|A technician inspects a blade mounted on CTI’s new whirl tower. The system uses computers and lasers to compare test blades to a perfect “master” at operational rotation speeds.|
Sikorsky Aircraft subsidiary Composite Technology Inc. (CTI) invited local officials to its Dallas-Fort Worth rotor blade repair facility on February 14 for the opening of its new whirl tower. The $15-million “rig” and control room are diagnostic tools used to conduct controlled tests of rotor blades under simulated operational conditions.
When damaged or repaired blades need to be tested, CTI technicians can mount them on the whirl tower’s high-tech rotor hub, along with a master that is known to be completely flawless. The tower then rotates the blades while sophisticated lasers identify the changes required to make the test blades match the master blade.
As an authorized rotor blade repair station for several aircraft manufacturers, CTI is capable of testing any blade on the whirl tower—regardless of who manufactured it, or the direction the blade was designed to rotate in—as long as it has a master to work from.
“This is twice as large as any whirl tower in the Sikorsky family, and we’re the largest helicopter company on the planet,” said Sikorsky President Jeff Pino. “This will hold the Marine Corps’ Super Stallion rotor blades, and that’s a helicopter that can lift 88,000 pounds.” To take a video tour of CTI’s whirl tower, go to www.rotorandwing.com