In an attempt to combine the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities of a helicopter, with the speed, range and altitude capabilities of a fixed wing aircraft, tiltrotor aircraft, such as the AgustaWestland AW609
and the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
rely on powered rotors mounted on rotating shafts or nacelles at the end of a fixed wing. But the tiltrotor design isn’t the only option for aircraft looking to get the best of both worlds. Like Aerovironment’s SkyTote
, the Flexrotor is designed to transition from vertical to horizontal flight without any pivoting of its rotor.
Eurocopter’s X3 hybrid helicopter has taken to American skies for the first time after being transported stateside aboard a chartered cargo jetliner early last week. The X3 is in the U.S. as part of a month-long tour in which Eurocopter will demonstrate the aircraft's operational capabilities for civil and military use.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.