Bantam Series ASC-II Composite Propeller Selected For The Aircraft
Hartzell 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 fibre construction and its proprietary Vacuum Assisted Resin Transfer Molding (VARTM) process permits the use of thin, high performance airfoils.
“Northrop Grumman selected Hartzell for the Firebird program due to the company’s outstanding record in providing customized, high-performing and reliable propellers," said Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, vice-president, Firebird executive program manager. 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.”
“The launch of our new Bantam series composite propeller marks another chapter in Hartzell’s growth throughout the diverse sectors of the aviation industry," said Joe Brown, president of Hartzell Propeller. "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.
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.
(Top image Hartzell Bantam prop provided by Hartzell. Bottom image Firbird OPV provided by Northrop Grumman)