Magazine article National Defense

New Aircraft Concept Promises More Speed, Endurance

Magazine article National Defense

New Aircraft Concept Promises More Speed, Endurance

Article excerpt

An engineer has designed a vertical take-off and landing aircraft that may be able to fly faster and farther than today's helicopters.

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Atlanta-based Richard Oliver recently unveiled his concept for the Hexplane, a six-engine VTOL that he says will he able to fly above 25,000 feet at cruise speeds greater than 425 mph for stretches longer than 2,000 miles. This would bring its performance closer to that of a fixed-wing aircraft, something that helicopter manufacturers also have been working on.

Bell Helicopter's V-22 Osprey, which also features a tilt-rotor design, already has seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sikorsky's S-97 Raider scout and attack helicopter will be based on a prototype that has flown with coaxial rotors. But neither tops cruise speeds of 300 mph.

The Hexplane would feature three wings and six propulsion units. The aircraft would be able to continue performing vertical operations even if a propeller, engine or gearbox fails. Through a simulation, Oliver determined that the Hexplane could still fly without a propulsion unit and with half a wing missing. He expects a prototype to fly higher than 35,000 feet and carry a half-ton load 1,000 miles at 400 mph, a feat that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency had once challenged the aviation industry to accomplish. …

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