Founded in 2017, Dufour Aerospace, a Switzerland based company, is in the business of making hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for fast and clean Urban Air Mobility (UAM) operations. Thomas Pfammatter is Dufour Aerospace’s Co-founder & CEO. He operates alongside Dominique Steffen, a Co-founder of Dufour, and Jasmine Kent, who functions as Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer. The company has over 30 years experience in Swiss commercial helicopter operations and building their UAM aircraft for rugged operations in harsh environments with high performance parameters.
Dufour Aerospace's goal is to manufacture and sell hybrid-electric and electric tilt-wing VTOL aircraft. They maintain that such aircraft allow transport to and from any location at five times the speed of a car but at the same cost per kilometer in mountainous and rural environments. The company proposes their aircraft can perform more than 80 percent of today's helicopter operations. The company notes that it was inspired by Canadair’s pioneering work 50 years ago with the CL-84 tiltwing aircraft.
Dufour Aerospace announced on March 7, 2018 that it was developing a tilt-wing eVTOL called the "aEro2." The company stated that the aEro2 would build on the success of its aEro 1 electric CTOL aerobatic plane. The eVTOL aEro2 will use a modular hybrid-electric power system.
The company says "Our aircraft uses a proven 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) 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." The winged design of aEro 2 ensures if that any rotors fail, the aircraft can land on an airfield.
The company's aEro 1 eCTOL aircraft was started in March 2015 and first flew in June 2016. Dufour began the first conceptual designs of aEro 2 in Sept. 2016. In Dec. 2017, the company began testing different concepts (especially tilt-wing and tilt-rotor) and the first model prototypes to simulate different steering and flying configurations. By March 2018, Dufour the company had tested different scale models for a total of 20 flight hours in real flight conditions in all configurations. The company highlighted its inspiration from the Canadair CL-84 tiltwing demonstrator.
In Jan. 2018, the company flew a full flight simulation of the full-scale aircraft in the simulator. The full-scale configuration of the aircraft had with all the basic parameters, like weights, balance, aerodynamic profiles, power and RPM settings.
In Oct. 2018, the company stated that it planned to conduct flights with a one-third scale aircraft. The company said it would also have the final CFD simulation results to freeze the design. Dufour said it intended to have a working prototype in 2019. However, little was announced by the company about the progress until July 27, 2020, when it released a short video on YouTube of the now four-propeller concept and a blog post, which began:
Building on our experience in manned electric flight with our aerobatic plane aEro 1, we are proud to announce that we have completed the first phase of flight testing of our VTOL technology demonstrator aircraft. Over the course of 550 test flights, expanding the flight envelope incrementally, we have demonstrated a high degree of stability and control in all conditions, including transitions from hover to cruise and back again.
-- Dufour Aerospace, July 27, 2020
More subscale prototype testing is being planned and then finally, the company will then proceed to make full scale production aircraft, the aEro 2 and aEro 3.
- Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric or eVTOL aircraft
- Piloting: Piloted or autonomous
- Capacity: 2 passengers
- Cruise speed: 320 km/h (199 mph)
- Range: 800 km (497 miles)
- Window: Panoramic wrap around windows with forward, left and right visibility for spectacular views by the passengers.
- Wing: High tilt-wing with flaps and winglets
- Tail: Has a conventional tail plus a downward ventral fin
- Landing gear: Tail dragger fixed landing gear, with small rear wheel
- Noise: Low noise and low downwash profile
- Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. In case of total power failure to the propellers, the aircraft can also land like an airplane.
- Dufour Aerospace website
- Dufour Aerospace Twitter
- Dufour Aerospace YouTube
- Dufour Aerospace LinkedIn
- Podcast: Dufour Aerospace Co-Founder Thomas Pfammatter on the aEro2 VTOL Electric Aircraft, Aerospace Engineering Blog, July 10, 2018
- Article: Dufour Aerospace announces aEro 2 hybrid eVTOL aircraft, Vertical Magazine, Mar. 7, 2018
- Article: Dufour Unveils electric VTOL tiltwing, Electric VTOL News, Mar. 31, 2018
- Blog post: Dufour aEro 2 Design Philosophy, Dufour, Sept. 5, 2018
- Article: Our vision for Regional Air Mobility, Dufour Aerospace, Feb. 27, 2019
- Blog post: Dufour completes first phase of VTOL tech demonstrator flight testing, Dufour, July 27, 2020
- Video: Interview with Thomas Pfammatter & Jasmine Kent of Dufour 1, Vertical Flight Society, Sept. 10, 2020
- Article: Dufour Aerospace talks about its latest VTOL project in Vertical Flight Society webinar, eVTOL Insights, Sept. 15, 2020
- Article: Archer and Dufour Aerospace added to SMG Consulting's AAM reality index, eVTOL Insights, Feb. 16, 2021