Sikorsky has begun whirl testing a demonstration rotor system with active flaps in an effort to improve helicopter performance.

Sikorsky Advanced Programs programme manager Jim Kagdis said the company has reached full speed of 450rpm and commenced testing flap integrity and functionality.

“Now we will investigate rotor reconfiguration capabilities to demonstrate the potential to reduce rotor vibration and noise, and increase blade loading, which enables higher manoeuvrability and speed,” he said.

The test programme is a part of Sikorsky’s plan to design, develop, test and to ultimately field next-generation technologies to advance the current rotorcrafts.

Sikorsky Research & Engineering vice-president Mark Miller said the test is another giant step toward meeting future needs and customer expectations.

The test regimen will continue through August 2009 and wind tunnel testing is planned at Nasa for 2010.

Sikorsky and the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) are jointly financing the project, while United Technologies Research Center and Hamilton Sundstrand Claverham are its development partners.