London, England, United Kingdom
In September 2017, Bret Lessard founded rFlight and is the lead project manager of the company. The corporate office is based in London, England, United Kingdom and use a TE Connectivity lab space for their prototypes in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, California, USA. rFlight is a project from rLoop which started in 2015.
rFlight's goal is to make a one (1) passenger autonomous Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft which then transitions easily from vertical flight (take off) to horizontal flight and the reverse. The goal of rFlight is to make an personal aircraft that anyone can fly or "the motorcycle of the sky". A 1/5 scale prototype for the GoFly Prize competition was initially flown in January of 2019. (Graphic credit above: rFlight)
The aircraft has a has delta wing shape and takes off and lands vertically but then transitions to horizontal flight. The passenger is in an open-air cockpit wearing a helmet with a visor which covers the person's entire head (like a motorcycle helmet) and there is a harness which holds the person in the cockpit during all phases of flight. However, no mention has been made yet to any emergency equipment should the motors fail or the passenger needs to bail out for any reason.
The aircraft is currently powered by an internal combustion engine and the team is looking into all-electric propulsion as well. At the tail of the vehicle, there are two tandem propellers shrouded in ducted housings next to each other. The number of propellers in each ducted fan has not been mentioned by the team. The N217RL model has only one (1) ducted fan system in the rear of the aircraft for propulsion as compared to the rFlight rWing model with two (2) ducted fans in the rear for propulsion.
Air rushing past your body and the vehicle not in your line of sight creates a truly unique flight experience - a recreational vehicle for the bold and the adventurous. A motorcycle for the sky.
Power from a 104 kW two-stroke engine drives a custom configuration of propellers, designed to minimize noise signature by allowing only one blade to cross at any time rather than multiple simultaneous crossings typical in a standard configuration.
The team states that the delta wing features a uniquely designed leading edge fixed slat and Hoerner wing tips to increase efficiency while in cruise, differentiating it from a more conventional quadcopter-inspired design which is inefficient in forward flight, as well as limited fixed airfoil designs such as canard and rectangular wing forms.
The N217RL is being billed as an innovative vertical takeoff and landing Personal Adventure Vehicle (PAV), designed for safety, efficiency, and performance. The N217RL model is a competition vehicle and technology demonstrator that has been optimized for the Boeing-sponsored GoFly Prize and is now being built to fly in 2019. As of November 2020, the team is planning to initiate remote tests of the aircraft utilizing a prototype displayed at the GoFly Final Fly Off. They are also developing a hybrid power source to replace the working model's gas engine, and are in the process of seeking funding.
- Aircraft type: ICE VTOL (future will be all-electric)
- Capacity: 1 passenger
- Pilot controls: 2 joy sticks. Crewed, remote or autonomous flight.
- Pilot seat/cockpit: During vertical take-off and landing, pilot is standing, as the aircraft tilts for forward flight, the pilot is in the prone position. Pilot is in an open cockpit with no window.
- Flight time: 20 minutes
- Propellers: 2 four-bladed ducted contra-rotating propellers
- Powerplant: 104 kW two-stroke engine
- Wing: Delta wing with additional forward wing (pilot lays in prone position in the middle of the delta wing during forward flight)
- Duct: 1 ducted housing for the 2 propellers
- Flaps: 12 rear flaps behind the propellers for directional control
- Stabilizers: 2 slightly curved vertical stabilizers located on the outside of the propeller duct
- Landing gear: Two skids which double as vertical stabilizers during forward flight
- Safety features: Passenger harness. Pilot required to wear full head helmet for safety.
- rFlight website
- rFlight N217RL web page
- Facebook web page
- Twitter web page
- Instagram web page
- Article: The Motorcycle Of The Sky, TE Connectivity, no date for article
- Article: Co-founder of rLoop, winners of the Innovation award at SpaceX Hyperloop competition, comes to Bucharest Technology Week, Business Review, May 14, 2018
- Article: The GoFly Competition Will Put Humans in the Sky, Curiosity, Mar. 1, 2019
- Article: An Award-Winning Hyperloop Company Sets Its Sights on Human Flight, Curiosity, Mar. 1, 2019
- Article: Here's Why So Many Breakthroughs Come Out of Big Competitions, Curiosity, Mar. 1, 2019
- Video: rFlight: Changing the Way the World Looks at the Sky, TE Connectivity, Aug. 5, 2019
- Video: rFlight: Taking human flight from inspiration to innovation, TE Connectivity, Aug. 20, 2019
- Article: AHS Supports GoFly!, Vertiflite, Nov/Dec 2017
- Article: Flying Solo: GoFly Advances Single-Passenger Air Mobility Solutions, Vertiflite, May/June 2019
- Article: GoFly Inspires Innovation, Vertiflite, May/June 2020
- Article: GoFly Teams Prepare to Fly Again, Vertiflite, Nov/Dec 2020