10
$\begingroup$

Fixed-wing aircraft (just about all of them!) have static wicks to dissipate static charge buildups before they can become obnoxious or shocking. Are helicopters fitted with them? This answer suggests they are not.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Since many helicopters do have static wicks, your question might be better phrased as "why do some helicopters not have static wicks"? $\endgroup$ – Simon Jan 17 '15 at 9:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would even go a bit further. Is there even evidence that some don't? $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jan 17 '15 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ The R22 and B206, which I am qualified on, do not as standard. I don't know the answer, but my guess is that since the primary function of wick dischargers is to prevent interference with the avionics, these aircraft simply don't need them. $\endgroup$ – Simon Jan 17 '15 at 11:56
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I checked out the link you posted showing that they are apparently not fitted and the confusion might arise from why do you need to earth the helicopter? Well, if it was possible to do this with an aircraft, you would have the same problem. The wicks do not totally discharge the static, they simply stop a field building up around the airframe. Air is a lousy conductor of electricity. $\endgroup$ – Simon Jan 17 '15 at 13:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @rbp Sorry, "no they aren't" meant that the R22 and B206 are not certified. I was confirming what you said ;) Both the variants had full IFR kit and would fly in static inducing conditions. VMC does not mean no moisture ;) $\endgroup$ – Simon Jan 17 '15 at 17:39
10
$\begingroup$

Static wicks are mostly found on aircraft that fly in Instrument Meteorological Conditions because static charges typically build up when flying in precipitation, not in clear air.

So you won't find static wicks on helicopters that are certified only for visual conditions, like the R-22, R-44, Bell 206, piston Enstroms, etc., but you will find static wicks on helis that are certified for IFR.

[Static wicks] are used on aircraft to allow the continuous satisfactory operation of onboard navigation and radio communication systems during precipitation (p-static) conditions. Precipitation static is an electrical charge on an airplane caused by flying through rain, snow, ice, or dust particles. When the aircraft charge is great enough, it discharges into the surrounding air. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_discharger

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ that is not to say that a VFR-only aircraft can't fly through rain or snow, but its less likely $\endgroup$ – rbp Jan 17 '15 at 17:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.