- Advanced composites help allow Boeing to get extra lift in new Chinook Block 2 blades
- The extra 1,500 lb helps the aircraft perform better at high altitude
Advanced composites and manufacturing techniques allowed Boeing to develop a new rotor blade for its Chinook Block 2 enhancements that the company expects will add an additional 1,500 lb (680 kg) of lift, according to a company official.
Chuck Dabundo, vice-president of Boeing cargo helicopters and H-47 programme manager, told reporters at the company’s Chinook facility on 23 July that a combination of different airfoils and a swept tip design provide the added lift capability over the Block 1 Chinook. Dabundo said in a 25 July statement that the Block 1 blade primarily comprises a single conventional airfoil whereas Block 2’s Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB) has three different airfoil segments, representing a more modern aerodynamic design.
Boeing in the past had its sights on improving the shape of Chinook rotor blades, but did not have the manufacturing technology to build them. Randy Rotte, director of cargo lift helicopters and Future Vertical Lift (FVL), said Boeing can now produce the new design, thanks to better processes.
Rotte said Boeing must also factor how much return it can get for its investment in improving rotor blade design.
“There aren’t that many changes to rotor blades, it happens every 20 years or so,” he said. “Part of it is to get the juice from the squeeze: How much do I improve and how much am I going to have to invest to actually do this?”
Dabundo said there is a trade off with the improved lift in increased drag, meaning less fuel efficiency, but he added that the new design more than makes up for it with the lift improvement. Rotte added that, as a pilot, he did not care whether the blade was creating more drag if his inputs created what he expected.
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