Coaxial Rotor System: the future of helicopter design?
By Darren Quick
October 28, 2008
October 28, 2008 Helicopters featuring coaxial rotor designs are not exactly new. The co-axial design of a pair of rotors mounted on the same mast and with the same axis of rotation, but turning in different directions, has been utilized on a number of military helicopters for around half a century, most notably those produced by the Russian Kamov helicopter design bureau. The coaxial design offers a number of advantages over the traditional helicopter designs, which makes it difficult to understand why we haven’t seen co-axial rotor designs taking to the skies for civilian uses. Now Australian based Wieland Helicopter Technologies (WHT) is hoping to change that by designing and manufacturing a range of new coaxial rotor system small format helicopters for commercial markets.
Coaxial rotor designs allow for a more stable, more maneuverable, quieter and safer helicopter due to inclusion of a coaxial main rotor and exclusion of a tail rotor, which also means a smaller footprint. Coaxial rotor helicopters also provide a better power to weight ratio than traditional helicopters, produce greater lift and are also much more efficient.
We've recently seen the technology appear on the Sikorsky X2 demonstrator and now WHT is not only developing two and four seat models with combustion engines and 5 seat models with turbine engines, they are also working on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and smaller 1 and 2 seat helicopters with electric motor configurations. On top of all this the coaxial rotor helicopters are much easier to fly and therefore much simpler and cheaper to learn to fly.
WHT has complete, working prototypes on which development will be based and is looking for investors.