IO Aircraft Hornet
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 Hornet eVTOL is a high performance one passenger back-pack type flying concept design for Urban Air Mobility and for other applications. Piloting will be autonomous allowing any person to own and use the aircraft without the need to get a pilot's license. However, there will be a control stick and an instruments so the passenger can take manual control the aircraft.
The aircraft is expected to have a cruise speed of 63 mph (101 km/h) and has a range 50 miles (80 km). The Hornet can fly at extreme attitudes, can make sharp banks and turns, and stop very quickly. Blair forewarns potential passengers if they are afraid of heights, he doesn't recommend flying the back-pack aircraft.
Another option for the Hornet, is using it as an uncrewed UAV flight by autonomous control, radio controlled flight or using a GPS autopilot. This type of flight opens up more possibilities for the aircraft including emergency rescue, air cargo and possibly other applications.
The airframe is expected to be a graphene composite 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. The airframe for Hornet will be made mostly of a graphene composite that is 33 times stronger than titanium but only 1/50th of the weight. The nacelle mount will be a combination of composites and metals allowing the aircraft to have precision type flying maneuvers.
Some of the safety features include Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), which means the aircraft has multiple propellers and electric motors so that in the event of a failure of one propeller or electric motor, the aircraft can still land safely. In fact, the aircraft has two propellers and four electric motors, so if one or two electric motors fail, the others will continue powering the propellers.
The aircraft is made of a graphene composite and has a very strong fuselage. The skids are designed to crumple on the impact of 5G's, so even if it is a hard impact, the pilot can walk away with no more then a few scratches and bruises. The Hornet also comes equipped with a ballistic parachute in case of a catastrophic event.
The estimated cost of the aircraft is $50,000.00 USD. The company foresees this aircraft as personal air transportation, possibly emergency rescue and air cargo delivery. 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 personal back-pack flying device
- Piloting: Autonomous or piloted optional
- Capacity: 1 passenger
- Cruise speed: 63 mph (101 km/h)
- Range: 50 miles (80 km)
- Empty weight: 125 lb (57 kg)
- Maximum payload: 250 lb (113 kg)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 265 lb (120 kg)
- Propellers: 2 propellers
- Electric Motors: 4 electric motors
- Power source: Battery pack
- Fuselage: Graphene composite fuselage
- Landing gear: Fixed landing legs
- Safety features: Has four 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, the aircraft has a fireproof airframe and there is a whole aircraft ballistic parachute system.
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