Leonardo has filed a patent for a helicopter design that includes a joint allowing for inclination between two stators. The joint consists of a corrugated element made of an elastically deformable material, enabling the inclination through elastic deformation. The design aims to improve the helicopter’s maneuverability and stability during flight. GlobalData’s report on Leonardo gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Leonardo, light-weight composite fuselage was a key innovation area identified from patents. Leonardo's grant share as of September 2023 was 55%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

A patent for a helicopter with an adjustable joint

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Leonardo SpA

A recently filed patent (Publication Number: US20230278703A1) describes a new design for a helicopter. The helicopter includes at least one motor member with an output shaft and a first stator that supports the output shaft. It also features a main rotor for lift and thrust, and a transmission between the motor member and the main rotor. The transmission consists of an input shaft and a second stator that supports the input shaft.

The patent introduces a joint between the first and second stators that allows for an inclination between them in at least one plane parallel to the first axis. This joint includes a first corrugated element made of an elastically deformable material, which enables the inclination through elastic deformation. The first corrugated element is torsionally rigid parallel to a third axis and flexurally yielding in the plane parallel to the third axis. The joint also includes a second axial corrugated element coupled to the first corrugated element, shaped like a rib elongated parallel to the third axis and eccentric with respect to it.

The first corrugated element extends along its own third axis, joining the first and second axes when it is undeformed. It is axial-symmetrical with respect to the third axis. The first, second, and third axes can coincide in this design. The first corrugated element has a first corrugation parallel to the third axis and a radial thickness with respect to it. The second corrugated element also has a second corrugation parallel to the third axis and a radial thickness. The first and second corrugations are coupled to each other, constraining the second corrugated element to the first corrugated element in a direction parallel to the third axis.

The patent also mentions the possibility of having multiple pairs of second corrugated elements, angularly offset and axially arranged with respect to each other. The second corrugated element is axially rigid and flexurally yielding in reference to the third axis. The second corrugation is arranged radially external to the first corrugation. Additionally, the joint can include a strip defining a third corrugation for each second corrugated element, with the first corrugation interposed between the strip and the second corrugation.

The first and/or second corrugated elements can be made of a fiber-reinforced composite material. The helicopter design also includes a further rotatable joint between the output shaft and the input shaft, housed inside the first corrugated element.

Overall, this patent presents a novel design for a helicopter that incorporates a joint with corrugated elements, allowing for inclination and flexibility in certain planes. The use of fiber-reinforced composite materials adds strength and durability to the design.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.