Aurora Flight Sciences’ XV-24A LightningStrike subscale vehicle demonstrator (SVD) aircraft completed its planned flight test program in early March. Funded by DARPA, the SVD successfully demonstrated key technical features that the full-scale XV-24A will perform, including transition flight.

The XV-24A is a tiltwing unmanned aircraft that will be powered by a distributed electric propulsion system. Twenty-four variable pitch ducted fans driven by electric motors provide thrust for both hover and cruise. The XV-24A is being developed with the goal of achieving a top sustained flight speed of 300–400 kt (550– 750 km/h), with a 15% increase in hover efficiency and a two-fold increase in speed over helicopters.

The SVD aircraft is a 325 lb (150 kg) lithium battery-powered scale model of the 12,000 lb (5.4 t), 61 ft (18.6 m) wingspan XV-24A. As part of the DARPA VTOL X-Plane effort, the sub-scale vehicle demonstrator (SVD) has completed 10 flight tests, over four months of flight testing, including a full transition to and from wing-borne flight. Previously, Aurora also conducted two iterations of half-model wind tunnel tests. The wind tunnel and flight tests validated the full-scale XV-24A configuration, aerodynamics database, control allocation and blending of the over-actuated system, the avionics architecture, and the flight/ mission control algorithms and software. The SVD has a single string of the triple-redundant fly-by-wire system of the full scale XV-24A. The SVD will remain in flight status to supplement the full-scale XV-24A flight test program as necessary, currently scheduled to begin in late 2018.   

More: Aurora press release, April 4, 2017: LightningStrike XV-24A Demonstrator Successfully Completes Subscale Flight Test Program

Source: Vertiflite magazine, May/June 2017.

1 Comment

  1. In most recent DARPA video on 4/3/17, transition from vertical to horizontal did not appear to be complete, only partial transition, then back to vertical. Never saw full horizontal flight. Not a great video, …couldn’t really tell how stable it was during the test and some of it looked edited. It would have been nice to see the complete process from ground cameras, perhaps placed in different locations to get multiple views. The music was also a distraction indeed.

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