The Future Of Fast Vertical Lift Aircraft: Project Zero
The UK-based aerospace company AgustaWestland has presented the AW609, the world’s first electric tilt-rotor aircraft. The Project Zero empoys the tilt rotor technology, which, according to the producer, is the best layout for the future of fast vertical lift aircraft. It can take off and land like a helicopter, but fly like an airplane. Its two rotors can be tilted up to 90 degrees, enabling the aircraft to take off and land vertically and to hover, like a helicopter, while also flying forward with the speed and efficiency of a fixed-wing aircraft. Each of the rotors are driven by their own electric motor, which is powered by rechargeable batteries. The aircraft’s control systems, flight controls and landing gear actuators are also all electrically powered, so there’s no need in the hydraulic system, besides the aircraft doesn’t require a transmission as well. The exterior surface is carbon graphite to maximize strength and minimize weight. Daniele Romiti, CEO of AgustaWestland, reports that “It offers much greater speed and range than compound helicopter technology. We strongly believe in the tilt rotor concept as the future of high speed rotorcraft flight”. The Project Zero is only a technology demonstrator, though a hybrid version, which would use a diesel engine to power a generator, is under consideration now.