Helicopter Electric Tail Rotor Drive

Period of Performance: 04/25/2013 - 03/07/2014


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Launchpoint Technologies, Inc.
5735 Hollister Avenue, Suite B
Goleta, CA 93117
Principal Investigator


LaunchPoint Technologies Inc. proposes to develop an electric drive system for a Bell 206 helicopter tail rotor. The Navy variant of this helicopter is the TH-57. The system will be designed to retrofit existing aircraft. The drive system will consist of a permanent magnet (PM) generator attached to the tail rotor output of the turbine gearbox and a direct drive PM motor replacing the tail rotor gearbox. Power electronics and electric cables connect the generator to motor. LaunchPoint Technologies will use its ironless dual Halbach array axial flux motor/generator technology and electric motor/generator drive technology to achieve significant weight savings and efficiency gains over designs based on conventional iron core motors; thus enabling a technically and commercially viable solution that has eluded the aviation industry in the past. The drive system is estimated to add 7 to 9 kg to the vehicle while increasing vehicle efficiency, reliability, flyability, and operational performance. Within the phase I activity this estimate will be confirmed with detailed engineering design and modeling. Additional design optimizations and features will be evaluated that have the potential to further reduce the mass or increase the utility of the system.