Paris Air Show

Agusta Westland all-electric tiltrotor makes Paris debut

 - June 17, 2013, 2:30 PM

AgustaWestland’s all-electric ducted fan Project Zero tiltrotor demonstrator is at the Paris Air Show, seen “in the flesh” for the first time.

Officially unveiled just before Heli-Expo 2013, the tilt-rotor is now visible opposite the Finmeccanica chalet (A232). It is sized for a single pilot but has been flight tested autonomously for “around an hour,” according to chief project engineer Luigi Umberto Ricci Moretti. While declining to discuss potential applications, he told AIN the concept could be suitable for either unmanned or manned applications. “We’re now evaluating how we might carry the concept forward,” he said.

Project Zero was carried out by a group of Finmeccanica companies, along with UK, U.S. and Japanese partners, and went from concept to flight test in just six months. The demonstrator is powered by a pair of electric motors driving three-bladed rotors, each rotor with electrically-actuated pitch control. The rotors rotate within independently controlled composite ducts. “We demonstrated it was extremely maneuverable and very stable in the hover,” said Moretti. He declined, however, to discuss precise performance details.

There are no hydraulics in the demonstrator–the landing gear, nacelle tilting mechanism and elevons being operated by electromechanical actuators. “The specialty of this vehicle is the demonstration of individual actuation as a platform for further development of ducted rotors,” said Moretti. He added that a future vehicle could be powered by non-electric motors and use conventional drive train elements.