Moscow helicopter speeds through product design

Engineers at the Milya Moscow Helicopter Plant have reduced the design cycle for an advanced helicopter from two years to just three months as a result of implementing ANSYS’ DesignSpace software.

The Moscow Helicopter Plant designs helicopters for use in commuter, police, and air rescue applications. Historically, the design bureau used UNIX-based CAD software to develop and machine models. Once prototypes of parts and assemblies were developed, engineers put them through a testing cycle, refining designs based on test results. This process was both expensive and time consuming, prompting managers at the plant to investigate new, emerging CAD technologies in an effort to improve their design process.

For the redesign of the Mi-2 Sokol helicopter, engineers at the plant used Mechanical Desktop and DesignSpace to create solid, parametric models for certain parts and assemblies: most notably, the warp frame for the helicopter airscrew.

According to S.A. Kolupaev, vice director of the plant, design engineers on the project developed and analysed five different variants of the warp frame in a just three weeks. `Using DesignSpace, engineers could optimise parts before testing,’ he says. `Stress levels in the warp frame were cut in half without increasing the mass of the structure. DesignSpace is very simple to use with Mechanical Desktop for optimising solid parts, especially for designers who have never worked with any traditional finite element analysis (FEA) systems.’

Because DesignSpace technology is so new, engineers at the plant wanted to confirm their findings through actual prototype testing. DesignSpace showed high stresses in an area of the original design that failed under actual testing. With this information at hand, engineers were confident that DesignSpace gave them the information they needed to make decisions on a final design that would have required an iterative prototype testing cycle in the past.