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Operational Modal Analysis of a Helicopter Rotor Blade Using Digital Image Correlation

Abstract

A novel procedure to perform operational modal analysis on a reduced-scale, 2 m diameter helicopter rotor blade is described. Images of the rotor blade rotating at 900 RPM are captured by a pair of high-speed digital cameras at a sampling rate of 1000 frames per second. From these images, the out-of-plane bending deformation of the rotor blade is measured using Digital Image Correlation, with a spatial resolution of 7.2 mm and an accuracy of 60 μm, or 0.006 % of the rotor radius. Modal parameters including natural frequencies and mode shapes are determined from the bending deformation through application of the Ibrahim Time Domain method. The first three out-of-plane bending modes were identified at each rotational speed and compared to an analytical finite element model of the rotor blade. The experimental and analytical natural frequencies agreed to within 0.2 % in the best case and 10.0 % in the worst case. The experimental mode shapes were also found to closely match the analytical predictions. The results of this study demonstrate the ability of this procedure to accurately determine the modal parameters of rotating helicopter rotor blades.

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Acknowledgments

This material is based upon work supported by, or in part by, the U. S. Army Research Laboratory and the U. S. Army Research Office under contract/grant number W911NF-13-1-0463, with Dr. Matthew Munson as Program Manager.

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Correspondence to J. Sirohi.

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Rizo-Patron, S., Sirohi, J. Operational Modal Analysis of a Helicopter Rotor Blade Using Digital Image Correlation. Exp Mech 57, 367–375 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11340-016-0230-6

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Keywords

  • Digital image correlation
  • Helicopter blade deformation
  • Modal analysis
  • Rotating natural frequency
  • Rotating mode shape