Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems has selected Hartzell Propeller’s new Bantam series ASC-II composite propeller to power its Firebird optionally piloted vehicle (OPV).

Weighing 45lb, the newly launched Bantam series propeller is a lightweight, five-blade propeller with optional feathering or reversing capabilities, and is fully certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Hartzell Propeller president Joe Brown said: ”The Firebird’s Bantam propeller features custom carbon graphite blades, retaining all the benefits of our ASC-II proprietary composite construction and co-molding process – it’s lightweight, strong and durable.”

Developed using Hartzell’s carbon monocoque construction, the propeller blades possess maximum damage tolerance and field reparability.

The blades also feature a field replaceable co-moulded electroformed nickel erosion shield that offers impact and erosion protection in a smooth aerodynamic shape.

The company’s carbon fibre construction and vacuum-assisted resin transfer molding process enable the propeller to use thin, high-performance airfoils.

The propeller imparts less strain on the shaft and gearbox due to very low rotating inertia, while the Firebird’s composite spinner assembly utilises a custom area-ruled design for aerodynamic pressure recovery, which is a beneficial feature for pusher designs.

Powered by a single Lycoming TEO-540 engine, the Firebird is a medium-altitude and long-endurance manned or unmanned aerial vehicle designed to support the US Armed Forces’ intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

Capable of being operated in both manned and unmanned modes with the help of ground control stations, the aircraft has successfully completed a six-minute flight at Northrop’s facility in Mojave, California, US, in early December 2012.

Image: Hartzell’s new Bantam series ASC-II composite five-bladed propeller. Photo: Copyright © 2009 Hartzell Propeller Inc.