Copter-plane flies through tests

08 2003

Copter-plane flies through tests

Goldeneye could eventually be a more manoeuvrable type of uncrewed automated vehicle (UAV) (Image: Aurora Flight Science)

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An aircraft capable of hovering like a helicopter and flying like a plane has passed initial testing, says its developer.

The Goldeneye 100 craft, developed by Aurora Flight Science, resembles a large drum with two pairs of wings and has successfully undergone flight tests at the Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, US.

The flying machine is powered by a ducted-fan engine consisting of a rotor located within the protective cylinder. This provides the vertical thrust needed to lift it off the ground and keep it hovering over one spot.

But the aircraft's wings can also swivel and, by increasing the engine's power and manoeuvring the wings, it can be made to flip over on to its side and fly horizontally. The craft can be controlled from the ground but is also designed to fly autonomously.

Military scouting
Jean-Charles Ledè, systems engineer at Aurora Flight Sciences, says Goldeneye could eventually be a more manoeuvrable type of uncrewed automated vehicle (UAV).

These pilotless aircraft have been used by the US for military scouting and attack missions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Ledè suggests that Goldeneye could be used by the military to hunt for enemy targets or by the emergency services to survey a disaster area.

It could be flown over long distances like a conventional UAV, he says, but unlike these aircraft it would be able to hover above a target for long periods of time.

"Typically missions would include high-flying surveys," Ledè told New Scientist. Aurora Flight Sciences plans to have fully developed the vehicle by 2004.

The Goldeneye 100 weighs 68 kilograms and stands 1.7 metres tall. It has a maximum speed of 300 kilometres per hour, and a range of 800 kilometres. A miniature version of the aircraft, the Goldeneye 50, is currently being designed. This will be about a tenth of the size of Goldeneye 100.

Will Knight

Source by CNR_/_New_Scientist

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