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IO Aircraft Chippewa 350M

IO Aircraft Chippewa 350M military hybrid-electric VTOL passenger/weaponized aircraft

 

Chippewa 350M
IO Aircraft
Des Moines, Iowa, USA
www.ioaircraft.com

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 350M is a hybrid-electric VTOL heavy-lift military weaponized passenger concept design aircraft, able to hold 14 passengers and two pilots. The eVTOL aircraft can hold 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 aircraft has a similar look to the Short 360 commuter airplane (produced by Short Brothers in Northern Ireland between 1981-1991), has retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear and the windows are about the same size but after that, 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 tail vertical or horizontal stabilizers, have two front doors (only), has a rear payload door and the retractable landing gear has twin-wheeled landing wheels. This super hybrid-electric VTOL medium lift aircraft in the same class as the U.S. Army's Black Hawk helicopter and has a maximum payload of 6,000-8,000 lb (2,722-3,629 kg) depending upon the density altitude.

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)
  • 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.

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. There are also two turbine type like nacelles on the top rear of the aircraft.

The power source for this aircraft is 88 hydrogen fuel cells and 2 turbine engines using petroleum fuel, making the aircraft have dual power sources. The aircraft can fly on its own using only the fuel cells, the turbine engines alone or use both power sources at the same time. When using both power sourced during flight, the aircraft will increase its cruise speed, cargo carrying capability, maximum altitude and range. The only factor determining the maximum flight characteristics the aircraft has is determined by the weight of the payload. A lower payload weight increases all flight specifications.

The aircraft's fast speed and low noise will help the military in combat situations due to the low decibels the aircraft creates and could fly by the enemy before they realize what just whizzed by them. The aircraft is weaponized for military operations. 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 estimated cost of the aircraft is $8 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. Blair states on his website that all the technologies needed for this aircraft are already developed and the aircraft could immediately be put into serial production.

Chippewa 350M weapons configuration

Chippewa 350M weapons configuration

Chippewa 350M multiple views of the aircraft

Chippewa 350M multiple views of the aircraft

Chippewa 350M seating information

Chippewa 350M seating information

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: eVTOL medium class passenger aircraft
  • Piloting: 3 crew
  • Capacity: 20 passengers
  • Cruise speed: 401 mph (249 km/h)
  • Range: 1,151 miles (1,852 km) fuel or fuel cells / 2,302 miles (3,704 km) using both fuel and fuel cells
  • Flight Time: Unknown
  • Cruise altitude: Unknown
  • Maximum payload: 6,000-8,000 lb (2,722-3,629 kg)
  • Doors: 2 large front doors, 1 rear bay payload door
  • Propellers: 4 propellers
  • Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
  • Turbines: 2 turbine like nacelles on the top rear of the aircraft
  • Power source: 88 hydrogen fuel cells and 2 turbine engines using petroleum fuel, making the aircraft have dual power sources
  • 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 canard tilt-wings fold against the sides of the fuselage for the safety on people on the ground.

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