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Technoplane Mini-Bee TR2 (concept design)

Mini-Bee TR2 hybrid-electric VTOL emergency medical service tandem tilt-wing concept design aircraft

 

Mini-Bee TR2 (concept design)
Technoplane
Moulines, Allier, France
www.mini-bee.com
www.technoplane.com

Based in France, Technoplane was founded in 2013 and is a data services and solution provider. In addition, Technoplane is also the coordinator of the aeronautical collaborative research and development team for hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) passenger and cargo aircraft. with multiple designs, all called the Mini-Bee. Technoplane is also developing several designs of a conventional takeoff and landing planes called the Beeplane.

The Mini-Bee collaborative project began in 2015 with a group of aviation enthusiasts, from multiple universities, sharing the common dream of creating hybrid-electric VTOL passenger aircraft to be efficient, safe, cost effective and practical for advanced air mobility (AAM). The team named their project Mini-Bee after the honeybee, which is known for its agility, efficiency and adaptability. In the beginning days, many sketches were drawn and standards were created. The name Mini-Bee is used for multiple unique VTOL aircraft designs that can look similar to or look completely different from each other.

The inventors presented their first mock-up of the Mini-Bee at the 2015 Paris Air Show in France. Initially, the Mini-Bee project was to study air transportation for individuals but then switched to air medical transportation. The inventors achieved a Level 1 technology readiness level (TRL1) in 2016. In the summer of 2017, the project team achieved a TRL2 with a subscale flying prototype and participated at the 2017 Paris Air Show. The subscale prototype was tested in a wind tunnel analyzing its aerodynamic properties and making adjustments to improve its performance. Also in 2017, the project team expanded to 15 universities and entered a TRL3 and had at least 10 industrial companies interested or participated in their research.

In 2018, the group made progress on the hybrid-electric configuration for their various aircraft and built a full-scale mock-up of one of their aircraft models. Overtime, the team grew with aeronautical engineers, designers, and experts in electric propulsion and energy management. The Mini-Bee team also showcased their aircraft at the 2019 Paris Air Show. In 2020, the inventors decided to make the Mini-Bee a modular design, allowing each aircraft model to fit into standard airliner cargo containers to make is easy to transport the aircraft to anywhere in the world. As of 2023, the inventors are continuing to make progress in design, flight tests and advanced simulation tools to improve the performance of each aircraft model in a wide range of weather and test conditions.

Timeline of Mini-Bee projects

  • 2015: Mock-ups drafted and designed, participated in the 2015 Paris Air Show
  • 2016: Detailed concept designs made, super structures designed, electronics and sensors integration started
  • 2017: Subscale model made and wind tunnel tested, participated in the 2017 Paris Air Show
  • 2018: Full scale prototype made
  • 2019: Continuation of working on multiple aircraft, participated in the 2019 Paris Air Show
  • 2020: Designed all aircraft models to be modular to make assembly easy and to make them easy to ship in airliner cargo containers to distribute them any place in the world
  • 2021-2023: The inventors continue to refine their designs and prototypes

The Mini-Bee TR2 hybrid-electric VTOL EMS tandem tilt-wing concept design aircraft
The Mini-Bee TR2 is a hybrid-electric VTOL three passenger emergency medical service (EMS) tandem tilt-wing concept design aircraft made to takeoff and land like a helicopter but have the cruise speed of an airplane. The Mini-Bee tilt-propeller aircraft has a series of multiple designs. Some designs are similar to each other and some designs are unique to themselves. With that said, the inventors plan on making as many systems and parts to be interchangeable on as many of the Mini-Bee models as possible.

The estimated cruise speed of the aircraft is 200 km/h (124 mph) and has a forecasted maximum cruise speed of 240 km/h (149 mph). The aircraft has a predicted range of 850 km (528 miles) and has an anticipated maximum altitude of 1,500 m (4,921 ft). The target empty weight of the aircraft is 850 kg (1,874 lb), has an estimated maximum payload weight of 350 kg (772 lb) and has a calculated maximum takeoff weight of 1,200 kg (2,646 lb).

The aircraft has tandem tilt-wings with one propeller near the end of each wing. The forward wing has two tractor propellers and the rear wing has two pusher propellers. There are two booms extending from the top of the cockpit's fuselage extending directly forward with one VTOL-only propeller on the end of each boom. There are two rear booms extending from the top rear of the fuselage extending directly rearward with one VTOL-only propeller at the end of each boom. There are two more booms near the top rear of the fuselage that extend perpendicular to the fuselage with one VTOL-only propeller at the end of both these booms. There are a total of ten propellers on the aircraft and according to the team's brochure, there are 12 electric motors powering the propellers. The two tractor propellers might have two electric motors powering them for forward flight.

There is a canopy over the cockpit for excellent views for the pilot and crew member. The power source for the aircraft includes two Rotax 915 iS engines and four compact axial flux permanent magnet synchronous Emrax 188 twin hexaphase high-voltage electric motors. The aircraft has a carbon fiber composite fuselage for a high strength and low weight ratio. The aircraft has retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear.

In 2017, it was proposed that if €3-5 million EUR would be invested in the project, the first prototype could fly in one to two years. In 2019, Technoplane's goal is to half the price per flight for their aircraft when compared to helicopters. The inventors predicted production of the Mini-Bee would begin in 2025. The inventors envisioned their aircraft to be used for personal use, air taxi service, VIP travel, emergency medical service, racing, air cargo transportation and military service.

This particular Mini-Bee aircraft has been designed specifically for emergency medical service and the purchase cost is estimated at €350,000.00 EUR.

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL EMS tandem tilt-wing concept design aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 pilot, 1 crew member
  • Capacity: 1 person who needs an emergency recuse
  • Cruise speed: 200 km/h (124 mph)
  • Maximum cruise speed: 240 km/h (149 mph)
  • Range: 850 km (528 miles)
  • Maximum altitude: 1,500 m (4,921 ft)
  • Empty weight: 850 kg (1,874 lb)
  • Maximum payload weight: 350 kg (772 lb)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 1,200 kg (2,646 lb)
  • Propellers: 10 propellers (4 tilt-wing propellers, 6 VTOL-only propellers)
  • Electric motors: 12 electric motors (according to the team's paper)
  • Power source: Hybrid-electric power source, 2 Rotax 915 iS engines and 4 compact axial flux permanent magnet synchronous Emrax 188 twin hexaphase high-voltage electric motors
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Window: Canopy over cockpit for excellent views
  • Wings: Tandem tilt-wings
  • Landing gear: Retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear
  • Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft.

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