Rotor Track & Balance

Before a repaired rotor blade is delivered to the customer, it must be balanced. In order to adjust the rotor blade in terms of weight distribution to the factory values, which is important for conformity with the other rotor blades. The better the balance and aerodynamic shape of the rotor blade is adjusted after repair, the fewer flights are needed at the customer to balance the rotor blade set. However, traditional static balancing only considers blade mass centre of gravity measurements and adjustments.

Innovation Track 3: Developing a testing facility to reduce maintenance costs

The purpose of the project is to develop an innovative helicopter rotor blade static testing facility capable of measuring the properties of rotor blades. The facility will measure all the blade properties that are relevant for the blade dynamic behaviour. The aim is to use this information for a blade adjustment advice, prior to the dynamic Rotor Track Balancing (RTB) of the blades. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of required flights for RTB and thus to reduce helicopter maintenance costs for Defence. 

Project status

Runtime: May 2016 – May 2019

  • 2016 Q2

    The Boeing AH-64D Apache helicopter has been chosen as demonstration platform for the analyses.

  • 2016 Q3

    Base specifications for a static rotor blade measurement facility are available, enabling the start of the facility’s design and development.

  • 2017 Q1

    The simulation model for the calculation of the structural blade and hub loads in an isolated rotor has become available, enabling the start of the rotor balancing analyses.

  • 2017 Q2

    Simulation model for the calculation of loads and accelerations in a complete helicopter has become available, enabling analyses of the rotor track and balancing activities.

  • 2018 Q1

    A full set of the aerodynamic properties of the apache rotor blade, including the trim tab influence, has been provided which provides the input for blade aerodynamic influence on the RTB process.

  • 2018 Q2

    The properties of recently introduced ‘trailing edge wedges’ on rotor blades have been included in the flow analyses.

  • 2018 Q3

    Virtual RTB and optimisation is developed and available in the rotor simulation tool. Validation with data from operational RTB sessions can now be done.

    A new design based on latest finding of the simulation and sensitivity studies has led to a more efficient, lean and more functional design of the measuring facility. The functional design is frozen and is set to be manufactured.

  • Upcoming: 2019 Q2

    The test facility will be available and will be able to measure the relevant properties of the rotor blades in the RNLAF inventory, to support more efficient Rotor Track & Balance procedures.

Parties involved

More information

For any questions about the project (status) or if interested to collaborate, please contact: 
Richard Bakker (NLR) Richard.Bakker@nlr.nl or Marco Brinkman (SPECTO) M.Brinkman@spectoaerospace.com