Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil and the University of Bristol have won a major award for their work on electric helicopter technology.

Leonardo, a subsidiary of an Italian tech company, has worked with the University as part of the ELETAD Electrical Tail Drive project. Together with the new design and modelling capabilities, ELETAD delivered the world’s first prototype of an electrically driven tail rotor for medium twin-engined aircraft, winning the National Innovation Award from the Italian government.

Check out the tech in action in the video below:


The project aimed to reduce the environmental impact of helicopters by eliminating gearbox lubricants, making rotor speed more adjustable to save fuel and reducing noise as well as decreasing the need for regular maintenance.

The Bristol team from the Electrical Energy Management Group (EEMG) in the Faculty of Engineering led the €2.5-million consortium. They worked with Italian motor design firm Lucchi Electromechanica and the University of Bucharest. Leonardo Helicopters, the customer for the project, then funded further research by the EEMG to continue developing the technology.

Find out more about Bristol research via the University of Bristol website.

Nick Flaherty