Advanced Composite Airframe Structures

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A preliminary design study has been conducted on the applicability of composite materials to helicopter fuselage structure. The CH‐53D, a large, high‐speed cargo and troop transport helicopter, was used as a baseline design for the study. The construction of the CH‐53D airframe, primarily aluminum skin/stringers/frames, is representative of present generation helicopters. The study indicates that composite materials can he cost‐ effectively applied to primary helicopter airframe structures in the 1980's. Graphite, Kevlar‐49 and glass epoxy were used as the primary structural materials based on an evaluation of candidate materials. The most promising concept was an all‐molded shell (skin/stringer/frame) modular construction. A segment of airframe shell, representative of this concept, has been experimentally fabricated, and a test program has been initiated to investigate the strength and stiffness properties of composite skin panels. A structural weight empty reduction of 18.5% was projected for the application of this concept to the CH‐53D fuselage. A cost‐effectiveness study was made for a fleet of 600 helicopters over a ten year life‐cycle. The study projected a $202 million fleet life‐cycle cost reduction; approximately $337,000 per helicopter.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sikorsky Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Connecticut 06602

Publication date: July 1, 1975

More about this publication?
  • 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.)

    Journal subscribers who are AHS members log in here if you are not already logged in.

    Authors can find submission guidelines and related information on the AHS website.

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