Congressman Jim McGovern to Review Novel Helicopter Engine Design during Nov. 28 Visit to WPI

Developed by Local Inventor, the Engine Design, Which Could Make Helicopters More Reliable, is Being Studied and Refined by WPI Student Project Teams
November 22, 2011


• Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-03).

• James O'Neill, president of O'Neil Motor Company in Lakeville, Mass.

• Robert Norton, Milton P. Higgins II Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at WPI.

• Two teams of WPI undergraduates completing their senior-year Major Qualifying Projects.


A demonstration of the NorEaster, a prototype helicopter engine developed O'Neill that could make helicopters more reliable.


The NorEaster uses two piston-driven cams to turn counter-rotating lifting propellers and one pusher propeller. The patented engine has no crankshaft and does not need a transmission and gearbox, which are required on other helicopter engines to reduce the high speed of the engine to the much lower speed at which the props turn. The transmission and gearbox are the elements of helicopter engines most prone to failure and that require the most maintenance. O'Neill is supporting seven WPI undergraduates, working in two project teams, who are helping him develop a new, more refined and robust prototype. One team is developing a computer model of the engine that can be used to evaluate the impact of potential changes to the engine design. The second team is evaluating all of the engine's mechanical components and exploring innovations that may help reduce the engine's weight while also increasing its power and reliability.


Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, from 1 to 2 p.m.


The west entrance of Higgins Laboratories (the entrance facing the Quadrangle) on the WPI campus.