Experimental and analytical investigations were conducted to evaluate a bearingless helicopter rotor concept (CBR) made possible through the use of the specialized nonisotropic properties of composite materials. The investigation was focused on four principal areas which were expected to answer important questions regarding the feasibility of this concept. First, an examination of material properties was made to establish moduli, ultimate strength, and fatigue characteristics of unidirectional graphite/epoxy, the composite material selected for this application. The results confirmed the high bending modulus and strengths and low shear modulus expected of this material, and demonstrated fatigue properties in torsion which make this material ideally suited for the CBR application. Second, a dynamically scaled model was fabricated and tested in the low speed wind tunnel to explore the aeroelastic characteristics of the CBR and to explore various concepts relative to the method of blade pitch control. Two basic control configurations were tested, one in which pitch flap coupling could occur and another which eliminated all coupling. It was found that both systems could be operated successfully at simulated speeds of 180 knots; however, the configuration with coupling present revealed a potential for undesirable aeroelastic response. The uncoupled configuration behaved generally as a conventional hingeless rotor and was stable for all conditions tested.
AIRCRAFT DESIGN, TESTING AND PERFORMANCE