Dufour Aerospace Aero2 (cargo drone)
Aero2 (cargo drone)
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 advanced air mobility (AAM) 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 AAM 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 tilt-wing aircraft.
The Aero2 hybrid-electric (or all electric) VTOL tilt-wing cargo-only remote piloted (or autonomous) drone. The aircraft's maximum speed is 170 km/h (105 mph) and its maximum range with a hybrid-electric power source is 400 km (249 m). The flight time with a hybrid-electric power train is three hours and with an all-electric power train, the flight time is one hour. The drone's maximum payload is 40 kg (88 lb) in a standard configuration and the maximum payload is 20 kg (44 lb) in a long range configuration. The maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft is 150 kg (331 lb).
The high main tilt-wing has four propellers on the leading edge of the wing and the cargo is loaded in the front of the aircraft. The aircraft's tilt-wing configuration was chosen for high-load and long distance air travel. The tail is a conventional tail with a downward vertical stabilizer. The landing gear has front fixed wheeled landing gear with a tail dragger landing gear configuration. While the aircraft is made for vertical takeoffs and landings, the aircraft can land like an airplane in an emergency.
In early October 2022, the company carried out test flight with its Aero2 prototype aircraft and their smaller software testing platform called the AeroMini. The Phase 1 flights include hover tests and Phase 2 flights include transition flights.
On November 4, 2022, Spright (USA) announced the purchase of 40 Aero2 cargo drone aircraft with options for additional 100 aircraft. The company states this is their largest commitment by an operator to-date for the Aero2 design and one of the largest civilian unmanned aerial vehicle purchases in U.S. history.
The company expects the aircraft to not only be used for air cargo in urban and remote areas but also for search and rescue (SAR) operations (with a camera or infrared equipment) and long endurance terrain and infrastructure surveillance.
- Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric or all electric VTOL cargo drone
- Piloting: Remote or autonomous
- Capacity: Cargo only (front loading)
- Maximum speed: 170 km/h (105 mph)
- Flight time: 3 hours for a hybrid-electric power source, 1 hour for an all electric power source
- Range: 400 km (249 m) for a hybrid-electric power source
- Maximum payload: 40 kg (88 lb) in standard configuration, 20 kg (44 lb) in long range configuration
- Maximum takeoff weight: 150 kg (331 lb)
- Propellers: 4 propellers
- Electric motors: 4 electric motors
- Power source: Hybrid-electric or an all electric power source
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Wings: 1 main high tilt-wing
- Tail: 1 conventional tail with a downward vertical stabilizer
- Landing gear: Fixed wheeled tail dragger configuration
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies in the sub-systems of the aircraft. The drone can land as a conventional airplane in an emergency.
- Dufour Aerospace VTOL Technology Demonstrator
- Dufour Aerospace aEro 2 (defunct)
- Dufour Aerospace aEro 3 (defunct)
- Dufour Aerospace Aero3 (production design)
- Dufour Aerospace website
- Dufour Aerospace Facebook
- Dufour Aerospace Twitter
- Dufour Aerospace YouTube
- Dufour Aerospace LinkedIn
- Article: Dufour Aerospace launches Aero2 – the “Swiss Army Knife” of small unmanned aircraft, Dufour Aerospace, Nov. 4, 2021
- Article: Dufour Aerospace and Blueberry Aviation enter a long-term commercial partnership, Dufour Aerospace, Apr. 4, 2022
- Article: Dufour Aerospace and V-STAR Powered Lift Aviation announce partnership, Dufour Aerospace, July 12, 2022
- Article: Dufour Aerospace completes successful trials with Elsight's Halo connectivity solution, Dufour Aerospace, July 26, 2022
- Video: Test flight with Aero2 at Dübendorf airfield, Dufour Aerospace, Oct. 3, 2022
- Article: Test flights at Dübendorf airfield, Dufour Aerospace, Oct. 3, 2022
- Article: Dufour Aerospace and RUAG to begin cooperation on unmanned aerial vehicles, Dufour Aerospace, Oct. 5, 2022
- Video: Dufour Aerospace eVTOL demonstrator full transition with sound, Dufour Aerospace, Oct. 14, 2020
- Article: Spright and Dufour Aerospace announce purchase for up to 140 Aero2 unmanned tilt-wing aircraft, Dufour Aerospace, Nov. 4, 2022
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