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26 juin 2014 4 26 /06 /juin /2014 07:20
Boeing Phantom Swift Joins VTOL X-Plane Competition


25/06/2014 by Paul Fiddian - Armed Forces International's Lead Reporter


Boeing's Phantom Works division believes its entry into DARPA's VTOL X-Plane competition could shape the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing-capable aircraft designs.


In February 2013, DARPA (the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) reached out to industry for future VTOL aircraft concepts. Its VTOL X-Plane search involves types with a high payload capacity that can reach and maintain high flight speeds but also hover very efficiently. "We are looking for true cross-pollinations of designs and technologies from the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds", DARPA's Ashish Bagai commented at the time.


Boeing's Phantom Swift concept is essentially an aircraft-helicopter hybrid of the type required. So far, Phantom Works has developed, built and test-flown a scaled-down technology testbed and, in March this year, the Phantom Swift officially joined the VTOL X-Plane programme as a competing design.


Boeing Phantom Swift


Boeing's Phantom Swift is equipped with a pair of large fans, fitted internally, which supply vertical lift. When the aircraft moves between vertical and forward flight, these fans stop supplying power and wingtip-placed fans take over. The same fans on the wingtips are used to enhance stability when the Phantom Swift is in hover mode.


Boeing says that, with this fan arrangement, the Phantom Swift is at least 50 per cent more efficient in the hover than a typical helicopter. It's expected to have a top speed of 740 kilometres per hour and, according to the US defence/aerospace firm, the Phantom Swift's configuration template could be replicated in other designs, ultimately creating a whole developmental series.


Phantom Swift: VTOL X-Plane


The full-sized Phantom Swift will have a wing span of 50 feet (15.2 metres) and a fuselage length of 44 feet (13.4 metres), weighing in at 12,000 lb (5,450 kilograms).


"The combination of body-fans and tilt-wing fans for improved controllability is the unique feature of the Phantom Swift", Boeing's Brian Ritter told media representatives today. "In the challenge of efficient hover and high-speed flight the answer is in ducted-fan technology, and this is something that Boeing is now investing heavily in."


Four competing designs are involved in the DARPA VTOL X-Plane competition, which is currently in its Phase 1 stage. Phase 3, the final stage, will see the winning design selected.

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20 mars 2014 4 20 /03 /mars /2014 08:20
VTOL X-Plane Program Takes Off



March 20th, 2014 By US Department of Defense  - defencetalk.com


For generations, new designs for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft have remained unable to increase top speed without sacrificing range, efficiency or the ability to do useful work. DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds, to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruise flight capabilities.


In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of VTOL X-Plane to four companies: Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation; The Boeing Company; Karem Aircraft, Inc; Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.


“We were looking for different approaches to solve this extremely challenging problem, and we got them,” said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager.


“The proposals we’ve chosen aim to create new technologies and incorporate existing ones that VTOL designs so far have not succeeded in developing. We’re eager to see if the performers can integrate their ideas into designs that could potentially achieve the performance goals we’ve set.”


VTOL X-Plane seeks to develop a technology demonstrator that could:

    Achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 kt-400 kt

    Raise aircraft hover efficiency from 60 percent to at least 75 percent

    Present a more favorable cruise lift-to-drag ratio of at least 10, up from 5-6

    Carry a useful load of at least 40 percent of the vehicle’s projected gross weight of 10,000-12,000 pounds


All four winning companies proposed designs for unmanned vehicles, but the technologies that VTOL X-Plane intends to develop could apply equally well to manned aircraft. Another common element among the designs is that they all incorporate multipurpose technologies to varying degrees.


Multipurpose technologies decrease the number of systems in a vehicle and its overall mechanical complexity. Multipurpose technologies also use space and weight more efficiently to improve performance and enable new and improved capabilities.


The next major milestone for VTOL X-Plane is scheduled for late 2015, when the four performers are required to submit preliminary designs. At that point, DARPA plans to review the designs to decide which to build as a technology demonstrator, with the goal of performing flight tests in the 2017-18 timeframe.

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