Here’s What It Would Take for Helicopters to Be as Big as Planes

Helicopters are impressive machines, but is
there an upper limit to how big they can get? We spoke to this engineer at Boeing and here’s
what we learned: One. Engineers are super into what they do, and
that is awesome. Two. The bigger and heavier a helicopter gets,
the more lift it needs. The rotor blades are like spinning wings so
they have to do the heavy lifting. Do we have an animation of that? Yesssss. Helicopters can create more lift by adding
more wing area, so a large helicopter would need as long a rotor blade as possible. But this creates all sorts of problems. Helicopters can create more lift by adding
more wing area, so a large helicopter would need as long a rotor as possible. But this creates all sorts of problems. For example, the tips of the rotor blades
can’t go faster than the speed of sound or the turbulence will make the blades less
efficient. The longer the blades get, the faster the
tips travel. If the helicopter has an enormous and fast
spinning rotor, it won’t be able to fly very fast because the blade that’s spinning
in the same direction the helicopter is moving will be traveling through the air at its speed
plus the helicopter’s speed, bringing it closer to that speed limit. So, long blades would have to spin slowly,
but that would require a lot of torque to move. That torque strains the transmission that
connects the engines to the rotor, so to handle it the transmission would need to be big and
heavy, and that’s a no-no. Engineers could use shorter blades and add
more of them, but then the hub in the middle of the rotor gets more complex. Truly designing a giant helicopter is an engineering
feat. Helicopters could get even bigger if they
used multiple rotors, and the V-12, did just that. At 67 meters wide from rotor tip to rotor
tip, the prototype was wider than a Boeing 747. It remains the largest helicopter ever built,
and proved that with imagination and engineering, the sky is the limit. For more epic stories of innovation that shaped
our future, check out Thanks for watching, don’t forget to subscribe! Amy’s got the details on how helicopters
fly in the first place here, and thanks for watching Seeker. Hey can we see that wing animation one more
time? Aw, yeah. Uh huh. That was expensive.

100 thoughts on “Here’s What It Would Take for Helicopters to Be as Big as Planes

  1. So… When you say 'as big as a 747' you literally mean wingspan, not the carrying capacity.
    And while your dual rotor wingspan copout is wider than a 747, there has been bigger dual rotor helicopters in service for years… Just not in a side by side layout. .

    You could have delved into this more and looked at what the future may hold….

  2. In my opinion, the worst Seeker video to date. Did you fire your writers when you changed from DNews because the quality since has really been on the down.

  3. a zero information video brought to by a company that no viewer is a customer for….hmmmm….did Boeing just by a lifetime of positively slanted coverage from seeker?

  4. So why can't they just have the ends of the blade designed towards supersonic speeds and have the base of the blade design towards subsonic speeds, jet engines do it. Also, torque is a really bad excuse just use an electric motor powered by a gas generator if necessary.

  5. Not one single mention of the Russian Mi-26? Really? You guys can't even do a quick google search before you barf up a video?
    (And I honestly knew better than to click on a Seeker story, but I was really hoping they'd mention something about the old Soviet's penchant for doing everything twice as big as the U.S. and therefore would segue into discussing the Mi-26)

    In case you aviation enthusiasts want to understand why I mention the Mi-26… let's put it this way… you can literally drive a tank inside of it, and yes the helicopter can lift it as well as troops and other supplies along with it. The Mi-26 routinely lifts the U.S. two rotor Chinook and carries it about like a small toy underneath it.

  6. What is this video? The wing animation was useless. The video was useless. It just glossed over the facts. One of the worst by you guys.

  7. Wait, using the v12 design, could there not be made a four rotor helicopter? And how goes it, the life and times of the osprey helicopter? Dnews+ with Trace bringing his whacky spectacles along, could yet resolve all this and more.

  8. Your videos are becoming too short and therefore not as enjoyable, yet alone informative. Please put a bit more time into these videos because you have a very big and fantastic fan base that wants longer videos. People like to learn but you can't learn anything in depth like building giant helicopters in two minutes…

  9. Of the speed of helicopters that become as big as passenger planes and their speed..
    @Chemse Eddine Bouaziz
    It actually can. Multiple engines, multiple rotors.. and if wanted.. push propellers or jet engines easy to add.. In a plane design the wings are almost ultimately consolid.. but in a helicopter there are no such wings but instead very very flexible at once both horisontal and verticle movements providing propellers. A passenger plane let us say flies in a speed between 600-1200 kmph.. but when many many propellers are used instead of wings the thing would never be a less of speed.. however more of safety and (depending on the fuel but..) more cost.
    Nevertheless, in helicoptering.. when the size gets smaller.. planes win the race of speed more in comparison.. which means: there will be circles flying instead of those stick like winged planes for passenger fligts so soon I consider.. however super speed flights in the air that are going to be based on aerodynamics will always be triangular in look….. …. … but when it comes to nano-technical and basic force altering energetic flights.. flying machines will look like elliptical, globular or circular.. just like UFOs and Zeppelins.. and plus asthough triangular again.. they as some in shape will look like or be exactly as pyramids.. F117 Stealth Fighter is of such future design.. F35 is what is clinging to the Zeppelins..
    This nano technical and g force controlling energetic fliers later will be using things as-in parallelism to "many propelling" scheme as those mentioned above.. and they then very probably will.. ultimately be flying like the UFOs.. unpredictably moving so fast from one point it stood in-on to another at a glance's time period.. as if they are using teleportation.. sound speed and further speeds will be surpassed so swiftly that the mass of air will carry the flying objects all of a sudden from one location to another or similar.. when by force and energy air gets so hugely handeled and g force gets altered.
    Good bye.

  10. Seeker Seriously, this was a huge disappointment. You are going to have to do A LOT better than this sorry excuse for a video to keep the rest of your subscribers.

  11. YOU SON OF A BITCH. People, turn on the subtitles and go through the video again please. They were suppose to mention Russian engineering feat. Like the biggest single rotor helicopter.
    But they took it off. Because, they dont want the world to know about the Russian capability.
    That's why the video is short. HOW SICK ARE YOU PEOPLE?
    For the record, Russian MI-26 Halo is the current biggest and heavies helicopter in the world. Biggest experimental helicopter goes to Russia too (V-12).

  12. Huh I've heard that the thumping/chopping sound emitted by the helicopters main rotor was to Blade tips reaching the speed of sound……

  13. Less Boeing commercials please? Or at least be honest about it, be up front and make a decent video and we'll be all good.

  14. the wing animation is upside down, low pressure area on TOP of the wing (caused by the acceleration of air due to the shape of the wing) is what generates the lift and not the air passing below the wing.

  15. Thumbs down, that covered nothing and didn't even show a pic of the biggest one. Too busy to make a video dnews, I mean seeker? Just take the day off then, don't put out garbage.

  16. Several factual errors, e.g. the supersonic boost in drag is not due to turbulence, and a there are ways to go fast in a helicopter that hovers with tip speeds near speed of sound. If you're going to do technical content, you need a competent technical editor. Thumb down, obviously. That said, the idea was cool, and if you re-do it *with due diligence*, then you might make something quite good.

  17. Id just add more blades. Just as subs do by adding more blades it decreases cavitation which would be a similar thing in the air just much faster w/ the sound barrier. Jet turbines have many blades too which again helps in this. Perhaps using both double rotor and many more blades per rotor would result in some amazing lift and speed characteristics.

  18. So how big can an airplane be? I designed Goliath and its 420 metres long and the large wing area and short wing span makes this… how does it even fly with so much drag…

    Anyways how big can an airplane get?

  19. He referenced a helicopter with Out actually talking about the helicopter who makes it when was it made what is and actually look like he just gave us ananimated drawing .

  20. WRONG. *Biggest Bell has made and like most american content forgets about the rest of the world. Both the Super Stallion and the Mi 26 have greater Max takeoff weight which matters more and the Mil 26 has larger rotor diameter. V-22 84’ 7” and 60,000 lbs, CH-53 79’ 73,000 lbs, and the Mi 26 at 105’ and 123,000 lbs. And the Mi-12 prototype lifted 88,000lbs putting it at the largest ever at 220’ and 231,000 lbs

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