What are the Most Common Rotary Wing Aircraft?

When discussing aviation in a general sense, it is important to know the difference between fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. While fixed-wing aircraft feature rigid wing structures that create lift through forward thrust and movement, rotary-wing aircraft feature rotary blades that are generally spun around rapidly to generate the upward force to lift off and fly. Rotary-wing aircraft are particularly useful in situations where traditional fixed-wing aircraft are unable to operate safely, due to the fact that they can regularly hover in place and take off and land vertically.

While rotary-wing aircraft like helicopters are the most recognizable, there are numerous other types that are taken advantage of across varying industries. Though they share some similar capabilities, most rotary wing aircraft will differ in their design and use, some being capable of performing intense transportation duties, while others are best for recreational activities. To help you become familiar with rotary-wing aircraft and the different options that are available on the market, we will provide a brief overview of some of the most common types that you may come across.

  1. Helicopters: Helicopters are the most recognized type of rotary-wing aircraft, featuring one or more rotors that provide lift and allow them to take off and land vertically. As a result of their hovering capabilities and 360 degrees of movement, helicopters can be used for various purposes, common applications including search and rescue operations, firefighting, law enforcement, and military operations.
  2. Tiltrotors: Tiltrotors are a hybrid of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. They have rotors that can be tilted to provide vertical lift for landing and takeoff, but once the tiltrotor is in the air, the rotors can be angled forward to provide horizontal thrust like a traditional airplane. In general, these rotary-wing aircraft are primarily used for military operations.
  3. Gyroplanes: Gyroplanes, also known as autogyros, are similar to helicopters in the fact that a rotor provides lift. However, unlike helicopters, the rotor of a gyroplane is not powered by an engine. Instead, it is spun by oncoming wind currents as the aircraft moves forward. This makes such aircraft much simpler in design, and gyroplanes are often used for recreational flying.
  4. Multirotor Drones: Multirotor drones, also known as quadcopters or hexacopters, are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that use multiple rotors to provide lift and control. They are often used for aerial surveillance, photography, and inspection purposes. As UAVs, multirotor drones do not require pilots. Instead, an operator will control the aircraft remotely from the ground.
  5. Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Aircraft: VTOL aircraft are a broad category of models that can take off and land vertically, but each uses different methods to achieve lift. Some VTOL aircraft use rotors like helicopters, while others use jet engines or propellers. VTOL aircraft are used foremost for military purposes, the choice depending on the operation in question.

Just Parts Unlimited is a leading distributor of rotary-wing aircraft parts, offering a range of top-quality airframes, engines, avionics, rotor blades, transmissions, and other crucial components. To start the purchasing process, submit a quote through our website, and we will get back to you with a tailored solution for your comparisons in 15 minutes or less.


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