What Are Aircraft Rotary Wings?

When discussing aircraft, it is common to think of the standard commercial airliners and single-engine trainers that are regularly seen across the globe. These heavier-than-air vehicles are known as fixed-wing aircraft, due to the fact that they feature rigid airfoil structures that are designed to create lift as the aircraft moves forward with high thrust and speed. While such aircraft are very popular, they are not the only type available, as one can also consider helicopters and other similar vehicles. These aircraft are known as rotary-wing aircraft, achieving their lift and directional control through the use of rotary wings or blades that spin around a central mast.

Types of Rotary Wings

Similar to how fixed-wing aircraft vary in the design and placement of their airfoil structures, rotary-wing aircraft also feature a diverse set of rotor assemblies that are each designed to accommodate a particular need or application use. There are three main types of rotary-wing designs that are popular, these being single-rotor, coaxial and tandem variations. To help you better understand rotary-wing structures and how they are used, we will discuss these common designs in brief detail below in the context of helicopters.

Single-Rotor: Single-rotor helicopters have one large main rotor and a smaller tail rotor. The main rotor provides lift and directional control, while the tail rotor provides anti-torque forces to counteract the rotational forces generated by the main rotor. Single-rotor helicopters are commonly used in civilian and military applications, including transport, search and rescue and law enforcement operations.

Coaxial Rotors: Coaxial helicopters have two rotors that are mounted on the same axis while rotating in opposite directions. This design eliminates the need for a tail rotor as the opposite rotational directions counteract torque, and greater stability and maneuverability is achieved. Coaxial helicopters are used in military applications, including reconnaissance, transportation, and combat.

Tandem Rotors: Tandem helicopters have two main rotors that are mounted one in front of the other. The front rotor provides lift and direction control, while the rear rotor provides anti-torque forces. Tandem helicopters are used in military applications like transportation and combat as well.

How Rotary Wings Work?

Rotary wings work by creating lift through the rotation of the blades on the central mast. Each blade is shaped like an airfoil with a curved upper surface and a flat or slightly curved lower surface. As the blade rotates, it creates a pressure differential between the upper and lower surfaces, generating lift that pushes the vehicle upward. In addition to providing lift, rotary wings also provide direction control through angled adjustments carried out with cockpit controls.

Applications of Rotary Wings

Rotary-wing aircraft are used in a variety of industries, including military, law enforcement, search and rescue, and commercial transportation.

Military: Military helicopters are used for reconnaissance, transportation, and combat. These models are often equipped with advanced navigation, communication, and weapon systems, as well as can operate in a wide range of environments.

Law Enforcement: Law enforcement helicopters are used for surveillance, pursuit, and rescue operations. These models regularly feature thermal imaging cameras and searchlights, and they can be relied on to quickly respond to emergency situations.

Search and Rescue: Search and rescue helicopters are used to locate and rescue people in remote or difficult-to-reach locations. They are equipped with specialized equipment like winches and hoists and can operate in a wide range of weather conditions.

Commercial Transportation: Commercial helicopters are used for transportation and sightseeing. They are often used in remote or inaccessible areas where fixed-wing aircraft cannot operate.


Whether you operate a civilian helicopter or a military rotary-wing aircraft, you should always ensure that you procure the highest quality parts for maintenance, repair, and overhaul operations. Here on ASAP Aviation Stock, we provide customers access to an unrivaled inventory of new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items that trace back to thousands of leading manufacturers that we trust. With everything ready for purchase at any time, we encourage you to submit a quote request for any items of interest that you come across, and a member of our staff will contact you in 15 minutes or less to begin the procurement process.


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