Aircraft

First manned flight of FanWing aircraft planned for next year

The FanWing company has announced that it plans to debut a piloted version of its rotary fan-powered aircraft next year
The FanWing company has announced that it plans to debut a piloted version of its rotary fan-powered aircraft next year
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A flying proof-of-concept FanWing model
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A flying proof-of-concept FanWing model
A flying proof-of-concept FanWing model
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A flying proof-of-concept FanWing model
A flying proof-of-concept FanWing model
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A flying proof-of-concept FanWing model
An envisioned multi-passenger FanWing aircraft
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An envisioned multi-passenger FanWing aircraft
An envisioned cargo-carrying drone FanWing aircraft
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An envisioned cargo-carrying drone FanWing aircraft
An illustration showing how the FanWing rotary fan creates lift
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An illustration showing how the FanWing rotary fan creates lift
The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned flying speed of 20 to 70 knots (23 to 80.5 mph)
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The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned flying speed of 20 to 70 knots (23 to 80.5 mph)
The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned width of 46 feet (14 meters)
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The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned width of 46 feet (14 meters)
The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned maximum take-off weight of 1,300 pounds (600 kg)
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The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned maximum take-off weight of 1,300 pounds (600 kg)
The FanWing company has announced that it plans to debut a piloted version of its rotary fan-powered aircraft next year
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The FanWing company has announced that it plans to debut a piloted version of its rotary fan-powered aircraft next year
The piloted FanWing aircraft should be able to take off within a distance of 50 feet (15 meters)
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The piloted FanWing aircraft should be able to take off within a distance of 50 feet (15 meters)

With a traditional airplane, a propellor or jet engine pulls it forward, and lift is created as air subsequently flows over the wings. FanWing aircraft are a little different. They have a powered horizontal rotary fan along the leading edge of their single wing, which serves to pull air over it, creating lift without the need for speed. Britain’s FanWing company has been developing the technology since 1999, and has already had success with radio-controlled proof-of-concept models. This month, however, the company announced that it plans to debut a two-seater piloted FanWing aircraft at the 2013 EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

First of all, why would anyone want to build an airplane this way?

According to the company, due to the fact that little in the way of speed is required to achieve lift, FanWings can take off and land on very short runways. They are also said to be inexpensive and simple to build, maintain and control; are stable and resistant to turbulence; they won’t stall at low speeds; and, they’re quiet. Should their engine conk out, their glide ratio is reportedly rather low, although they are still capable of performing an auto-rotational landing.

The piloted aircraft is planned to have a rotor measuring 32 feet (10 meters) long by 30 inches (75 cm) wide, with a total body span (including its twin tails) of 46 feet (14 meters). It will weigh 770 pounds (350 kg) empty, and have a maximum take-off weight of 1,300 pounds (600 kg). Its flight speed will be 20 to 70 knots (23 to 80.5 mph), and it should be able to take off within a distance of 50 feet (15 meters). Power will be supplied by a four-stroke Rotax 912 light aircraft motor.

The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned width of 46 feet (14 meters)
The piloted FanWing aircraft has a planned width of 46 feet (14 meters)

The FanWing concept was first conceived by American inventor Patrick Peebles, who now heads the company. He is developing the piloted aircraft with a number of collaborators, including former BAE Systems Principal Concepts Engineer GeorgeSeyfang.

A small-scale static wind tunnel model has already been built and tested, with construction of the flying prototype scheduled to take place from August to November, followed by the first test flights beginning next February. This is definitely one we’ll be watching.

Source: FanWing via Dvice

29 comments
thk
I suppose it is not going to be more efficient than conventional design.
Grunchy
It looks like a flying combine harvester! That reminds me of a scene from the Cars movie where Lightning and Mater are running away from the harvester after they had indulged in some tractor-tipping, and its blade is nipping at their hind bumpers. I love the idea but I have a trepidation about the fan. The problem is, it is a long, flimsy-looking, spinning fan blade shaft mounted inset to the wing beam. My fear is that the fan blade could deflect enough to collide with the wing, causing it to suddenly stop, thereby precipitating a catastrophic event. In short, I see the fan blade crashing causing the plane to wreck. I do hope they decide to pack one of those whole-plane parachutes onto it...
Kalavo
Another waste of precious recouce and money' it's massive and cumbersome and you just pray a bird doesn't jam or shatter a blade because the whole thing would be compromised! And! It's not that useful if just goes at only 70 knots.
Nantha Nithiahnanthan
Wow! What a great concept. Going to the basics of lift. There is a lot of potential for this.
John Grimes
Whats happens if a bird or debris gets sucked in? Sounds flawed...
David Evans
If I'm doing an autorotational landing I want it to be in an autogiro! Compared to which, this doesn't seem to have any obvious advantages. And an autogiro with blades folded is much more compact.
Bruce Miller
Looking for the day someone builds one of thease or better, with an electric motor! Imagine a small personal flight machine, like the STOL planes Nazi Germany developed, only better, electric and personal sized! Modern day magic carpets!
Scion
Kalavo, it uses less resources and money than helicopters or aeroplanes. With wide fixed wings it would require far less fuel than a helicopter to remain flying and with a lower air speed it would likewise need less than an aeroplane. It is massive and cumbersome? In what context? did you want to park one in your inner-city garage? Or in a hanger at an airport? As for speed, I imagine land surveys / cargo transport / unmanned drone work would be far easier at low speed and you'd hit far fewer birds. David Evans, an autogiro / gyrcopter can't be as large nor carry as great a payload nor is it as stable or fuel efficient. There are applications where autogiros are better suited, but to poo-poo the invention because you want to use it in an application it is not suited for is stupid.
Slowburn
I don't see this leading to aircraft better than helicopters but it's their money. NOTARs are much quieter than conventional helicopters and can be made to be more quiet.
Dawar Saify
If the fans have fixed pitch, and push air in all directions, how does it achieve lift?