author Christina GOTZHEIN
Eurocopter highlights its innovation and bluecopter® technology at Heli-Expo 2010
Eurocopter will open the door to its development labs at this year’s Heli-Expo, showcasing some of its flight proven innovation technologies. Eurocopter is thus underscoring the company’s commitment to remaining a helicopter industry leader for current and future generations of rotary-wing aircraft. The company has been at the forefront of rotorcraft technology for the past decades, focusing particularly on technologies that provide optimum benefit to the customer - be it in terms of cost efficiency, safety, or environmental compatibility.
“This year’s Heli-Expo will demonstrate how our new technologies are being made ready for integration in Eurocopter’s product line, allowing our helicopters to outperform ever stricter and wider-ranging environmental and safety requirements, but as well contributing to reducing operating and maintenance costs,” stated Lutz Bertling, President and CEO of Eurocopter. “These issues have top priority for us, and we are responding with innovations that include more eco-efficient engine concepts, revolutionary main rotor blade designs that reduce noise and vibration, along with software and cockpit technologies - combined with advanced training methods - to enhance safety.”
bluecopter® technology targets delivering environmental performance
The aim of the bluecopter® technology program is to develop and validate advanced technologies which offer environmental benefits for new Eurocopter aircraft. This includes improved acoustics for lower noise inside the helicopter and externally, along with a reduced C02 and NOx footprint of the helicopter over its life cycle.
At its Heli-Expo 2010 exhibit booth, Eurocopter will display a new compact, high efficiency, high compression two-stroke engine called the OPOC (Opposite Piston Opposite Cylinder). This is in line with Eurocopter’s project to fly with a light single-engine helicopter powered by a diesel engine. The objective is to reach a power-to-weight ratio capable of challenging the advantages of a classic turbine, with the OPOC engine being one of the top options currently under evaluation.
Eurocopter also is utilizing Heli-Expo to introduce a new method of measuring and benchmarking its helicopters in environmental performance. Based on certification data, this tool enables operators and their passengers to check the environmental rating of their helicopter.
Silencing main rotors and blades to protect the environment and extend service life
Eurocopter is pursuing several methods of optimizing main rotors to reduce external noise and cabin vibrations with the goal of introducing them as soon as feasible on the company’s helicopters. One way is to change the shape of the blade, using a technology called Blue Edge™. The other is to integrate “intelligent” piezoelectric actuators into the trailing edge of the blade with a technology designated Blue Pulse™. Both Blue Edge™ and Blue Pulse™ are displayed on Eurocopter’s booth at Heli-Expo.
Blue Edge™: This revolutionary main rotor blade provides a passive reduction in noise levels, using a double-swept shape that is very different from present-day blades. The aim of this program is to reduce the noise generated by so-called blade-vortex interactions (BVI), which occur when a blade impacts a vortex, created at the tip of the blade of any helicopter.
A five-blade Blue Edge™ main rotor has been flying since July 2007 on an EC155 testbed, logging 75 flight hours and demonstrating noise reductions of 3 to 4 dB, as well as very good performance of the blade. With this safe and simple means of measureable noise reduction for helicopters now validated, Eurocopter is ready to move Blue Edge™ into production applications.
Blue Pulse™: This piezo-active rotor control system has the primary objective of reducing noise levels generated by the interference of the rotor blade tip vortices from one rotor blade with the following blades. In addition, it will significantly reduce vibrations within the helicopter airframe, increasing passenger comfort and extending the service life of sensitive components,
The control system uses three flap modules located at the trailing edge of each rotor blade. The blades’ piezoelectric actuators move the rotor flaps 15 to 40 times per second in order to completely neutralize the “slap noise” typically associated with helicopters during descent. The Blue Pulse™ technology has been flying since 2005, showing a noise reduction of up to 5 dB. Eurocopter’s evaluations with Blue Pulse™ are continuing on an EC145, while the development of a miniaturized system for production applications is advanced.
Boosting safety by optimizing human-machine interface
Another aspect of Eurocopter’s Heli-Expo 2010 presence will highlight the company’s extensive efforts to make helicopters easier and safer to fly through increased crew situational awareness and systems automation.
PILAS: The PILAS (Pilot Assistance System) demonstrator cockpit will illustrate new concepts in pilot assistance systems - particularly with HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) and law enforcement missions in mind.
PILAS can serve as a “virtual co-pilot” to present actions that could circumvent a potentially critical situation, utilizing a synthetic vision system that displays all relevant information for terrain, obstacles, air traffic, weather and airspace use.
Appareo Systems Vision 1000: Eurocopter’s emphasis on flight data monitoring and analyses will be represented at Heli-Expo 2010 by the cockpit-mounted Appareo Vision 1000 system, and the laptop-based Eurocopter Virtual Environment platform. The Appareo Vision 1000 was jointly developed by American Eurocopter, Eurocopter Canada and Appareo Systems, and it captures critical inertial and positioning data, as well as cockpit imagery (including the instrument panel, flight controls, partial exterior views and ambient audio).
EVE: The EVE (Eurocopter Virtual Environment) platform reproduces a helicopter cockpit and flight maneuvers on a laptop, with the user wearing virtual reality glasses to create the feeling of total immersion into the helicopter flight environment. This technology assists in analyzing flight data in real time, and it can be coupled with the Appareo Vision 1000 system.
Established in 1992, the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group is a Division of EADS, a world leader in aerospace, defence and related services. The Eurocopter Group employs approx. 15,600 people. In 2009, Eurocopter confirmed its position as the world’s No. 1 helicopter manufacturer in the civil and parapublic market, with a turnover of 4.6 billion Euros, orders for 344 new helicopters, representing an order intake of 5.8 billion euros and a 52 percent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors. Overall, the Group’s products account for 30 percent of the total world helicopter fleet. Its strong worldwide presence is ensured by its 18 subsidiaries on five continents, along with a dense network of distributors, certified agents and maintenance centres. More than 10,500 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with over 2,800 customers in more than 140 countries. Eurocopter offers the largest civil and military helicopter range in the world.
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