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 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 (92 kts). The flight time is one hour with an all-electric power train. With a hybrid-electric power train, the flight time is three hours. The drone's maximum payload is 40 kg (88 lbs) in a standard configuration and the maximum payload is 20 kg (44 lbs) in a long range configuration. The maximum takeoff weight is 150 kg (331 lbs).
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 choosen 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 airraft 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
Maximum speed: 170 km/h (92 kts)
Flight time: 3 hours with hybrid / 400 km (216 NM), 1 hour electric
Maximum payload: 40 kg (88 lbs) in standard configuration, 20 kg (44 lbs) in long range configuration
Maximum takeoff weight: 150 kg (331 lbs)
Propellers: 4 propellers
Electric motors: 4 electric motors
Power source: Hybrid-electric or all electric
Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
Wings: 1 main high tilt-wing
Tail: 1 conventional tail with a downward vertical stabilizer
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.
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