The idea of combining vertical landing and take-off capability with high speed and long range cruise has a long lasting story (here Google is better than any link). Many and many and many attempts and solutions have been proposed… and something even worked out!

The point is that having a traditional fixed-wing airliner has much advantages when you are already in the cruise phase, but has much “disadvantages” (let’s say “limitations” since we sill use this configuration) when you are on ground. This solution, indeed, requires a longer operation time, long airstrips, control instruments, and every infrastructure related. Not much convenient to use in tight, inhospitable places. Rotary wings solves these problems, but they have typically a shorter range, a smaller autonomy and a reduced speed.

Well, now AIRBUS as well come into play. The company filed a patent (US2016/0236774 AI) for an aircraft capable of vertical take-off and fixed-wing cruise with transition from vertical to horizontal flights.

Four rotors, powered by independent electric motors (supplied by batteries and a generator connected to the main combustion engine), are designed for the take-off/landing phases… exactly like a quadcopter.

During the cruise phase, instead, the combustion engine powers a forward-facing propeller pulling the aircraft once the transitions to horizontal flight is completed (… and now let’s go with speed!).

And what about the rotors during the horizontal flight (they would limit the speed and can cause failures)? Well, nothing easier, these can be stowed inside the two pylons placed in the bottom part of the “incredible machine”. Two rotor per pylon, two blades per rotor to be aligned along the speed direction during level flight.

For higher speed and/or larger loads, the design can be slightly modified including a dual forward-facing propellers to further increase horizontal thrust. It seems that the size can vary from a drone-like device up to two-ten passengers.

Probably it will newer reach neither the prototype stage, but it is definitely conceptually fascinating.




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