Carbon nanotubes, helicopters, and Ethan Chu (winner of the second annual Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Challenge)

The Dec. 15, 2012 news item on Azonano about the winner of the 2nd annual Sikorsky 2050 Helicopter Challenge provides details about the contest, its theme, and the winning entry (which includes carbon nanotubes as part of its solution to creating an environmentally friendly helicopter),

The Igor Sikorsky Youth Innovator Award is the grand prize for the Sikorsky Helicopter 2050 Challenge, a national competition started in 2011 sponsored by Sikorsky Aircraft and By Kids For Kids. This year’s program challenged youths ages 9-16 across the U.S. to envision an environmentally friendly helicopter. The competition rated designs for concept uniqueness, description detail and creativity of the presentation.

Ethan portrays his winning design as a compact, circular-shaped twin-engine helicopter dubbed the AH-9 Diamondback. High strength materials in the form of lightweight carbon nanotubes covered with titanium panels comprise the helicopter’s structure, a design approach that reduces the aircraft’s weight and fuel consumption, and improves its carrying capacity. His environmentally friendly design further reduces carbon footprint by channeling engine exhaust along the rotor blades and around the body of the aircraft to provide a cushion of gas for additional lift — an aerodynamic principle known as the Coanda Effect.

“We were impressed with the strong scientific reasoning and the good deal of thought that Ethan put into his innovative submission,” said Vern Van Fleet , a chief test engineer for Sikorsky Military Systems. “And he never lost sight of the competition theme, which was to produce an environmentally friendly helicopter.”

From the 2nd Annual Helicopter 2050 Challenge home page

Winners of the 2nd (2012) Annual Helicopter 2050 Challenge

Winners of the 2nd (2012) Annual Helicopter 2050 Challenge

Here’s more about the winning design from the contest winners page on the Challenge website,

Ethan C., Age: 16; Idea: AH-9 Diamondback

The AH-9 Diamondback is a round shaped helicopter that utilizes the “Coanda” effect phenomena. A fan pushes the air down and out at high speed around the body creating a low pressure area around the top of the helicopter, which then creates an extra lift. Two turbofans power the aircraft and two stub wings under the cockpit enhance control and stability at high speed. A four-bladed rotor on top provides the main lift. The blades have symmetrical airfoil cross-sections, allowing for less drag. The aircraft uses carbon nanotubes resulting in a very light design, which reflects high fuel efficiency and improved load-carrying capacity. The design also includes a “med-vac” for evacuating wounded troops which includes space for a medic and two patients.

Chu won a $1000 scholarship prize and an all-expenses paid trip for two (he went with his father) to Sikorsky’s headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut.

Here’s a description of the company sponsoring the challenge from the About Sikorsky webpage,

Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of military and commercial helicopters; fixed-wing aircraft; spare parts and maintenance, repair and overhaul services for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft; and civil helicopter operations.

A passion for aviation drove immigrant Igor Sikorsky to establish The Sikorsky Manufacturing Corporation in 1925 on Long Island, New York, and the company later became The Sikorsky Aviation Corporation. In 1929, Igor purchased land in Stratford, Connecticut, and the company became a subsidiary and later a division of United Aircraft Corporation, which evolved into United Technologies Corporation in 1975.

Today, Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. stays true to the legacy of Igor Sikorsky with a mission statement that encompasses his passion for safety and innovation: “We pioneer flight solutions that bring people home everywhere…every timeTM.” Sikorsky helicopters have saved an estimated 2 million lives since performing the world’s first helicopter rescue in 1944.

Sikorsky helicopters are used by all five branches of the United States armed forces, along with military services and commercial operators in 40 nations. Core U.S. military production programs are based on the Sikorsky H-60 aircraft: the BLACK HAWK helicopter for the U.S. Army and SEAHAWK® helicopter for the U.S. Navy. H-60 aircraft derivative aircraft perform multiple missions with other branches of the U.S. military. The CH-53E helicopter and MH-53E helicopter heavy-lift aircraft are flown by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to transport personnel and equipment, and in anti-mine warfare missions. Sikorsky is currently developing the next-generation CH-53K helicopter for the U.S. Marines.

Sikorsky has developed four generations of maritime helicopters including the proven SEAHAWK, SUPER STALLION™ and SEA KING™ helicopters that support the maritime operations of navies across the globe. Sikorsky has designed and built nearly half of all such helicopters currently serving with armed forces throughout the world.

BLACK HAWK helicopter variants are serving with 25 governments worldwide: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and the U.S.

By Kids For Kids Co., also mentioned in the news item as one of the sponsors for the 2050 Helicopter Challenge, is an ‘Educational and Family Marketing Company’ and “[it] provides innovative and integrated in-school marketing programs to help clients meet corporate social responsibility goals” according to the descriptor provided by the Yahoo search engine (http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=by+kids+for+kids&ei=UTF-8&fr=moz35).

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