9 Helicopter BERP Tip: Literature Review of Helicopter Blade Shape Optimisation Methods

Catherine S. Johnson, Mark Woodgate and George N. Barakos

School of Engineering, University of Liverpool, UK

School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, UK

9.1 Introduction

The design of rotor blades is complex, in that it involves many disciplines of engineering, such as aerodynamics, structural dynamics, aeroelasticity and flight control systems. These disciplines do not just play an individual part in the design of the rotor blade, but are coupled; some more strongly than others (Caradonna 1992). Even within a single discipline, such as the aerodynamics of the rotor, there are often conflicting design requirements: forward flight tends to have opposite requirements to hover, the blade on the advancing side has opposite requirements to those on the retreating side of a forward‐moving helicopter and so on (Leishman 2005). Therefore, defining an optimum blade tends to be a compromise between these various conditions. The optimum is therefore determined by the objectives set for each particular rotor design. While the initial rotor design may be relatively easy to come up with, finding the optimum design parameters is not an easy task.

For the above reasons, computer codes to aid helicopter designers have been, and are still being, developed and used in the industry (Johnson 2010a,b). In the past, these methods were limited to using simple theories that modelled the aerodynamics ...

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