Working with Helicopters
Helicopter design and development is often referred to as ‘rotorcraft’ technology by aerospace professionals (‘fixed-wing’ is used for aeroplanes). With such a different way of flying compared with conventional aeroplanes, enabling versatility and agility in the air, helicopters have become essential for both civil and military operations. All three UK armed forces use helicopters – the RAF, the Royal Navy and the Army Air Corps.
Therefore, there are many specialist rotorcraft technology experts and engineers who develop the blade technology, engine design, airframes and electronic and electrical systems for application in a wide variety of helicopter products.
Helicopters play an essential role in humanitarian missions, both at home and overseas. Most UK counties have Air Ambulance services which are used for serious accidents and incidents where patients require urgent hospitalisation or paramedic treatment. In humanitarian crisis, such as the Pakistan earthquake in 2005, only helicopters could be used to reach victims as roads had been destroyed and landing strips were few and far between in the mountains. In the same year, the London Air Ambulance service played a vital role which saved many more lives in the London bombings.
Helicopters are also vital to police operations and the coastguard via the RAF Search and Rescue Force.
There is also a huge number of private helicopter firms around the UK who are often contracted to provide some of the above services, in addition to uses such as transporting VIPs and the rich and famous on business and leisure trips.