A novel active trailing edge flap actuation system is under development. This system differs significantly from previous trailing edge flap systems in that it is driven by a pneumatic actuator technology. Pneumatic Artificial Muscles (PAMs) were chosen because of several attractive properties, including high specific work and power output, an expendable operating fluid, and robustness. The actuation system is sized for a full scale active rotor system for a Bell 407 scale helicopter. This system is designed to produce large flap deflections (±20°) at the main rotor rotation frequency (1/rev) to create large amplitude thrust variation for primary control of the helicopter. Additionally, it is designed to produce smaller magnitude deflections at higher frequencies, up to 5/rev (N+1/rev), to provide vibration mitigation capability. The basic configuration has a pair of Pneumatic Artificial Muscles mounted antagonistically in the root of each blade. A bellcrank and linkage system transfers the force and motion of these actuators to a trailing edge flap on the outboard portion of the rotor. A reduced span wind tunnel test model of this system has been built and tested in the Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel at the University of Maryland at wind speeds up to M = 0.3. The test article consisted of a 5-ft long tip section of a Bell 407 rotor blade cantilevered from the base of the tunnel with a 34 in, 15% chord plain flap that was driven by the PAM actuation system. Testing over a wide range of aerodynamic conditions and actuation parameters established the considerable control authority and bandwidth of the system at the aerodynamic load levels available in the tunnel. Comparison of quasi-static experimental results shows good agreement with predictions made using a simple system model.

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