Helicopter technology programme lifts off

The UK has launched an £8.8m research and development programme into helicopter rotor technology.

The REACT – Rotor Embedded Actuator Control Technology – project is led by Agusta Westland in collaboration with Bristol, Leicester and Liverpool universities. It will receive investment of £4.4m from the Technology Strategy Board.

The three-year project involves the development of active surfaces in helicopter rotor blades, and active hydraulic systems in rotor controls. Such active systems continuously vary the aerodynamics of the rotors to provide optimal performance.  Full-scale laboratory validation of the technology will be produced, while the project will also investigate and develop the manufacturing methods that will be needed to produce the innovative technology in volume.

Launching the project at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility, Science and Innovation Minister Ian Pearson said: “I am very pleased that the DIUS-sponsored Technology Strategy Board is providing the public sector support for the REACT project, ensuring that much of this crucial research and development is UK-led. REACT is a great example of industry, academia and government working together to help sustain and take forward high value manufacturing in the UK.”

David Bott, the Technology Strategy Board’s director of innovation programmes, said: “The Technology Strategy Board’s role is to ensure that the UK is in the forefront of technology-enabled innovation. This project takes a strong understanding of the factors affecting the performance of rotor blades and combines it with the latest manufacturing methods to produce really exciting technology. We are therefore delighted to offer our support and investment.”

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