Waterspout: A Submergible Helicopter

December 10, 2007
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The challenge was to design an advanced autonomous compact rotorcraft, deployable from a submarine. The mission required that the vehicle would deploy from the submarine while in periscope depth of 49 feet (15 meters), rise to sea level, be able to float and take off from a wavy sea, and then fly 161 miles (260 kilometers), pickup two injured crew members, and return safely to the submerged submarine. “Waterspout” exits through a submarine’s missile-silo hatch, thus preventing expensive and complex changes to the submarine’s exterior.

Instead of using a capsule to protect the helicopter from the seawater, the students chose to make the helicopter itself completely impermeable to water. Although a capsule would save weight and sealing problems, it would require a smaller fuselage to fit in the submarine hatch, and an extremely precise landing capability on the capsule’s open platform instead of the freedom to land anywhere on the water surface. Every open tube and all moving parts were fitted with innovative sealing solutions, all originally designed by the students without reference to past helicopter designs.

For more information: Professor Omri Rand, dean@aerodyne.technion.ac.il

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