Ground resonance is a hazardous condition that can occur any time the rotor of a helicopter or autogyro is turning while the aircraft is on the ground. Similar in concept to the behavior of a washing machine when the clothes are concentrated at one point during the spin cycle, ground resonance can occur with a rotorcraft when the spacing between blades becomes irregular or the damping system, including drag hinge dampers, landing gear oleo struts, or wheel tire pressure, is operating out of limits. Ground resonance occurs at three rotor RPM bands, the first at about one-third of normal rotor speed, the second at a range including normal rotor speed, and the last in a range above normal rotor speed.
Ground resonance is precipitated by a shock to the aircraft arising from excessive motion of a rotor blade in its plane of rotation thereby moving the rotor center of gravity from the axis of rotation. Inadequate damping allows the rotor center of gravity to spiral away from the rotor axis of rotation, causing the rotor to generate unbalanced rotating moments beyond the compensating ability of the damping system. In addition to damping system malfunctions mentioned above, such blade movement can occur as a result of taxiing over rough ground with the rotor turning at a speed within a susceptible range, or takeoff/landing in which a shock occurs to one side of the landing gear.
Under extreme conditions, the initial shock can cause violent oscillations that quickly build and result in catastrophic damage of the entire airframe. In some cases, complete destruction occurs, e.g. body panels, fuel tanks, and engines are torn away, even at normal rotor speed.
Recovery is possible in some cases. If sufficient rotor RPM exists, immediate takeoff can restore rotor balance. If rotor RPM is low, complete shutdown may be sufficient.
- Basic Helicopter Handbook, US Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration
Dampers are used on fully articulated blade systems to prevent dissymmetry of lift, not to reduce stress on the rotor systems.
- Video of a CH-47 Chinook being forced into ground resonance and self destructing.
- Video of the same Chinook but from behind and closer.
- Video of a Brazilian rescue AS350BA breaking apart after landing due to ground resonance.
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