The AgustaWestland AW101 is a European-designed and -manufactured medium-lift military helicopter, first flown in 1987 and having seen service since 1999. Plans to offer a heavy-lift unmanned version require a redesign of engine integration. With EU funding support, the HEAVYCOPTER (Contribution to optimisation of heavy helicopter engine installation design) project was put in charge of modifications. The project was aligned with the Green Rotorcraft component of Europe's vast Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative. HEAVYCOPTER used advanced software tools to optimise engine integration, focusing on improving intake and exhaust aerodynamic performance during flight. The group improved intake performance by changing the shape to reduce total pressure losses and inlet flow distortion at the engine interface. Researchers also optimised the design of the exhaust discharge duct. The modifications were intended to reduce backpressure, and balance hot and cold flows for effective engine cooling. Project work addressed additional aerodynamic characteristics of engine installation. Such issues included potential tail boom heating, potential re-intake of hot gases during ground idle and effects of rotor inflow during flight. The team designed a multi-objective evolutionary algorithm, used in conjunction with commercial and open-source computational fluid dynamics solvers. Testing confirmed performance improvements of the new designs. HEAVYCOPTER's technical improvements to engine efficiency ultimately mean reduced fuel consumption. The results also help improve competitiveness of the European industry, leading to greener transportation systems.
Heavy-lift, helicopter engine, aerodynamics, engine integration, AgustaWestland AW101, HEAVYCOPTER