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Tailrotor, Tail Rotorhead, and Tailboom


The main purpose of the tailrotor (or anti-torque rotor) is to prevent the helicopter from spinning, due to the engine's generated torque (in order to drive the main rotor system), and the reaction torque (Newton's Third Law) working on the fuselage. The tailrotor rotates much faster than the main rotor, and is powered by the same engine that powers the main rotors.

Tail Rotorhead

In order to realise collective blade pitch control of the tailrotor blades, the tail rotorhead uses a swash-plate construction in a similar way to the main rotorhead. The tailrotor blades are manipulated by the pilot's foot pedals, resulting in yaw control. There is no need for cyclic control with the tailrotor.

Helicopter tail rotorhead


The tailboom has several functions. First of all, it provides the arm to the tailrotor generated anti-torque force. The tailrotor itself is housed at the end of the tailboom for this reason. Furthermore, the tailboom contributes to the aerodynamics of the helicopter, and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers are, consequently, attached to it. With increased airspeed, they provide stability due to their weather vaning effect. In some designs, the tailboom also plays a role by providing (some) anti-torque lift, which is produced by the main rotor downwash passing the tailboom. The tailboom is thus deliberately shaped in order to generate this anti-torque force.

Of course, the tailboom also supports and shields the shaft (or belts) that are used to drive the tailrotor from the main transmission.

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Cyclic & Collective

  • The title of this book leads me to wonder what more it will teach me in addition to its content about these two, most frequently used, helicopter input controls. As it turns out, the answer is: a lot more. Of course, all of the obligatory subjects like basic physics, rotor aerodynamics and helicopter performance are dealt with as well, as are piston engine and basic helicopter manoeuvres. Yet the scope of this book is actually much wider than one might initially think. Firstly, it is divided into a 'beginners’ and an 'advanced’ section. This means that the book can treat more complex concepts in depth, even though the focus in the first section is directed more towards newcomers to the field. Secondly, subjects like turbine engines, multi-engine helicopters and autopilots are also examined. This is particularly helpful, since these topics are not usually covered in the majority of helicopter books aimed at this target audience. Thirdly, the book deals with many things that you will not normally find in a text book: helicopter related experiences and a great deal of interesting detail. This is the sort of information that can only be provided if you have flown a lot of different helicopters and have been working in this industry for some time. What’s more, this tone is amplified by the consistently narrative style of the book.
  • 536 pages

Art of the Helicopter (Hardback)

  • Well structured text that covers many technical aspects. It starts with an introduction to helicopters, followed by a treatment of the technical background needed when studying them. Thereafter, dynamics, rotor systems, engines and transmission are explained in detail. The book concludes with a section on performance and other types of rotorcraft. Its main asset is that the text is technically and theoretically very accurate, and rather than mathematics, its focus is always on enabling the reader to achieve an understanding of helicopters from a technical or engineering point of view. The more technically orientated reader will love this work.
  • 416 pages

Principles of Helicopter Flight (Paperback)

  • If you are wondering how a helicopter flies, and really want to comprehend the process, you have no choice but to delve into aerodynamics. This means not only understanding which forces play a role and the laws of physics, but also being able to put it all together and apply your knowledge to a rotating system consisting of a number of rotor blades. This is a demanding task and requires some very hard work. It is, undoubtedly, worth the effort though, and will help you to become a better pilot. There are many books out there to help you with this task of exploring the principles of helicopter flight, but they tend to fall into two camps: populist and taking a rather simplistic approach, or highly technical and assuming the reader has a degree in mathematics. This book is different, because it clearly explains the principles of flight in a step by step way that is easy for most readers to follow. Further benefits are that a lot of attention is paid to flight manoeuvres and operations, and every chapter concludes with questions as a study aid.
  • 320 pages
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