$50,000 Prize for 24 Hours of Helicopter Hover

Sikorsky and AHS International unveil “Hover for a Day” Challenge.

It's not easy to keep a helicopter hovering.

It’s not easy to keep a helicopter hovering.

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, and the American Helicopter Society (AHS) International have announced the Sikorsky-AHS “Hover for a Day” Challenge, a new competition to demonstrate serious efficiency in rotorcraft with a $50,000 prize at stake.

Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development team within Sikorsky’s Engineering & Technology group, is working with members of AHS International to lead the competition coordination. Sikorsky is a major player in in helicopter design, manufacture and service.

“On behalf of our more than 4,000 engineers across the world, I am proud to announce this extremely thought-provoking challenge,” said Mark Miller, Sikorsky vice president of Engineering & Technology. “Spread the word: With this new competition, we are challenging aviation engineers to stretch their thinking with regard to how a helicopter performs in what they do best – hover. This Challenge is to hover for 24 hours, while still demonstrating other helicopter key attributes, as well as new levels of efficiency and reliability. We hope to keep the spirit of Igor Sikorsky alive, the spirit that tackled many seemingly impossible tasks and created our industry as a result.”

A UH-60 Blackhawk (left) and CH 47-F Chinook.

A UH-60 Blackhawk (left) and CH 47-F Chinook (right).

“We think it’s going to take groundbreaking changes in efficiency of rotor, engine and energy storage and delivery in order to hover continuously for a full day,” Chris Van Buiten, vice president of Sikorsky Innovations, added. “These efforts may produce new technologies, in terms of airfoils, rotor structures, transmission and drive, engine and energy storage. It will be exciting to see the inventive thinking that this Challenge will generate.”

In a previous challenge, AHS and Sikorsky awarded a $250,000 prize for the AHS Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition, which endured 33 years to prove what many suggested was impossible: to create a helicopter using only human-generated power that could rise three meters (9.8 feet) and hover over a 10-meter-by-10-meter (32.8 ft) box for one minute.

The winner of that competition was AeroVelo Inc., consisting of a team of students from the University of Toronto and led by UT graduate engineers. AeroVelo flew its “Atlas” vehicle above three meters and hovered for approximately 64 seconds, capturing the prize for the decades-long competition in June 2013.

“Just like the human powered helicopter competition, the statement is simple, but the solution may be technically very complex. We hope the AHS ‘Hover for a Day’ Challenge sparks the next generation of aviation engineers with great ideas to try to do something that may be impossible,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of AHS International.

Specific details on how to enter the Challenge – and detailed rules – will be announced on June 16, 2016, on the AHS International website.

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for ENGINEERING.com. Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.