Sikorsky plans to complete development of a hub-mounted vibration suppressor (HMVS) for helicopters with a follow-up demonstration later this year, says a top engineering executive at the manufacturer.
Last year, Sikorsky proved the HMVS can enable “jet-smooth” vibration levels in forward flight on a UH-60A Black Hawk utility helicopter, as part of the active rotor component demonstration programme funded by the US Army.
The next step is to make the system work when the helicopter is ascending or descending vertically, says Chris Van Buiten, vice-president of technology and innovation at Sikorsky.
“We’re going to add some other elements that are perpendicular to the rotor blade,” says Buiten, addressing a press conference at the HAI Heli-Expo on 4 March. “That will net out our zero vibration.”
Sikorsky partnered with Lord Corp to develop the HVMS on a patent awarded in 2009 by Sikorsky technical fellow William Welsh.
Unlike previous vibration reduction technologies for helicopters, the HVMS design is able to slightly lower the weight of the main rotor hub, Van Buiten says.
Although lighter, the HVMS adds complexity and so increases the acquisition cost of the hub assembly, he adds. Sikorsky believes, however, that the reduced vibrations will extend the service life of the airframe, and pay for itself over time, Van Buiten says.
The army has funded the demonstration effort, but so far has not committed to pushing the technology into production. Sikorsky is looking at applying the HMVS technology in the commercial market on the S-76 and S-92 models, Van Buiten says.