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IO Aircraft Challenger SC

IO Aircraft Challenger SC high-performance hybrid-electric VTOL passenger aircraft


Challenger SC
IO Aircraft
Space Coast, Florida, USA

Drew Blair is a prolific aircraft designer who has developed designs from electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) to single stage to orbit space ships and more. In addition, Blair has made over 200 radio controlled jets, drones and three full-scale aircraft from scratch. He describes himself with having the engineering fluency in hypersonic physics, scramjet propulsion, combined cycle, missile platforms, single stage to orbit capabilities, hybrid-electric conventional aircraft, hybrid-electric VTOL, eVTOL aircraft and more.

Blair's website catalogs aircraft designs including the following:

  • A hypersonic commercial jetliner, luxury personal jet and business jet
  • Multiple hypersonic military aircraft (heavy bomber, fighter aircraft, cruise missile and long-range missile)
  • Multiple sizes of VTOL hypersonic passenger and cargo aircraft
  • A hypersonic cargo fixed-wing cargo aircraft with orbital capability
  • A single-stage to orbit cargo space ship
  • A Mach 10 aircraft
  • A Mach 15 aircraft
  • A hybrid-electric commercial jetliner
  • A hybrid-electric heavy-lift UAV drone for fire fighting
  • Multiple hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing eVTOL passenger aircraft for Urban Air Mobility and long haul passenger air transportation

Multiple hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing eVTOL passenger aircraft for Urban Air Mobility and long haul passenger air transportation

The Challenger SC is hybrid-electric VTOL high performance one pilot, five passenger aircraft concept design for advanced air mobility. The interior has a two by two seating configuration with larger than conventional windows providing passengers with better views. The cabin for Challenger SC is very comfortable, with dimensions to comfortable seat an adult male up to 6' 6" (1.98 m) and 300 lb (136 kg). The baggage compartment is in the rear of the aircraft. The aircraft is expected to have a cruise speed 287 mph (462 km/h) below 10,000 ft (3,048 m) and has a cruise speed of 460 mph (740 km/h) when above 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Additional aspect of these performance aspects, because it has a very high vertical thrust capacity, it can operate in higher altitude conditions.

The maximum altitude of the aircraft is 20,000 ft (6,096 km) and has a flight range 920 miles (1,480 km). The aircraft has an empty weight of 3,000 lb (1,361 kg), has a maximum payload of 2,000 lb (907 kg) and has a maximum takeoff weight 5,000 lb (2,268 kg). The aircraft is powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The aircraft has eight electric ducted fans with tandem wings. Four electric ducted fans are on the front wing and four electric ducted fans on the rear wings. The front wing is located near the bottom of the fuselage and the rear wings are high and are positioned on the top of the fuselage. The rear wings are the only wings on the aircraft with winglets.  The total length of the aircraft is  30' 11" (9.4 m) and the total span of the aircraft is 26' 2" (7.97 m).

The aircraft can take off and land conventionally, has the capability of short take off and landing (STOL) flight and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight. The Challenger SC is a new technology level for aerospace, incorporating a graphene airframe and skin, not carbon fiber or fiberglass. This means the aircraft itself, before adding hardware, propulsion, gear and etc., is only a fraction of the weight compared to carbon fiber composite construction.

The airframe is expected to be composite graphene structure  which provides the following properties:

  • A very thin two-dimensional, planar sheet of bonded carbon atoms in a dense, honeycomb-shaped crystal lattice but is incredibly strong (about 200 times stronger than steel)
  • Flexibility
  • Stiff
  • UV resistance
  • Fire resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Can reduce interlaminar shear failure
  • Reduces microcracking with a composite laminate
  • Impact resistance
  • Rust-free
  • Weatherproof
  • Reduce the detrimental effects of lightning strike damage
  • Has a longer service life than other composites
  • Conductivity (conductor of heat and electricity)
  • Green/Sustainability (Can be recycled from waste products such as biodiesel fuel)
  • Revolutionary

Graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice first isolated and characterized in 2004 by researchers at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. Graphane can also be fabricated in sheets comprising up to 10 or more carbon layers. Its founders Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. Graphene is hailed as a "wonder material". Some engineers have called graphene, basically magic.

Additionally, CVD based graphene is superconducting material, with well over 10X the current throughput vs copper, which then creates a super conducting magnetic field, providing well over 400% increased shaft horsepower being delivered to the Graphene EDF blades, which can cycle through 30,000 rpm, at less energy input vs if they were copper based brushless motors.

And since the EDF unit is multi staged for extremely high thrust output, each stage operates independently from the other which allows for maximum efficiently of the airflow.

The VTOL nozzles for this propulsion system can rotate to 95° providing a 1.5 to 1 thrust ratio at maximum passenger and fuel capacity. Additionally, the inboard nozzles can rotate laterally 15° but the outboard nozzles can rotate up to 90° rapidly (under one second) to provide a very superior control authority for both slow speed and hover flight. This results in maximum stability in turbulent and urban conditions and above 35 mph (56 km/h) gust stability.

Some of the safety features include Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), which means the aircraft has multiple propellers and electric motors, so in the event of a failure of one or two propellers or electric motors, the aircraft can still land safely. An additional major safety feature, if one of the propulsion systems fail, the other unit within it's nacelle will take up the entire load of the it's pair, and the aircraft can still land safety in VTOL mode if it is a light load or land conventionally at any airport in both STOL and conventional mode.

The estimated cost of the aircraft is $2,300,000.00 USD. The operating cost is $150.00 per hour for non advanced air mobility and per mile per passenger cost for advanced air mobility is approximately $1.00-$1.20 USD. The company foresees this aircraft as an on-demand air taxi, for business use, personal air transportation, air cargo, military use and more. There is no information at this time when prototypes will be built or when a production model might roll out of a factory.

Cutaway view in vertical flight mode

Cutaway view in vertical flight mode

Cutaway views

Cutaway views

Multiple views in forward flight

Multiple views in forward flight


  • Aircraft type: High-performance hybrid-electric VTOL passenger aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: 5 passengers
  • Cruise speed:  287 mph (462 km/h) below 10,000 ft (3,048 m). 460 mph (740 km/h) when above 10,000 ft (3,048 m).
  • Range: 920 miles (1,480 km)
  • Maximum altitude: 20,000 ft (6,096 km)
  • Empty weight: 3,000 lb (1,361 kg)
  • Maximum payload: 2,000 lb (907 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 5,000 lb (2,268 kg)
  • Propellers: 8 electric ducted fans
  • Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
  • Power source: Hydrogen fuel cells
  • Fuselage: Graphene composite
  • Windows: Larger than normal aircraft windows allowing forward, left, right visibility for spectacular views and the aircraft has a solid roof above the passenger compartment
  • Wings: Tandem wings
  • Landing gear: Retractable tricycle 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. Crash survivability include a Ballistic Recovery System (BRS), 5G crush resistance and the seats incorporate a scissor suspension system which in case of a hard landing or failure, will provide enormous shock absorption for the passengers.

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