Microturbine-powered drone makes maiden flight
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.
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.
Source: UAV Turbines