MENtOR: Methods and Experiments for NOvel Rotorcraft

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

MENtOR is a result of the activities of the UK Vertical Lift Network (UKVLN). UKVLN is a network funded by ESPRC (EP/M018164/1) aiming to bring together the rotorcraft research community of the UK. MENtOR itself is aiming to develop and validate methods and tools that can be used for the design and analysis of the next-generation rotorcraft. The project is necessary because the conventional configuration of a vertical flying machine is changing from a helicopter with main and tail rotors to different configurations, the most complex of which is the tilt-rotor. This was recently recognised by Ormiston (R.A. Ormiston, 2016, Revitalising advanced rotorcraft research and the compound helicopter. The Aeronautical Journal, 120, pp 83-129) who performed a review on the future of vertical flying machines as part of his American Helicopter Society Nikolsky award and lecture.

In the UK, the tiltrotor configuration has been selected by the rotorcraft industry to be on the roadmap of the Technology Strategy Board for development, based on the AW 609 aircraft and the Clean-Sky 2 initiative. Recent progress with the AW609 highlights the relevance of the proposal and the challenge at hand to design safe and efficient vertical flight machines of such complexity, and the need for research to provide trained engineers with the necessary tools, data and understanding.

MENtoR is a combined effort that includes all researchers in the UK active in the rotorcraft filed. The development of high-fidelity design and simulation tools is a primary objective equal in importance to the validation of the tools using test data. To support this activity MENtOR capitalises on the investment of ATI (former UK Aerodynamics) on the manufacturing of a test rig suitable for wind tunnel experimentation and able to accommodate tilt-rotor configurations. This new facility is currently undergoing commissioning and MENtOR will be the first project to utilise it.

Finally, MENToR has as strong exploitation and dissemination arm that aims to maintain and enhance the position of the UK in the international rotorcraft scene and ensure that the UK industry is well-supported with trained staff, tools and fundamental research to embark in the design and development of this new breed of rotorcraft

Publications

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