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.
The aEro 3 will have the capacity to hold up to seven seats and is being designed for the medical supply transportation and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) markets. The aEro 3 aircraft will be faster and more efficient than a helicopter, because it takes off like a helicopter and then flies like a plane. The speed granted by this configuration will allow medical personnel to arrive to the scene of an accident far earlier, promoting better outcomes for any in dire need of emergency attention. The company plans to sell their aircraft to any helicopter or fixed-wing operator in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) business who would switch to an eVTOL aircraft.
In terms of costs, Dufour Aerospace says its aEro3 aircraft will be much less expensive than a conventional helicopter – about three times cheaper and nearly two times faster. In Switzerland, the company said the aEro3 will also be competitive monetarily against any ground ambulance and will be up to four times faster.
In 2016, the company built and flew one of the world’s first electric aerobatic planes, the aEro 1. As the company's entrance into the development of electric aircraft, the aEro 1 was extremely successful. Since then, Dufour Aerospace used simulators to test their eVTOL concept designs, tested and flew their subscale VTOL Technology Demonstrator 550 times, made plans for making and testing more subscale prototypes, and began preparations to make full scale production aircraft, the aEro 2 and aEro 3.
Sometime in 2020 or 2021, the aEro 3 aircraft was designated as a concept design aircraft.
- Aircraft type: hybrid-electric or eVTOL EMS aircraft
- Piloting: Piloted
- Capacity: 5 to 7 passengers
- Maximum speed: (217 mph) 350 km/h
- Range: 75 miles all (120 km) all electric and 497 miles (800 km) hybrid electric
- Propellers: 4 propellers
- Electric Motors: 4 electric motors for the propellers, unknown amount for the tilt-wing
- Power source: Turbine engines, fuel cells or batteries
- Windows: Panoramic windows and doors design Wrap around window with forward, left and right visibility, with a solid roof above for spectacular and useful views
- Wing: Tilt-wing with flaps
- Tail: Has a conventional tail with a downward ventral fin
- Tail thruster: There are two propellers inside the rear of the tail, one providing thrust up and the other providing thrust down for additional flight control
- Landing gear: Tail dragger configuration with two fixed front wheels and one fixed rear tail dragger wheel
- 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. The aircraft can also land like an airplane if a complete failure of the electric motors occur.
- 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
- Article: Valais start-up Dufour Aerospace is ready for take off, Switzerland Global Enterprise, Apr. 23, 2020
- Blog post: Dufour completes first phase of VTOL tech demonstrator flight testing, Dufour, July 27, 2020
- Article: aEro 3 wind tunnel test campaign, Dufour Aerospace, Aug. 16, 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