Effect of Number of Blades on Main Rotor Aerodynamic Characteristics
Single-blade main rotors are not used because of the high degree of /60
The primary advantage of the two-blade main rotors is the simplicity of the construction. But the two-blade rotor has low solidity and consequently poor aerodynamic characteristics (low thrust coefficient C^).
Increase of the solidity with increase of the area of each blade (by increasing its width) leads to increase of the profile drag and reduction of the main rotor efficiency.
Moreover, the blades of any rotor cannot be made perfectly identical.
They always differ from one another in their characteristics; therefore the overall blade thrust varies in the forward flight regime. The main rotor resistance to rotation will also vary, i. e., the load on the rotor shaft will vary, and torsional vibrations of the shaft, main rotor vibrations, and vibrations of the entire helicopter will develop.
These problems can be resolved by increasing the number of blades. The larger the number of blades, the smaller the amplitude of the main rotor thrust variations and the smaller the azimuthal variation of the rotor torque, i. e., the rotor becomes more balanced. However, at the same time rotor fabrication and blade balancing and adjustment become more difficult. On this basis, main rotors with 4-5 blades are most frequently encountered.