Helicopters are currently used in important applications providing a valuable contribution to society and economic growth. Thanks to the operational flexibility of helicopters it is possible to accomplish complex missions.
Today, the service of helicopters includes, search and rescue, coastguard, firefighting, disaster relief, territorial control, monitoring and inspection, heavy-lift support to construction and other sectors, aerial filming and media support. In the future, helicopters and other vertical flight vehicles, like tilt-rotors, compound helicopters, hybrids and a rapidly expanding class of easy-to-fly vertical take-off personal vehicles, are expected to see widespread use, as means of transport, exploiting the formidable capability to provide point-to-point connections.
However, if the expansion of the usage of rotorcraft vehicles is to follow the pace of grow followed by the fixed-wing public transport in the last years, several issues need to be urgently addressed to increase the use and the public acceptance of rotorcraft. In particular, aspects related to complexity of the operations and safety are of primary importance, due to the fact that in the last 20 years helicopter accident rates, worldwide, remained unacceptably high, when compared to fixed-wing aircraft.
The complexity of the phenomena involved in rotorcraft flight calls for the training of engineers with a genuine multidisciplinary background.
Each research program is focused on a problem that affects the safety of the current or innovative rotorcraft configurations. The possible implications of the problem in terms of manufacturing, operations and certification procedures will be thoroughly discussed with the industrial partners.