European consortium Neva Aerospace is sharing its Neva AirQuadOne commercial concept for personal manned aircraft with visitors to this week's Paris Air Show. It is hoped that the lightweight, electric powered craft will have applications in search and rescue operations, recreational flying, aerobatics, defensive patrols and transportation. Unmanned versions will be able to lift a payload of up to 100kg, and could replace cranes and helicopters for deliveries to challenging locations.
The craft is expected to weigh around 530kg, including 150kg of batteries for the full electrical version and 100kg for the pilot. Journey times can last up to 30 minutes, depending on mission and load. AirQuadOne can achieve vertical take-off and landing using Neva's proven static thrust electric turbofan (ETF) technology. It will be capable of linear flight at up to 80 Km/h, at altitudes of up to 3,000 feet.
Neva is now starting to work with regulators and pilots to seek light aircraft certification within the USA(FAA) and EU (EASA). Neva AirQuadOne will have 24/7 traffic management support when flying, with an emergency satcom connection.
The battery pack is intended to be similar and/or compatible with those of cars, with recharging at standard electrical stations via direct wire connection, induction or a battery pack switch. Neva is also looking at hybridisation solutions for range extension. In line with its commitment to sustainability, Neva plans to use recycled carbon in the manufacturing process, as the company already does today for most of its parts.
"This is an exciting use of our principles for 3D distributed propulsion with electric turbines," said co-founder and chief science officer Prof. David Brotherton-Ratcliffe. "This approach provides safety and control through redundancy. The only limitation we have today is the current limitation of the battery technology available. The next steps for us will be ensuring redundancy in flight controls and energy sources."
The concept was recently described by Wired as "refreshingly realistic", by comparison with many emerging personal aircraft concepts that are designed around untested and unbuilt technology.
“We have been working on the AirQuadOne concept since 2013, but waited to share it until our static thrust technology was proven," said Neva Aerospace co-founder and chairman Robert Vergnes. "We now provide serious electric aviation technologies for a serious commercial drone market. This technology will also be disrupting the short-termism that has threatened to dominate the investor market. As the low-tech hobby drone market stagnates for investors, serious electric aviation becomes a real financial opportunity.”