IO Aircraft Chippewa 350E
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 as 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 aircraft, 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
The Chippewa 350E is an all-electric VTOL heavy-lift passenger concept design aircraft, able to hold 14 passengers and two pilots for a grand total of 16 people. The aircraft can be flown by one pilot; however, the aircraft is outfitted with two pilot seats and can be flown with a pilot and copilot. In the future, the aircraft will most likely have the option to be flown by remote control or autonomously. The aircraft has a cruise speed of 345-403 mph (555-649 km/h) and a flight range of 1,151-2,302 miles (1,852-3,705 km) depending upon the payload of the aircraft.
The fuselage of the eVTOL aircraft has a similar look to the Short 360 commuter airplane (produced by Short Brothers between 1981-1991in Northern Ireland) and has retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear and the windows are about the same size as the Short 360. However, the eVTOL aircraft has several unique features. The Chippewa 350E has canard tilt-wings with a propeller placed on the front edge of the each wing (horizontally centered), each wing has winglets, the aircraft has no vertical or horizontal stabilizers on the tail, has two front doors (only), has a rear payload door and the retractable landing gear has twin-wheeled landing wheels.
The airframe is expected to be a composite graphene structure providing 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)
- UV resistance
- Fire resistant
- Can reduce interlaminar shear failure
- Reduces microcracking with a composite laminate
- Impact resistance
- 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)
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.
The rotors are variable pitch and articulating seven bladed propellers and have IO Aircraft's proprietary technology which makes the propellers very quiet and efficient. Each propeller is powered by two electric motors which increases the redundancy of the aircraft. If one or two electric motors fail on different propellers, the remaining electric motors will continue to power the aircraft. The wings of the aircraft are made to be foldable to reduce the ground footprint of the aircraft when parked, inside a hangar or garage. The foldable wings also make this aircraft very well suited for maritime flight operations.
The power source for this aircraft is battery packs. The battery packs are located under the floor of the aircraft and in the walls of each side of the aircraft. In addition, the designer has made this aircraft design to have interchangeable power sources. The aircraft could be powered by fuel cells or a turbine engine. For additional safety, the aircraft has a ballistic parachute in case of a catastrophic failure. If the aircraft does have an unexpected water landing, due to it's graphene composite fuselage, it can float on water.
The designer foresees the aircraft to be used for city-to-city environmentally safe air travel as well as other uses such as corporate travel, government travel, medevac missions (holds between 6-9 stretchers), air cargo and other uses.
The estimated cost of the aircraft is $8 million USD. The hydrogen fuel cell powered hybrid-electric VTOL Chippewa 350H is expected to have a sales price of $11 million USD. There is no information at this time (January 2022) when prototypes will be built or when a production model might roll out of a factory.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL medium class passenger aircraft
- Piloting: 2 pilots
- Capacity: 14 passengers (Can hold a grand total of 16 people, including two pilots)
- Cruise speed: 345-403 mph (555-649 km/h)
- Range: 1,151-2,302 miles (1,852-3,705 km)
- Flight Time: Unknown
- Cruise altitude: Unknown
- Empty weight: 12,000 lb (5,443 kg)
- Maximum payload: 10,000 lb (4,536 kg)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 22,000 lb (9,979 kg)
- Propellers: 4 propellers
- Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
- Power source: Battery packs
- Fuselage: Graphene composite
- Windows: Typical sized windows used by convention airplanes
- Wings: Canard tilt-wings
- Landing gear: Retractable tricycle twin-wheeled landing gear
- Safety features: Has eight electric motors, if one or two electric motors fail, the other electric motors can handle landing the aircraft safely. There are multiple redundant avionics and electrical systems and the aircraft has a fireproof airframe. In case of an unexpected landing in water, the aircraft fuselage has been designed to float in water. Once landed, the carnard tilt-wings fold against the sides of the fuselage for the safety on people on the ground. The aircraft has a whole aircraft ballistic parachute.
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