Sikorsky Aircraft has successfully completed flight demonstration testing of a new technology, which is designed to reduce vibration on helicopters, at the US Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) at Fort Eustis, Virginia, US.
Jointly carried out with Lord and AATD onboard the latter’s UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter, the testing of the hub-mounted vibration suppressor (HMVS) formed part of the army’s active-rotor component demonstration (ARCD) programme.
The programme aims to address the challenge of crew fatigue and reduced equipment reliability and readiness caused by helicopter vibration.
Involving a progression of a hover to 150k, auto-rotations and 60° angle-of-bank turns, the flight test successfully confirmed that the HMVS technology can suppress vibration even in the most dynamic flight conditions.
Sikorsky Aircraft Research & Engineering vice-president Mark Miller said the HMVS technology reduced the helicopter’s empty weight.
"We would expect both crew endurance and aircraft reliability to increase substantially under this new technology," Miller said.
Lord’s HMVS project technical lead Russ Altieri said the successful testing of the technology represents a significant milestone for rotary-wing aviation.
"The next step will be to combine HMVS with Lord Corporation’s cabin-based AVC technology, which can result in near-zero vibration levels globally within the helicopter, and at significantly reduced weight," Altieri said.
Featuring motorised imbalanced rotors, force generator, controller, sensors and power electronics, HMVS technology cancels the largest vibratory loads near the main rotor hub, thus keeping the loads from propagating into the airframe.
The self-contained system is capable of actively cancelling rotor-induced vibration at its source at blade-pass frequency, and enhances aircraft performance, affordability and sustainability while ensuring a smoother flight.
Image: A US Army UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter, similar to the one used for testing of the new hub-mounted vibration suppressor technology. Photo: courtesy of Richard G. Marshall.