A comparative study and application of continuously variable transmission to a single main rotor heavy lift helicopter
Hameer, Sameer Hameer Jaffer
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Rotorcraft transmission design is limited by empirical weight trends that are proportional to the power/torque raised to the two-thirds coupled with the relative inexperience industry has with the employment of variable speed transmission to heavy lift helicopters of the order of 100,000 lbs gross weight and 30,000 installed horsepower. The advanced rotorcraft transmission program objectives are to reduce transmission weight by at least 25%, reduce sound pressure levels by at least 10 dB, have a 5000 hr mean time between removal, and also incorporate the use of split torque technology in rotorcraft drivetrains of the future. The major obstacle that challenges rotorcraft drivetrain design is the selection, design, and optimization of a variable speed transmission in the goal of achieving a 50% reduction in rotor speed and its ability to handle high torque with light weight gears, as opposed to using a two-speed transmission which has inherent structural problems and is highly unreliable due to the embodiment of the traction type transmission, complex clutch and brake system. This thesis selects a nontraction pericyclic continuously variable transmission (P-CVT) as the best approach for a single main rotor heavy lift helicopter to target the above mentioned obstacle for drivetrain design and provides advancement in the state of the art of drivetrain design over existing planetary and split torque transmissions currently used in helicopters. The goal of the optimization process was to decrease weight, decrease noise, increase efficiency, and increase safety and reliability. The objective function utilized the minimization of the weight and the constraint is the tooth bending stress of the facegears. The most important parameters of the optimization process are weight, maintainability, and reliability which are cross-functionally related to each other, and these parameters are related to the torques and operating speeds. The analysis of the split torque type P-CVT achieved a weight reduction of 42.5% and 40.7% over planetary and split torque transmissions respectively. In addition, a 19.5 dB sound pressure level reduction was achieved using active gear struts, and also the use of fabricated steel truss like housing provided a higher maintainability and reliability, low cost, and low weight over cast magnesium housing currently employed in helicopters. The static finite element analysis of the split torque type P-CVT, both 2-D and 3-D, yielded stresses below the allowable bending stress of the material. The goal of the finite element analysis is to see if the designed product has met its functional requirements. The safety assessment of the split torque type P-CVT yielded a 99% probability of mission success based on a Monte Carlo simulation using stochastic- petri net analysis and a failure hazard analysis. This was followed by an FTA/RBD analysis which yielded an overall system failure rate of 140.35 failures per million hours, and a preliminary certification and time line of certification was performed. The use of spherical facegears and pericyclic kinematics has advanced the state of the art in drivetrain design primarily in the reduction of weight and noise coupled with high safety, reliability, and efficiency.