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VTOL

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
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
The company behind the first FAA approved "roadable aircraft" – the Terrafugia Transition – has been selected to contribute to DARPA's Transformer (TX) Project, a program that aims to bring flying car technology to the battlefield. Terrafugia will subcontract to one of two winning teams under phase one of the program which focuses on creating a conceptual design for a four person cross between a Humvee and a helicopter for use in insurgency, reconnaissance, medical evacuation and logistical supply. Read More
Tilt-rotor aircraft such as the Bell-Boeing built V-22 Osprey that use powered rotors mounted on rotating shafts or nacelles at the end of a fixed wing for lift and propulsion combine the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is bringing these benefits to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with its new Panther and Mini Panther UAVs that were unveiled last week at the Latrun Conference in Israel. Read More
One of the first to respond to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) call seeking designs for a tactical flying car under its Transformer (TX) program is the AVX Aircraft Company. Its AVX Aircraft can be manually driven on the ground like an SUV and also boasts Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities. Read More
If you dream of strapping into a Martin Jetpack and taking to the skies Boba Fett-style but you don't have a lazy US$86K lying around, there is another option. New Zealand adventure travel specialist Total Experience has teamed up with Martin Aircraft to offer a Jetpack "test pilot" program where anyone who is under 18, less than 90kg and holds a current driver’s license can experience solo flight for the (relatively cheaper) outlay of NZD15,000 (about US$10,700). Read More
It's been a long time coming. While Arthur C. Clarke's satellites have taken to space, and James Bond's futuristic mobile technology has become common place, still the legend of Icarus has captivated us and the dream of sustained personal flight has eluded us. But the future is here! Finally we can all take flight as Martin Aircraft in New Zealand releases the first commercially-available jet pack! Read More
The age of unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs has well and truly dawned but designers aren't resting on their laurels when it comes to improving the capabilities of these multi-talented aircraft. One innovation that's come to the fore recently is the use of an enclosed four rotor platform (see our recent look at the CyberQuad) which offers a number of advantages including greater stability, agility, hovering ability and a smaller footprint. This unique new design from Britain's VTOL Technologies takes this idea a step further, adding four movable rotors to a single "flying-wing" to create an aircraft that claims to deliver a higher payload capacity for its size and up to four times the endurance of current vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) UAV designs. Read More
If one rotor is good, four must be better. That’s the general idea behind the CyberQuad, a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Cyber Technology. The CyberQuad is an electric, remote-controlled reconnaissance platform that features four ducted rotors to provide lift and maneuverability, allowing the remote-control UAV to be used in urban and enclosed environments. The four rotors give the CyberQuad the payload capacity and stability of a helicopter-type UAV, while the ducted design avoids the dangers associated with exposed propellers. Read More
Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) employ a fixed wing design much like that of a traditional plane. But these designs offer limited maneuverability and payload capacity, require a runway to takeoff and land, and are unable to hover. Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs get around these problems, usually by employing rotors like a helicopter. Now UK-based company AESIR has developed a VTOL UAV that has no external rotating parts, instead relying on a phenomenon known as the Coanda effect to generate lift. Read More