What Helicopter Vibration Is and Why You Should Care

The problem of helicopter vibration is a big one. This can impact component life, rotor blade structural integrity, and the control and comfort of the person operating the helicopter. This is such a serious issue that the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all helicopter aircraft have the proper helicopter vibration analysis tools and equipment on board. The thinking that was carrying helicopter vibration analysis equipment will prevent helicopter crashes around the country.

There are good reasons this problem comes up in helicopters. All helicopters experience a fair amount of vibration. The primary source of this vibration is the rotating components in the craft itself. As the number of blades is used and the rotation is increased, the result is more and more vibration. The best vibration analyzers can show how much the vibration is increased in larger crafts that smaller ones.

At the heart of the matter rests a few issues that lead to dangerous vibration. When the shaft rotates, the result is varying frequencies and harmonics from the rotation of the shaft. Other causes are insufficient lubrication of the parts, improper cleaning of all of the interior parts during regular aircraft maintenance, and defective parts.

As measured by the best vibration analyzers, strong vibration can lead to the destruction of the total aircraft. In some instances, the entire tail portion of the helicopter to become detached. It can also cause the craft to become unstable and hard to control which can lead to a host of serious problems that can spell disaster for a helicopter.

Another issue that can cause disruptive vibration on helicopters is when the weight is not distributed equally between the rotor blades. Even a small difference in the weight distribution can cause a large problem for the aircraft. This can be observed by using a helicopter vibration analysis system. In other cases, the high helicopter vibration can be caused by drive shafts who have improper or irregular weight (in the bolts) or thickness in the walls.

The problem of vibration in helicopters and other aircraft is not a simple issue that can always be spotted and dealt with. It often recurs. Sometimes one blade may lift more than it should and this means the work is not distributed evenly among the blades. Among other things, this can cause uneven wear and tear on the parts all over the aircraft. It does not take a large difference to cause problems as everything in a helicopter is designed to work in a very specific way.

Another place to find problems that lead to unnatural and dangerous vibration is with the gears. When the assembly tolerances are incorrectly assembled, there are defects in the way the parts were put together, or there are problems with the materials used to make the parts the result can be the creation of dangerous vibration levels.

The vibration from problems with the gears may not cause the same system-wide issues that can down the aircraft but they can cause serious problems for the people who operate the helicopter. The results can be medical problems that include pain, loss of dexterity, and numbness. When there are issues with the gears, often the only way to deal with the problem is a complete overhaul of the gears.

There are ways to reduce the vibration that is such an issue. Here are a few of the things that can dampen vibration:

  • Put in the right helicopter vibration analysis and dampening equipment.
  • Make sure the aircraft is operated at the right measurements that have been preset.
  • Keep everything properly maintained and cleaned.
  • Monitor the functionality is measured and keep a proper maintenance schedule.
  • Keep up with all of these steps as they need to be repeated as often and necessary.

There are some problems with helicopters and all kinds of aircraft that cannot be prevented or predicted. Vibration is not at all one of those. The very way these kinds of machines work will lead to issues from vibration. The good news is that using the right helicopter vibration analysis tools and employing the right preventative measures, the problems associated with dangerous vibration levels may not be completely eliminated but reduced to management issues.

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