Aug 112022

Is it the final key form factor for most of eVTOL?

It is compatible with vertical take-off, vertical landing and fast cruise speed.

It stores the energy far from the cabin and it keeps the propellers above the embarking passengers.

The streamlined twin boom design, may be the answer, holding the lifting propellers and pushing propellers behind the fuselage.

This design is more and more adopted by companies with the most promising capabilities: Volocopter and Airbus in Germany, Beta Technologies in the USA and Autoflight in China.

VoloConnect (screenshot from manufacturer’s page)

CityAirbus NextGen (screenshot from manufacturer’s page)

Beta Technologies Alia-250c (screenshot from manufacturer’s page)
Autoflight Prosperity 1 (screenshot from manufacturer’s page)

Even Honda unveiled a similar design in artist’s view:

Honda eVTOL concept (screenshot from Youtube video)
Jun 292022

The Chinese company Autoflight released the full video of an automated flight including transition to cruise configuration.

The twin boom structure shows an elegant solution to the battery storage as well as streamlining the vertical-lift propellers during the cruise phase.

Despite the vibrations seen during transition, the design deserved to attract attention and is surely promised to a great future.

Sep 082017
H145M with heavy cannons

The latest combat aircraft from Airbus Helicopters flies in the german skies.

Following the version for special forces, the heavily armed helicopter is a proud little brother of the Tiger.

H145M with machine gun and rocket launcher

H145M with HMP400 machine gun and FZ231 rocket launcher (C) Airbus Helicopters

H145M enters the growing market of the light attack helicopters, joining the Bell 407, EC635, or MD530.

H145M with heavy cannons

H145M with heavy 20 mm NC621 cannons (C)

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Jul 232017
EAC Whisper

08th April 2017, Friedrichshafen

Friedrichshafen is home of the Zeppelin, on the side of the Constance lake. Every year, the AERO attracts its lot of light aircraft manufacturers and aviation passionates.

While many gliders, small airplanes, drones, and ultra lights were on display, we focused on the helicopters.

Outside display

Mi2 outside

Mi2 outside



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Jan 032017
BK117 in the air

Bad Tölz is home of the winch training center for the german rescue teams. Located close to the Alps in the Southern Bavaria, Germany, the ZSA (Zentrum für Sicherheit und Ausbildung) provides indoor facilities to the mountain recue teams and helicopter crews.

Inside a room of approximately 1500 sqm and a height of 20 meters, two cranes simulate helicopter flights.

The first helicopter is a lucky BK117 that, instead of being scrapped, was shipped from the US back to Germany. It was then dismantled, the structure was kept, with the windows, the doors, and the landing skids. An electric winch was installed on a side. Fans create the downwash, and strobe lights simulate the shadow of the rotor blades hiding the sunlight.

The other aircraft was built by the Austrian company AMST. The BK117 was not sufficient to simulate bigger helicopters such as the Super Puma or NH90. The equipment is similar to the BK117, with small improvements. The winch can be positioned differently, closer to the fuselage, or farther out. The doors can slide to the front or to the back. All this will depend on which type of aircraft you are suppose to be flying.

The aircraft are piloted from the cockpit like real helicopters. Even though the behaviour is not meant to be realistic to the pilot, the platform provide the 6 axes of movement: translation forward and backward, to the sides, up and down, pitch, roll, and yaw.

The simulators are not meant to train the pilots, but the cabin crews: winch operator, rescuer under the hook, or any other personnel who has to be lifted or dropped from a helicopter. The benefits are obvious: training costs drop to a fraction of the flight costs, the flight can be paused at any moment, and even the wind and noise can be silenced in order to practice quietly.

the two aircraft in the hall

The two aircraft in the hall

BK117 in the air

BK117 in the air

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Jan 022017
LCITS SuperCobra AH-1W

The video illustrates a typical HMI struggle: to which switch can we allocate a secondary function?

In this case, the Bell AH-1W Super Cobra is equipped with prototype Hydra 70 2,75 inches rockets fitting an infrared seeker. Currently, most of the guided rocket are Laser-guided.

For this airborne test, the integration of the guided-rocket (with inrared seeker, not Laser) did not foresee the installation of a new switch-ON button, but rather allocated the function to an already existing search light command (see the video at 4:36). Therefore you cannot have both the guided rocket and the search light installed at the same time. It would be bad to forget it while you’re flying.

switch to power-on the LCITS fire control system

switch to power-on the LCITS fire control system

Dear pilot, if you want to light up your target, don’t blaze it! Continue reading »

Jan 012017

Helicopters have always be designed and built for a mission. Bell Helicopters made it their motto (“One Bell. On a Mission”). The reason is obvious: their cost to buy and maintain have always limited purchases for recreational use. However, new designs such as the Ehang 184 or the Volocopter start changing the market into a more affordable pricing.

The most important change, though, might be one of the least noticed these days: Airbus Helicopters is being rebranded and will be called Airbus, just Airbus. Airbus Helicopters, formerly Eurocopter, is famous and acknowledged as the first civilian helicopter manufacturer in the world, designing and manufacturing reliable aircraft. Why, then, take the risk of losing the benefit of the history?

With the gigantic new market of autonomous drones, the technologies are becoming mature for new aircraft.

Airbus is taking the path of new airborne vehicles with rotary wings, and helicopters as we know them will only be a small part of it. It is all a matter of definition: while a helicopter has one main rotor and a tail rotor, or several main rotors, the use of push propellers or tilt rotors draws the designs closer to the limits of the definition. Furthermore, the use of fixed pitch propellers, in order to produce lift instead of propulsive thrust, confuses the difference between airplanes and helicopters.

Super Frelon rotor head

Super Frelon rotor head, variable pitch

DJI Phantom 2

DJI Phantom 2, fixed pitch rotors. Is it an airplane without wings and flying upward?

The diversity of missions that can be fulfilled by aircraft is overwhelming. Many companies around the entire world come with new ideas and answer problems that are not even existing yet: E-Volo, Zee.Aero, Joby Aviation, Ehang, Airbus Vahana, City Airbus…

All these new design will make the word “helicopter” obsolete. While the current “Sikorsky” configuration (main rotor and a tail rotor) will still be the best design for many missions, alternative solutions will emerge. Separable fuselage to load the cargo, modular engine pods, optionally piloted vehicles, variable number of engines, all these designs will only be limited by the imagination of engineers, for a safer, cleaner, and efficient future.

Urban mobility seen by Airbus (C) Airbus

Urban mobility seen by Airbus (C) Airbus

Sep 242016

Aiirsource published a video disclosing the ammunition loading by ground crews of the Apache AH64D helicopter.

Apache maintainers use dummy rounds to test the weapons systems on a Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopter. An ammunition handling check is done periodically to check the onboard weapons systems to include the 30mm M230 E1 chain gun, the AGM-114 Hellfire missile and the Hydra 70 rocket.

Apache AH-64D take-off

Apache AH-64D take-off

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Apr 262016
HB-ZXB Marenco Swisshelicopter 2nd prototype SKYe SH09, side view

Marenco Swisshelicopter released a video of the first flight of their second prototype HB-ZXB piloted by Richard Trueman, Chief Test Pilot, and assisted by Peter Wittwer as Flight-Test Engineer. The flight was performed on February 26th 2016 at Mollis airport in Switzerland.

HB-ZXB Marenco Swisshelicopter 2nd prototype SKYe SH09, side view

HB-ZXB Marenco Swisshelicopter 2nd prototype SKYe SH09, side view

Considering the reduced size of the vertical tail fin, we can assume that the aircraft will not use aerodynamic forces at high speed to counter the torque from the main rotor. Using aerodynamic forces would help reducing the use of the tail rotor, thus providing more power to the main rotor. However, this would need a bigger, thus heavier tail fin.

The single-engine helicopter is tailored for heavy duty in the mountains, not for high speed records.

The cockpit provides a great visibility of the surroundings, including below the aircraft, thanks to the transparent floor.

HB-ZXB Marenco Swisshelicopter 2nd prototype SKYe SH09, cockpit view

HB-ZXB Marenco Swisshelicopter 2nd prototype SKYe SH09, cockpit view

The differences between the two prototypes are very subtle on the photos. The first noticeable change is on the landing skid, where a strut was added at the back. Other changes have been made on the roof, between the rotor mast and the engine. The fire protection has been removed or, at least, reduced in size. Additionally, the structure strut beside has received a nice fairing. Also, the rotor mast is now equipped differently.

Marenco SKYe SH09 HB-ZXA first flight

Marenco SKYe SH09 HB-ZXA first flight (source)

Marenco SKYe SH09 HB-ZXB first flight 2nd prototype

Marenco SKYe SH09 HB-ZXB first flight 2nd prototype (source)

HB-ZXB Marenco Swisshelicopter 2nd prototype SKYe SH09, front view

HB-ZXB Marenco Swisshelicopter 2nd prototype SKYe SH09, front view