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How Does Center of Gravity of a Helicopter Affect the Flight?

Posted on January 13, 2020 Michael Rodriguez Aviation News

For most aircraft manufacturers, pilots, and others in the industry, the center of gravity and its relation to the helicopter’s functionality makes sense, but for the average person, it can be a little complex. To simplify the center of gravity, think about a scenario in which an object falls toward the Earth without air resistance. Ask yourself at what point will this tend to rotate. The center of gravity is where the mass of an object is concentrated or balanced. The object tends to rotate at this point.

While manufacturing a helicopter, the center of gravity for the aircraft must first be established. This is because any operations or flights done outside of the limits of the center of gravity run the risk of becoming uncontrollable for the pilot to handle. The center of gravity, known as CG, are cause for the manufacturer to run the weight/balance calculations. If the CG is too much in the front of the aircraft, there may not be sufficient aft to cyclic travel to stop the helicopter. With a center of gravity that is too much forward, the helicopter will hover nose low in no-wind condition.
Some other ways that the CG affects flight: when it is aft of its limits excessive forward cyclic will be required for forward flight.  If there is a gust of wind that occurs, there may not be enough cyclic travel to adequately control the helicopter in forward flight. Lateral CG limits are also established to ensure that cyclic travel is available to adequately control the aircraft during all phases of flight. Smaller training helicopters may have certain limits, such as solo flight from the right seat, primarily due to the fuel tank locations.  Depending where the fuel tanks are located, the CG will often move forward and to the opposite side as fuel is burned off during the flight, especially in small training helicopters.
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