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Wind Tunnel and Flight Evaluation of Passive Stabilization of a Cargo Container Slung Load

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In forward flight helicopters carrying slung loads frequently encounter load instability problems that reduce their speed envelope to well below the power limit of the helicopter/slung‐load system. The paper presents a procedure for the development and flight test verification of passive stabilizers designed to increase the maximum flight speed of the system. Most of the development is carried out during wind tunnel tests. A scale model is suspended from the tunnel ceiling by a gimbaled setup that simulates the hook‐sling attachment. The model is free to perform lateral and longitudinal pendulum motions, as well as yaw rotation. All three motions are recorded as functions of time. The model dynamics are studied as a function of the wind tunnel speed. Various techniques for stabilizing the load can be investigated by wind tunnel tests, which are much cheaper, faster, and less risky than equivalent flight tests. The present study investigates the use of passive vertical fins to stabilize the 6 × 6 × 8 ft CONEX cargo container. The optimal geometry and location of the fins are determined in wind tunnel tests. Later on this optimal configuration is built and tested in full‐scale flight tests. The dynamic behavior during these flight tests is compared with the wind tunnel results. Good agreement between both can result in a significant reduction in the number and duration of the flight tests that are required to certify the stabilization method. By using the above‐described technique, the maximum flight speed of a UH‐60/CONEX system is increased from 60 kt (the operational limit for the unstabilized CONEX) to 110 kt (the power limit of the system).
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

Publication date: 01 July 2010

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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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