Thursday, March 12, 2015

Autorotation

Autorotation is the state of flight where the main rotor system of a helicopter is being turned by the action of air moving up through the rotor rather than engine power driving the rotor, as with an autogyro. The term autorotation can be traced back to a period of early development in helicopters between 1915 and 1920 and refers to the rotors turning without the engine.

In normal, powered flight, air is drawn into the main rotor system from above and exhausted downward, but during autorotation, air moves up into the rotor system from below as the helicopter descends. Autorotation is permitted mechanically because of both a freewheeling unit, which allows the main rotor to continue turning even if the engine is not running, as well as curved main rotor blades such that when the collective pitch is fully down the inner part of the blade has negative pitch relative to the horizontal plane and can be spun up by the relative wind. It is the means by which a helicopter can be landed safely in the event of complete engine failure. Consequently all single-engine helicopters must demonstrate this capability in order to obtain a type certificate.

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