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D-Dalus - an entirely new genre of aircraft arrives


June 21, 2011

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Austrian research company IAT21 has presented a new type of aircraft at the Paris Air Show which has the potential to become aviation's first disruptive technology since the jet engine.

The D-Dalus (a play on Daedalus from Greek mythology) is neither fixed wing or rotor craft and uses four, mechanically-linked, contra-rotating cylindrical turbines, each running at the same 2200 rpm, for its propulsion.

The key to the D-Dalus' extreme maneuverability is the facility to alter the angle of the blades (using servos) to vector the forces, meaning that the thrust can be delivered in your choice of 360 degrees around any of the three axes. Hence D-Dalus can launch vertically, hover perfectly still and move in any direction, and that's just the start of the story.

Like most cars and aircraft these days, it sounds very complex but it's all controlled by computer algorithms, so it's simple joystick control for the user, and far less exacting than a helicopter to fly.

Existing rotary wing aircraft offer VTOL capabilities but have vulnerabilities which make them unsuitable for many applications. They are challenged in bad weather, at long ranges, at high speed and in operating to and from lurching platforms, such as boats in rough weather.

By contrast, D-Dalus is particularly suited for such conditions and can thrust upwards and hence "glue down" on landing, which it can also do on a moving vehicle. Indeed, landing on a moving vehicle is one of the D-Dalus' many party tricks, and it's a natural for landing on watercraft. Not surprisingly, since it initially broke cover at the Royal Aeronautical Society conference a few days ago, it has already attracted a lot of interest from military quarters.

The D-Dalus is also near-silent, and has the dynamic stability to enter buildings and handle rough weather with ease - things which existing rotorcraft simply cannot achieve. The aircraft also has a sense-and-avoid system which, in conjunction with its complete lack of vulnerable external parts (such as rotors), means it can hover in very close proximity to vertical rock faces and walls, making it suitable for search-and-rescue operations, as a surveillance drone with hover-and-stare capabilities and as a proactive tool for urban battlefield situational awareness.

The lack of vulnerable external moving parts will give a small D-Dalus-type drone the ability to fly into buildings through windows, and its unique capabilities also offer 360 degree vision, another aspect lacking in traditional rotor craft which have blind spots due to the rotors, and nowhere near the same maneuverability as the D-Dalus.

IAT21 forsees many applications based on these key new criteria - apart from being able to enter and search buildings, it could conceivably remove radioactive contamination or explosives, extract casualties, or hold and direct water hoses for fire fighters.

As it can lift heavy loads, and becomes even more efficient in doing so as it scales upwards in size, it is also envisaged as a platform for loading and unloading ships when cranes are not available.

The D-Dalus is also so simple mechanically that it needs little maintenance and requires no more maintenance expertise than an auto mechanic. It should be noted that all VTOL aircraft capable of carrying large payloads are complex and very costly to maintain.

Currently, tests are being conducted using a 120 bhp KTM engine and turbines around five feet long - and the capability of lifting a payload of 70 kg. More tests are planned over the coming weeks. IAT21 is now also working with Cranfield University in the U.K. on a larger, more powerful motor, a new hull shape for the craft, and advanced guidance and control systems.

The forces on the blade pivots are understandably huge, and in initial testing it was found that all available bearings failed, so inventor Meinhard Schwaiger, who already has more than 150 patents to his name, knuckled down and invented (and patented) his own, near-frictionless swivel-bearing to cope with the stresses.

The D-Dalus is constructed of carbon fiber, and appears to be scalable for a range of potential applications including maritime search and rescue, freight transport, operating alongside and within buildings during fires - the long term hopes for the platform include a passenger version for public transit.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

would love to see a video of this!

Michael Johnson

Wow. Possibly a very big Wow.

Todd Dunning

Sounds pretty revolutionary... hopefully we\'ll get to see videos of this thing actually flying soon...

Windmaster Hiroaki

My first thought was that it was a vastly improved ducted relative of the spinning wing (1930). But from the info it seems like Centrifugal fans. It would be nice to have more details on the principles of flight involved. \"contra-rotating cylindrical turbines\" suggests it is more like the later. Are we talking turbos like in cars? Seems like superchargers move more air. The 2,200 RPM sounds more like a fan and less obnoxious sounding than a turbo/supercharger. The article also does not say where the air intake is. That seems like a major omission to me. Oh well, I guess we will hear more about it.

If it really is efficient, powerful, maneuverable, and easy to control, it might work in some sort of \"jetpack\" form. There was the scaling comment though...so maybe not.

The actual numbers provided do not sound heavy lifting yet. Everything starts small. I hope it is the real deal...it looks very interesting.

I second the request for a video!


Someone on another site suggested it is a version of a Voith Schneider Propeller. That seems to fit.


Sounds great, but I\'ll believe it when I see it. I\'ve been burnt enough times by articles on gizmag making something sound like magic, only to come back the next week and debunk the myth.

Anyone remember that new dynamic ratio gearbox that was supposed to radically change the automotive industry forever? No? That\'s because it turned out to be over-hyped crap.

Facebook User

Excellent points Mindbreaker. And in retrospect, exciting as this is it lacks the helicopter\'s ability to autorotate and glide from engine failure. Not that it should not still be persued however. Voith Schneider indeed.

Todd Dunning

This would be how \'alien\' space ships move about wouldnt it ???

Facebook User

Amost silent? I find that hard to believe. Anyone knows that air moving at high velocities and volumes make shitloads of noise regardless of how its created. Nontheless it sounds like something worth following to see how it developes.

Terry Penrose

Waiting to see a video, but the technology sounds incredible.

Alan Hutcheson

come on. how hard is it to post a video if it\'s legit?

Looks bad without one.


funny that this company is about 2km away from where I live, and I had never heard of it...

Martin Ankerl

I wonder if its similar in concept to the Fanwing idea by Pat Peebles. That has great potential as well, if thought about from \"outside the box\" of traditional aviation design. I hope this advent shakes things up enough in aviation to finally get us up out of the gridlock traffic (and those blasted signal lights!) :-) Get that ol\' FAA on board early, folks!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uscW9RLcBpw here\'s a video of the original concept - by an italian inventor . but the thing can\'t autorotate and land without engines - so it\'s an UAV only technology for now .

Károly Hőss

@ Martin. That's coz "The D-Dalus is also near-silent"

Matthew Fletcher

\"... I had never heard of it... \"

So it really IS silent ... ;-)

Seriously, without a video it\'s just an assertion.

Gary Fisher

If it WAS at the Paris Airshow - why no videos? Comeon Gizmag - due dilligence in reporting please.

Tim Smalley

Thrust vectoring aside, it looks like it must have to rotate 90 degrees in order to change direction. With no lift created by wings, body or rotor, it must have to use substantial energy to stay aloft. I wonder if it can become the engine in a design that has, or can deploy, lifting surfaces for sustained flight?


Hmmmm I guess there\'s no point in mentioning that I had a similar design in mind for some years now, but sadly I never had the resources or the time to put it into practice :). My theory is that the concept already existed since the 50\' and that secret military aircraft or \"ufo\'s\" where already hovering around the planet.

This is huge, combined with high capacity energy storage devices, light weight super materials and modern computers it could well lead to the development of transportation devices from as small as individual hovercraft to future space ships.

Inertial engines FTW

Stefan Padureanu

Nice to see a Privateer get a novel idea to fly. But you can\'t get something for nothing. It is hard to fathom that this \"Vehicle\" would be practicle in any way.

My fear is our stupid Government inspite of all logic and known technologies that have already proven themselves will be duped into spending Taxpayer dollars to figure out that this \"Vehicle\" is a flop.

People want something that they can\'t have (yet), an Anti-Gravity machine that runs on something other that Petroleum that out performs proven platforms in use today.

David Nance

Looking at the pictures it clearly works like a Voith Schneider Propeller. By geometry it does not engage enough air and will be heavy and inefficient. Hence it is not a disruptive technology. It would be nice if Gizmag authors were more highly trained in the fields they are commenting on.


It appears to be a gang of Tesla turbines. If so, credit should be given where it\'s due, instead of attention whoring as to originality. The app seems original, the turbine? Not so much to me.


Well, if they didn\'t come up with a video or a small prototype, the best I can say is that I wish this was true. I I\'ve send my full description of a teleportation system to Gizmag and still I\'m waiting for the review to be published. :)


We now live where Bladerunner and The Fifth Element went before us.

Daniel Pitton

Maybe instead of pushing vast columns of air downward with fans it achieves lift as in a wing by moving/rotating the wing like aerofoils through the air within the 2200 rpm cylinders, is this feasible? The aerofoils obviously pivot for directional control and each of the four cylinder\'s have six of them. By using gyro and computer it could be very stable as described.


Like most things on Gizmag, I will wait to see if this ever actually pans out before getting excited about it. Mzungu, If anyone thinks ground traffic is bad, you can\'t imagine how bad it would be once even 0.1% of people fly to work. The constant noise, extreme fuel use, and \"skylock\" will very quickly change your mind and turn the public strongly against anyone flying low over their heads. For anyone in a city or town, imagine waiting in the air for clearance to proceed or to land (yes, even in your own driveway) while using the same fuel a car would to drive 150MPH, because it will take the same or more fuel to sit still in the air as it does to fly at speed. Commuting by air is a highly unrealistic pipe dream of people with no foresight. High speed ground transport is orders of magnitude more efficient and less intrusive for large portions of the population travelling every day. Flying to work would be nothing like the freedom of driving a car with the ability to just pull over or stop where you want to. Luckily, the insurance alone will kill \"flying cars.\"

Mark in MI

I was there until the article said \"frictionless bearing\". Then I smiled and realised it was a PR article so full of exaggeration and falsehoods. Probably hoping to get dumb investors.

Stuart Halliday

It\'s obvious that the reason that there\'s no video is because the prototype doesn\'t fly. I\'ll leave it to the mechanical and aeronautical engineers of the world to assess the real-world viability of this concept, but for my part I am reminded of Moller\'s sky car scam.

Bob Humbly

The D-Dalus is certainly not based on a Tesla turbine, because between the rotating discs there are turnable wings mounted. To me this is a similar principle as is used for some vertical wind turbines. Depending on how the turnable wings are tilted during the rotation of the discs the resulting air draft can be directed into any direction. The noise of this type of turbine is very likely also not as strong as with propellers or gas turbines with high RPM, because there are no stationary wings and with 2200 RPM the whole thing is not extremely fast. But it wont be silent, especially if it is driven by a motorbike engine.

Why should we get-off from the ground? A high speed train system running in low pressure underground tubes could shorten the travel time too and could be fed by CO2-free produced electricity. For todays aircraft this is absolutely impossible.


D-Dalus. No it has bladed rotors, therefore it is not using Tesla turbine principle.

As with other aircraft, I.E. ducted fan, quad rotor & Coanda effect machines on losing an engine they tend to glide like a brick. Therefore it would need to use a ballistic parachute or maybe mount on flying wing.

Otherwise it is brilliant as I would think maintainance is a killer in rotor aircraft.

Kiwi John

John M

\"As with other aircraft, I.E. ducted fan, quad rotor & Coanda effect machines on losing an engine they tend to glide like a brick. Therefore it would need to use a ballistic parachute or maybe mount on flying wing.\"

If just plain crashing is good enough for a host of other aerial vehicles, then it\'s good enough for this one. :-)

\"I\'ve send my full description of a teleportation system to Gizmag and still I\'m waiting for the review to be published.\"

I may have an answer for you - did you use your teleportation system to send your description? alcalde

Maybe the noise won\'t be all that bad as the rotors only turn 2200 rpm and the engine can be muffled.

Why does a technical publication such as this always post articles about \"Zero Polution\" vehicles? There\'s no such thing. Just because the vehicle is electric, compressed gas powerd or rubber band powered you have to get the energy from somewhere to start with. Imagane the polution from an electric vehicle if the charging recepticle is energized by an old coal fired generation plant!


Ladies & gentlemen: You all are missing the crucial point. It is simply a mechanical force vectoring device. Elegantly simple A modernization of the Dean device.



I have no Idea what you people are talking about as I am not that bright, but two things come to mind.

If you SHOW someone a working model before the patents are granted you run the risk of someone copying it with changes, so no first mover advantage there, litigation to follow.

Secondly easier to sell a concept with potential than a prototype that doesn\'t work very well, but what would I know.

Nick Rowney

Have a look at fanwing dot com and you´ll have the general idea of how this thing works.


I wonder where its Ah-Killeez heel is?

At 2200 rpm I can\'t imagine it not making noise enough to be considered silent. Being very familiar with rotary wing helicopters I can only draw on that experience to found my opinion but it seems that any ducted fan with a rotation of over 1000 rpm is going to make noise.

I am very curious to know how much total blade area they are coming up with and with that what the thrust to weight ratio is.

I don\'t doubt that a large on may be able to do heavy lifting, but it may have to be a REALLY LARGE ONE to lift heavy. Possibly even a prohibitively large one.

I really want this to be true, but I am hearing way too much positive and find myself wishing they had thrown in at least one negative to make it more realistic.

Dr. Veritas

An impulse drive system that regains its inertia in each rotational cycle at the direction of the counter weight.

Flipider Comm

The device appears to be a cyclorotor design. Just search Google Images for \"cyclorotor wing aircraft\" for a good cross section of designs dating back to the 1920s.

Holly McBeal

I love the \"entirely new\" bit in the title... As Holly McBeal lets us know, this \"new genre\" has been thot about since the early 20th (if not before). Some are continuing the development, obviously, as it appears to have great potential.

Here are some places to check out: serve.me.nus.edu.sg/cyclocopter/ cyclocopter.snu.ac.kr/skywalker3.htm www.rotoplan.narod.ru/history_e.htm - for a great overview of the history behind the concept. (...nothing new under the sun, eh?)

Still, despite all this, and perhaps because it has such a history, there appears to be valid potential in the concept, and with modern advances and development perhaps these can be leveraged to our advantage!


How efficient is it? How large of a tank (or battery) does it need to go 100 miles?

Brian Bray

The principle works in water; If the novel bearing is for real, and the weight can be kept down, it could be the 1st iteration of the next big thing.

Of course, Tom Swift originated the idea. :)


M. Report

Spinning object could have artificial gravity in damping one direction of an equal repelling reaction keeping the inertia of the other repulsion on the fuselage.

Flipider Comm

As others have commented D-dalus is not a Tesla turbine. It is also not a fanwing (which has fixed blades) or a cyclocopter.


looks like a VOITH PROPELLER mounted horizontally , the same propeller used in tug boats


Wouldn\'t be cool if this technology opened the doors to getting cars off the ground? http://www.carswithcords.com/featured/first-glimmer-of-technology-for-flying-cars/

Marty Kassowitz

This concept is called cycloidal-rotor (also known as cyclogyro/cyclocopter). This was invented almost 100 years back, but then, no one could build a flying vehicle using this concept and it gradually faded off the scene by around 1940s. My entire PhD thesis was on understanding and using this concept to build a flying MAV (Micro Air Vehicle). A video of the different configuration we built is in this link below http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF8TV2PVWlI You can get more information from my homepage http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~moble/

Moble Benedict

Are they using servos for each individual blade, or are they using a helicopter-style collective and cyclic mechanical setup? I would think it is far more likely that it is the latter

I meant collective pitch as in, if the blades on the \'front\' cylinders are angled inwards so that they collectively draw in air, while the blades at the \'back\' are all angled outwards so they expel air, the craft would move to the \'front\'

Perhaps additional axial blade elemens i.e. arranged like a traditional propeller , would enhance the inter-cylinder thrust and have more \'longitudinal\' thrust, which should be good in terms of aerodynamics since the cylinders would be travelling edge-on rather than side-on

Carmatic Frua

It looks like the inventor has something here. The usues really opens the imagination.


way way to many parts. remember to KISS

Jay Finke

We\'ll be seeing more of these soon...

Emil Hampton

As the former P.I.O. photographer for the 8th Transportation Battalion, Light Helicopters at Oberschleissheim (near Munich), West Germany, I can heartily attest as to their noise (especially a small H-13 without the \"Bubble\" canopy). However, the article specifically uses the term, \"Contra-Rotating Fans\" which brings this thought to mind. There is an acoustical concept that states, \"A standing half wave cancels itself\". It\'s one of the main principles that made Alembic speaker cabinets sound so clear and apparently loud. (They\'re now located in Santa Rosa, California and concentrate on just making high end electric stringed instruments and associated electronics.) But the principle is still acoustically the same.

Myron J. Poltroonian

Looks like it is 4 individually controlled cyclocopters (fanwings minus the wing) and each engine would be able to produce thrust in any direction. so it can rotate in place by having the two on the right produce thrust upward and forward while the left ones produce thrust in the upward and rearward direction. this sort of design is cool because it could even flip over either front to back or side to side and fly upside down easily. it has all the capabilities and stability of a quadcopter with the additional capability of producing a lot of forward thrust while staying level.

Ashley Elliott

Tom Swift and his Ultrasonic Cycloplane!


This is not a cyclic rotor like those of the past. The orbit is eliptical and presents the most efficient incident angle for a much longer period and wastes little time in the end period of orbit where the transistion is made to the other side of the flattened circle. Both elongated "flat" zones of the eliptical shape provide maximum lift by shifting the wing to the opposite angle for maximum angle of attack. check out the patents recently filed by the company as well as Pop Sci magazine.

Rick Carpenter

Here is a Video of the first Test Flight of D-Dalus. This was broadcast about a month ago on the Austrian/German Channel Servus TV. It's in German.

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