Textron has been granted a patent for a rotorcraft with a movable horizontal stabilizer and a control system that can optimize airflow to the main rotor during autorotation without pilot input. The system aims to maximize efficiency without requiring a change in pitch or prioritizing maintaining a constant longitudinal attitude. GlobalData’s report on Textron gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s company profile on Textron, regenerative braking was a key innovation area identified from patents. Textron's grant share as of June 2023 was 1%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Patent granted for a rotorcraft's horizontal stabilizer control system

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Textron Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11685515B2) describes a rotorcraft with a unique horizontal stabilizer control system. The rotorcraft includes a main rotor system, a tail boom, a tail rotor, and a horizontal stabilizer. The horizontal stabilizer is movable about an axis of rotation relative to the tail boom.

The key feature of this rotorcraft is its horizontal stabilizer control system, which is designed to automatically maximize airflow to the main rotor without requiring pilot input or a change in pitch of the main rotor system. This control system is particularly useful during autorotation, a state in which the rotorcraft is not being powered by the engine and is descending freely.

The control system is configured to recognize forward flight of the rotorcraft and query a lookup table for a predetermined horizontal stabilizer position that minimizes drag. It then controls a horizontal stabilizer actuator to achieve this position. The control system also receives information about any instability or disturbance of the rotorcraft and queries the lookup table for a predetermined horizontal stabilizer position to counteract or prevent the deviation from the minimum drag position.

Additionally, the control system can temporarily prioritize efficient maneuvering over minimum drag, but it will return control to the minimum drag position when the rotorcraft returns to level fast forward flight.

In the case of autorotation descent, the control system queries the lookup table for a predetermined horizontal stabilizer position that minimizes lift generated by the wings and maximizes airflow to the main rotor. It controls the horizontal stabilizer actuator to achieve this position. Similar to the previous scenario, the control system can adjust the stabilizer position based on actual or predicted deviations from the minimized wing lift position.

Overall, this patented rotorcraft design offers an innovative solution for optimizing airflow and stability during autorotation and other flight conditions. The automatic control system of the horizontal stabilizer eliminates the need for pilot input and ensures efficient and safe operation of the rotorcraft.

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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.