BLR Flight Tests FastFin System for AH-1 Cobra

AH-1Cobra120BLR Aerospace is flight testing the FastFin Tail Rotor Enhancement and Stability System on the AH-1 attack helicopter, also known as the Cobra, the company announced earlier this month.

BLR says flight testing has confirmed that FastFin will improve the AH-1’s left pedal authority and engine thermodynamic efficiency. BLR holds the restricted category type certificate (H10NM) for the AH-1 and is developing a performance improvement suite of products aimed at increasing hover loads of the AH-1 in excess of 1,000 pounds. Featured in the performance bundle will be BLR’s flagship FastFin System, providing the necessary anti-torque requirements for increased hover loads. The U.S. Army took delivery of more than 1,100 AH-1s, a subset of which remain in operation with foreign militaries around the world.

“The AH-1’s left pedal limitation significantly reduces hover capacity for this aircraft,” said Dave Marone, BLR’s vice president of Sales and Marketing. “This exciting development project will provide the needed left pedal authority to safely hover in strong cross winds and with heavy loads while maintaining precision hover hold necessary for targeting accuracy.”

BLR’s enhancements will be Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified under FAR Part 29, and is anticipated to be available as a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) package to the market, subject to U.S. International Traffic and Arms (ITAR) and export controls, in late 2016.

Other development activities currently underway at BLR include the H125 (AS350) with certification flight testing underway and certification anticipated for 2016. Similar to BLR’s other FastFin Systems, the H125 system is aiming to improve wind azimuth tolerance and provide additional useful load in hover.

The FastFin system includes air flow modifiers at strategic locations on the tailboom and vertical fin optimizing airflow around the tailboom, dramatically improving tail rotor authority and wind azimuth tolerance.

FastFin is popular with commercial and military operators worldwide. Nearly 900 of BLR’s performance-enhancing FastFin systems have been installed on Bell 204, 205, UH-1, 212, and 412 models since the first system was certified a decade ago. The system is also standard, factory-installed equipment on all new Bell 412EP and EPI helicopters.

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