Development of “Aria”, a compact, ultra-quiet personal electric helicopter

David Coleman, Atanu Halder, Farid Saemi, Carl Runco, Hunter Denton, Bochan Lee, Vishaal Subramanian, Eric Greenwood, Vinod Lakshminaryan, Moble Benedict

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

This paper describes the development and flight testing of a personal air vehicle by team Harmony for the Boeing GoFly X-prize challenge. For the $1mil grand prize, aircraft were scored by compact size, speed, low noise, and endurance. The team chose a coaxial electric helicopter configuration to maximize rotor area and reduce disk loading for efficiency and acoustic benefits. The rotors were designed through an extensive parametric study using an in-house performance code. Air loads were modeled in HPCMP CREATE™-AV Helios for validation, then used in an in-house acoustics solver to estimate sound pressure levels. A quiet electric power train was developed, as well as a custom 11kWh, 200lb (90.7kg) battery pack. The flight dynamics of the configuration were modeled and the stability analyzed. Structural analysis was utilized in designing key load-bearing parts. Flight control was implemented with dual, independent, electronically coupled swashplates. First, a 1/3rd scale prototype aircraft was developed to validate the design and acoustic predictions. Then a full-scale, 520lb (235.4kg) prototype with an 8.5ft (2.59m) rotor diameter was developed and accumulated 19.5hrs of testing time. During hovering, the sound pressure levels at 50ft (15.24m) were 73dBA, remarkably low for a rotorcraft. The results of this study underscored the endurance limitation of electric flight due to poor battery performance, as well as the need for reliable, lightweight hardware for such applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication77th Annual Vertical Flight Society Forum and Technology Display, FORUM 2021
Subtitle of host publicationThe Future of Vertical Flight
PublisherVertical Flight Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781713830016
StatePublished - 2021
Event77th Annual Vertical Flight Society Forum and Technology Display: The Future of Vertical Flight, FORUM 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: May 10 2021May 14 2021

Publication series

Name77th Annual Vertical Flight Society Forum and Technology Display, FORUM 2021: The Future of Vertical Flight

Conference

Conference77th Annual Vertical Flight Society Forum and Technology Display: The Future of Vertical Flight, FORUM 2021
CityVirtual, Online
Period5/10/215/14/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering

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