Engineering news

World's first 54-bladed helicopter flown

Youtube video of first flight somewhere in the UK becomes Youtube sensation

A British aviation enthusiast who has successfully developed and flown his own 54-bladed helicopter is attracting international attention with his project.

A video of the first flight of his “Swarm” multi-rotor aircraft was uploaded to Youtube last month under username gasturbine101, and has so far attracted more than 2.5 million views. During the video (below) he successfully pilots the unconventional helicopter to a height of around three feet for around five minutes.

The DIY helicopter, thought to be the world's first to use 54 blades, cost £6000 to make. It is “just a bit of fun for myself”, says gasturbine101, and is “never intended for making a significant journey or flying much above head height”. 

PE was unable to contact “Gasturbine 101”, but he has published a number of details about his Swarm multi-rotor aircraft.

The Swarm weighs 148kg at take off and can lift around 164kg using 54 18 inch counter-rotation propellers, which are the same as those used on RC aircraft. The large contra rotating pitches of the propellers defines much of the layout of the aircraft and turn at a speed high enough to help reduce motor weight, but at a relatively low fraction of their thrust / rpm capability.

The aircraft is battery powered, running at approximately 22KW.

The polycarbonate dome in the centre could, on top of which six more rotors could be mounted, protects the pilot from the props, catches some ground effect pressure for lift and also doubles as a rain shelter, says gastrubine101.

The biggest flaw, he adds, is the lack of a tail rotor: “the large number of props running at high speed means the net torque reactions are relatively low, so the craft has little yaw authority. So it probably needs a tail rotor for spot turns.”


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