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Chicken Wings comic "Rotor Blade Erosion" by Michael and Stefan Strasser. Jason, a student pilot, asks Julio, a mechanic, "Hey Julio, do you see the erosion on the rotor blades?" Julio says, "Every day, my man, every day." (At this point, a new frame begins. Chuck, Jason's instructor, is now standing next to Julio and Jason.) Jason then asks, "How come one blade has more paint missing than the others?" Julio answers, "That's because it's the 'master blade.' When the rotor turns, it is the first one to hit the air, so it gets more eroded." Jason says, "Really? Wow!" (Another frame begins. Jason has left, leaving only Julio and Chuck.) Chuck says, "Boy, he is SO gonna fail his helicopter checkride." Julio responds, "Yes, but he is learning a valuable lesson for his aviation career." Chuck asks, "Like what?" Julio grins and says, "Don't bug your mechanic!"

Does this scenario in which one blade is more eroded then the others commonly occur with real helicopters? Even if it does, Julio's explanation is obviously wrong; what actually causes it?

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Other than manufacturing defect there is nothing that would cause dissimilar wear on helicopter blades. The prank in the joke references the master rod of radial engine.

All the blades cut air in the exact same way. Differences in appearance are just random variations, unless some blades have been replaced for some reason, thus making the rotor assembly a mix of different ages.

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    $\begingroup$ if not on the main rotor, scissor tail rotors could erode unevenly when hitting vegetation, leading blade somehow protecting the following. $\endgroup$
    – user21228
    Jul 10, 2023 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ similarly regarding close to vegetation operation, co-axial rotors (Kamov-like) may suffer more pronounced wear on lower rotor than on upper rotor due to vegetation relative proximity. $\endgroup$
    – user21228
    Jul 15, 2023 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Helicopters do not operate such that their rotors come into contact with vegetation. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Jul 16, 2023 at 13:43
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The blade has been damaged and then replaced by another, old and worn blade from the different (same type) helicopter. From the source, blades can be damaged during the ground handling. In this case I assume quite probable that only one has been damaged.

The worn blade may be no longer airworthy or, if this depends on the results of inspection, the mechanic has more optimism if it is still good than the the previous owner of the blade. The source contains extensive overview on how do the blades erode.

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No. It's a cartoon.

The naive young student was tricked by the salty mechanic.

It's humorous, just like telling the new person to fetch a bucket of prop wash and 10' of flight line is humorous.

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    $\begingroup$ I do understand the joke, and I did know that Julio's explanation is obviously wrong. I was just asking whether or not one blade eroding more than others was an actual issue, and if so, what the real cause was. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jun 29, 2023 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed. It’s amazing how serious some people will take a cartoon… $\endgroup$ Jun 30, 2023 at 0:58
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Maybe blades are not tracked well. So one blade can be affected by some unwonted forces in flight, like vibration and twisting if out of balance Here is an article https://www.politicalfunda.com/2022/07/helicopter-vibration-helicopter-track-and-balance-procedure.html?m=1

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  • $\begingroup$ "Track and Balance" is done on ground exactly to avoid vibrations in flight. No one would fly an unbalanced helicopter and in case the pilot would land as soon as possible. $\endgroup$
    – sophit
    Jul 2, 2023 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ Links eventually die, so I'm afraid your answer is lacking important things. I suggest you describe in a few sentences the main point of that article (but you can leave it as reference). $\endgroup$
    – kebs
    Jul 9, 2023 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Jul 9, 2023 at 9:21

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