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Jul 11, 2019 - The Anatomy of a Helicopter: Important Parts and What They Do

Helicopters are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, however, the main parts coincide. Being aware of how all the components and systems correlate to each other is important for the pilot to make informed decisions when malfunctions arise in emergency situations. Quality aircraft parts are integral to ensure in-flight performance and optimal safety. 

 

With this in mind, RotorLink, our Vancouver-based company, sources top quality Bell and Airbus/Eurocopter helicopter parts. We specialize in Bell 212, Bell 412, Airbus/EurocopterAS350 and Airbus/Eurocopter AS355 helicopter parts available for sale in Canada and across the globe. 

A question we get asked often is; What basic materials are used to make a helicopter? Generally, these aircrafts are manufactured from tubular and sheet metal structures that are created from aluminum. Those areas of the copter that are likely to witness more pressure or heat are sometimes made of stainless steel or titanium. 


 

Airframe

 

This is the rudimentary shell that is designed from metal, wood or a compound material - or an amalgamation of these. The compound material consists of multiple layers of fibre-impregnated resins that are fused together to form one panel. Airframe design is a nuanced process and encompasses engineering, aerodynamics, materials technology and manufacturing to reach optimal performance, reliability and cost. 


 

Fuselage

 

This is the outer core of the airframe that forms the main body that creates the cabin to house the crew, passengers and cargo. These cabins offer a wide range of seating arrangements. Pilots are typically seated on the right side, however, sometimes they may be seated to the left or at the center. The fuselage also holds the engine, transmission, avionics, powerplant and flight controls. 


 

Main Rotor System

 

Helicopters can either have a single main rotor or two rotors. With the latter, the rotors are engineered to rotate in opposite directions so that the torque from one is contrasted by the torque from the other. 

 

Do helicopter blades change speed? Helicopters have a constant speed rotor and the allowed RPM range is quite narrow (90-110%). This RPM can be reached either by a manual throttle or a governor. If the rotor were perpendicular to the forward speed, the pilot would have to increase the blade pitch with the collective. Due to the forward speed, the copter achieves a transitional lift, which lowers the required blade pitch. 

 

There are 3 variations of a rotor system and these are as follows:


 

1. Fully Articulated Rotor System

 

This is comprised of 3 or more rotor blades that are can flap, feather and lead/lag without relying on each other. Each of these blades is connected to the rotor hub by a horizontal hinge which allows the blades to achieve the up and down flapping motion. Dampers are typically infused in such a system to restrict excess motion about the drag hinge. 


 

2. Semi-Rigid Rotor System

 

This systems witnesses 2 different movements; flap and feather. The 22 blades are rigidly connected to the rotor hub which, in turn, is connected to the rotor mast by a teetering hinge. Feather alters the pitch angle of the blade as it is made possible by the feathering hinge. 


 

3. Rigid Rotor System 

 

This system is mechanically quite simple but structurally complicated owing to the operating loads that must be absorbed in bending rather than through the hinge. Here, blades will not flap, lead or lag, but feathering is possible. 


 

Swashplate Assembly

 

What does a swashplate do? This system exists for converting stationery control inputs from the pilot into rotating inputs which are fed into the rotor blades. There are two integral components; 


 

1. Stationary Swashplate

 

This is mounted around the primary rotor mast and attached to the cyclical and collective controls through a range of pushrods. An anti-drive link retrains its rotation but still allows it to travel vertically and tilt in all directions. 


 

2. Rotating Swashplate

 

This is mounted on the stationary swashplate through a uniball sleeve. Attached to the mast by drive links, this system rotates in constant relation with the primary rotor mast. 


 

Need an Emergency Replacement for a Faulty Part?

 

That’s our cue! RotorLink offers innovative solutions for all aspects of the rotor wing industry. 

 

You can’t afford to be sidetracked by mechanical problems. Our goal is to get you back in the air as soon as possible. That’s why we work closely with you to not only find the parts you need, no matter how rare but to get them to you quickly and make sure they’re installed by the best available technicians. Our commitment to customer service and total logistics support makes this possible.

 

Contact us to get your hands on quality parts without those frustrating delays!

 

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