Why Helicopters?

Why Helicopters?

Experience has shown that the commercially built multi-rotor "drones" are excellent for hovering type work in little to no wind conditions. They are basically limited to being flying cameras. In agricultural, forestry and mining applications, or any other applications doing aerial survey work, wind is one of the factors that must be dealt with on a daily basis. Multi-rotor "drones" tip to fly in any direction. This requires more power due to the fact that we now have two thrust components to make the aircraft fly - vertical to keep it airborne - horizontal to make it go, and the horizontal thrust vector comes from frame tilt angle.

Helicopters use collective and cyclic pitch on the main rotor blades. They are least efficient in hover. When they start to fly they are just like an airplane. They enter what is called ETL (Effective Translational Lift) and become more efficient in forward flight than in hover. This is important for flight time when flying survey type work with heavy payloads. Higher efficiency yields longer flight times and greater number of payload options, including towed payloads like magnetometers for mining surveys. Helicopters are also considerably more stable than multi-rotor drones. And just like an airplane can make a safe landing in the event of power loss in flight thru autorotation - something that is impossible to do with any multi-rotor. All these things are why helicopters tend to be the VTOL platform of choice for professional UAV pilots.

Helicopter Advantages over Multi-rotor "Drones"

- more power efficient - longer flight time
- can be powered by electric or piston engine
- a gas helicopter can fly for up to 1.5 hours un-refueled
- greater variety of payloads and higher payload capacity
- much higher sustained flight speeds
- more stable - helicopters do not require a gimbal for aerial survey work
- much more powerful - can fly in wind that will ground multi-rotors
- can be safely landed in the event of power loss in flight (autorotation)

Helicopter Disadvantages

- requires a higher level of pilot skill and training
- are more expensive than multi-rotor "drones"
- large aircraft 4-6 foot main rotor diameter, depending on model
- heavy, varying from 10 - 55 lbs, depending on model
- gas models noisier than multi's - usually not an issue in rural areas
- mechanically complex - requires experience to set up and maintain



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Why Helicopters?

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