Image copyright AeroCopter.

Mono Tiltrotor Aircraft
Tech Level: 11

This unique type of aircraft is being pioneered the AeroCopter company. Its proper name is the MTR VTOL PAV—the Mono TiltRotor, Vertical Take-Off and Landing, Personal Air Vehicle--but its known more commonly by its project name Sarus. AeroCopter is also simultaneously developing an unmanned version called Kestrel. The company has created workable test models of the concept and is at work scaling the aircraft up for full flight tests.

The most prominent feature of the Sarus craft is its large, 21-foot encompassing ring that surrounds the main fuselage. This mono-ring houses twin counter-rotating rotors on its outer perimeter that provide lift. The blades use ‘frictionless’ electromagnetic suspension and can be tilted at different angles independently to meet different flight needs and air conditions.

For take-offs and landings, the ring is canted parallel to the ground, and the spinning rotors provide lift very much like a helicopter. At altitudes of 1000 feet or higher, the ring tilts up at an angle of 87 degrees and locks in place. Power is then shifted to the rear engines on the main fuselage to propel the aircraft forward.

The Sarus aircraft will be capable of carrying two to eight passengers and their baggage while the Kestrel UAV will be capable of carrying up to 400 lbs of payload, which can include supplies, emergency equipment, weapon systems, or whatever its mission may require. It should have a cruise speed of approximately 220 knots at an optimal operating altitude of 8,000 feet, and range of 300 nautical miles on one tank of fuel.

AeroCopter hopes to have full-scale versions ready for commercial or military use within the next few years.


Article added 4/1/10