Flight testing is underway on the protoype of a unique flying machine; e-Volo’s Volocopter VC200. Powered by an array of electric motors, the machine resembles a cross between a light helicopter and a multi-rotor drone, and e-Volo hope that it will revolutionise personal air travel.
Test pilot Alexander Zosel flew the craft to about 100′ during the sortie, and flew a series of simple manoeuvres in the hover before landing again.
Volocopter’s vision is of a safe, eco-friendly and easy to fly machine that will finally realise the dream of personal vertical lift flying machines. The VC200 boasts “well over 100 microprocessors and a large number of sensors” that keep the aircraft airborne and stable.
Safety is provided by multiple-redundant power sources and software that will automatically compensate for the loss of one of its 18 electrically-driven rotors, and a ballistic airframe parachute is included. The only control input appears to be an industrial-looking joystick on the centre console and the performance figures and power reserve are unknown so far.
Certification is doubtless a long way off, and there are almost certainly many hurdles still to come. e-Volo also aim to develop the type for large remotely-piloted tasks such as crop-spraying; having already demonstrated the capability to control the machine from the ground using the same joystick as fitted in the cockpit.
We will be interested to see how this new type matures as it makes its way towards its certification and first sale. With the dream of its designers being the final democratisation of personal vertical flight it will be interesting to see how the new type behaves, particularly with regard to traditional rotary-wing threats such as vortex ring.
Making vertical aviation available to all comes with a multitude of challenges, not least in training its pilots. If it is designed to be widely available, then presumably the manufacturer will have to demonstrate sufficiently robust protection against dangerous flight regimes, and perhaps even implement collision-avoidance systems – hurdles that have so far challenged the biggest players in the UAS/UAV field.
So, will the German firm have what it takes to realise their dream? What do you think about the concept of vertical flight for all, and the $64,000 question – will it autorotate???
We look forward to hearing your thoughts about this unique aircraft