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General Characteristics and Structure

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Helicopters are rotary-wing aircraft able to take off and land vertically, to move in any direction, or remain stationary in the air. The word helicopter comes from the Greek words meaning "helical wing" or "rotating wing". Modern helicopters can hover over one point at zero speed and attain a top speed of up to 300 knots and more, their range being up to 2000 miles with extra fuel tanks. They can climb to an altitude of 10,000 feet and carry a load amounting to 40 tons.


Рис. 5. Principal structural units of the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter:

1 - pilot’s cabin -кабина экипажа; 2 - main rotor blades -лопасти несущего винта; 3 - main rotor hub -втулка несущего винта; 4 - tail (anti-torque) rotor -хвостовой винт; 5 - vertical fin -киль, вертикальный стабилизатор; 6 - horizontal stabilizer -горизонтальный стабилизатор; 7 - tail boom -хвостовая балка; 8 - fuselage -фюзеляж; 9 - landing gear -шасси

A helicopter consists of the airframe and propulsion system. The airframe includes a fuselage and undercarriage. The fuselage is the principal structure of the helicopter and houses the pilot's cabin for a crew of two or three, and cargo compartment designed to carry a squad of equipped infantrymen or different cargo. The tail boom is a structural element of the fuselage connecting the tail rotor to the cargo compartment. Stabilizers and tail support are also fixed to it. Undercarriage with main and nose landing gears and tail support and propulsion system - major structural elements of the helicopter - are attached to the fuselage as well.

The propulsion system consists generally of the engine, (transmission) drive system and main and tail rotors. The turboshaft engines having a high power-to-weight ratio are currently used in helicopters. An axial-flow turbo­shaft engine is comprised of a compressor, combustion chamber, turbines, and main gear box. The latter is of utmost importance as the safe operation of the entire system depends on it.

The rotation of the main rotor tends to cause the fuselage to rotate in the opposite direction. To prevent this, the single-rotor helicopter is provided with a tail rotor producing a counteracting thrust. Alternatively, the helicopter may have two rotors which revolve in opposite directions and thus counterbalance each other. Such helicopters can be tandem-rotor, side-by-side or co-exial.



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