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The RSRA was a unique pure research aircraft developed to fill the void between design analysis, wind tunnel testing, and flight results of rotor aircraft. The joint NASA/Army project began in December of 1970, with the first of two aircraft arriving from Sikorsky on February 11, 1979. The aircraft was designed to investigate the concepts involved with stopping the main rotor in flight, with the large blades then providing aerodynamic lift assistance to the stubby conventional wings extending from the
lower fuselage. This concept gave the aircraft the vertical flight stability of a helicopter, and the horizontal cruise capability of a conventional aircraft.

DFRC Photo # Photo Date Image Description
  Skip links in main table RSRA Photo Collection Contact Sheet
ECN-28323 February 7, 1984 RSRA aircraft on ramp
ECN-30043 June 19, 1984 RSRA aircraft in flight

Additional Information

A Rotor Systems Research Aircraft (RSRA) underwent limited ground and flight tests at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, in spring of 1984. The purpose of the tests were to train pilots and to verify and develop the design flight envelope established by the Sikorsky Aircraft Company.

The test aircraft had a basic helicopter fuselage with the wings and lower horizontal all-flying stabilizer installed. Two auxiliary power plants were mounted on either side of the fuselage. These GE TF-34's were used to offset drag effects when rotor systems were being tested with the aircraft in compound configuration, and to provide thrust for the airplane configuration.

The tests at Dryden were to familiarize pilots and researchers with the ground-handling and takeoff flight characteristics, as well as to acquire in-flight data in the aircraft configuration, with the main rotor removed. Tests were successful and lead to later rotor research conducted at NASA's Ames Research Center. One of the two RSRA aircraft was later modified to the X-Wing and received limited testing at Dryden before the program was terminated in 1988.

Last Modified: February 10, 1996
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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