Methods and Experiments for Novel Rotorcraft (MENtOR)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng


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


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Description We are addressing a gap in knowledge regarding novel rotorcraft systems, e.g. vehicles powered by one or more rotary wings. Our research is multi-disciplinary and deals with aerodynamics, aero-mechanics (the science of flight and how to control an airborne vehicle) acoustics, and configuration design. We are developing numerical methods for simulating novel flight platforms, including tiltable rotors, multi-rotor configurations (co-axials), ducted rotors, etc. These models have in most cases an aerodynamic simulation model and in some cases this is coupled with an aero-acoustic code, which allows us to make predictions of the type of environmental impact. We are also using numerical models to simulate complete rotorcraft, and to understand which are the flight limitations and safe areas to fly.
Exploitation Route We develop models that can be used by industry to deal with their new design challenges. We meet regularly with industry and other sponsors to understand where the needs and gaps are, and we can fill these gaps by doing the fundamental research.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine

Title FARP: Computer code for the simulation of conventional helicopter aero-mechanics 
Description The software uses novel numerical methods to simulate the aero-mechanics of a conventional helicopter, including engine aero-thermodynamics, trim conditions, blade flapping, aerodynamics, flight performance. 
Type Of Technology New/Improved Technique/Technology 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact No impact yet achieved. 
Description Annual Post-graduate student workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This was our annual post-graduate/PDRA workshop, where we showcase the latest research over two days, in the presence of industry (Leonardo, BAe Systems, Hybrid Air Vehicles, others), government departments (MoD, DSTL). This is followed by both formal and informal discussions on all matters of rotorcraft and vertical lift systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019