IO Aircraft Skyline
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 Skyline is an electric VTOL high performance one passenger aircraft concept design for Urban Air Mobility and for personal travel. 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 instrument panel so the passenger can take control the aircraft. The aircraft is expected to have a cruise speed of 288-345 mph (464-555 km/h) with a flight range of 170 miles (274 km).
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 Skyline 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 perform aerobatic maneuvers such as barrel rolls and back flips.
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 four propellers and eight electric motors, so if several electric motors fail, the others will continue powering the propellers.
The aircraft is made of a graphene composite and has a very strong fuselage and in the event of a hard landing, the passengers will be safe. In the event of a water landing, the aircraft floats on water which will keep the passengers safe. The Skyline also comes equipped with a ballistic parachute in case of a catastrophic event.
The aircraft has fixed tricycle wheeled landing gear, with one wheel in the front and two wheels in the rear of the aircraft. Once landed, the propeller nacelles fold against the sides of the fuselage for the safety of people on the ground and to also allow the aircraft to fit nicely in a parking space or garage.
The estimated cost of the aircraft is $50,000.00 USD for FAR 103 certification or $80,000.00 USD for FAR 14 CFR certification. The company foresees this aircraft as an on-demand air taxi, for business use, personal air transportation and more. 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 passenger aircraft
- Piloting: Autonomous
- Capacity: 1 passenger
- Cruise speed: 288-345 mph (464-555 km/h)
- Range: 170 miles (274 km)
- Flight Time: Unknown
- Propellers: 4 propellers
- Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
- Power source: Battery packs
- Fuselage: Graphene composite fuselage
- Windows: Canopy over cockpit allowing forward, left, right and top visibility, for spectacular views
- Landing gear: Fixed tricycle wheeled landing gear, with one wheel in the front and two wheels in the rear of the aircraft
- 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. Once landed, the propeller nacelles fold against the sides of the fuselage for the safety of people on the ground.
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