Aircraft

Microturbine-powered drone makes maiden flight

Microturbine-powered drone mak...
The Monarch 5 engine took to the skies for the first time in a medium-size drone
The Monarch 5 engine took to the skies for the first time in a medium-size drone
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The Monarch 5 engine made its first flight at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York
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The Monarch 5 engine made its first flight at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York
The Monarch 5 engine has a variable pitch configuration
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The Monarch 5 engine has a variable pitch configuration
The Monarch 5 engine can also be used in ground-based applications
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The Monarch 5 engine can also be used in ground-based applications
The Monarch 5 engine burns a variety of heavy aviation fuels
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The Monarch 5 engine burns a variety of heavy aviation fuels
The Monarch 5 uses fewer parts than a reciprocating engine
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The Monarch 5 uses fewer parts than a reciprocating engine
The Monarch 5 engine
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The Monarch 5 engine
The Monarch 5 engine took to the skies for the first time in a medium-size drone
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The Monarch 5 engine took to the skies for the first time in a medium-size drone
The Monarch 5 engine is designed for both the military and commercial markets
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The Monarch 5 engine is designed for both the military and commercial markets

A medium-sized drone powered by a microturbine engine has completed its maiden flight. Taking off from Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York, the fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was equipped with a Monarch 5 jet engine built by UAV Turbines that is designed to serve both the military and commercial markets.

UAV Turbines hasn't released many specific technical details about the Monarch 5 microturbine, though images show that it's used to turn a pusher prop. According to the company, the new engine is not only less complex and easier to maintain than a reciprocating engine but is also capable of operating for up to 2,000 hours longer than comparable powerplants.

Though turbine engines are notorious for being noisy fuel hogs, the Monarch 5 is claimed to be at least as efficient as the reciprocating variety thanks to a variable pitch mechanism that allows it to operate at peak levels under a wide range of conditions, including high-altitude cruising. The engine's combustors are also designed to handle heavy aviation fuels, like JP-8, JP-10, Jet-A, and US Diesel No 2.

The Monarch 5 engine
The Monarch 5 engine

As to noise, the microturbine is quieter because the high-frequency sound it generates attenuates rapidly in the atmosphere and is directed upward and away from the ground. In addition, the engine can be configured to generate up to 10 kW of electricity.

"After years of innovative and intensive design and engineering work, we are elated to see our first Monarch propulsion system take flight in a TigerShark airframe from Navmar Applied Science Corp.," says Kirk Warshaw, CEO of UAV Turbines. "This flight is proof positive that our team is without peer in the development of small turboprop engine systems. Our attention now turns to working with commercial and military partners to develop airframes around our Monarch 5 propulsion system, similar to the manner that manned aircraft are designed and developed. Furthermore, we believe our Monarch engine’s capabilities will be instrumental in driving the urban air mobility and defense industries forward in making unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as commonplace as airplanes, trucks, and ships for both commercial and defense use."

The video below shows the first flight of the Monarch 5 engine.

Monarch 5 engine maiden flight

Source: UAV Turbines

4 comments
nick101
Since turbines are required to run flat-out, wouldn't it be better to have them generate electricity?
Kpar
Define "flat out". Yes, turbines work best at one RPM range, but so do reciprocating engines. "Flat out" implies full throttle, but gas turbines do not run at max throttle most of the time.
Martin Hone
No mention of power output of the turbine.
Towerman
Turbines are old stove pipes, the electric revolution to come is going to dwarf these stove stokers into the history they belong.