Karlsruhe, November 2015. Safely piloting a helicopter requires a very high degree of piloting skill. Up until now, flying a helicopter has been one of the ultimate challenges in the aviation world. Karlsruhe-based company e-volo GmbH recently finished its first easy-to-fly helicopter, the 2-seater Volocopter VC200, and performed test flights in the open. In the process, the company’s CEO Alex Zosel remotely flew the Volocopter for the first time – single-handed and only with a joystick. Zosel himself is extremely impressed by how easily and intuitively the VC200 is operated.
Alex Zosel is thrilled after his first flight and explained that “for years, we have claimed that the Volocopter is super easy to fly, now we’ve proven it in a very impressive way. I did not have any experience flying the VC200 before the flight. Nevertheless, it was extremely easy to control and land from the ground. This is a revolution in the history of helicopters. I thank our fantastic development team, which made this possible.”
In the course of a November test-flight program, comprising of multiple unmanned flights with the VC200 on the airfield adjacent to the company work shop, e-volo was able to extensively test various technical innovations that don’t exist in conventional helicopters. The e-volo team was able to put the automatic altitude control, position hold, and landing systems into operation. These enable the Volocopter to stay in one position accurately and automatically, even in turbulence or crosswinds. To land, the pilot only needs to operate the altitude control. The Volocopter will descend towards the ground, automatically slowing when close, until it touches down softly. As soon as all requirements of the responsible aviation authorities are fulfilled, first manned flights will follow shortly.
A video of the flights as well as an outlook on a potential future product portfolio, which consists of unmanned cargo drones in addition to a 1 and 2-seater, can be found on the e-volo homepage.
In the video, the pilot lets go of the joystick, puts his hands up in the air, and the Volocopter remains in the same place. To land, the pilot only presses down on the altitude control. The helicopter lands completely automatically and very smoothly. The Volocopter was flown with an additional load of 120 kg on the seats to simulate the weight of the pilot.
For more information, see www.volocopter.com
To use the YouTube Videos for online-media: www.youtube.com/user/Volocopter
About the Volocopter:
The system flies — the pilot controls
It is the declared development goal of the Karlsruhe-based e-vole GmbH to construct the safest sports aircraft in the world. In addition the ground-breaking, vertical takeoff aircraft, the Volocopter, is easy to fly and emission-free. Thus in the case of the first manned, electrically operated helicopter the mechanics have been reduced to a minimum by contrast with conventional helicopters. The 2 seater ultralight aircraft is thus extremely low-maintenance. An extensive redundancy concept for all the electronic components also makes secure continued flying and secure landing possible even if several motors fail. The Volocopter is solely piloted using a joystick. Thus its handling is extremely easy by contrast with any other aircraft. The Karlsruhe-based company achieves zero emissions through replaceable energy sources such as rechargeable batteries. A serial hybrid solution is also possible upon request.
Development plan – modular platform for manned and unmanned aircrafts
The revolutionary safety, control and propulsion system of the Volocopter will serve as a platform for additional aircraft in the future. It is the perfect platform both for vertical takeoff manned aircraft and also for heavy-duty drones. The flight concept of the Volocopter facilitates piloted, remote-controlled or even completely autonomous air operations. In this way the most diverse applications purpose will become possible. The modular flight systems can be developed in various size categories. In this case a purely electric or hybrid form of propulsion can be used depending on your requirements. In line with demand the product family will be systematically extended by manned and unmanned systems in the coming years.
The key safety element with the Volocopter is the comprehensive redundancy concept of its components. Thus all the safety-relevant systems are present multiple times, mutually monitor each other and immediately rectify a potential malfunction of a component by jointly assuming their tasks. Even in the event of the malfunction of several motors the Volocopter can, for instance, still continue flying and landing safely. The system safety check of all components before the flight is performed automatically at the press of a button and reports the operational readiness following a successful inspection. When experiencing turbulence the pilot does not have to intervene as the situation is automatically compensated for by the aircraft. In this process the system reacts significantly more quickly than the pilot, i.e. in a fraction of a second. Even if the pilot should lose his sense of direction for a moment, the system still offers a solution. By pressing an emergency button the Volocopter stops in midair, is stabilized and slowly glides to the ground. In addition, the Volocopter is equipped with an overall rescue system in the form of a parachute. Using it the entire aircraft securely descends to the ground in an emergency.
In the case of conventional helicopters the mechanics are very intricate due to complicated drive and control mechanisms, the maintenance is extremely cost-intensive as a result of this. However, in the case of the Volocopter it is controlled without any mechanical parts meaning it is very low-maintenance. The bearings of the electric motors and the rotors also run virtually without any wear, their maintenance is consequently reduced to a minimum. Thus the Volocopter is much more economical in terms of its consumption levels, its care and servicing than a conventional helicopter.
Easy to fly
The control of an aircraft has until now required the great flying expertise of the pilot to monitor and correct the flight altitude. By contrast flying a vertical takeoff and landing Volocopter is very simple for the pilot as he flies by himself due to the fact the sensor technology generates the flight condition. This means the pilot stipulates the direction such as forwards, to the right, to the left, up and down and the electronics create the altitude. The adaptive altitude regulation then keeps the Volocopter in a stable position in the air. Thus its handling is child’s play by contrast with any other aircraft.
The pilot does not need to worry at all about the gliding angle, minimum speeds, stalling, mixture control, pitch adjustment and many other things that are so demanding in conventional flying, as he only specifies the direction. A ring-shaped frame carries 18 electrical motors which ensure the necessary uplift and serves to control the aircraft. Each one of them drives its own rotor. The rotors generate the entire uplift and additionally ensure the control of the aircraft through targeted changes in the rotational speed. In this process no mechanics for the pitch are necessary on the rotors by contrast with the conventional helicopter. The automatic position control and the direction control is achieved using several independent board computers that also mutually monitor one another, which separately control each motor’s speed of rotation. An optional, additional propulsion drive can facilitate even quicker flying speeds.
The new mobility trend is clearly moving towards environmental-friendly technologies: beginning with the car, via the e-bike and extending to the Volocopter. e-volo is the first company to develop a helicopter with an electric drive. This is also considerably quieter and thus reduces the levels of noise pollution. The Karlsruhe-based company achieves zero emissions through replaceable energy sources such as rechargeable batteries. Whilst a battery-powered flight duration of approx. 20 minutes can currently be realized, this will become as much as an hour and more in the near future. The 2 seater Volocopters will be developed as serial hybrid electrical aircraft to ensure flight times of several hours can now already be realized. To this end a combustion engine will drive a generator which for its part provides the battery and electrical motors with electricity. Other technologies that are in the process of development, such as the high-performance fuel cells that are suitable for the system, may also be considered as the source of power supply in the future.
- is safe
- flies like a helicopter
- is extremely easy to fly
- gets its own aviation class in Germany
- is driven electrically
- draws its energy from batteries or a serial hybrid
- does not generate any noise pollution
- is low-maintenance
- causes extremely low operating costs
- flies up to a speed of 100 kph
- weighs 450 kg with passengers
- is a 2 seater aircraft
- serves as a platform for additional manned and unmanned aircraft
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