Aircraft

Famed French aviation company lends its name to new hybrid aircraft

Famed French aviation company ...
Plans call for the Avions Mauboussin Alcyon M3c to seat five passengers, and have a range of 1,500 km (932 miles)
Plans call for the Avions Mauboussin Alcyon M3c to seat five passengers, and have a range of 1,500 km (932 miles)
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Rear view of the Alérion M1h
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Rear view of the Alérion M1h
Front view of the Alérion M1h
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Front view of the Alérion M1h
Despite appearances, the Alcyon M3c will not be a tilt-rotor aircraft
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Despite appearances, the Alcyon M3c will not be a tilt-rotor aircraft
The two-seater Alérion M1h
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The two-seater Alérion M1h
Plans call for the Avions Mauboussin Alcyon M3c to seat five passengers, and have a range of 1,500 km (932 miles)
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Plans call for the Avions Mauboussin Alcyon M3c to seat five passengers, and have a range of 1,500 km (932 miles)
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From 1935 to 1948, French manufacturer Avions Mauboussin was known for its light sporting aircraft. Its name has now been revived, by a French startup that plans on building hybrid STOL (short take-off and landing) airplanes.

Many readers will already be familiar with VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, which are a popular choice for proposed "flying taxis." With their ability to perform helicopter-like take-offs and landings, the vehicles could pick passengers up from urban locations such as office tower rooftops. Once they reached cruising altitude, though, they would switch to faster, more efficient fixed-wing forward flight.

One challenge in the development of practical VTOLs lies in the fact that they have to produce a lot of downward thrust, which requires a lot of power. That's where the more conventional STOLs come in.

Although they can't move straight up and down, they do nonetheless require much shorter runways than regular airplanes. This means that they could conceivably take off and land at small, centrally located "pocket airports," saving inter-city commuters the time and hassle of having to travel to and from full-size airfields on the outskirts of town.

Avions Mauboussin is currently working on two such aircraft. The first – which is being designed in collaboration with the Université de Technologie de Belfort-Montbéliard and other industrial partners – is a two-seater called the Alérion M1h.

The two-seater Alérion M1h
The two-seater Alérion M1h

It will initially use an electric motor for take-offs and landings (keeping things quiet at the pocket airports), switching over to an internal combustion engine while cruising. This powertrain, along with the use of lightweight natural composite building materials, should give it a range of several hundred kilometers and a cruising speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). It will eventually be powered solely by a hydrogen fuel cell.

The second plane – named the Alcyon M3c – will seat five passengers, have a range of 1,500 km (932 miles), and a cruising speed of 370 km/h (230 mph). Like the M1h, it will start out with a hybrid powertrain, then later make the switch to hydrogen power. Dual propellers at the end of each wing are intended to "recover energy otherwise lost in the wingtip vortex."

Despite appearances, the Alcyon M3c will not be a tilt-rotor aircraft
Despite appearances, the Alcyon M3c will not be a tilt-rotor aircraft

A company representative tells us that the STOL performance of both models comes from the sophisticated design of their wing airfoil and high-lift devices (i.e: the slats and flaps), combined with their low structural weight. As a result, they should have a very low stall speed.

Plans call for the hybrid version of the Alérion M1h to make its first flight in 2022, followed by a commercial rollout (and first flight of the hydrogen version) in 2024. Commercialization of the Alcyon M3c should follow, in 2026.

Source: Avions Mauboussin

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11 comments
dan
cool design, of course good for reduced drag with less vortex at the wing tips. BUT unlikely to have sufficient single engine performance, in consequence if one engine/prop/gearbox etc. delivers reduced power/quits, the PIC must reduce equally the other side as well... Not so cool!
paul314
Five seats isn't a lot of commuters. And still with all the safety issues that make siting airports a difficult thing. Perhaps it's time to bring back (or expand) the water-landing sector. Many, many cities have rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
Tom Lee Mullins
I think those are way cool looking.
Nobody
Cross wind landings won't end well with the wing tip props scraping the ground. Any engine failure should end in a quick flip and spin.
NikBennewitz
IF the vortex is streaming air from beneath the wing to the fast lowpressure above the wing going from outside the wingtip upwards, the last prop should correct by going downwards on the outside. But which direction is thee first prop going? the osprey was higher, but did it better.
Marco McClean
It looks like a cat with its arms and claws out, ready to pounce and catch the feather-on-a-string, and also like Leonardo's war chariot that chops up soldiers who might be running at it from the sides. I wonder about extra stresses on the wings, though, during the chopping. And anyone who might be out in the airplane yard carrying skis or a briefcase full of gold to or from the plane, or wobbling on high heels.
Kpar
I thought the same thing as dan, but then I realized that was the main reason for twin props- each is driven by its own electric motor, reducing the asymmetric thrust in an (single) engine out situation.

Nobody's concern is a bit more valid. I, myself, was in a Cessna 172 landing at Pioneer Airport in Oshkosh when we were caught in a sudden wind gust that rolled the plane up on one wingtip only a few feet off the ground. My buddy was extremely quick to recover and safely land the plane, but a prop on the end of the wing would have probably been made recovery impossible that close to the ground.

In my own flying lessons, I encountered the same thing upon landing- fortunately I was about ten feet higher off the ground, and had little problem recovering in time.
jerryd
Another dangerous silly plane that is going nowhere. Between engine out and ground strikes of the props only show how bad some engineers are they would build this.
BlueOak
Insightful observations by readers!

1) What happens in a strong cross-wind landing - when the pilot tilts the upwind wing earthward (to prevent flipping the plane) and those wingtip props hit the runway? Tilt-rotor aircraft with wingtip props rotate those props skyward when landing, and/or have more than 3-4 feet of clearance to the ground.

2) When an engine fails on a normal twin engine aircraft, the aircraft will yaw (aircraft wants to spin on its axis) and dive in the direction of the failed engine. When those props are located inward, closer to the fuselage, proper training allows the pilot two correct. However, with the props at the wingtips, this failure condition is more serious, creating more dramatic yaw leverage.
PassingBy2
Electric engines *are reliable, mostly, but variable props not quite so. (I flew L-188s, their props have 7 safety stops). A failure of an engine on a wing tip is not to be thought about. The *only defence would be to instantly reduce power on the opposite engine. However, given those prop diameters to absorb the available power, why on earth are they not installing them along wing? Nearly the entire wing would be blanketed with prop-wash when under power. In that configuration, a worst-case engine/prop failure could be dealt with by a partial reduction of opposite power, or even perhaps none, and an inner power unit failure would be harmless. With the advertised high-lift devices installed, and with such added effective airflow (except as the throttles were closed!), it would almost levitate off the strip! What a magic aircraft it would be. Unlike the above silliness.