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.