Swiss startup Dufour Aerospace has shared new images of its tilt-wing Aero3 eVTOL concept, which now has additional propellers on its wing and a redesigned tail.
The piloted hybrid-electric aircraft is being developed to compete with today’s helicopters for missions including passenger transport and emergency medical services. Capable of seating up to eight people, it is targeting a cruise speed of 350 kilometers per hour (around 215 miles per hour), a range of up to 1,020 km (630 miles), and a useful load of 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds). That useful load figure includes fuel for its hybrid propulsion system, the details of which have yet to be confirmed.
Earlier conceptual images of the Aero3 showed a total of four propellers across its tilting wing, similar to the technology demonstrator that completed initial flight testing last year. The new design features six propellers distributed across the main wing, increasing redundancy, plus two smaller propellers on the tail.
Dufour announced last year that it had received a grant from the Swiss innovation agency Innosuisse to conduct wind tunnel testing for the Aero3. According to Dufour co-founder and chief technology officer Jasmine Kent, “Our test flights with a large-scale demonstrator and the wind tunnel tests have clearly confirmed the exceptional performance and versatility of the tilt-wing design. The results met our high expectations.”
She added that the tilt-wing concept has already been demonstrated in projects such as the Canadair CL-84, “so there are fewer risks than with other VTOL concepts.”
According to Dufour chief commercial officer Sascha Hardegger, Dufour now expects to build its first full-scale prototype next year and commence flight testing toward the end of 2022. The company is working toward certification of the Aero3 by the end of 2025.
In the meantime, Dufour also expects to commercialize a smaller drone version of the aircraft for applications including logistics, inspection, monitoring, mapping, and public safety. The company said it will publish the specifications for this “Aero2” model at a later date.
Earlier this year, Dufour announced it had secured an undisclosed amount of additional funding in a round led by the early stage venture fund session.vc. Hardegger told eVTOL.com that while the company is preparing its next financing round, it is too early to share further details.