Piqua, Ohio – December 17, 2012. Hartzell Propeller Inc. has been chosen as the propeller supplier for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Firebird Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV). The Firebird will be the first production aircraft outfitted with Hartzell’s new Bantam™ series ASC-II™ composite propeller.
The lightweight, five-blade, non-feathering pusher design propeller weighs just 45 lb. The blades are of Hartzell’s durable carbon monocoque construction, allowing for maximum damage tolerance and field reparability. The propeller blades’ field replaceable co-molded electroformed nickel erosion shield provides impact and erosion protection in a smooth aerodynamic shape. In addition, the strength of Hartzell’s carbon fibreconstruction and its proprietary Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) process permits the use of thin, high performance airfoils.
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, vice-president, Firebird executive program manager, Jerry Madigan, said, “Northrop Grumman selected Hartzell for the Firebird program due to the company’s outstanding record in providing customized, high-performing and reliable propellers. We knew Hartzell could do the job, and do it well.
“Earlier this month, the Firebird completed a flawless, six-minute flight at our facility in Mojave, California. This significant milestone wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our suppliers like Hartzell.”
Joe Brown, president of Hartzell Propeller Inc., said, “The launch of our new Bantam series composite propeller marks another chapter in Hartzell’s growth throughout the diverse sectors of the aviation industry. The Firebird’s Bantam propeller features custom carbon graphite blades, retaining all the benefits of our ASC-II proprietary composite construction and co-molding process – it’s lightweight, strong and durable.”
The Firebird’s unique composite spinner assembly uses a custom area-ruled design for aerodynamic pressure recovery – a beneficial feature for pusher designs.
Powered by a single rear-mounted, Lycoming TEO-540E piston engine, the Firebird OPV has a maximum take-off weight of 5,000 lb. The craft can be operated in piloted or unpiloted mode. When unpiloted, it’s connected with ground control via multiple wide-band Line-of-Sight (LOS) data links, or Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) data links. It also features onboard network attached storage and accessible processing available for sensor use, standards-based interfaces and command protocols.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide.
Hartzell’s new Bantam™ series of propellers features a family of all-new clean sheet designed very small, lightweight hubs. The series will range between 2 and 5 bladed propellers, feature Hartzell’s ASC-II™ composite technology with optional feathering or reversing capabilities, for both tractor and pusher configurations. An important feature of the Bantam™ series, particularly for some targeted engine applications, is that the propellers have very low rotating inertia, which imparts less strain on the propeller shaft and gearbox. The Bantam™ propellers will be fully certificated by the FAA, and suitable for both certified and uncertified applications.
Hartzell Propeller is widely recognized as the leader in advanced propeller design and manufacturing technology. The company has developed the next generation of propellers based upon innovative “blended airfoil” technology and is manufacturing these blades using a combination of revolutionary machining centers and robotics; and with its ASC-II™ composite technology, to provide mission-optimized performance for its customers.
Hartzell Propeller traces its beginnings in 1917 to a business relationship with Orville Wright and was founded on the principle of “Built on Honor” – a tradition that continues today.