Individual blade control (IBC) as well as higher harmonic control (HHC) for helicopter rotors promises to be a method to increase flight performance and to reduce vibration and noise. For those controls, an additional twist actuation of the rotor blade is needed. The developed concept comprises the implementation of distributed piezoelectric actuation into the rotor blade skin. In order to maximize the twist within given constraints, as torsional rigidity and given actuator design, the concept takes advantage of an orthotropic rotor blade skin. That way, a combination of shear actuation with orthotropic coupling generates more twist than each one of these effects alone. Previous approaches with distributed actuation used actuators operating in +/-45° direction with quasi-isotropic composites. A FE-Model of the blade was developed and validated using a simplified demonstrator. The objective of this study was to identify the effects of various geometric and material parameters to optimize the active twist performance of the blades. The whole development was embedded in an iterative process followed by an objective assessment. For this purpose a detailed structural model on the basis of the BO105 model rotor blade was developed, to predict the performance with respect to rotor dynamics, stability, aerodynamics and acoustics. Rotor dynamic simulations provided an initial overview of the active twist rotor performance. In comparison to the BO105 baseline rotor a noise reduction of 3 dB was predicted for an active twist of 0.8° at the blade tip. Additionally, a power reduction of 2.3% at 87m/s based on a 2.5 to BO105 was computed. A demonstrator blade with a rotor radius of 2m has been designed and manufactured. This blade will be tested to prove, that the calculated maximum twist can also be achieved under centrifugal loads.