Fort Worth, Texas-based AVX Aircraft has obtained a contract from the U.S. Army Contracting Command to study new technological approaches to improve fuel efficiency in vertical lift aircraft. According to a company spokesman, the seven-month agreement is worth approximately $500,000 and will focus on reducing the fuel consumption of the Bell OH-58D Kiowa Warrior Armed Scout by 30 percent in 6k/95 hot/high conditions.
The study is in addition to a $4-million, 18-month U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate contract the company received in 2011 to study technologically practical airframe designs for the Future Vertical Lift (formerly the Joint Multi-Role) program.
Model of AVX's OH-58D with dual ducted tail rotors on display at AHS.
AVX previously submitted a proposal for the Armed Aerial Scout using its basic design, known as AVX Technology, that offered a significant cut in fuel consumption, “using the coaxial rotors…connected with dual-ducted fans.” As this design eliminates the need for a tail rotor, that alone accounts for a 20 percent reduction in fuel usage, according to AVX. The company received a primary utility patent for its coaxial rotors, dual-ducted fans and internal components and controls in early May.
While AVX doesn’t have a flying version of the prototype “just yet,” it is a work in progress. In the meantime, AVX plans on using computer models and analysis to investigate how best to achieve the remaining 10 percent that the Department of Defense requires in reduced fuel consumption. Research findings—which AVX has from prior testing—and third-party evaluations will add to the company’s OH-58D design, incorporating coaxial rotors and dual-ducted rear fans. AVX expects all testing to take place in-house.
“Just our basic design gives us 20 of the 30 percent that the Department of Defense is looking for,” the spokesman noted, adding that the testing phase would also examine “different ways of connecting the rotors and the fans” to reach the 30 percent target. The Vertical Lift Consortium (VLC), a Department of Defense initiative, is administering the fuel study contract for the Army.
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