Eurocopter Star Flex Technology: Building Rotor Hubs for Light and Medium Lift Helicopters
04/09/2011 – During the SLD visit in February 2011 to Eurocopter, Xavier Philippot, Head of the Star Flex Process, provided a tour of the composite facility where the main rotor heads or hubs are built for the Dauphin and the Ecureuil. As Philippot explained, the Eurocopter Star Flex facility is a core competence of Eurocopter.“All the parts that we are manufacturing here are called critical parts because they are vital for the helicopter. If there is something here that breaks, the helicopter is going down.”The main advantage of the composite system is greater strength and weight reduction. Philippot explained that the heavier helicopters couldn’t use composite technologies for their rotor heads.
As Philippot underscored: “What is interesting, is that with the Star Flex, we have only one part. Which leads to simplification, and enhanced reliability. “The Star Flex rotor head and modular design provide long service life as well as simplified maintenance procedures when they finally are required. Philippot discussed how an American company based in France provides composite rolls, which are then processed through the Star Flex process into 3 or 4 blade rotor hub sets.
- The process starts by a worker crafting a core star in either a 3 or 4-blade configuration.
- Then the single star is taken through a process of refinement, including curing, and finally emerges as a flexible core part for the new helicopter.
- The star goes through a vigorous testing effort throughout the Star Flex manufacturing process.