We are excited to announce that one of our significant partners – Dufour Aerospace – bring great news for electric aviation field. The reason is completion of going trough first testing phases of their tilt-wing e-VTOL called aEro 2.
On July 27, 2020, Dufour Aerospace announced that their engineering team finished initial phase of flight testing of their VTOL technology demonstrator aircraft. Over the course of 550 test flights, expanding the flight envelope incrementally, Dufour have demonstrated a high degree of stability and control in all conditions, including transitions from hover to cruise and back again.
With over 30 years of experience in Swiss commercial helicopter operations, Dufour showed to understand the real world requirements of VTOL aircraft. This expertise is backed up by close scientific collaborations with ETH Zurich and ZHAW. The company is aiming to build aircraft for rugged operation in harsh environments.
In 2016, Dufour presented their aEro 1, electric aircraft used mainly for aerobatics, able to fly up to 30 minutes aerobatic or 60 minutes in regular flight with a reserve of 15 minutes flight time. The project was praised for pioneering the field of electric aircraft. And not even four years later, Dufour come up with their brand new solution.
In their aEro 2, Dufour claim to draw inspiration from Canadair’s pioneering work fifty years ago with the CL-84 and their research has shown that tilt-wing convertible aircraft offer a high degree of safety and efficiency. The aircraft itself is very interesting – it uses tilt-wing design concept which keeps the wings constantly under airflow and therefore offers outstanding stability and control even in very slow flight. An efficient tail fan provides pitch control in hover flight and ensures that aEro 2 is robust against changes in center of gravity and gusty conditions.
Four motors (two on each side) then provide redundancy, with each motor temporarily able to provide twice the power to keep full hover capacity in case of a failure. The laminar airflow around the wing makes it less vulnerable to vortex ring state, strong wind and gust conditions in hover than any other aircraft.
Although the projects is still under development, it could already show its possibilities. Felix Rubin, lead engineer for aerodynamics, commented, “At larger scales, slipstream airflows over tilting wings become more turbulent and harder to predict, and care is needed to ensure that the aircraft remains stable during transition. With this large-scale unmanned aircraft, we’ve now been able to demonstrate that we can achieve that stability at high Reynolds numbers.”
“The goal for us ultimately is to develop a vehicle that is a helicopter replacement, particularly for medical transport,” said Jasmine Kent, chief technology officer of the project. “We believe there is a big opportunity in the market for an aircraft that can do medical transfer flights faster and much more cheaply than a helicopter.” She then declared Dufour aims to begin manufacturing a full-sized experimental VTOL prototype next year, with flight testing to begin with a human test pilot by 2022, if “there are no hiccups along the way.”
We are proud that altogether with Dufour Aerospace team we are on the right way to tune the system towards the full scale prototype. Except complex motor management we talk about electric motor possibilities and battery pack design for the final stage of the project.