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Elastomeric damper improves ride and handling.

Enstrom Helicopter has received certification for the newly designed elastomeric dampers for the Model 480B. The elastomeric dampers are offered for retrofit of fielded Model 480B helicopters and have been incorporated on new production aircraft. The dampers replace the current hydraulic dampers and are said to have already shown improved ground operation, ride and handling qualities. Further, the dampers are expected to decrease maintenance costs.

Enstrom contacted this company in 2000 seeking a main rotor damper with improved damping performance characteristics, reduced scheduled maintenance and increased service life. Building on over 80 years of experience designing solutions to manage vibration, motion and noise in aircraft, the company began the improved damper development by reviewing damper load and motion data generated from an instrumented aircraft. An elastomeric damper was designed based on the flight test data and the company's analysis of the 480B aircraft dynamics. The elastomeric damper entered bench and flight test certification in 2002 and achieved FAA certification for use in January 2005.

The company's design utilizes a highly damped elastomer specifically formulated for the demanding requirements of helicopter main rotor damping applications. The damper's improved performance, confirmed through bench testing, flight testing at Enstrom, as well as field installations, is said to offer operators the benefits of improved performance with a significant reduction in ground feedback and vibration issues.

According to Enstrom, positive field reports are starting to come in. The new dampers are said to improve the aircraft's ride and stability in all regions of flights. Most impressive is said to be the way the dampers improve the characteristics near the ground. The aircraft no longer has a feedback issue between the airframe and the ground, according to Enstrom. There is no more ground bounce, and even on slope landings, the aircraft is said to be incredibly smooth.

The company also supplies a surface effect (SE) damper for the cyclic control system of the Model 480B. SE dampers generate damping through relative linear motion between a specially designed plunger installed with interference fit into an elastomeric sleeve. Proprietary lubricants, surface finishes and coatings are used to achieve very long life on the lightweight damper. Installed in any orientation, the dampers are said to have proven to control the response of the spring in the trim actuator. Further, because SE dampers use viscous grease lubricants, they typically do not require seals and do not leak.

The company designs, manufactures and markets devices and systems to manage mechanical motion and control noise and vibration; formulates, produces and sells general purpose and specialty adhesives and polyurethane coatings; and develops products and systems utilizing magnetically responsive technologies.


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Title Annotation:Case Studies
Publication:Rubber World
Date:Jun 22, 2005
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