AgustaWestland at the Forefront of Rotor Technology
- While Active Rotor Technology Promises Future Advances
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BERP IV technology rotor blades are now in service with the UK's Royal Air Force on six AW101 Merlin HC Mk3A helicopters. The BERP IV programme was launched in 2000 with a technology selection and integration phase which was then followed in 2002 by a design and manufacturing phase. The blades first flew in September 2006 and have now completed a flight test programme during which the AW101 was flown at speeds up to 198 knots and at altitudes of 13,000 ft. Aircraft fitted with BERP IV blades have also been flown at weights up to 16,500 kg - 1,900 kg over the normal Merlin gross weight and 900 kg over the current AW101 maximum gross weight. BERP IV blades represent the latest generation of rotor technology developed under a jointly funded AgustaWestland and UK Ministry of Defence rotor technology development and demonstration programme. The blades incorporate an improved planform, new aerofoil sections and an advanced aeroelastically tailored structure to provide reduced vibration, 10 knots additional cruise speed and 650 kg additional lift capability over the standard AW101 Merlin main rotor blades. Under an EU programme dubbed CLEANSKY, AgustaWestland has launched a number of research programmes in cooperation with other partners to investigate new technologies to make rotorcraft greener and eventually bring the new discoveries to market. The research includes testing main rotor blades with active trailing edge sections to reduce blade noise, all electric flight control, varying flight path to reduce ground noise, and many other exciting topics.
Source : AgustaWestland