As the rotor blades rotate, they generate what is called rotational relative wind. This airflow is characterized as flowing parallel and opposite the rotor’s plane of rotation and striking perpendicular to the rotor blade’s leading edge. This rotational relative wind is used to generate lift. As rotor blades produce lift, air is accelerated over the foil and projected downward. Anytime a helicopter is producing lift, it moves large masses of air vertically and down through the rotor system. This downwash or induced flow can significantly change the efficiency of the rotor system. Rotational relative wind combines with induced flow to form the resultant relative wind. As induced flow increases, resultant relative wind becomes less horizontal. Since AOA is determined by measuring the difference between the chord line and the resultant relative wind, as the resultant relative wind becomes less horizontal, AOA decreases. [Figure 2-40]
Transverse Flow Effect
As the helicopter accelerates in forward flight, induced flow drops to near zero at the forward disk area and increases at the aft disk area. These differences in lift between the fore and aft portions of the rotor disk are called transverse flow effect. [Figure 2-39] This increases the AOA at the front disk area causing the rotor blade to flap up, and reduces AOA at the aft disk area causing the rotor blade to flap down. Because the rotor acts like a gyro, maximum displacement occurs 90° in the direction of rotation. The result is a tendency for the helicopter to roll slightly to the right as it accelerates through approximately 20 knots or if the headwind is approximately 20 knots.
Transverse flow effect is recognized by increased vibrations of the helicopter at airspeeds just below ETL on takeoff and after passing through ETL during landing. To counteract transverse flow effect, a cyclic input to the left may be needed.Are you ready to start your journey learning to fly helicopters? Learning to Fly Helicopters, Second Edition, provides details on the technical and practical aspects of rotarywing flight. Written in a conversational style, the book demystifies the art and science of helicopter flying.