The Flexrotor during demonstration flight for SOCOM. (Photo: Aerovel)
Aerovel, makers of Flexrotor, the most advanced Group 2 unmanned aerial system (UAS) with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), announced strong reliability results for its latest Flexrotor variant. In demonstrations conducted for SOCOM (United States Special Operations Command) missions, Aerovel demonstrated over 150 cycles on the latest Flexrotor variant. One Flexrotor aircraft has 102 cycles, most of them logged on only six flying days. Flexrotor is designed for the demanding reliability and specifications required by the US Department of Defense (DOD) while being affordable for commercial applications.
In the past, even while operating most days, Flexrotor took about 700 flight-hours over many months in Afghanistan to accumulate 100 cycles. This recent demonstration for SOCOM required accelerated cycling, a challenge Flexrotor was easily able to meet.
Aerovel demonstrated how Flexrotor used VTOL to launch, then transitioned to wing-borne flight, climbed to cruise altitude, cruised for a few minutes, and occasionally did a few "transition pairs" when needed for a particular test. Then Flexrotor descended, transitioned to thrust-borne flight, landed and shut down. It would then be launched again in as little as three minutes. Two people working together can do three of these Flexrotor flights in an hour, while at the same time minding a second Flexrotor flying in cruise all day in order to build more flight time.
"This winter we've been arriving at our flying site around 8:45 am. It's completely bare so we have to bring everything, and two of us take about a half-hour to set up," said Tad McGeer, Aerovel founder and Chief Technology Officer. "Then we launch a couple of aircraft, one to cycle and one to cruise, and keep going until sunset. Packing up takes about 20 minutes, and we are heading home at dusk."
This accelerated cycling rate is testament not only to Flexrotor's reliability but also its unique flexibility. It has by far the longest endurance of any VTOL aircraft, setting the record at more than 32 hours. It has operated from ship and shore, on three oceans, and from the high Arctic to the high deserts of central Asia. It has also demonstrated fully autonomous cycling from an unmanned skiff.
Flexrotor carries a range of payloads for imaging and data-gathering, with more capacity than any VTOL aircraft in the Group 2 UASs. No other aircraft offers its combination of small footprint, ease of use, economy and endurance.
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