30th Annual National V/STOL Forum of the 37. Putnam, W. F.; and Curtiss, H. C., Jr.: An Ana-
American Helicopter Society, Washington, lytical and Experimental Investigation of the
D.C., Preprint 814, May 1974. Hovering Dynamics of the Aerocrane Hybrid
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Feasibility Studyonthe Aerocrane Center Rept. OS-137, June 1976.
Heavy LiftVehicle,Summary Report. Can-
adair Rept. RAX-268-100,Nov. 1977. 38. Elias, A.L.:Wing-Tip-Winglet Propulsionfor
Aerocrane-TypeHybridLift Vehicles. AIAA
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27. Anon.:Alberta Modern Airship Study, Final 39. Crimmins, A.G.: The Cyclocrane Concept.
Goodyear Aerospace Corp. Aerocranes of Canada Rept., Feb. 1979.
GER-16559, June 1978.
40. Curtiss, H. C.: A Preliminary Investigation of the
28. Niven, A. J.: Heavy Lift Helicopter Flight Con- Aerodynamics and Control of the Cyclocrane
trol System. Vol. I. Production Recommenda- Hybrid Heavy Lift Vehicle. Department of
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Rept. 1444, Princeton University, May 1979.
29. Rosenstein, H.: Feasibility Study of a 75-Ton
Payload Helicopter. Boeing Company Rept. 41. Munier, A. E.; and Epps, L. M.: The Heavy Lift
DZ10-11401-1,June 1978. Airship - Potential, Problems, and Plans.
Proceedings of the 9th AFGL Scientific Bal-
30. Mettam, P. J.; Hansen, D.; Byrne,R. W.; and loon Symposium, G. F. Nolan, ed., AFGL-TR-
Ardema, M. D.: A Study of Civil Markets for 76-0-306, Dec. 1976.
Heavy Lift Airships. AIAA Paper 79-1579,
1979. 42. Kelley, J. B.: AnOverview of Goodyear Heavy
DevelopmentActivity. AIAA Paper
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Study of Civil Markets for Heavy Lift Air-
ships. NASA CR-152202, Dec. 1978. 43. Bell, J. C.; Marketos, J. D.; and Topping, A. D.:
Parametric Design Definition Study of the
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Dynamics Analyses and Simulation of Heavy
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79-1580,1979. 45. Meyers, D. N.; and Piasecki, F. N.: Controllabil-
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36. Curtiss, H. C., Jr.; Putnam, W. F.; and McKillip, 1977.
R. M., Jr.:A Study of the Precision Hover
Capabilities of the AerocraneHybrid Heavy 48. Vadala, E. T.: Triaxially Woven Fabrics of
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Kevlar and DacronPolyester. AIAA Paper 55. Iinuma, K.: Japan Takes Decision to Develop
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51. Rappoport, H. K.: Analysis of Coast Guard Mis- 57. Spangler, S. B.; and Smith, C.A.: Theoretical
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Lift Airship. AIAA Paper 79-1 593,1979. figurations. NASA CR-152290, March 1979.

"" - . .
1. Report No.

4. Title and Subtitle

" ~ .. - I 2. Government AccessionNo. 3. Recipient's CatalogNo.

5. Report Date
. - ..


6. Performing Organization Code

7. Author(s)

" i " . . .
8. Performing Organization Report NO.

Mark D. Ardema A-SO22

"" - "" 10. Work Unit No.
9. Performing Organization Name and Address
Ames Research Center, NASA 1 1 , Contract or Grant No.
Moffett Field, Calif. 94035
.. " " - 13. Typeof Report andPeriodCovered
12. Sponsoring AgencyNameandAddress
Technical Paper ~ -~
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 14. Sponsoring AgencyCode
Washington, D.C. 20546
". .. " - 1

~ ~~ . .. . ~ .

16. Abstract

Severalbuoyant-vehicle(airship)conceptsproposedforshorthauls of heavypayloadsaredescribed.
Numerous studies have identified operating cost and payload capacity advantages relative to existing or pro-
posed heavy-lift helicopters for such vehicles. Applications involving payloads of from15 tons up to 800 tons
havebeenidentified.Thebuoyantquad-rotorconcept is discussed in detail,includingthehistory of its
development, current estimates of performance and economics, currently perceived technology requirements,
and recent research and technology development. It is concluded that the buoyant quad-rotor, and possibly
other buoyant vehicle concepts, has the potential of satisfying the market for very heavy vertical lift but that
additional research and technology development are necessary. Because of uncertainties in analytical predic-
tion methods and small-scale experimental measurements, there is a strong need for large or full-scale experi-
ments in ground test facilities and, ultimately, with a flight research vehicle.

1.18. Distribution Statement

Advanced technology Unclassified - Unlimited
Hybrid aircraft
Heavy-lift vehicle concepts S u b j e c tC a t e g o r y 05

" ~ . " 1 "

19. Security Classif. (of this report)

1. 20. Security Classif. (of this page)

Unclassified . -~
'For sale by the National Technic4 Information Service, Springfield, Virginia 2 2 1 6 1
21. NO. of Pages 22. Price'


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