Rotor and Wing Aviation Services - Cairns, Queensland, AustraliaRotor and Wing Aviation Services - Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Blade Management

Rotor Track and Balance

Blade Balancing


Blade Management

Traditional blade management has always focused on the Dynamic RTB to get a flying “set” of blades. Unfortunately, most helicopter operators and indeed some manufacturers, believe that flying “sets” of blades is the only acceptable way of managing a rotor blade population. This is being done in an effort to remove the possibility or to at least control the occurrence of “rogue” rotor blades. 


Maintenance manuals have identified for many years the limitation of this process. They have clearly stated that if the RTB results in the move line passing tangentially to the zero axis – this is the best you can reasonably expect leaving you with one of two options:

a. You must accept this result and the resultant vibration level, or
b. change a blade.

– the blades will not fly together.

This phenomena is often typified by charts as similar to those below.


Tangential Move lines typical of Rogue blades


Tangential Move lines typical of Rogue blades


The first question which should have been answered many years ago is: WHY won’t these blades fly together?


WHY?:          These blades will not fly together primarily because of a mismatched Span Moment Arm.


A new approach to Blade Management needs be adopted based on the control and correction of Span Moment Arm migration of operational blades at operator level if improvements to RTB efficiency are to be Go to Topobtained.


Current/Traditional Blade Management

The traditional approach never looks at the entire balance solution. It only ever uses the Dynamic RTB to balance a rotor. The solution must incorporate BOTH Static  & Dynamic balance to achieve an efficient result.

Traditionally blades were attempted to be matched by a number of administrative methodologies such as matching hours flown on each blade, matching serial numbers or a combination of both. Whatever method, more often than not, it boiled down to a time consuming trial and error process to find a matched set of blades that would fly together.

On multi-bladed systems, static balance is only ever done properly when new or when the blade is sent for a major overhaul at an approved blade repair centre which has a physical master blade.

On teetering heads such as the UH1, operators perform a simple “see-saw” or pivot balance. The limitations of this procedure are listed elsewhere on this site. The result of this method however is that it only promotes the use of “sets” of blades – it does not provide a means of making all blades interchangeable. This method of static balancing also is limited by using the Dynamic adjustment weights/stations to correct for a static problem – thus reducing the amount of dynamic adjustment available to solve dynamic problems.  

This technique will ultimately create the “rogue” rotor blade….this is part of the problem that has consistently plagued the industry and created such needless cost, frustration and waste of both time and money.


Dynamic and Traditional static adjustments on teetering head
Red: Static/Moment Balance Correction Weights
Blue: Dynamic RTB Lateral Correction Weights


The traditional blade management process allows the Span Moment Arm of individual blades to migrate – UNDETECTED. This results in mismatched blades.


Typical Span Moment Arm Migration

Lets follow the path of this migration and how it reduces the dynamic weight adjustment progressively to the point where blades become unflyable with other blades.

Teetering Head


Do any of the above scenarios sound familiar to your own experiences? If so, you may want to consider adopting a New Blade Management system and routine Static Balancing on the hangar floor.



Traditional static balance procedure


New Blade Management

With the identification of the cause of Rogue Blades, it is now clear that a new approach to blade balancing or more precisely – Blade Management needs to be adopted.

The traditional inefficiencies and cost can no longer be afforded by an industry where capital costs and Direct Operating Costs are very high with a disproportionate pressure to keep charge-out rates very low forcing very thin profit margins. Defence and Government air wings are not immune from the drive for “more bang for the buck”. Shrinking budgets worldwide coupled with the accompanying political pressure necessitates that these organizations think more commercially and seek more flying hours per maintenance dollar.


New Blade Management Procedure

We have always treated Static & Dynamic balancing as two totally different, unrelated exercises – they should not be.

A successful Dynamic balance is very dependant upon a good Static balance – most importantly – the Span Moment being maintained within a reasonable tolerance of the ideal “Spec” figure if blade interchangeability is to be assured and if the full benefit of the dynamic adjustments are to be provided to counter any dynamic problems.

This New Management procedure does not advocate that a static balance needs to be done every time an RTB is done.

It is based on a periodic static balance to particularly check Span Moment Arm, whenever scheduled routine maintenance is carried out in the existing servicing schedule – no additional maintenance is called for. It is recommended at routine maintenance on or about every 500-600flt hrs (or after blade repair/painting). This will ensure Span Moment Arm Control within tight limits and enable trouble free RTB and remove “rogue Blades” from your fleet and inventory blade stock ensuring total blade interchangeability across your fleet.

For a comprehensive Blade Management plan see the download page.


Potential Cost Savings

The US Army is projecting a savings of more than U$1.0M per year at Corpus Christi Army Depot alone by using this technology. See Redstone US Army Cost Savings Free Download for details.

A cost benefits analysis spreadsheet is available free, to assist in quantifying potential savings.


Converting to a New Blade Management System

See the Rotor Blade Management Free download.

Converting from a Traditional Blade Management plan to a New Blade Management Plan is simple, easy and straight forward. Cost is minimal in capital outlay – this cost easily recovered with the reclaiming of even one rotor blade. There is effectively no man hour cost since in the mature Blade Management Plan, static balancing is done during scheduled maintenance when blades are already off the aircraft. The Static Balance itself takes no more than 10 minutes per blade.

Strategic positioning of tools ensures that blades can easily be passed over a static balance on a routine basis.

After the initial introduction and resetting of a fleet of blades back to OEM specifications, this be maintained by periodic checking.

Blade Admin/Paperwork

Significant simplification of blade paperwork and administration is achieved. Individual tracking of blades to achieve a “flyable” set is eliminated. Any blade out of the box should fly with existing in-service blades. Paperwork is summarized by computer generated printouts detailing the date, initial blade results, subsequent adjustments performed and the final blade mass, Span & Chord Moment arms and CofG. Potentially large numbers of administrative man hour savings are Go to Topachievable.



New Blade Management Summary


Advantages of Operator Static Balancing



Try it and reap the benefits, financial rewards and competitive edge. 


For more advantages, see Free Rotor Blade Management download.



CH47 Columbia helicopter

CH47 Columbia helicopter

Rotor & Wing Aviation Services
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