A Swiss firm has engineered a one-third scale model of a hybrid-electric aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) or efficient short take-off and landing (STOL) operations. The nifty vehicle will soon be performing its first test flight.
The firm, called Manta Aircraft, says their new model combines the best features of a helicopter and a plane.
"In our vision, the first demand of eVTOLs for UAM/AAM operations will comprise one- to five-seat types. In parallel, Personal Regional Mobility will have similar specifications, but these can be better exploited by means of Hybrid-electric Vertical and Short Take-off and Landing (HeV/STOL) types," writes Manta on its website.
"These aircraft can take-off and land vertically when needed, but also operate from very short airstrips (as short as three vertical landing pads in a row) with considerably higher payload. In practice, it can take off and land vertically like a helicopter, and fly horizontally like an airplane."
The new prototype comes in two models: the ANN1 and ANN2. The ANN1 is a single-seater for sport aviation with an overall length of 23,14 ft (7,055 m), a wingspan of 17,90 ft (5,455 m), and a height of 4.44 ft (1,353 m). The ANN2 is a twin-seater for general aviation with an overall length of 28,54 ft (8,700 m), a wingspan of 22,31 ft (6,800 m), and a height of 5,58 ft (1,700 m).
The vehicles have a hybrid propulsion system that provides a longer endurance and range. Although this system is fully electric, Manta will also include a gas/fuel generator for longer-range missions with a target of 373 miles (600 km).
The aircraft's batteries can also be charged en route. Finally, an airplane-like airframe enables the prototypes to perform safely at higher speeds allowing the ANN1 and ANN2 to reach cruising speeds of over 186 mph (300 km/h).