A helicopter on the test bench: HBM helps Marenco Swisshelicopter get SKYe SH09 aircraft off the ground

Four years from the drawing board to a successful test flight. Two more years until delivery of the first ten helicopters to customers in 2016. That is the ambitious schedule of Marenco Swisshelicopter (Marenco) for the Marenco SKYe SH09 model helicopter.

This aircraft is the first helicopter developed and manufactured in Switzerland and is a completely new development: The light, single-engine, multi-purpose helicopter has a fiber-composite fuselage that is unique on the market.

Designing such a groundbreaking model challenged the developers of the SKYe SH09, demanding all of their abilities. The developers also needed reliable partners that could help them make their dream of flying a Swiss-made aircraft a reality. For its measurement needs, Marenco found just such a partner in HBM, which supplied the reliable measurement technology, know-how and passion needed to help SKYe SH09 become a success story.

SKYe SH09—built from the ground up

Marenco Swisshelicopter had undertaken nothing less than the development of a totally innovative helicopter in the 2.5 ton class – and in record time at that. Development was launched in 2010. Delivery of the first helicopters to customers is planned for 2016. The developers started from scratch. There were no predecessor models to turn to and the market offered no comparable product.

To appeal to the most demanding customers, the SKYe SH09 sets new standards in its class in terms of hot and high performance, noise emission, cost-effectiveness and variability. This is made possible by combining a powerful drive with a helicopter fuselage unique in the world, made entirely of carbon, which can also be easily adapted to an extensive range of requirements.

Setting a high bar for measurement reliability

Having set high standards for the first Swiss-made helicopter, Marenco also set demanding requirements for its project partners to help ensure the 2016 delivery. The company needed accurate test equipment to verify safety so it could receive a type certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the American counterpart, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This certificate states that the aircraft manufacturing design is sound. It was therefore essential to choose reliable measurement technology that would deliver precise measurement results.

The company’s developers had used HBM solutions in the past and had positive experiences, so Marenco opted to team with HBM to measure strain, forces and torque with its rugged and reliable measurement technology.

Solutions for the entire measuring chain, including custom-made transducers

Since selecting HBM, Marenco has been relying on high-tech HBM solutions at critical points in the development process, particularly for test benches in the whirl tower and for the main and tail rotor.

Three U10M force transducers in the whirl tower measure static and dynamic tensile and compressive forces of the helicopter rotor. Most torque is calculated directly from the three force transducers.

The test bench for the main gearbox uses a T40B variable digital torque transducer with a magnetic rotational speed measuring system for precise data acquisition, even at low speeds.

HBM custom-developed four three-component transducers for Marenco. These transducers are used for dynamic measurements of axial force Fz and lateral forces Fx and Fy. Static flight maneuvers can be simulated one-to-one with the three-component transducer.

The test bench for the tail rotor includes the compact HBM T22 transducer for simple torque applications and an additional HBM S9M force transducer.

In addition to the force and torque transducers it uses in the test benches, Marenco is also conducting experimental examinations of components using HBM strain gauges. The gauges are placed on the components, then evaluated and analyzed by powerful data acquisition systems in the HBM QuantumX family and with HBM catman software.

HBM's solutions have more than met the Marenco developers' expectations, and the company will continue to rely on HBM for measurement technology as in moves toward its 2016 delivery date and into the future.

Whirl tower for measurement of tensile and compressive forces of the helicopter rotor, image: Marenco Swisshelicopter
Engine assembly in the whirl tower using HBM force transducers, image: Marenco Swisshelicopter
Test bench for the main gearbox, image: Marenco Swisshelicopter
... using the T40B torque transducer, image: Marenco Swisshelicopter
Custom force transducer in the test bench for the main gearbox, image: Marenco Swisshelicopter
U10M force transducer under the feet of the test bench, image: Marenco Swisshelicopter
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