Dubai Air Show

Smallest helo twin makes debut at Dubai

 - December 11, 2006, 5:11 AM

A new two-seat helicopter powered by a twin-pack engine is being shown for the first time on Stand W903. Although roughly the size of a Robinson R22, the Swisscopter is notable for its innovative propulsion system that provides a level of safety unusual in this class of helicopter.

First flown by Santino Timpano in June 2002, development has been protracted as resonance problems produced sometimes-disastrous results, such as the disintegration of the airframe. But perseverance has been rewarded and Timpano told Aviation International News that the Swisscopter produces virtually no vibration, even in the revs per minute warning zone making it an ideal camera platform among other roles.

Titanium and Ergal aluminum alloy are used to produce the frame, with advanced carbon and other fiber composites employed to make the cabin and tail rotor boom. Two-blade main and tail rotors are fitted.

SwissMotor developed the liquid-cooled, 136-hp twin engine, which powers the Swisscopter, taking some eight years to achieve the intended level of performance. “With one engine started, the performance was smooth and with the second fired up, the smoothness was not disturbed until the throttles were advanced to 100 percent, when severe vibration was experienced initially,” Timpano noted.

However, the four-stroke engine is now performing reliably and with resonance problems solved, very smoothly. The new engine burns unleaded fuel available worldwide and produces 60 percent less emission than a two-stroke. It is said to be easy to maintain and consequently has a long TBO.

The company has developed a full authority electronic control system, which eases the pilot’s workload, particularly in the event of a single engine failure. Patents for the new engine are pending and EASA certification is expected soon, but meanwhile SwissMotor invites interest from aviation industries worldwide.

Production helicopter models will be available with a choice of wheels or skids and the company will start to take orders next year. Certification and first deliveries are planned for the fourth quarter of 2006.