HAI Convention News

Unmanned helo fits in an SUV

 - February 25, 2008, 4:29 PM

CybAero president Peter Muhlrad said users can pack the Vantage unmanned helicopter in a Chevy Suburban and have it aloft in 20 minutes with no specialized pilot training. Swing open its detachable nose and swap out the payload, and the three-blade unmanned helicopter can accept hardware for missions ranging from aerial mapping to search and rescue.

The Vantage, which is on display in Booth No. 624, has logged 12 flight hours since its first flight on February 7. Its design is a commercial version of a prototype used in research conducted by the U.S. Navy, and its first delivery will likely be to an
undisclosed Department of Defense customer for use in surveillance, Muhlrad said. It will be equipped with the DRS Technologies GS207 infrared camera.

Thermal IR can also be directed for civil use, for example, to enable firefighters to map the core of a fire to help them contain it. Also, the unit can capture an air sample in its rotor wash to aid in analyzing industrial operations or to provide periodic monitoring along a pipeline or near an oil refinery. A winch system can also fit within its nose cone to conduct remote search and rescue or to lower supplies to a stranded crew.

The Vantage runs on a 42-hp, heavy-fuel (JP5, JP8, jet-A) rotary engine, the UEL 801. Its ducted tail rotor is electrically driven and draws power from an onboard starter and generator. With an overall length of 112 inches, rotor diameter of 109 inches and max weight of 380 pounds, the Vantage can reach a speed of 100 knots and a service ceiling of 8,000 feet.

Flight tests early this month were conducted at low speed over a preprogrammed flight course, though after final testing the Vantage is considered to be fully autonomous. Muhlrad envisions roles as diverse as border patrol, forest inspection, power-line monitoring and communications relay.

CybAero also builds the APID 55 Gimbal, a two-blade unmanned helicopter.