The European rotorcraft industry and its partners are currently working on various research aspects of ERICA (Enhanced Rotorcraft Innovative Concept Achievement), a hybrid tiltwing / tiltrotor concept. This research is funded in the sixth framework programme, the NICETRIP project.
The ERICA design is intended to overcome many of the operating and performance limitations associated with traditional tiltrotor designs. The planned 10 tons transport aircraft will have small diameter prop rotors to allow running take-offs, outer wing sections that will tilt independently of the nacelles to reduce rotor downwash, and a continuous tubular structural connection between the prop rotors. Recently successful first pilot-in-the-loop simulation studies were conducted to evaluate the introduction of tilt-rotors in the European Air Traffic Management System. The NLR Helicopter Pilot Station HPS was involved in an integrated scenario to evaluate specific non-interfering tilt rotor ATM concepts and procedures.
Having completed the wind tunnel model integration, sensor system wiring (appr. 150 dedicated cables packed into limited internal space) and calibration NLR delivered the research model to the project coordinator AgustaWestland at DLR premises Braunschweig (G) for pretesting. Before testing in the wind tunnel, the model is to be equipped with two air motors to drive the rotors. These air motors are to be connected to a central gearbox inside the fuselage. Wind tunnel testing will start after model acceptance by the coordinator of the NICETRIP project.