Aurora’s XV-24A LightningStrike, DARPA’s experimental Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft is ever so close to becoming a reality as it passed another developmental goal by clearing its subscale flight tests in early March, Aurora Flight Sciences reports.
The unmanned aircraft is designed to represent and demonstrate the technical abilities of the full scale the 61-foot wingspan, 12,000-pound electric aircraft, which will only be manufactured if this subscale demonstrator passes all the tests. The VTOL electric aircraft weighs around 325 pounds and uses a single lithium battery to store all the power. The demonstration includes converting into and out of forwarding flight from a hover, with a full-size version expected to begin flight tests in late 2018 given everything goes smoothly with the demonstrator.
“We have pursued, developed and flown an extraordinary aircraft and matured key and innovative technologies in support of the future of vertical flight,” said Aurora Founder and CEO John Langford. “This is clearly an achievement like no other, and will be surpassed only by the flight of the full-scale aircraft.”
Conventional VTOL aircraft give the speed of conventional winged aircraft while it can also hover above on location like a helicopter, but the ability comes at a compromise of not excelling at either of the tasks. Aurora’s XV-24A LightningStrike program looks to change that, as the design employs 24 electric fans all along its wings and canard, which will help the subscale prototype to zoom around at top speeds of 300 – 400 knots (345 – 460 mph), twice as fast as most helicopters. But it’s not only fast as the unique assembly of fans will also improve its hovering efficiency by 15 percent.
VTOL aircraft are mainly used by the military at the moment, but the technology is now also been taken up into civilian realms, such as Airbus looking to build cars that can transform into quadcopters to solve the traffic congestion problem and Uber toying with VTOL aircraft for flights around cities.
Visit http://www.aurora.aero/lightningstrike to learn more about Aurora and the capabilities of the LightningStrike VTOL X-Plane,