Sikorsky Completes Initial Tests of First Rotor Blades for CH-53K Helicopter
STRATFORD, Conn., Oct. 31, 2013
STRATFORD, Conn., Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --Sikorsky Aircraft has
successfully completed the initial phase of testing for the first-ever main
and tail rotor blades manufactured for the U.S. Marine Corps' CH-53K heavy
lift helicopter program. Designed specially to help meet the Marine Corps
requirement to lift the aircraft's maximum gross weight of 88,000 pounds, the
all-composite blades are the largest and most technologically advanced ever
produced by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).
"These new blades are an important feature of the CH-53K helicopter's ability
to lift almost three times the payload compared to the CH-53E Super Stallion™
aircraft it will replace later this decade," said Mike Torok Sikorsky's CH-53K
Program Vice President. "Advanced geometric shaping, high strength composite
materials and a flaw tolerant design all come into play to provide unmatched
performance, reliability, and survivability."
At 35 feet span length, and almost three feet chord width, the CH-53K main
rotor blade has 12 percent more surface area than the CH-53E blade. A 4^th
generation aerodynamic design developed by Sikorsky adds unique airfoils,
twist and taper to the new blade so as to accommodate 71 percent greater power
generated by the CH-53K aircraft's three 7,500-shaft-horsepower GE38-1B
Included in the span length is an advanced blade tip to improve hover
performance, and a composite cuff attachment feature that will allow
maintainers to quickly attach each of the seven CH-53K blades directly to an
elastomerically-articulated titanium rotor head without the need for
specialized tools or multiple redundant fasteners. When attached to the nearly
nine-foot-diameter main rotor hub, the blade radius extends to 39.5 feet.
The four 10 ft. long CH-53K tail rotor blades have 15 percent more surface
area compared to the same tail rotor blades on the CH-53E helicopter. On the
CH-53K aircraft, the tail rotor blades collectively produce as much thrust as
the main rotor blades on Sikorsky's 11,000-pound S-76™ helicopter.
Both main rotor blades and tail rotor blades are now undergoing qualification
testing at Sikorsky's Stratford, Conn., headquarters. Tests completed to date
include spinning of the blades on whirl towers to measure balance, and initial
fatigue tests to determine structural strength. Blade qualification testing
will continue over several years to include stress and fatigue tests, and
additional whirl tower testing to validate aerodynamic stability, tip
deflection, and rotational twist along each blade's length.
This first set of blades will be attached to the CH-53K Ground Test Vehicle at
Sikorsky's Developmental Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. Marine Corps
pilots and Sikorsky test engineers will spin the blades on the GTV as part of
the Shakedown Light-Off, a term used to describe the test of engines,
transmissions, and blades running together for the first time.
Sikorsky began fabricating composite rotor blades in the early 1970s for the
UH-60 BLACK HAWK helicopter. Composite blades made by Sikorsky are flaw
tolerant to ensure that any small anomalies present in the blade during its
initial fabrication will not grow into larger problematic anomalies.
The 4^th generation blade design is part of a long chain of Sikorsky rotor
systems innovations and investment to improve blade aerodynamics.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., is a world leader in
helicopter design, manufacture, and service. United Technologies Corp., based
in Hartford, Conn., provides a broad range of high technology products and
support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.
SOURCE Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation
Contact: Frans Jurgens, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Office: +1
203-386-6443, Mobile: +1 203-615-8293, firstname.lastname@example.org
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