Chapter 8

Trim, Stability and Control1

8.1 Trim

The general principle of flight with any aircraft is that the aerodynamic, inertial and gravitational forces and moments about three mutually perpendicular axes are in balance at all times. In helicopter steady flight (non-rotating), the balance of forces determines the orientation of the main rotor in space. The balance of moments about the aircraft centre of gravity (CG) determines the attitude adopted by the airframe and when this balance is achieved, the helicopter is said to be trimmed. To a pilot the trim may be ‘hands on’ or ‘hands off’; in the latter case, in addition to zero net forces and moments on the helicopter the control forces are also zero: these are a function of the internal control mechanism and will not concern us further, apart from a brief reference at the end of this section.

In deriving the performance equation for forward flight in Chapter 5 (Equation 5.70), the longitudinal trim equations were used in their simplest approximate form (Equations 5.66 and 5.67). They involve the assumption that the helicopter parasite drag is independent of fuselage attitude, or alternatively that Equation 5.70 is used with a particular value of DP for a particular attitude, which is determined by solving a moment equation (see Figures 8.2a–c and the accompanying description below). This procedure is adequate for many performance calculations, which explains why the subject of trim was not introduced at that earlier stage. ...

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