Aircraft are used each and every day in the United States. From transporting goods to moving people from one place to another, helicopters have an important role to play. And seeing as how there were about 224,475 total active general aviation craft in the U.S. in 2011 alone, aviation engineers have their hands full maintaining these machines. One important task aviation maintenance mechanics and supervisors have is smoothing vibrations in helicopters’ rotor tracks. So let’s take a look at a few important things to know about rotor track balance.
When helicopters are running, the rotating components within the machine can sometimes be exposed to excessive vibration. The process of helicopter rotor track and balance will smooth the vibrations that are caused by the rotating components.
There are two main types of vibrations that helicopters rotors can cause. The first is lateral vibration. This type of vibration is caused by an unequal distribution of mass within the main rotor. The second is vertical vibration, which is caused by an unequal lift created by the main rotor components. You can feel these types of vibrations as they produce a “bumpy” ride when the helicopter is in motion.
Fortunately, a vibration analysis can help not only determine which type of vibration is happening, but the location of the catalyst as well. And with the right vibration balancing equipment, rotor track balance can be restored.
When helicopter equipment is put together, many mechanics will also install vibration sensors. The ideal location for sensor installation can usually be found in the helicopter’s maintenance instructions because the location can vary depending on the type of helicopter. But in general, vibration sensors are placed on the support structure that is closest to the rotating components — this way, the sensors have the best chance of detecting problems.
Rotor systems should be frequently checked and maintained to avoid problems with vibrations. But any time a rotating component is changed or replaced, the rotor balance should be checked to ensure there were no problems caused by the replaced part.
All in all, rotor track balance is critical for the proper function of a helicopter. Hopefully, this article has further explained the importance of this process and the varying aspects of it.