Phase lag (rotorcraft)

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For the discussion of the shift between phasors or sine waves, see Phase (waves).

In the aerodynamics of rotorcraft such as helicopters, phase lag refers to the angular difference between the point at which a control input to a rotor blade occurs and the point of maximum displacement of the blade in response to that control input, said displacement occurring in the direction of rotor rotation. Phase lag differs from advance angle in that the latter refers to the mechanically fixed angle between the pitch link attachments at the blade and swashplate. Phase lag can vary as a function on rotor tilt rate and aerodynamic damping and results in cross-coupling between the aircraft control axes; advance angle is fixed and cannot vary.

As a consequence of the phase lag, to turn the rotorcraft to the left or right would theoretically require a forward or backward cyclic if there was no mechanical correction. The rotor control system is mechanically shifted up to 90 degrees to compensate for phase lag and provide helicopter response that matches movement of the cyclic stick.

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