Manufacturers briefed on compound helicopter

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Two former Sikorsky executives are leading a project with Indonesian engineers to develop a compound helicopter with a tractor propeller.

Archie Loper, a former area director for Sikorsky Aircraft Asia, says a group of former Indonesian Aerospace engineers have completed the design of production prototypes for manned and unmanned variants of the new helicopter, and the concept is now being reviewed by potential manufacturers.

The unmanned air vehicle, powered by a single 1,000hp (745kW) turboshaft engine, is designed to have a slightly larger payload than the Bell Eagle Eye. It has an estimated maximum take-off weight of 1,360kg (3,000lb) and will be able to carry 455kg of sensors on surveillance missions. The transport aircraft, powered by twin turboshaft engines, has an estimated maximum take-off weight of 7,720kg. The aircraft, being targeted at the offshore oil market, is capable of carrying 12 passengers up to 1,110km (600nm) at a cruising speed of 250kt (460km/h) at an altitude of 25,000-30,000ft (7,620-9,150m).

Loper says the rotor is designed to be decoupled above 140kt and operate at 360rpm in normal helicopter mode and 240rpm during cruise. As altitude increases, the rotor drag decreases and more power transfers to the propeller.

Loper, who still works part-time as an aviation consultant in Jakarta, and the Indonesian engineers have been working on the project for three years. Loper is marketing the aircraft and applying for patents in the USA under AMDG Marketing Services. AMDG is a Tennessee-based company owned by Thomas Herrmann, another former Sikorsky Aircraft Asia director, but all the work has been done in Indonesia.

Loper says AMDG has just started briefing industry about the project and talking to manufacturers to gauge their interest. The compound airframe could potentially be manufactured in Indonesia, but a Western company would be needed to oversee development and production.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has also expressed interest in the UAV variant, he says.

BRENDAN SOBIE/SINGAPORE