IO Aircraft QC-1
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 QC-1 is a hybrid-electric VTOL heavy-lift high-performance UAV air cargo drone concept design. The drone is planned to be flown autonomously or by remote control. The estimated cruise speed will be 230 mph (370 km/h) and the range of the drone depends if there is no payload, a light payload or a heavy payload. The drone's range can be as far as 1,151 miles (1,852 km) without a payload and with a payload, the range is approximately 345 miles (556 km). The drone is a very versatile in terms of the interchangeability of of pods and equipment that the drone can carry.
The altitude is determined by the weight of the payload. For example you can have a maximum payload of 1,000 lb (454 kg) when the aircraft is flying between 0-5,000 ft (0-1,524 m). If you have a lighter payload of 750 lb (340 kg), the aircraft can travel between 5,000-13,000 ft (1,524-3,962 m). As some people know, many small drones today carry only small and light payloads and most larger boxes travel by truck. However, this pod could be used to speed up urban air cargo delivery by carrying heavy items such as bicycles, washing machines, refrigerators, lawn mowers and etc.
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.
Because the aircraft is a heavy-lift cargo drone, it can not only be used for carrying cargo but it can also be outfitted with specialized pods, such as holding fire retardant to put out forest fires or pods can be outfitted with agricultural spray equipment or seed spreaders. Other pods could be developed for many other types of air missions, such as medevac missions for transporting a patient and a paramedic to a hospital. When the drone does not use a pod and only has equipment attached to it such as a camera, then the drone has a much longer range for this type of mission.
In case of an unexpected landing in water, the aircraft's fuselage has been designed to float in water. In addition, the aircraft can be outfitted with flotation devices for water landings. There is a whole aircraft ballistic parachute system in case of a catastrophic failure of the aircraft.
When in flight, the drone's dimensions are 10.5 ft length X 10.5 ft width (3.2 m X 3.2 meters). The propeller nacelles fold down when not in use for storage, if there is a large cargo pod attached to it, and aircraft becomes 3 feet, 8 inches (1.12 meters) wide. Because the drone's nacelles fold down, the drone can not only easily be stored in a garage or building but can also be readily transported in cargo planes.
A big advantage of having a hydrogen-powered turbine generator because this type of power source greatly reduces the weight of the aircraft. This hydrogen-powered power source is lighter than traditional turbine engines or heavy battery packs. This weight saving increases the amount of payload, range and speed of the aircraft. The costs to operate the QC1 is much lower then conventional turbine based aircraft, because this aircraft is fueled by hydrogen, Blair estimates that using a hydrogen turbine will cut the cost of fuel for the aircraft by 90% when compared to conventional turbine engines.
Blair foresees the heavy-lift drone will be used for fire fighting, agricultural, search and rescue, utility companies, offshore oil companies, offshore windmills, ship-to-shore deliveries, medevac use, construction projects, mining operations, humanitarian aid, urban and rural air cargo, government use, military use and more. While the done was not created with the military in mind, the drone can be used for military logistics and can be weaponized.
The estimated cost of the aircraft is $300,000.00 USD and the cost of pods is an additional cost. 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: Hybrid-electric VTOL heavy-lift cargo drone
- Piloting: Autonomous or remote control
- Capacity: Cargo
- Cruise speed: 230 mph (370 km/h)
- Flight time: 90 minutes
- Range with payload: More than 345 miles (556 km)
- Range without payload: More than 1,151 miles (1,852 km)
- Maximum payload at 0-5,000 ft (0-1,524 m): 1,000 lb (454 kg)
- Maximum payload at 5,000-13,000 ft (1,524-3,962 m): 750 lb (340 kg)
- Propellers: 4 propellers
- Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
- Power source: Hybrid-electric hydrogen turbine engine
- Fuselage: Graphene composite
- Landing gear: Unknown
- Water landings: The aircraft can be outfitted with flotation devices for water landings.
- 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, the aircraft has a fireproof airframe and there is a whole aircraft ballistic parachute system. In case of an unexpected landing in water, the aircraft fuselage has been designed to float in water. There is a lithium battery backup providing five minutes for the aircraft providing time to land the aircraft safely. Once landed, the propeller nacelles fold against the sides of the fuselage for the safety on people on the ground.
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