The Future of Rotary Wing Aircraft

Rotary wing aircraft, also known as rotorcraft, are a type of aircraft that produces lift through spinning rotor blades placed around a mast.

Types of Rotary Wing Aircraft

Types of rotary wing aircraft include helicopters, autogyro, and gyrodyne. Across the aerospace industry, engineers are constantly pushing the limits of aviation technology and the advancements of rotary wing aircraft are no different. Looking towards the future, there are many revolutionizing capabilities that are coming to rotary wing aircraft both civil and defense.

Rotary wing aircraft have been in production for many years now with the first rotorcraft debuting from Sikorsky in 1939. Rotary wing aircraft research had predated this release by over 30 years, though such potential for rotorcraft was outweighed by fixed wing aircraft initiatives for a long period. Nevertheless, rotary wing aircraft have increased in use since their inception across many industries and applications, such as providing for emergencies, rescues, surveillance, combat, transportation, and much more. In recent years, experts have begun to argue that rotary wing aircraft technology is reaching a plateau, though there are many upcoming advancements and research that should be considered.

One of the biggest concerns for rotorcraft across all types is the limitation of forward speed. While drag has an effect on speed and engineers are looking for ways to mitigate such forces, the major component that the industry wishes to improve upon is the rotor disc. For lift, rotor blades spin with a velocity that is dependent upon blade length and rotations per minute (RPM). During forward movement, however, speed and velocity become dependent on the rotary wing aircraft velocity and rotor disc speed. The airspeed of rotor blades also often becomes unequal during quick forward movements, resulting in stalling that detracts from speed. To solve this, many designers, such as Sikorsky, are experimenting with countering the disbalance with the use of tractor propellers, coaxial rotors, and more.

The materials of rotary wing aircraft have also been undergoing revolutions, particularly with the introduction of carbon composites. Similar to many fixed wing aircraft, helicopters may be limited in their capabilities due to weight. Compared to aluminum, which is the current most implemented aircraft material, carbon fiber provides for an increased strength to weight ratio, more complex engineered design ability, and may drastically reduce operational costs over the aircraft’s life. As a result, multiple companies have begun to experiment with carbon composite design for rotary wing aircraft.

Lastly, one of the most discussed technologies at the forefront of rotary wing development is vertical lift. Vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) rotary wing aircraft are those that are able to take off, land, and hover vertically. As an upcoming technology, VTOL holds interest for both civil and defense applications. Within defense sectors, vertical lift aircraft that can provide for greater speeds, farther ranges, better reliability, reduced logistical footprints, and increased payload capacity are heavily desired for a full replacement of defense helicopters. Due to their vertical operation, VTOL opens up the possibility of landing and taking off from almost anywhere. Increased directional control may also allow them to be more flexible in different areas, such as an urban city. Because of this, companies such as Uber are interested in VTOL technology for civil applications such as creating flying taxi services for cities.

Rotary wing aircraft are constantly improving in their capabilities, and ensuring that your rotorcraft is fitted with the best parts and components can help you achieve top performance. When it comes time to begin sourcing the rotary wing aircraft parts and components that you need for your next project or operation. ASAP Aviation Procurement always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


October 12, 2022