Vibration Isolation for Rotorcraft Using Electrical Actuation

  • Jean-Paul Henderson

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The Active Control of Structural Response (ACSR) vibration suppression system, where hydraulic actuators located between the gearbox and the fuselage are used to cancel vibration in large helicopters, has been used successfully for many years. However the power consumed by the actuators can be high, and using hydraulic actuation for smaller rotorcraft has not been seen as practical. In contrast to active vibration reduction systems, passive vibration isolation systems require no external power. Passive vibration isolation systems however have the disadvantage of being limited to working at one specific frequency which will not be acceptable as slowed rotor flight becomes more common for fuel efficiency and noise legislation reasons. In this thesis two electrically powered actuation concepts, one piezoelectric, and one electromagnetic were initially evaluated. An electrically powered actively augmented passive, or hybrid, vibration reduction system based on an electro hydrostatic actuator (EHA) concept was proposed to be developed further. This hybrid actuator will have a wider range of operating frequencies than a purely passive system, and have lower power consumption than a purely active system. The design is termed a “Resonant EHA”; in that the resonant frequency of the coupled fluid, pump and electric motor rotor inertia matches the fundamental vibration frequency. The hydraulic cylinder, fluid and pump act as a single stage gear ratio, and the. brushless electric motor’s inertia is the main resonating mass as in a Dynamic Antiresonant Vibration Isolator (DAVI) passive vibration reduction system. The electrical power is used to compensate for friction in the actuator and other losses, and if needed can shift the operating point away from the resonant frequency. Simulation results indicated that a hydraulic circuit in which the pump leakage is fed back into the low pressure line would introduce unacceptable disturbances in the flows to and from the cylinder. To eliminate the source of the disturbances, a fully integrated electric motor and pump circuit design was chosen in which the electric motor is immersed in hydraulic fluid. An EHA demonstrator was built sized for a 1.5 tonne rotorcraft. For sizing comparison purposes the frameless brushless D.C motor for each strut of 1.5 tonne rotorcraft has a rotor and stator mass of approximately 1 kg, and can produce a continuous stall torque of 2 Nm. The bidirectional pump has a displacement of 1.5 cm3/rev, the mean system pressure was taken as 90 bar, and the double ended hydraulic cylinder has a 32 mm diameter bore, and 18 mm rod. Initial test results for the proof of concept EHA showed highly significant free play with a reversal of torque direction, resulting in unacceptable loss in transmission stiffness. The free play was traced to the gear pump and a hypothesis for the origin of the free play was put forward. To avoid torque reversals the EHA was further tested with a constant offset torque bias which proved successful in restoring a sufficient stiffness to the transmission. The sizing of the electric motor and power consumed with a non-zero offset torque is greater than a torque reversing motor, which limits the immediate application of the device in the present form. Future research investigating the use of other transmission elements, such as a piston pump, to obtain a more linear stiffness is recommended. As a hybrid vibration isolation system a Root Mean Square (RMS) reduction by a factor of four and near elimination of the fundamental frequency vibrations was achieved for the frequency range of 10 to 20 hertz.
Date of Award18 Jun 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAndrew Plummer (Supervisor)


  • EHA
  • hybride active passive
  • rotorcraft
  • vibration isolation

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