Washington: A human-powered helicopter built by University of Maryland students has broken a flight duration record.
The helicopter, called the Gamera II, has four rotor blades, and is 105 feet across but only weighs about 71 pounds. It is powered by the pilot, who controls the flight via a system of cables.
The craft has managed a flight of 50 seconds, far surpassing the last record of 11.4 seconds set last year by the Gamera I, the first version.
The helicopter was built by students at the Alfred Gessow Rotocraft Center, part of the university’s school of engineering, and is aimed at the 250,000- dollar Sikorsky Prize, given by the American Helicopter Society.
The winning design has to hover about 10 feet off the ground for 60 seconds.
Though the University of Maryland team didn’t manage to fill out the requirements for the prize, they have come closer than any team before.
More flights are planned for August that will be observed by the National Aeronautic Association, which will certify the record.
However, there are still some problems to be ironed out, one is drift.
Talking to Discovery News, Dennis Bodewits, an assistant research scientist in the astronomy department and one of the pilots, said that the size of the room can limit the tests because the helicopter drifts too close to a wall.
But flights of 30 seconds are becoming standard, and the group is still working to optimise the drive train to get more power.
First Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 19:01