Aurora Lightningstrike Self Flying X-Plane Completes its First Flight

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aurora’s ‘lightningstrike’ vertical take-off and landing X-plane prototype completes its planned flight test program in southern maryland, USA. the Aircraft successfully demonstrated that its the first aircraft in history designed with hybrid-electric propulsion fans, an electric drive-ystem, tilting wings plus canard, creating high-efficiency in both hover and high-speed forward flight.

all images © aurora

aurora’s ‘lightningstrike’ self flying X-plane is a tilt-wing unmanned aerial vehicle powered by an electric distributed propulsion system. twenty four variable-pitch ducted fans driven by electric motors provide thrust for both hover and cruise, while a single rolls-royce ‘AE 1107C’ turboshaft engine drives three honeywell generators powering the wing and canard electric motors. the X-plane is being developed with the goal of achieving a top flight speed of 300 – 400 knots, with a 15% increase in hover efficiency, and a two-fold increase in speed over helicopters.

the self flying aircraft is a 325 pound, lithium battery powered scale model of the projected 12,000 pound, 61 foot wingspan X-plane. it will remain in flight status to supplement the full-scale ‘lightningstrike’ flight test program, scheduled to begin in late 2018.

‘we have pursued, developed and flown an extraordinary aircraft and matured key and innovative technologies in support of the future of vertical flight’, comments aurora founder and CEO john langford. he continues, ‘this is clearly an achievement like no other, and will be surpassed only by the flight of the full-scale aircraft.’

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