The first modern helicopter took to the skies over 80 years ago. Since then, engineers have tried to incorporate the unique advantage of vertical take-off into aeroplanes. Elytron Aerospace is designing a fixed-wing aircraft which can take-off and land vertically like a helicopter.
This kind of aircraft provides greater safety, speed, and simplicity of operation over any existing class of vertical take-off aircraft. It makes it ideally suited for various uses.
The Elytron aircraft has three sets of wings - one pair of rotating wings, mounted on a single central wing, and two pairs of fixed wings. The fixed wings are split into a forward pair and a back pair that are joined by small side bars. By splitting the wings apart, the design eliminates any interference with the thrust of the rotating wings.
Elytron Aircraft is working with NASA to test a scaled version of its highly unconventional convertiplane concept. It is designed to take off and land like a helicopter but cruise at fixed wing speeds.
Free flight and captive wind-tunnel tests are expected to take place early in 2017 at NASA’s Ames Research Center, California. The data will be compared with predictive models that will help Elytron refine the design of a planned five-seat, potential air taxi.
But the tests have not all gone to plan. In March, Elytron posted on its Facebook page: 'Today during a test flight we had a mishap with the plane. 'Thankfully our test pilot Ed DeReyes sustained only minor injuries and walked away from the wreck.
'Along with the FAA we will determine the cause of the incident and learn what needs to be changed in the next version.'
It remains unclear when the aircraft will be readily available, or how much it will cost.