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GKN Aerospace CTO Challenge (technology demonstrator)

CTO Challenge passenger eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft artist's rendition

 

CTO Challenge (technology demonstrator)
GKN Aerospace
Severn Beach, South Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
www.gknaerospace.com

GKN Aerospace was founded in the United Kingdom and can trace its origins back to 1759 during the birth of the industrial revolution. The company is a long running business known for many decades as Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds. During the 20th Century the company was mainly known for steel production but then branched out into tooling and component manufacturing. Eventually the company shifted away from steel during the 1980s and focused more on aerospace, automotive and industrial services. The company's aerospace division dates back to 1939 when they made Spitfire fighter aircraft (a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft) for the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom) during World War II. GKN Aerospace is the world’s leading multi-technology tier 1 aerospace supplier. As of 2023, the company employees 15,000 people working in 41 manufacturing sites across 13 countries.  (Image credit: GKN Aerospace)

In 2021, the company announced it received a four-year, £125 million (GBP) ISCF program from the UK Research and Innovation to develop more sustainable aviation solutions and maintain the United Kingdom’s decarbonization goals. The company has designed and built a passenger electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) prototype for advanced air mobility (AAM).

A small but important picture revealing that GKN Aerospace manufactured a full-scale eVTOL technology demonstrator

A small but important picture revealing that GKN Aerospace manufactured a full-scale eVTOL technology demonstrator

CTO Challenge passenger eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft
The CTO Challenge is a passenger eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft. The company made subscale and full-scale technology demonstrators. The technology demonstrator is scalable to larger sizes. The prototype was made to design, study and test eVTOL aircraft for the future Skybus project that is a collaborative project between GKN Aerospace, Swanson Aviation Consultancy, Pascall+Watson and Connected Places Catapult companies.

Very few specifications of the technology demonstrator have been revealed by GKN Aerospace; however, the aircraft has four rotating ducted propellers, uses four electric motors and is powered by battery packs. The aircraft has a type of box wing (or joined wing) with the fuselage and cockpit in the center of the aircraft. A closed wing design aims to reduce wingtip vortices and provide additional structural strength to the entire structure of the aircraft. Using wings on any eVTOL or hybrid-electric VTOL passenger or cargo aircraft increases the range of the aircraft which in turn increases the usefulness of the aircraft to any company and passengers using the aircraft.

There is a canopy over the cock pit and the fuselage and wings are made from carbon fiber composite materials. The landing gear consists of fixed quadricycle wheeled landing gear.

CTO Challenge logo printed on the GKN Aerospace subscale technology demonstrator revealed at a trade show

CTO Challenge logo printed on the GKN Aerospace subscale technology demonstrator revealed at a trade show

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Passenger eVTOL prototype aircraft
  • Piloting: Remote piloting
  • Capacity: Unknown
  • Cruise speed: Unknown
  • Propellers: 4 rotating ducted propellers
  • Electric motors: 4 electric motors
  • Power source: Battery packs
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Window: Canopy over cockpit
  • Wings: 1 box wing with four flaps
  • Landing gear: Fixed quadricycle wheeled landing gear
  • 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 of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft. The aircraft can land conventionally if needed in an emergency.

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