Aurora Flight Sciences has announced that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded the company Phase 1B funding to continue participation in the DARPA Vertical Take Off and Landing Experiment Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program. The award is intended to carry Aurora’s participation in the project through a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) milestone in October 2015.
Aurora’s VTOL X-plane design seeks to use innovative distributed electric propulsion technology to achieve significant performance advances in both aerodynamics and propulsion. The design envisions no components used exclusively for vertical or horizontal flight; all components would be used throughout the full flight envelope. Aurora’s autonomous flight control systems would enable seamless transitions through various phases of powered flight.
Aurora’s team includes Rolls-Royce LibertyWorks, Honeywell, and ThinGap. Rolls-Royce provides efficient propulsion systems and Honeywell provides high-performance electrical power generation and distribution technology. ThinGap is providing their proven high-power and torque-density permanent magnet synchronous motors.
“Aurora’s innovative VTOL X-Plane design builds on our extensive heritage working for DARPA and the U.S. Army, including our GoldenEye ducted fan and our Excalibur turbine-electric hybrid aircraft,” said Aurora CEO John Langford. “Excalibur made its first flight in 2009, and provided the technical foundation for Aurora’s design for the DARPA VTOL X-Plane program.”