24-Aug-2011 Source: Oliver VTOL
Oliver VTOL LLC, today announced the “Hexplane,” an innovative six-engine vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that holds the promise to fly faster, further and safer than any VTOL in the industry.
The Hexplane design has three wings and six tilt-able propulsion units that will enable the aircraft to fly above 25,000 feet at cruise speeds greater than 425 miles per hour with ranges exceeding 2,000 miles – more than 250 percent faster and 300 percent further than modern helicopters. Hexplane’s estimated performance approaches that of a fixed wing airplane because it functions as a fixed wing aircraft during forward flight.
The design will also enable the Hexplane to continue to perform full gross weight vertical operations if a propeller, engine or a gearbox fails – the first VTOL with these capabilities. A planned Hexplane technology demonstrator is expected to have a ceiling greater than 35,000 feet and carry a load of 1,000 pounds, 1,000 statute miles at 400 miles per hour. This is a capability that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has challenged the aviation industry to accomplish.
“The Hexplane is a breakthrough in VTOL design,” said Richard Oliver, founder and chief executive officer of Oliver VTOL and the designer of the aircraft. “We have created a design that overcomes the historic challenges for VTOLs: achieving the speed, range and payload similar to the fixed wing airplane. However, the Hexplane goes further by providing the ability to perform a safe maximum gross weight vertical landing at its hover out of ground effect (HOGE) limit altitude with a failed propeller, gearbox or engine.”
The U.S. Patent office published Richard Oliverâ€™s patent application for the Hexplane on July 14, 2011. The company expects to receive a patent for the aircraft in the next 12 to 18 months. The Hexplane’s capabilities have been validated in a report issued by DAR Corporation, Lawrence, Kan. The scientific advisors for the report were: Dr. Willem Anemaat, president of DAR Corporation; University Of Kansas Professor Emeritus Dr. Jan Roskam, founder of DAR; and Penn State Boeing Professor Emeritus, Dr. Barnes W. McCormick.
â€œThe Hexplane will challenge an Osprey type of aircraft because of a combination of speed and propulsion redundancy not found in any other type of aircraftâ€, said Dr. Roskam.
Hexplane overcomes the limited maneuverability and asymmetrical vortex ring state (AVRS) susceptibility of twin tilt rotor aircraft. The Hexplane can safely continue its mission even with the complete failure of a propulsion unit, a capability the military desires.
“In the event of an engine failure, the Hexplane is a novel way of maintaining trim and, hence, safety without the use of cross-shafting,” said Dr. McCormick.
The Hexplane is designed using well understood applied aerodynamic engineering principals and therefore does not require expensive advanced development activities which usually plague novel VTOL solutions. The advanced development costs must be amortized over the typically small quantity of aircraft produced adding significantly to the cost.
Oliver VTOL officials believe the Hexplane technology could be used in both manned and unmanned flight operations for the military. The aircraft also could be used as an air ambulance because its speed and range would allow the transport of patients faster and further to access more trauma centers than currently possible. Other applications include offshore oil platform support, search and rescue, and business aviation.
Oliver VTOL, a start-up aircraft development company based in Atlanta, is currently in the process of raising its first round of equity investments that will be used to develop a technology demonstrator of the Hexplane as well as provide funds for marketing and operating costs.