U.S. Fixing Quick-Failing Huey Rotor Heads
By DAVE MAJUMDAR • PARIS — The U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) has found a way to fix durability problems with the rotor head of its new Bell UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters.
Originally, the aircraft’s composite rotor cuff and yoke, which are part of the helicopter’s rotor head, were intended to last for 10,000 hours. Instead, they were wearing out in just 1,200 hours.
Quick fixes have boosted the average life to 1,300 hours, and a longer-term solution is in the works, said Marine Col. Harry Hewson, who leads the H-1 project for NAVAIR.
“We’re redesigning those components to be more producible, cheaper for us to buy, and to last longer,” Hewson said.
The new goal is to 5,000 hours on average, and no less than 2,500.
Hewson said the original 10,000 hour goal was never realistic.
Limited testing is currently underway, with full-scale tests to begin later.
If all goes well, fleet helicopter units will receive the new parts as older ones wear out.
Hewson’s office is also working to added networking capabilities to communicate via data link to drones and other ground forces.
Additionally, a new directed infrared counter measures system might be integrated on to the helicopter. The component would have to be integral to the air vehicle rather than an addon, Hewson said, because the aircraft are rather small.