The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IfAM) at the University of Nottingham has helped develop a new wing structure providing Airbus Helicopters’ high-speed rotorcraft with enhanced speed and range to complete advanced missions.
The IfAM’s new ‘box-wing’ structure has been designed with high performance ecological materials that reduce the weight of the vehicle. The new aircraft wing also enhances performance by providing additional vertical lift and the ability to reportedly fly further and faster than traditional helicopters can today.
These factors will make the operational model ideal for a wide range of missions, which call for increased speed and efficiency such as medical evacuations, search and rescue operations, as well as public services, commercial air transport and private aviation.
In addition, the innovative wing has been designed with innovative manufacturing processes which should make it possible to manufacture complex products like these in high labour cost countries.
Director of IfAM, Professor Svetan Ratchev commented: “We are thrilled to be part of this pioneering programme to deliver an advanced aircraft platform that will ensure competitive and green aviation and deliver important high value manufacturing jobs in Europe.
“Working in close collaboration with Airbus Helicopters and GE Aviation, the University of Nottingham team is uniquely positioned to contribute to the development of both the groundbreaking wing design and manufacturing technologies for the new Racer High Speed Rotorcraft.”
The research is expected to set the standard for aerodynamic efficiency in high speed helicopters. It will also bring about a host of benefits including lighter, high performance, more affordable and easier to fabricate wing structures for aircraft. These benefits would improve resource-efficiency and therefore have a positive ecological impact.
The University’s Advanced Wing Structure for Rotorcraft Additional Lift [ASTRAL] Project has a strong potential for long-term industrial and commercial exploitation of its results.
Beyond the end of the project, the Racer demonstrator will be used as a fundamental element to accelerate the transfer of the key wing design, manufacture and assembly technologies to the industry at large.