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UrbanAero Launches Full-Scale Development

Urban Aeronautics has launched full-scale development of its CityHawk hybrid-electric VTOL (see Vertiflite, Jan/Feb 2018). The vehicle will be developed at Urban’s subsidiary, Metro Skyways Ltd, with first manned flights in 2021–22, followed by full certification to US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FAR Part 27 requirements. The company said CityHawk’s “main advantage over helicopters and currently proposed eVTOL aircraft is its car-sized dimensions, resulting from its wingless, ‘rotorless’ design, combined with its significant payload of up [to] six occupants.” Initial development and testing will utilize two, 1,000 hp (750 kW)-class turboshaft engines coupled to electric power generators for operating the vehicle’s thruster propellers. “Upon the issuance of an FAA ‘Type Certificate’ for the basic air vehicle (in conjunction with our Canadian partner, Cert Center Canada … ), the company will transition the design of the main power supply for CityHawk to 100% clean, hydrogen propulsion,” the company announced. CityHawk is nearly identical the company’s 1 ton (1 t)-class unmanned variant, Cormorant, which has made more than 250 flights to date. Read more …

From Hummingbird to Cormorant

From Hummingbird to Cormorant Sidebar to “Compact Vertical Flight: Urban Aeronautics Advances“ By Kenneth I. Swartz Vertiflite, Jan/Feb, 2018 As a conscript, a young Rafi Yoeli served in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) as an air traffic controller, studied aeronautical engineering at Tel Aviv University and joined Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) in the late 1970s when it was improving the IAI 1124 Westwind business jet, designing the 1125 Astra business jet and state-of-the-art Lavi jet fighter, and developing the Scout UAV for the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). He then paused in his industry career to earn a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and doctorate in artificial intelligence from Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. Upon graduating, Yoeli founded Aero Design & Development (AD&D) in 1987 to provide consulting aeronautical engineering services to defense agencies and aerospace companies. Some of AD&D’s notable projects included the development of advanced flight control computers and software; development of the “Skylark” Mini-UAV (sold by Elbit to 20 nations); design of the Stingray unmanned maritime vessel; design and development of three different air-breathing jet powered UAV’s; and modification of an IAF MD500 helicopter to an unmanned role. As an IAF reservist, Yoeli also spent several days each month for almost 30 years managing the maintenance and battle damage repair of F-16, F-15 and F-4 fighter jets, as well as AH-1F, MD500 and CH-53 helicopters. Yoeli obtained his fixed-wing pilot license in 1980 and his helicopter pilot license in 1995, and soon began flying from home to his office in a Rotorway Exec helicopter. At about the same time, Yoeli became intrigued with early internal ducted rotorcraft such as the Hiller VZ-1 Pawnee one-man flying platform. (See “Walking on Air: Individual Flying Platforms of the Past, Present … and Future?” Vertiflite, Summer 2004.) In 1997, Yoeli designed, built and flew AD&D’s Hummingbird ducted fan flying platform kit, which was powered by four Hirth piston engines. Yoeli placed a small advertisement for Hummingbird kit aircraft in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Sport Aviation magazine for the kit. “I got more than 1,500 responses from the advertisement from people who wanted to buy the kit. But because the Hummingbird was designed to remain airborne after losing any one of its four single cylinder engines, when all engines where running it had a lot of extra power,” said Yoeli. “I decided not to sell the kit because I was concerned that irresponsible people would open up the throttle, climbing up rapidly and then getting hurt or worse.” Using major components from the Hummingbird, AD&D developed the Hornet UAV, which was first flown in early 2000. The design was optimized to fly a large payload above the duct that could provide 360-degree coverage. Yoeli’s interests then shifted to internally ducted tandem fan aircraft as represented by the Piasecki VZ-8Z and VZ-8P(B) AirGeeps developed with US Army funding in the late 1950s. (See “Driving on Air: 20th Century Flying Carpets,” Vertiflite, Spring 2005.) To explore the tandem fan concept, Yoeli bought two Hummingbird …

Compact Vertical Flight: Urban Aeronautics Advances

Compact Vertical Flight: Urban Aeronautics Advances By Kenneth I. Swartz Vertiflite, Jan/Feb, 2018 Urban Aeronautics is developing a family of quiet internal fan VTOL aircraft to fly almost anywhere. Imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when unmanned vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft stealthily cross urban battlefields, while piloted versions easily navigate crowded cities and quietly touchdown in confined areas inaccessible to conventional helicopters or winged VTOL aircraft. For the past 20 years, developing internal ducted rotorcraft has been the passion and profession of a team led by Dr. Rafi Yoeli, the founder and CEO of Urban Aeronautics Ltd, an Israeli company based in Yavne, 20 miles (30 km) south of Tel Aviv. UrbanAero is designing, manufacturing and marketing Fancraft, its family of multi-mission VTOL vehicles without external rotors. Yoeli designed, built and flew the Hummingbird, a single ducted flying platform in the mid-1990s (see sidebar) when he was running Aero Design & Development (AD&D). That company’s main business was providing aeronautical engineering consulting services to defense and aerospace companies, covering the civil and military fixed-wing, rotary-wing and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sectors. After he sold his shares in AD&D to Elbit Systems in 2003, Yoeli founded UrbanAero to develop a modern-day successor to the 1950s tandem internal rotor Piasecki VZ-8 AirGeep. The first focus for the twin-fan design was on the civil market, but the US military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the risk of conflict on Israel’s borders, shifted the focus towards the manned military X-Hawk and unmanned Cormorant (formerly called the AirMule). “Israel has some of the finest technical minds in the world, and Rafi knows the best of the best,” said longtime rotorcraft industry engineer and customer advocate Jon Tatro, who worked on a joint Bell Helicopter-Urban risk reduction program on the X-Hawk in the mid-2000s. “He’s very good at getting what he needs and knows a lot of people.” Urban Aeronautics’ defense unit, Tactical Robotics Ltd, hovered its one-ton AirMule UAV for the first time in late 2009 near Yavne at Rishon LeZion airfield. Its renamed Cormorant UAV completed its first autonomous, untethered flight at Megiddo airfield in northern Israel on Dec. 30, 2015. The company has been expanding the flight envelope ever since. The Cormorant is designed to fly a 1,100 lb (500 kg) payload on utility and cargo missions and also undertake lifesaving battlefield casualty evacuation missions. (The Cormorant is weight-restricted to this maximum payload to comply with the international Missile Technology Control Regime, MTCR, treaty, which also applies to drones.) In April 2017, Metro Skyways Ltd, the manned aircraft unit of UrbanAero, announced plans to develop the five-seat CityHawk “flying car” over five years based on the Cormorant’s internal ducted fan system and chassis. Designed for air taxi and aeromedical use, the CityHawk will initially be powered by a gas turbine engine, but will be designed from the outset to convert to liquid hydrogen and eventually to 10,000 psi (700 bar) compressed hydrogen or electric battery power once those options become commercially …

Urban Aeronautics CityHawk

CityHawk Urban Aeronautics, Ltd. Yavne, Israel www.urbanaero.com Urban Aeronautics Ltd. has developed advanced aerodynamic technologies that are the basis for an entirely new family of internal rotor (ducted fan) aircraft known as Fancraft™. UrbanAero capitalizes on its extensive portfolio of Intellectual Property via two subsidiary companies, Tactical Robotics Ltd. and Metro Skyways Ltd., each of which is developing unique Fancraft™ for specific markets. UrbanAero’s unmanned military Fancraft is the Cormorant and has flown extensively since 2009, including autonomous free flights since Dec. 30, 2015. Metro Skyways Ltd., a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics plans to launch the design and development of a four-passenger, Vertical-Takeoff and Landing (VTOL), flying car based on Urban Aeronautics’ internal rotor, Fancraft™ technology. The vehicle will initially be powered by jet fuel, but will be designed from the outset to convert to liquid hydrogen and eventually also to 700 bar compressed hydrogen, once such options become commercially feasible.  Metro Skyways Ltd was established by Urban Aeronautics in 2013 to focus exclusively on developing Fancraft™ for the manned, civil market.  MSL will develop the CityHawk under a license to utilize UrbanAero’s 39 patents covering all aspects of Fancraft™ technology. CityHawk will be designed to meet FAA/EASA certification standards for manned VTOL aircraft. CityHawk is unique in combining a compact, car-sized design that has a four-passenger capacity, no exposed rotors or wings, no batteries and potential for zero carbon emissions.  Hydrogen’s only byproduct is water.  CityHawk is designed to achieve these qualities while meeting all design criteria that are the basis for eventual FAA/EASA certification.  This paves the way for true, unrestricted commercial viability. While CityHawk will initially be piloted by a human pilot, the vehicle’s flight control and flight management systems will be capable of a high degree of autonomy from the outset.  The technology is being developed and tested on Tactical Robotics’ Cormorant prototype which already flies fully autonomously. As the technology of autonomy and regulatory infrastructure mature, CityHawk will eventually transport passengers robotically. CityHawk’s future hydrogen power may rely on a direct feed of hydrogen into a state-of-the-art (FAA/EASA certified) turboshaft engine as an alternative to fuel cells, power conditioners, cables and electric motors.  This direct and compact conversion of hydrogen into shaft power, combined with UrbanAero’s unique Fancraft™ aerodynamics, makes CityHawk’s unique size and passenger capacity possible, while keeping an FAA/EASA certified primary power unit at the ‘heart of the machine’. A much larger version, the 14-seat Falcon XP (2 pilots and 12 passengers) has also been designed. Falcon XP Characteristics (updated January 2018) CityHawk Characteristics (updated January 2018) * @ Sea Level (Best Range Altitude); ISA Note: Mission weight = Basic Empty weight + Payload + 1/2 Fuel Specifications are subject to change without notice Resources Search eVTOL news posts Video: eVTOL.news YouTube video, Dec. 30, 2017 Article: Compact Vertical Flight: Urban Aeronautics Advances, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb, 2018 Article: From Hummingbird to Cormorant, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb, 2018 UrbanAero photos in the AHS Photo Gallery Tags: Urban Aeronautics, Lift + Cruise, Scaled Prototype, 5 Passengers, Electric/Hydrogen, Piloted, VFS Member

News from the 2017 Future of Transportation Conference

The UKi Future of Transportation World Conference was held 5-6 July in Cologne, Germany. The session on “Getting Transportation Off the Ground” focused on how electric VTOL and “personal airborne transportation systems (PATS) will shake up personal transportation before 2030. Mike Hirschberg (AHS) moderated the kick-off session and presented on “The Future of Vertical Flight,” which gave the background of the Transformative Vertical Flight initiative and an overview of the promise and progress of electric VTOL. [pdf slides] Italdesign gave an update of the Pop.Up project, and Airbus shared more details about the progress on their CityAirbus and Vahana eVTOL programs. Significant progress has been made on each, with sub-scale models of CityAirbus and Vahana having already flown. e-volo GmbH, based in Bruchsal, Germany, announced that they are officially changing their name to “Volocopter GmbH”. They discussed their upcoming demonstrations for Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA), as well as the new Volocopter 2X serial model. [pdf slides | video] Portuguese company Almadesign presented the very-Short Take-Off and Landing (vSTOL) Flexcraft designs, which will pair a hybrid-electric powerplant for fan-in-wing propulsion with a flexible, modular cabin for different missions. This 8-passenger concept sprang out of their NewFACE project. NewFACE is an initiative of Almadesign, INEGI, SET and Embraer Compósitos, while Embraer S.A. is part of the advisory board; Flexcraft also includes the Technical University of Lisbon. Different propulsion schemes are being considered, as well as fuel cells for energy storage. Almadesign is an innovative product design company with numerous electric vehicle and aviation projects in service. Urban Aeronautics announced that is beginning the development of the Falcon XP, a 12-passenger (plus 2 pilots) version of the 4-passenger (plus 1 pilot) Urban Aeronautics/Metro Skyways CityHawk. “The vehicle will initially be powered by jet fuel, but will be designed from the outset to convert to liquid hydrogen and eventually also to 700 bar compressed hydrogen, once such options become commercially feasible.” Updated and corrected 1/1/18.

Metro Skyways hydrogen-powered "flying car" (Urban Aero photo)

Metro Skyways Announces H2 “Flying Car”

PRESS RELEASE – April 17, 2017 Metro Skyways Ltd., a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics Announces Four Passenger Future Hydrogen Powered VTOL Flying Car Metro Skyways Ltd., a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics plans to launch the design and development of a four-passenger, Vertical-Takeoff and Landing (VTOL), flying car based on Urban Aeronautics’ internal rotor, Fancraft™ technology. The vehicle will initially be powered by jet fuel, but will be designed from the outset to convert to liquid hydrogen and eventually also to 700 bar compressed hydrogen, once such options become commercially feasible.  Metro Skyways Ltd (MSL), was established by Urban Aeronautics in 2013 to focus exclusively on developing Fancraft™ for the manned, civil market.  MSL will develop the CityHawk under a license to utilize UrbanAero’s 39 patents covering all aspects of Fancraft™ technology. CityHawk will be designed to meet FAA/EASA certification standards for manned VTOL aircraft. More: http://www.urbanaero.com/category/2017