Flexcraft Utility Concept
Flexcraft (Flexible Aircraft) is a company which designs several types of VTOL aircraft with a variety of energy sources such as hybrid-electric and fuel cells. The company partners with mostly Portuguese based companies including Almadesign, the Technical University of Lisbon’s Instituto Superior Técnico, the Institute of Mechanic Engineering and Industrial Management at the University of Porto, Simultaneous Engineering Technology S.A., Embraer Compósitos and with Embraer S.A.
The Flexcraft Utility Concept design pairs a hybrid-electric powerplant for fan-in-wing propulsion with a flexible, modular cabin for different missions. Different propulsion schemes are being considered, as well as fuel cells for energy storage.
Almadesign is an industrial design company founded in 1997 that specializes in innovative green transportation and interior concepts, with numerous electric vehicle and aviation products now in service. According to the company website, Almadesign’s “core competencies — industrial design and design management — are focused on structuring methodologies for product development and industrial innovation. Almadesign drives innovation through design, developing human-centric technology-based solutions, mainly for Transports, Product and Interiors.”
Almadesign officially launched the NewFACE consortium in June 2012, and presented the culmination of the project at the Paris Air Show in June 2015. The New Future Aircraft Configurations for Eco-Efficiency (FACE) consortium included Almadesign, INEGI, SETsa and Embraer Compósitos, as well as the partnership with Embraer S.A.
NewFACE aimed to develop new aircraft concepts for the future (2030) of civil aviation focused on eco-efficiency and passenger’s needs. According to the company, “NewFACE uses a holistic approach to aeronautical design, integrating right from the start, the full product and operation lifecycle.” NewFACE was co-funded by the Portuguese National Strategic Framework Programme (QREN) under the Operational Program for Competitiveness Factors (COMPETE) and the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and resulted in three designs: a long-range executive jet, a box wing commercial aircraft, and a very-Short Take-Off and Landing (vSTOL) flexible aircraft design called the “Flexcraft.”
The Flexcraft project is being further developed as a development effort running from Dec. 2016 to Dec. 2019, with continued funding via COMPETE 2020, Portugal 2020 and ERDF. (Embraer S.A. continues its participation as the consortium’s advisory board.) The project will conclude with flight testing an unmanned prototype, the completion of a full-scale cabin module mock-up, and a materials and production process demonstrator.
The 2015 NewFACE design seated a total of 10 passengers with a reconfigurable cabin including changing the seat arrangement based upon the amount of passengers there will be, to removing all the seats for cargo-only air transportation. The aircraft has an estimated range of 926 km (575 m), an empty weight of 1,814 kg (4,000 lb), a maximum take-off weight of 3,239 kg (7,140 lb) and a maximum fuel volume of 532 liters (140 g). Flexcraft is planning on developing technical specifications and concept definitions for an eight seat aircraft.
The company has now designed the Flexcraft RPV, the Flexcraft Utility Concept, the Flexcraft VERA and the Flexcraft VERA II.
- Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft for passengers and cargo, or cargo-only flights
- Piloting: 1 pilot
- Capacity: 9 passengers
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Range: 926 km (575 m)
- Power source: Hybrid-electric power source
- Empty weight: 1,814 kg (4,000 lb)
- Maximum payload: 1,425 kg (3,140 lb)
- Maximum take-off weight of 3,239 kg (7,140 lb)
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Windows: Panoramic windows with a wrap around window design allowing forward, left, right visibility, for spectacular views with a solid roof above the passenger compartment
- Windows: Canopy over cockpit
- Wings: 1 main high wing
- Tail: Twin tail boom
- Landing gear: Retractable landing gear
- Safety features: Can land almost anywhere using VTOL propellers or land conventionally like a plane.