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Dufour Aerospace VTOL Technology Demonstrator

Dufour Aerospace VTOL technology demonstrator.

 

VTOL Technology Demonstrator
Dufour Aerospace
Visp, Switzerland
www.dufour.aero

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). Thomas Pfammatter is Dufour Aerospace’s Co-founder & CEO, Dominique Steffen Co-founder and Jasmine Kent 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 from your home to anywhere you want over five times faster than a car but at the same cost per kilometer in both mountain and rural transportation. 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. 

On July 27, 2020, the company announced it had completed the first phase of flight testing of its subscale VTOL Technology Demonstrator, the tests will be used for both the aEro 2 and aEro 3 production models. The company made 550 test flights, expanding the flight envelope incrementally and have demonstrated a high degree of stability and control in all types of conditions, including transitions from hover to cruise and back again and very slow flight. The tail fan provides pitch control in hover flight and ensures the aircraft is robust against changes in center of gravity and gusty wind conditions. Dufour has stated the aircraft does stay level during forward and back transitions and the aircraft can also perform back transitions while descending. 

As of September 2020, the company is still in the design process for the full scale experimental prototype and plans on building the full scale prototype in 2021. The certified production aircraft will be built several years after this. The company plans to sell their aircraft to any helicopter or fixed-wing operator which needs eVTOL aircraft which can fly like a helicopter with the efficiency and speed of a plane. 

In terms of history, in 2016, the company built and flew one of the world’s first electric aerobatic planes, the aEro 1 to start working with electric aircraft the aEro 1 was extremely successful. Since then, Dufour Aerospace has used simulators to test their eVTOL concept designs, has tested and flown their subscale VTOL Technology Demonstrator 550 times, have made have planes for making and testing more subscale prototype testing, and finally, the company will then proceed to make full scale production aircraft, the aEro 2 and aEro 3

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: hybrid-electric VTOL or eVTOL tilt-wing subscale demonstrator aircraft 
  • Piloting: Remote control 
  • Capacity: 0
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Range: Unknown 
  • Propellers: 4 propellers
  • Electric Motors: Unknown. More the four, electric motors are needed for the propellers and to move the tilt-wing
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Composite monocle with some aluminium 
  • Wing: Tilt-wing with flaps
  • Wing span: 14.8 ft (4.5 m)
  • 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 rear tail dragger skid
  • 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. 

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