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VTOL

The AW609 tiltrotor aircraft from AgustaWestland combines the benefits of a helicopter wit...

We’ve been following the development of Eurocopter’s X3 demonstrator with interest in recent years, but it’s far from the only aircraft that aims to combine the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities of a helicopter with the speed, range and altitude capabilities of a fixed wing aircraft. Tiltrotor aircraft that feature powered rotors mounted on rotating shafts or nacelles at the end of a fixed wing have been around for half a century, the most famous probably being the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. While the V-22 is a military aircraft, AgustaWestland is developing its AW609 as a multi-role aircraft aimed at private, commercial, and government markets.  Read More

Eurocopter is set to build on its X3 demonstrator (pictured) with the X4 helicopter (Photo...

Eurocopter is set to build on the success of its X3 demonstrator with plans to introduce an advanced X4 helicopter into service in 2017. Designed to replace the AS365 and EC155 Dauphin medium twin helicopters, Eurocopter is keeping its cards close to its chest in regards to the X4 concept, but has said it will feature a radically different cockpit.  Read More

An F-35B Lightning II makes the first vertical landing on a flight deck at sea (Photo: U.S...

The F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has successfully made its first at-sea vertical landing. With Marine Corps test pilot Lt. Col. Fred Schenk at the controls, the short-take-off-vertical -landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35 touched-down on the deck of the USS Wasp on October 3 as part of an initial two week ship-trial period in which the aircraft's take-off and landing capabilities will be evaluated along with its ability to integrate with the ship's flight deck operations.  Read More

AeroVironment has unveiled its latest Unmanned Aircraft System, the 'perch-and-stare' Shri...

California-based aerospace company AeroVironment has developed some fascinating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) over the years, including the High Altitude Long Endurance Global Observer, a hummingbird-like nano air vehicle, and the hand-launched Wasp III reconnaissance platform. In 2008, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the company US$4.6 million in funding to develop a “perch-and-stare” aircraft, for use in military surveillance. Today, AeroVironment unveiled the result – the Shrike Vertical Take-off And Landing (VTOL) UAS.  Read More

The innovators behind the SoloTrek/Springtail Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle have announced pl...

If you've ever watched your Parrot AR Drone power through the air and wondered what it would be like to be inside such a craft, the announcement of the Air Car project could be the answer you are looking for. The folks behind the development of the SoloTrek/Springtail Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle have revealed plans to create the world's first fuel-electric hybrid flying car.  Read More

Geocopter's GC-201

Quadrocopters like the AR.Drone and Datron Scout may have been hogging the UAS limelight lately but Dutch unmanned rotorcraft system manufacturer Geocopter has shown there’s still life in the traditional helicopter design yet with the official delivery of its first light unmanned helicopter called the GC-201. Designed and built just like a normal helicopter, the GC-201 features a twin gas turbine engine propulsion system, lightweight carbon fiber fuselage and full automatic takeoff, mission and landing capabilities.  Read More

The Datron Scout Micro Air Vehicle (MAV)

Younger owners of the Parrot AR.Drone will no doubt have discovered the advantages of such a device when gathering intelligence on siblings and parents. The Datron Scout Air Reconnaissance System shares a few similarities with the AR.Drone but, like the CyberQuad, is a quadricopter designed for slightly more critical missions. With a weatherproof design that allows it to capture and transmit high quality video in dusty and hot or cold conditions and winds of up to 50 km/h (31 mph), Datron says the scout is suited for a variety of military, law enforcement, fire and civilian applications.  Read More

D-Dalus - an entirely new genre of aircraft arrives

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. Neither fixed wing nor rotor craft, the D-Dalus uses four, mechanically-linked, contra-rotating, cylindrical turbines for its propulsion, and by altering the angle of the blades, it can launch vertically, hover perfectly still, move in any direction, and thrust upwards and hence "glue down" upon landing, which it can easily do on the deck of a ship, or even a moving vehicle. It's also almost silent, has the dynamic stability to enter buildings, handles rough weather with ease, flies very long distances very quickly and can lift very heavy loads. It's also so simple that it requires little maintenance and requires no more maintenance expertise than an auto mechanic. It accordingly holds immense promise as a platform for personal flight, for military usage, search and rescue, and much more.  Read More

Eurocopter's X3 demonstrator has exceeded its initial speed target of 220 knots (Image: Pa...

After undergoing a planned upgrade to its gearbox that enabled it to operate at full engine power, Eurocopter's X3 hybrid helicopter demonstrator has surpassed its original speed target of 220 knots (407 km/h or 253 mph). In a flight on May 12, the X3 maintained a true airspeed of 232 knots (430 km/h or 267 mph) for several minutes during stable, level flight.  Read More

The Eurocopter X3 demonstrator test flight (Image: Patrick Penna)

Eurocopter is reporting a new breakthrough in the test flight program for its X3 high-speed, long-range Hybrid Helicopter demonstrator. The aircraft is equipped with two turboshaft engines that power a five-blade main rotor system and two propellers installed on short-span fixed wings, combining the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities and full hover flight capabilities of a helicopter with the fast cruise speeds of a turboprop-powered aircraft. On November 29, the X3 reached the program’s Step 1 speed objective by attaining a true airspeed of 180 knots (333 km/h or 207 mph) in level flight at a reduced engine power level.  Read More

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