The Vertical Flight Society's (based in Fairfax, Virginia, USA) annual Student Design Competition began in 1984 and challenges students at colleges and universities around the world to design a vertical lift aircraft that meets specified requirements, provides a practical exercise for engineering students and promotes student interest in vertical flight technology. Each of the winning teams is awarded a cash stipend, while each of the first-place winning teams are invited with complimentary registration, to the Vertical Flight Society's Annual Forum and Technology Display to present the details of their designs.
In August 2021, the Vertical Flight Society announced its 39th Annual Student Design Competition. The student objective was to design an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi aircraft for to accommodate all passengers, including passengers with reduced mobility. This would include designing an aircraft to accommodate people with any type of disability, including hidden disabilities. The competition was sponsored by Bell (based in Fort Worth, Texas, USA). The winners of the 39th Annual Student Design Competition were announced on August 22, 2022.
“These are the leaders of the future vertical lift industry,” said Mike Hirschberg, executive director of the Vertical Flight Society. “We hope this experience will change them and, through the visibility of this competition, also change people who are in the eVTOL industry today.” To date, eVTOL concepts have focused on feasibility, safety, airworthiness and efficiency. But as developers clear those hurdles, the goal is to ensure electric aircraft can transport anyone and everyone, including persons with reduced mobility, visible or hidden disabilities.
The multi-school undergraduate student team consisted of undergraduate students from four universities in Turkey. The four universities are Erciyes University (Kayseri, Turkey), Eskisehir Osmangazi University (Eskişehir, Turkey), Necmettin Erbakan University (Konya, Turkey) and Samsun University (Samsun, Turkey). The team won the undergraduate Best New Entrant for their Demirkanat eVTOL passenger concept design aircraft. The team's Executive Summary is here online.
The students named their team, the Demirkanat Helicopter Team. Demirkanat in Turkish means "Iron Wing". The eVTOL aircraft was designed for advanced air mobility (AAM) while focusing on making sure the aircraft is accessible for all passengers, including passengers with reduced mobility and those people with hidden disabilities.
The students began with three different aircraft configurations and settled on a quadcopter type eVTOL passenger aircraft. The design includes easy entrance and exit for passengers in wheelchairs and large windows for reduce claustrophobia. There is a large baggage compartment in the rear of the aircraft.
The aircraft has four ducted propellers housings, each ducted housing has two propellers. The ducted propellers rotate forward, backwards and horizontally for forward, rear and VTOL flight. The front two ducted propellers are located at the base of the fuselage and the rear two ducted propellers are located at near the top of the fuselage. One propeller in each duct could fail and the aircraft could still land safety to the ground.
There are two large side doors and one rear loading ramp. Special tinted windows are used to block 99% of ultraviolet rays from the sun. The specially tinted windows also provide a 10% reduction of temperature in the cabin and these tinted windows also reduces the fading of the interior.
Capacity: 4 passengers no mobility issues or 2 passengers with reduced mobility
Cruise speed: 106 mph (171 km/h)
Maximum takeoff weight: 2,042 kg (4,502 lb)
Propellers: 8 ducted propellers
Electric motors: 8 electric motors
Power source: Batteries
Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
Windows: Large windows for spectacular views for the passengers
Doors: 2 side doors and 1 rear loading ramp
Landing gear: Fixed skid 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 in the sub-systems of the aircraft.
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