Aeromechanics: How Helicopters Work


Traveling by air has always been the fastest and safest way to get to your destination. Because there are no obstacles that you need to avoid when you’re flying, you can comfortably travel in a straight line from point A to point B. An aircraft can reach in minutes what the fastest bus can reach in hours, saving you a great deal of time and money.

The only problem with most aircraft is that they require a long runway for takeoffs and landing. Unsurprisingly, airports and runways are too expensive to build not only because of the sheer volume of materials needed to build them but also because it’s quite difficult to find a suitable spot for such megastructures. Fortunately, there are some types of aircraft that don’t need a runway to fly and land safely. The most popular of them is the helicopter.

Apart from the convenience of not requiring a runway, using a helicopter has many other interesting benefits. For one, it allows you to get to more places. In fact, because it doesn’t have to land at an airport, it can take you closer to your destination and save you time on taking another trip. A helicopter is also capable of hovering and drifting gently in any direction so you can get your sightseeing done while you’re at it; something you can’t do on a plane, which needs to fly fast at a high altitude.

Helicopters fly by generating “lift,” an upward-pushing force that exceeds the weight of the aircraft producing it. The rotor blades of a helicopter are designed and configured in such a way that they can effectively deflect air downward. This downdraft can create an equal and opposite force that pushes the helicopter upward. Planes work pretty much the same way, except they have their airfoils constructed in a single fixed-wing, which is why they have to traverse a long distance at high speed first before they can take off.

While speed and capability to generate lift are the core facets of helicopter design, aeromechanic experts are also constantly looking for ways to enhance the aircraft’s safety and fuel efficiency. One of the features they’ve included in newer models is the digital range image algorithms for flight guidance aids. This is perfect for low-altitude and terrain-following flights. To save more fuel, experts are looking to make helicopter engines biodiesel compatible.

If you want to fully understand the workings of a helicopter and the latest technology applied in its design, you should start by reading on aeromechanics. It deals with the motion of gases. By understanding how the air works and how to take advantage of its fluid nature, you’ll learn the mechanisms not just of helicopters, but also of other aircraft.