Mechanical systems are designed, built and tested by Leonardo to guarantee the highest quality right from the design stage. Examples include helicopter and tilt-rotor aircraft transmission systems: from basic materials and related processes (such as forging of aluminium-magnesium alloys or processes involved in making composite materials), to surface treatments, precision mechanical workmanship and final testing on dedicated test benches.
High-performing lightweight metal alloys for hubs, fibreglass, carbon and latest-generation resins for propeller blades and primary and secondary aerostructures are the materials that allow Leonardo to equip its helicopters with advanced rotors and its aircraft with cutting-edge aerostructures to maximise efficiency while minimising noise and vibration.
Leonardo also develops advanced mechanical systems for land-based equipment in defence systems, where the technological challenges of mechanics must be reconciled with the requirements of extreme operating conditions. This is the case for ballistic defence technologies developed to protect people in land vehicles, guided munitions and associated systems, and the precision mechanics involved in systems for orienting and stabilising radar and electro-optical sensors.
These are highly complex systems requiring advanced technology, operating under conditions of extreme thermal and mechanical stress, while having to guarantee constant operational performance that meets requirements and complies with the relevant regulations. Leonardo’s research is geared towards ongoing improvement of lubrication and cooling systems, surface finishes and optimisation of dynamic models aimed at maximising efficiency, robustness and durability.
These sensors must guarantee maximum performance under all flight conditions, characterised by extreme levels of vibration, humidity, temperature and aerodynamic forces. Radar systems – above all those for use on land and at sea – have antennas that rotate at speeds of about one revolution per second. Their joints must be capable of supporting the weight of the rotating antennas while permitting passage of electrical signals (slip-rings).
Testing technologies employing a series of test benches, each devoted to a specific platform, allow conditions of mechanical stress to be reproduced (such as the intensity and frequency of vibrations) to which these systems will be subjected during operation, reducing the time, risk and cost of platform integration.