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Concepts and Techniques for Helicopter Airframe Fatigue Tests

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Between February 1961 and June 1963, Sikorsky Aircraft, under the sponsorship of the U. S. Navy Bureau of Naval Weapons, performed the first laboratory fatigue test of a full scale helicopter airframe. This paper presents the concepts and techniques developed by Sikorsky for such tests. Airframe fatigue test concepts are directed toward defining modes of fatigue cracking, measuring rates of crack propagation, and demonstrating the adequacy of recommended inspection techniques and intervals to provide “fail safe” structural integrity. The experimental design includes consideration of the test article configuration, acceleration of test loads, loading spectra, and evaluation of test fractures. The design of the SH‐3A airframe fatigue test facility to provide automatic simulation of flight and landing loads, and the development problems encountered in achieving this capability are described. The facility and techniques to be used for CH‐53A airframe fatigue tests reflect improvements resulting from SH‐3A test experience. Correlation of airframe fatigue test results and service experience demonstrates the validity of the test concepts and techniques as well as the “fail safe” characteristics of the SH‐3A airframe.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Connecticut

Publication date: 1966-07-01

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  • The Journal of the American Helicopter Society is the world's only scientific journal dedicated to vertical flight technology. It is a peer-reviewed technical journal published quarterly by AHS International and presents innovative papers covering the state-of-the-art in all disciplines of rotorcraft design, research and development. (Please note that AHS members receive significant discounts on articles and subscriptions.)

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