What is a ducted fan?
A ducted fan is essentially a rotor or propeller (the fan) with a shroud around it (the duct). The duct increases the fan’s efficiency and adds to total thrust. Properly designed, the duct can contribute 40% of the total lift. Another big benefit of ducted fans is safety, since the spinning fan blades are enclosed within the shroud.
What is a tandem-duct craft?
The term “tandem-duct” is a vehicle configuration in which two ducts are arranged one in front of the other, and flown in line. When compared to a single-duct vehicle, a tandem-duct provides a more useful layout for both pilots and payload, as well as increasing the altitude at which ground effect influences lift.
How does the control system work?
One of the enabling features of the Aero-X is its control system. Developed and proven in test flights, it uses devices molded into the ducts – called “ejectors”, to replace the complex rotors used in helicopters. The ejectors are unaffected by dirt, water or debris and perform the same in open air as they do near the ground or obstacles.
Aerofex was granted a US patent for this game-changing method of control, and two are pending internationally.
What are the benefits of fixed-pitch fans?
While a helicopter relies on a complex rotor-head that controls the pitch of the blades, the Aero-X control ejectors enable the use fixed-pitch blades that are simpler in design and optimized for thrust and efficiency. They are more reliable and much less costly to manufacture and maintain.
What is the Aero-X made of?
The primary structure and fans of the Aero-X are constructed of molded carbon-fiber composite. The secondary structure and yaw surfaces are molded fiberglass composite. The ducts are a hybrid composite consisting of carbon fiber, Kevlar and fiberglass.
The extensive use of composites provides excellent strength and stiffness while providing an air-frame that is under half the weight of the vehicle.
What is the powerplant?
The Aero-X powerplant is a water-cooled normally aspirated three-rotor rotary engine with steel rotors and aluminum housing.
What drives the fans?
The drivetrain consists of only eleven moving parts between the two fans, excluding bearings. The low part count improves reliability and safety. The drivetrain is made up of a steel e-shaft, two composite drive shafts, and two ninety-degree gearboxes driving the fans. Sensors monitor the gearbox and shafts. We have a patent pending for our method of monitoring bearing wear.
Can the Aero-X be adapted for a specific use?
We have designed the Aero-X for operation in rugged environments including farms, ranches, and undeveloped regions with no roads. The base vehicle includes attachments for optional gear and accessories that allow it to be adapted for many different applications.
Can the Aero-X be made electric?
Yes, it could but for almost all applications it would not yet be practical. As an example, we performed a study in which we traded the weight of the entire internal combustion engine and its peripheral equipment for the state-of-the-art in transportation electronics and batteries (Tesla’s). The resulting flight duration was 18 minutes between charges. Probably only good for indoor air-racing. However, as soon as the energy density of batteries improves to the point they are practical, we will adopt them.
How much fuel does it burn?
The Aero-X fuel usage is similar to a light helicopter’s at approximately 8 gallons per hour. One key difference is the Aero-X uses automotive grade fuel, rather than the more expensive aviation gasoline.
Is it loud?
The fans themselves are not very loud, as the ducts that surround them prevent rotor clap. This is a benefit of almost all ducted fans. The engine’s exhaust system has 34 lbs of automotive mufflers that makes the sound similar to a motorcycle operating at 5,000 rpm.