Aircraft

Ascendance revises the design for its long-range hybrid eVTOL

Ascendance revises the design ...
French company Ascendance has released a refreshed design for its hybrid eVTOL air taxi, scheduled for production in 2025
French company Ascendance has released a refreshed design for its hybrid eVTOL air taxi, scheduled for production in 2025
View 9 Images
French company Ascendance has released a refreshed design for its hybrid eVTOL air taxi, scheduled for production in 2025
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French company Ascendance has released a refreshed design for its hybrid eVTOL air taxi, scheduled for production in 2025
Cruise props on the nose and the T-tail provide forward propulsion
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Cruise props on the nose and the T-tail provide forward propulsion
Eight vertical lift fans are integrated into the wings
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Eight vertical lift fans are integrated into the wings
The hybrid propulsion system will allow a 400-km range on debut, with 10-minute kerosene top-ups on the ground
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The hybrid propulsion system will allow a 400-km range on debut, with 10-minute kerosene top-ups on the ground
Ascendance says the Atea will offer a two-hour, more than 400-km (250-mile) range
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Ascendance says the Atea will offer a two-hour, more than 400-km (250-mile) range
Ascendance says the first public flights of the Atea are scheduled for 2024 at the Paris Olympics
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Ascendance says the first public flights of the Atea are scheduled for 2024 at the Paris Olympics
Ascendance says production of the aircraft is scheduled for 2025
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Ascendance says production of the aircraft is scheduled for 2025
Ascendance claims it will generate "four times less noise emissions than a helicopter"
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Ascendance claims it will generate "four times less noise emissions than a helicopter"
The vertical lift fans have returned to a more standard configuration after some weird ideas were put forth in the first renders
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The vertical lift fans have returned to a more standard configuration after some weird ideas were put forth in the first renders
View gallery - 9 images

France's Ascendance has released an updated design and range figure for its long-range, fan-in-wing, eVTOL air taxi. The Atea will use batteries and kerosene for energy storage, but its modular hybrid system will eventually support hydrogen as well.

When we first encountered this company back in February, Ascendance was proposing something much more like a regular airplane, with just three weird inside-out fans handling VTOL duties. Now, the company has put a much more robust looking design on the table.

Instead of a single wing, there are now large front and rear wings. The fan-in-wing lift and cruise design stays, although the fans are conventional instead of inside-out, and there are now two in each wing for a total of eight vertical lift fans.

The conventional cruise prop stays on the front, and a second cruise fan mounted high on the T-tail of the aircraft gives some added forward propulsion. The cabin will seat five.

Ascendance claims it will generate "four times less noise emissions than a helicopter"
Ascendance claims it will generate "four times less noise emissions than a helicopter"

Ascendance doesn't make any claims on speed at this stage, but we'll be interested to see how the fan-in-wing setup fares in terms of drag and top speed as compared to the open props used in most lift and cruise configurations. There doesn't appear to be any sort of fan cover mechanism, so we'd expect them to cause some turbulence.

On noise, Ascendance claims it will generate "four times less noise emissions than a helicopter," but that's a weird, awkward and non-specific kind of promise to make as well, since perceived noise and the decibel scale don't necessarily line up.

Eight vertical lift fans are integrated into the wings
Eight vertical lift fans are integrated into the wings

At launch, the company says the Atea will offer a two-hour, more than 400-km (250-mile) range with a 10-minute turnaround on the ground, thanks to quick jet fuel refueling. While it's not a clean solution like the proper eVTOLs, the company claims it'll deliver "a reduction in carbon emissions up to 80 percent," compared to a helicopter, thanks to its efficient generator and electric powertrain.

While hybrid systems are obviously not where anyone wants this tech to end up, perhaps this is a practical way to service longer-distance trips in the early days of the eVTOL revolution. Ascendance's "Sterna" system treats its power systems as modules, and the company is making provisions to adapt to biofuel and synthetic fuel generators if necessary. At the end of the day, the plan is to use a hydrogen range-extending system once that technology is proven and easy to drop in.

Ascendance claims "production is scheduled for 2025," that the "first public flights of the aircraft are scheduled for 2024" at the Paris Olympics, and that "the entire aircraft has been designed in compliance with the requirements of EASA SC-VTOL regulations and their associated Means of Compliance on the vehicle end."

Cruise props on the nose and the T-tail provide forward propulsion
Cruise props on the nose and the T-tail provide forward propulsion

It'll still have to go through the notoriously expensive certification process, though, so even after the company's recent €10-million (US$11.3-million) funding round, somebody's going to need to back up a big truck and dump a ton more cash into Ascendance before it's got a chance to get certified and into mass production.

Source: Ascendance

View gallery - 9 images
16 comments
16 comments
Steven Clarkson
Trust the French to design something more elegant.

However i question the efficiency wrt having The EVTOL fans combined with a pusher and a puller prop. Seems like it will be quite power hungry.

How about tilting the fans inside the wing at a 45 degree angle instead for forward flight.

Remember this is suppose to be an EVTOL not a pure plane, so some speed can be sacrificed. (however tilting the fans might induce drag (but might be better than having pods suspending motors/props on the outside)

I also would like to see more experimentation with folded arms/wings into the body itself.
Gabor Pauler
Are they really serious that 8 full pizza sized rotors will lift quietly this contraption? Rotor downwash speed should be somewhere in the 100-200m/sec range. Thats why it is important to attend physics classes in secondary school.
David
Tail-fins just seem so 20th century nowadays. Using the the Chapman principle of simplify then add lightness, how about removing the tail with its wing, reverse its prop to be a pusher, and shift the main wing rearwards. Any additional control required that's currently provided by the tail can be accommodated by the other control surfaces plus differential thrust from the lift rotors.
Arcticshade
Perhaps the rotors could be variable pitch as to tilt the blades to neutral position when in horizontal flight, then there would be no need for fan doors.
paul314
"Sustainable"jet fuel is starting to be a thing, with bio sources instead of fossil. Using those in a hybrid wouldn't reduce carbon, but at least it wouldn't continue to increase emissions.
windykites
The forward thrust propellers look small. No mention of the speed.
Arcticshade
@Gabor This is not a flying concept, obviously the rotors are not "pizza" sized.
Aermaco
@ Steven, good points to ditch the redundant added weight pusher prop but also the puller blowing more drag and weight onto the ship.
Then, saved cost exceeds added cost to simply rotate ducted fans or props.
But,
it needs what can be called tandem wing airfoils both in front and back of the 5ft diam pizza fan openings.

This can more smoothly feed the props while adding some Coanda lift smoothly with that air speed over a motionless vtol wing.

This also means the rotated props dont suck off of a flat wall thick wing chord height and blow against another lesser flat wall wing chord height in propulsion axis. Instead it draws air from a smooth laminar flow wing's thin trailing edge and is blowing onto a wing rounded leading edge also adding it some lift with all lowering energy needs.

The combo of wing with multi prop vertical lift is potentially the most efficient and safest future, but not with redundant weight & cost & drag inefficiency.
bwana4swahili
Not too sure why this thing has a tail? Put the pusher prop on the end of the fuselage.
ozAndy
Nice renders, but I doubt a full scale prototype will be built. The wing fans will make those wings heavy and inefficient, and the drag and weight of both a canard and a tail just add to the inefficiencies. EVTOLs require elegant, minimal thinking, not "keep bolting stuff on and make it look pretty". I guess renders pay well these days, relying on the VC bandwagon.
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