FAQ


  • Yes, Frank Piasecki and the Piasecki Company, who were the pioneers of the 'flying jeep' design, were the real visionaries when it comes to ducted-fan, VTOL aircraft.  Unfortunately, Piasecki's vision was far ahead of the technology available at the time to make it happen.  Basic aerospace technologies such as efficient, lightweight engines, advanced composite materials, advanced sensors and flight control computers simply didn't exist.  Without them, it's impossible to make a safe  'ducted-fan' design that can fulfill a reasonable mission.  The 'flying jeeps' had a total flight endurance of 20 minutes (with no reserve!), a top speed of 40 knots and were extremely difficult to control in gusty wind conditions. Moreover, turbine powered helicopters were being developed at the same time and had begun to prove their value during the Vietnam conflict.  As a result, all work on the early 'flying jeeps’ was essentially abandoned and VTOL development focused on helicopters.

     

  • First of all, Fancraft™ have the benefit of more than 40 years of aerospace development during which many of the basic challenges that limited the 'flying jeeps’ have been addressed.  Efficient, lightweight turbine engines, advanced composite materials, advanced sensors and flight control computers are all standard components in the aerospace industry and are incorporated in all of UrbanAero's Fancraft™ designs.  That means that the only big obstacles that we needed to overcome were the inherent aerodynamic limitations of the early ducted-fans:  stability, forward speed and efficiency.

     

  • 'Ducted-fans' have three significant aerodynamic challenges:  a) stability, b) forward speed, and, c) efficiency.  UrbanAero's unique Fancraft™ technologies have not only successfully overcome these challenges but in the process have also generated unprecedented capabilities.
     
    These three, principal enabling technologies are:
     
    a) Stability: A “Vane Control System” (VCS), that is comprised of a cascade of vanes at both the inlet and outlet of the ducts that can be deflected either in unison (top and bottom) or differentially to generate either pure side force or pure rolling moment.  The vanes in these ducts (front and back) can also be deflected differentially to generate yaw.  The bottom line is that the VCS generates motion in six degrees of freedom entirely independent of one another.  This is a capability that is unprecedented in the history of aviation. For the first time, UA has created a vehicle that can move sideways without the need to roll and vice versa and any combination of roll and translation.  In addition, the VCS generates such a great amount of control power, at such high bandwidth that the vehicle can withstand gusts of up to 50 knots.  (US Patents # 6,464,166 and 6,817,570)
     
    b) Forward Speed: Reconfigurable ducts are comprised of a set of louvers at the front of the forward duct and rear of the aft duct that open during forward flight to allow the incoming flow to move through the duct and thereby greatly reduce drag to enable forward speeds of 100-120 knots in contrast to a top speed of typically 40 knots in a conventional ducted-fan design. (US Patent # 7,806,362B2)
     
    c) Efficiency: Close aerodynamic tailoring between the lift rotors and the fuselage whereby the fuselage itself functions as an airfoil and generates sufficient lift at high speed (in excess of 50% of what the aircraft requires) to be able to off-load 50% of the needed lift from the rotors, thereby vastly increasing efficiency and endurance.(US Patent # 7,806,362B2).

     

  • Fancraft™ have two significant features that make them inherently safer than helicopters.  The first is the absence of a large, exposed rotor.  Rotor strikes are the primary cause of accidents in helicopters and their most significant operational limitation.  Second, due to the absence of a rotor, Fancraft™ can and will be equipped with a ballistically deployed parachute to be used in cases of catastrophic engine failure.  In addition, there is a high level of redundancy in all critical systems and Fancraft™ are designed from the outset to meet existing FAA certification standards.

     

  • FAA certification has been a prime consideration in every aspect of Fancraft™ development from earliest conception to every aspect of the design.  With this in mind, UrbanAero has chosen to use entirely off-the-shelf, FAA certified aerospace components such as certified helicopter turbine engines, computers, propellers and gear boxes.  Fancraft™ are designed in compliance with the FAA's FAR Part 27 and Part 29 (depending on weight) certification standards.  The also comply with the special 'Powered Lift’ certification standard that was developed for Tilt-Rotor aircraft.  While Fancraft™  will have to go through the standard certification procedures, we have done everything possible to ensure that the process will move forward in a predictable and successful manner.  

     

  • The UrbanAero engineering team is comprised of individuals with many decades of experience in some of the top aerospace companies in the world, including Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Northrop Grumman and Boeing.  Many on the team were responsible for the development of IAI's 'Lavi' fighter aircraft and 'Astra' business jet as well as pioneering work in the field of unmanned aircraft.  These engineers have extensive experience in every aspect of aircraft design, testing and certification.  There are also a number of very experienced fixed wing and rotorcraft pilots on the team, including some of the most experienced test-pilots in the world.  

     

  • No.  Fancraft™ will be integrated as a compliment to existing helicopter fleets.  The relationship of Fancraft™ to helicopters is similar to the relationship of helicopters to fixed-wing aircraft.  Helicopters didn't replace fixed-wing aircraft but they did extend the reach and capabilities of aviation.  Fancraft™ will do something similar.  They won't replace helicopters but they will expand the aviation envelope by making it possible to fly in airspace that even helicopters can't access. 

     

  • Aerocar, Terafuggia and many other 'flying car' designs are actually what are known as 'roadable aircraft'.    A roadable aircraft is essential a hybrid that that combines the flying capability of a fixed wing aircraft with the option of being driven as an automobile on the ground.  Like a fixed wing aircraft, roadable aircraft require a runway for both takeoff and landing and are therefore dependent on airports.  Fancraft™ can take off and land vertically and are capable of true point-to-point aerial access independent of airports.  As a result, Fancraft™ will be able to fly you directly from one location to another while 'roadable' aircraft will not.  'Roadable' aircraft will be able to fly you from one airport to the other with the added convenience of being able to drive to your specific destination in the same vehicle.

     

  • In fact, Fancraft™ are much quieter than helicopters.  In current testing we are measuring 87 decibels during hover of our AirMule prototype at a distance of 125 feet.  Interior cabin noise was measured in hover at 95 decibels. This data reflects an aircraft that has not yet incorporated any acoustic treatment or liners.  Once these technologies are integrated, there will be an even greater improvement in the noise levels.

     

  • While Fancraft™ may well eventually be the basis for a Personal Aerial Vehicle (PAV) or 'flying car', it will be some time before that is a realistic possibility.  For now, the cost of such an aircraft is beyond the reach most individuals and the regulatory infrastructure (highways-in-the-sky) that would be necessary in order to safely fly multitudes of aerial vehicles in constricted airspace is still not in place.  NASA and other organizations around the world are working on it, but we're not there yet.  For now, we believe that Fancraft™ will be operated by current helicopter operators: military, emergency responders, police, off-shore oil rig services, power companies, executive transportation services, etc.  In short, our long-term vision includes the 'flying car' concept but it will take some time to get there.