Dan Warnick

An exciting development in EV Aviation: Volocopter

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These guys are coming on strong having just over a year ago performing a publicly displayed test flight in Singapore, they are now in dual certification and approval stages with both EASA and the FAA.  Imagine a couple of thousand of these flying over cities in the near future!

Volocopter working toward FAA approval of VoloCity eVTOL

German urban air mobility company Volocopter has received Federal Aviation Administration permission to pursue certification of its autonomous, electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger drone for flights in the USA.

The company says on 15 January that in December the FAA accepted its ”application for concurrent type certificate validation” in both the USA and Europe. That means the company is working toward certification of its VeloCity aircraft design in both jurisdictions.

2020-12-21_volocopter0914-03

 

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2 more promotional videos for Singapore, who are committed to being the 1st city to offer such "zero emissions" air taxis in the world.

The 1st video is a cool promo and the 2nd one even contains estimated market entry pricing for a 15 minute flight, which should get you just about anywhere in Singapore, I should think.  They estimate that the pricing will fall drastically once the service takes off, but I have my doubts: At an estimated US$364 for a 15 minute flight, it will most likely hover around or possibly just below that price for some years.  I guess it depends on how many will be in the fleet or, possibly more importantly, how aggressive the Singaporean government plans to open its airspace to the mode.  Time will tell.

 

 

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Dude, you need to look at a calendar.  This is not April 1st.

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On 1/19/2021 at 9:53 AM, Dan Warnick said:

These guys are coming on strong having just over a year ago performing a publicly displayed test flight in Singapore, they are now in dual certification and approval stages with both EASA and the FAA.  Imagine a couple of thousand of these flying over cities in the near future!

I have no doubt at all that its technically possible, but they have been talking about those sort of vehicles in city areas for years. As I understand it the problem is noise.. a passenger carrying helicopter, electric or not, is still a noisy thing to have in city areas and you get substantial air drafts. The blades also require a lot of clearance. I don't think these can be used at street level. Using them to drop people on helipads at the top of major buildings is a distinct possibility and already happens to a certain extent. I don't know how much extra market there would be for these. Interesting but I wouldn't get enthusiastic. Using small autonomous drones to deliver parcels, now that's a possibility..  

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3 hours ago, markslawson said:

I have no doubt at all that its technically possible, but they have been talking about those sort of vehicles in city areas for years. As I understand it the problem is noise.. a passenger carrying helicopter, electric or not, is still a noisy thing to have in city areas and you get substantial air drafts. The blades also require a lot of clearance. I don't think these can be used at street level. Using them to drop people on helipads at the top of major buildings is a distinct possibility and already happens to a certain extent. I don't know how much extra market there would be for these. Interesting but I wouldn't get enthusiastic. Using small autonomous drones to deliver parcels, now that's a possibility..  

Hi Mark.  I appreciate your comments: constructive.

The point with Singapore is that they actively promote their city-state as THE one of the future, and they have backed up that commitment with large scale investments in all areas.

As for noise, I'd wager that 18 small bladed rotors slicing through the air are much quieter than 1-6 full sized helicopter rotor blades.  I'm sure we'll "hear" more about that as the next 2 years goes by.

I agree that these will not be used at street level, except at designated sub-stations.  Perhaps on top of public bus, subway and rail terminals?  Not the stops along the way perhaps , but I could see them on the main terminals.  But again, in the case of Singapore, they are a city of tall apartment buildings where most of the residents live, especially the well-healed.  An elevator ride to the top and you're on your way!  I am sure they have very specific plans for it, but I can imagine "queue-rooms" on the roof with automated check-in/out terminals, probably done by swiping your phone, the same with payments.  Nobody uses cash in Singapore anymore.  At least one of the videos I've posted shows the volocopter landing on an extended landing pad and then being moved inside for passenger loading/unloading (I imagine a track system similar to what a car wash might use).

As for safety, as stated in my OP, they are going to be certified by FAA and EASA, and then they will need to be certified be each country's regulatory authority before they can begin operations.  I believe they will also be required to operate under the Montreal Convention and The Hague Protocol or other Aviation insurance organizations, which will set insurance minimums, usually a Billion $$ policy minimums for aircraft, engines and liabilities these days, and other norms of operations, just like commercial aircraft including helicopters.

My opinion on how many Singapore will allow in their airspace?  I thin a 1/2 dozen in the initial phases for proving.  They will operate in very specific corridors with permission needed to venture outside of them.  If the safety and reliability become proven, I think you could see up to 50 operating around Singapore in the next 5 years (why not, I can guess :) ).  Maybe many more.  I believe Singapore aims to be the proving ground for the future of this mode of local transport, and if they are successful it will be one more revenue stream to the government and one more convenience for their citizens and visitors.

I'll leave it with you (where have I read that before?).

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I'd bet their less noisey than a regular helicopter so I don't see a noise issue. Reliability we will see but again we have helicopters. Volume to displace oil ... different market . Youd be using these as a alternative for: train+ troolly+ taxi ext where its much faster. Any market share taken from the road just allows more stuff on the road or an alternat user. This is solely for speed and will be pricey for people. 

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17 minutes ago, Rob Kramer said:

I'd bet their less noisey than a regular helicopter so I don't see a noise issue. Reliability we will see but again we have helicopters. Volume to displace oil ... different market . Youd be using these as a alternative for: train+ troolly+ taxi ext where its much faster. Any market share taken from the road just allows more stuff on the road or an alternat user. This is solely for speed and will be pricey for people. 

If they can evolve into, say, 12 person carriers the prices should become more affordable.  Ride sharing in the sky.  I could see the 2-seater versions being used by business traveller types.  They can have certain designated buildings with "launch pads", in any given neighborhood/fixed area.  External elevators/lifts for those not residing in those buildings, if they are in fact residential buildings.  I am interested in learning what the per unit cost is going to be for these buzz saws.  But that cost can be born either by the government, and therefore the taxpayer, or by investment vehicle.  The infrastructural systems could be handles similarly.

Just my thoughts, but Singapore is, if nothing else, a well managed city-state and when they set their minds to it they accomplish unbelievable tasks.  Just check out the amount of land they have added to their little island, not to mention transforming themselves into a major Petrochemical Connection:

Singapore Expansion: How Dredging Transformed an Island Nation Into an Industrial Capital

 

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1 hour ago, Dan Warnick said:

If they can evolve into, say, 12 person carriers the prices sho

Suggest some math... Unless you want more April 1st jokes at your expense

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(edited)

10 hours ago, markslawson said:

I have no doubt at all that its technically possible, but they have been talking about those sort of vehicles in city areas for years. As I understand it the problem is noise.. a passenger carrying helicopter, electric or not, is still a noisy thing to have in city areas and you get substantial air drafts. The blades also require a lot of clearance. I don't think these can be used at street level. Using them to drop people on helipads at the top of major buildings is a distinct possibility and already happens to a certain extent. I don't know how much extra market there would be for these. Interesting but I wouldn't get enthusiastic. Using small autonomous drones to deliver parcels, now that's a possibility..  

Perhaps another use would actually be air ambulances designed for larger cities with very bad traffic congestion such as Shanghai, LA, New York, Paris, Tokyo etc. Speed of response is critical in a lot of emergencies obviously and these would get the paramedics to the patient in no time even if they have to land on a roof near the scene.

I know this is a very niche market but perhaps even police departments could use them as well, making it less so.

Safety is a big question mark and they need to prove the autonomous flying function works especially in potentially crowded airspace over dense populations. Tesla's autonomous self driving cars have had several crashes for example.

 

 

Edited by Rob Plant
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1 hour ago, Rob Plant said:

Perhaps another use would actually be air ambulances designed for larger cities with very bad traffic congestion such as Shanghai, LA, New York, Paris, Tokyo etc. Speed of response is critical in a lot of emergencies obviously and these would get the paramedics to the patient in no time even if they have to land on a roof near the scene.

I know this is a very niche market but perhaps even police departments could use them as well, making it less so.

Safety is a big question mark and they need to prove the autonomous flying function works especially in potentially crowded airspace over dense populations. Tesla's autonomous self driving cars have had several crashes for example.

 

 

(To be clear: I am not a spokesperson for any of the "involved" parties, but rather merely an interested observer wishing to discuss the innovation, and the possibilities, such as Rob Plant offers above and all others.)

Rob,

Getting EMTs to the scene of an emergency is a great idea, and I should think MUCH cheaper than a full fledged, and full expense, helicopter with pilot, etc.

I agree that Police departments are of course giddy about any tech that gives them more surveillance capability, and I'm sure this one won't escape their attention.  

AS for autonomous operations, I agree, and fully expect Singapore and others to mandate a pilot be onboard for a long time until the safety and reliability of is in fact proven.  In the current offering that cuts down available seats by half, further limiting their attractiveness and doubling their cost per seat mile.  It will be a slow grind getting to fully autonomous ops.

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3 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

 

Getting EMTs to the scene of an emergency is a great idea, and I should think MUCH cheaper than a full fledged, and full expense, helicopter with pilot, etc.

You can't even fit 2 large adults with a bag of groceries in the thing... let alone a stretcher with occupant, or associated equipment.  It is literally worse than the first helicopter ever flown.   Why?  Batteries do not have enough energy density to get a useful load/duration off the ground.  

IF they were not perpetuating direct fraud and instead wanted to get closer to the capabilities of first Helo ever flown using batteries they would have started with a compound intermeshed helo like Kamen 43A as it is naturally stable, autogyros with high lift but low speed and low range, but high efficiency.  Instead they went with shit efficient small blades. 

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(edited)

1 hour ago, footeab@yahoo.com said:

IF they were not perpetuating direct fraud and instead wanted to get closer to the capabilities of first Helo ever flown using batteries they would have started with a compound intermeshed helo like Kamen 43A as it is naturally stable, autogyros with high lift but low speed and low range, but high efficiency.  Instead they went with shit efficient small blades. 

@Dan Warnick Its basically shit then Dan!

Edited by Rob Plant
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1 hour ago, footeab@yahoo.com said:

You can't even fit 2 large adults with a bag of groceries in the thing... let alone a stretcher with occupant, or associated equipment.  It is literally worse than the first helicopter ever flown.   Why?  Batteries do not have enough energy density to get a useful load/duration off the ground.  

IF they were not perpetuating direct fraud and instead wanted to get closer to the capabilities of first Helo ever flown using batteries they would have started with a compound intermeshed helo like Kamen 43A as it is naturally stable, autogyros with high lift but low speed and low range, but high efficiency.  Instead they went with shit efficient small blades. 

Hence my opinion of speed alone. Get 1 guy in get from A to B with the traffic in the dust and the forward momentum and speed to make some lift . Flight path of 90% direct travel. Essentially a A to B drone for 20 mins runtime  with a light load . Refill at destination . Not gonna be cheap but no aviation is. Again just my opinion. But smaller and bi directional blades are quiter . Each with a motor for saftey id think. 

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34 minutes ago, Rob Kramer said:

Hence my opinion of speed alone. Get 1 guy in get from A to B with the traffic in the dust and the forward momentum and speed to make some lift . Flight path of 90% direct travel. Essentially a A to B drone for 20 mins runtime  with a light load . Refill at destination . Not gonna be cheap but no aviation is. Again just my opinion. But smaller and bi directional blades are quiter . Each with a motor for saftey id think. 

Lower tip speed is quieter has zero to do with diameter.  Quieter still are rotors which are compound as it breaks up tip vortices as the counter blades cancel each others tip vortices out, or well smashes them together.  Smaller blades have higher hub to blade ratio which = inefficient and noisy as air passes around the hub in the form of vortices/drag so if you want efficient go with high diameter slow rotor speed.  Since a taxi is not looking for speed like a military helo or even most civilian helo's, you can go even slower rotor and even larger chord making them quieter still. 

Number of motors can go on a single spindle just fine.  Multi motor fixed pitch tiny blades cannot autogyro.  Compound helo with large blades can autogyro. 

No one is going to put up with a 15minute flight and a half hour or hour charge time in a taxi.  No one. 

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1 hour ago, Rob Plant said:

@Dan Warnick Its basically shit then Dan!

Well there you go then!

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2 hours ago, footeab@yahoo.com said:

You can't even fit 2 large adults with a bag of groceries in the thing... let alone a stretcher with occupant, or associated equipment.  It is literally worse than the first helicopter ever flown.   Why?  Batteries do not have enough energy density to get a useful load/duration off the ground.  

IF they were not perpetuating direct fraud and instead wanted to get closer to the capabilities of first Helo ever flown using batteries they would have started with a compound intermeshed helo like Kamen 43A as it is naturally stable, autogyros with high lift but low speed and low range, but high efficiency.  Instead they went with shit efficient small blades. 

We're talking about getting an EMT to the scene quickly to administer possibly life saving aid.  Ground transport can make its way through the city streets and get there later.  Major city EMTs can already do this on regular helicopters with enough portable equipment that fits in a backpack.  In the following video, you can see that one EMT of regular size can easily fit in the passenger seat and stow a backpack.  Since these types of vehicles are easier to fly than regular helicopters, more EMTs can be trained and licensed to fly them, allowing them to pack more gear into the passenger seat.  Open your mind, @footeab@yahoo.com, what do you have against all this?  I started this thread to discuss the possibilities.  Is that okay with you?

 

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55 minutes ago, footeab@yahoo.com said:

Lower tip speed is quieter has zero to do with diameter.  Quieter still are rotors which are compound as it breaks up tip vortices as the counter blades cancel each others tip vortices out, or well smashes them together.  Smaller blades have higher hub to blade ratio which = inefficient and noisy as air passes around the hub in the form of vortices/drag so if you want efficient go with high diameter slow rotor speed.  Since a taxi is not looking for speed like a military helo or even most civilian helo's, you can go even slower rotor and even larger chord making them quieter still. 

Number of motors can go on a single spindle just fine.  Multi motor fixed pitch tiny blades cannot autogyro.  Compound helo with large blades can autogyro. 

No one is going to put up with a 15minute flight and a half hour or hour charge time in a taxi.  No one. 

You are not wrong on many of your points, but there are innovations already at work by the biggest players, and they are continuing to innovate as we speak.

Airbus: Quiet, please! Sound reduction technology in rotorcraft

(Excerpt)

The future of sound

VTOL aircraft already fly over some of our cities. Helicopters transport medical patients to urban hospitals. Sound is part of the world we inhabit. The next step, says Tomasz Krysinski, Research & Technology Director at Airbus, is the “design for sound” of new aircraft, particularly to address the urban air mobility market.

One focus is exploring new configurations for air vehicles, to leverage on possibilities that could trigger significant benefits in sound reduction. The CityAirbus and Vahana VTOL vehicles with their multiple propellers, now in the demonstrator phase, will need to meet a level of sound acceptance that will be significantly more stringent to operate above cities. 

“It’s not only about designing silent products, it’s also about designing silent procedures for our products,” says Krysinski. To this end, the company is also working on another kind of sound reduction: optimising takeoff and landing procedures, and lowering real-life operational sound. BVI occurs in certain glide slope angles and not in others, so by designing a landing procedure with a steeper glide slope, sound can potentially be lowered. This is just one of the solutions being considered. Climbing procedures, too, may come under scrutiny. 

“Certification for sound is done under flight conditions that are imposed by authorities,” says Krysinski. “They are not necessarily the procedures flown by our customers daily. We are working on impacting the real sound people hear coming from our products.”

*VTOL: vertical takeoff and landing

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My comments on these get pretty repetitive, but I'm still going to say it:

 

sYnThEtIc fUeL

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My Dad was a helicopter instructor pilot.  He flew fixed wing also, but loved choppers.  I spent my High School years at the world's largest primary helicopter training base during the Vietnam war.   Daily, hundreds and hundreds of choppers were flying all over the area.

This electric style chopper is the future.  Carbon Dioxide is so dynamically demonized that this type of electric technology can only go up. 

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(edited)

4 hours ago, footeab@yahoo.com said:

Lower tip speed is quieter has zero to do with diameter.  Quieter still are rotors which are compound as it breaks up tip vortices as the counter blades cancel each others tip vortices out, or well smashes them together.  Smaller blades have higher hub to blade ratio which = inefficient and noisy as air passes around the hub in the form of vortices/drag so if you want efficient go with high diameter slow rotor speed.  Since a taxi is not looking for speed like a military helo or even most civilian helo's, you can go even slower rotor and even larger chord making them quieter still. 

Number of motors can go on a single spindle just fine.  Multi motor fixed pitch tiny blades cannot autogyro.  Compound helo with large blades can autogyro. 

No one is going to put up with a 15minute flight and a half hour or hour charge time in a taxi.  No one. 

Probably why 🚁 are the way they are... I saw like 4 yesterday. But only argument rebuttal would be the passenger goes on to do their task and the pilot waits. ...there's not going to be a lineup for expensive local superfast travel. And if there is its 30min apart lol and 1 per stop. Its not a litteral taxi. Or there needs to be a large fleet while few actually have pilots and juice to fly. ... again Probably why were not all in flying cars (helicopters)

I'm no expert at all on aviation.  But I was assuming the cage for the blades acted as a shroud/ noise deflector and the multi engine made the blade tips smaller and quieter. And if its lighter than a reg heli mabey the blades have more pitch and cross rotation i dono. I assumed there was a reason it was like that.

Edited by Rob Kramer
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20 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

My opinion on how many Singapore will allow in their airspace?  I thin a 1/2 dozen in the initial phases for proving.  They will operate in very specific corridors with permission needed to venture outside of them.  If the safety and reliability become proven, I think you could see up to 50 operating around Singapore in the next 5 years (why not, I can guess :) ).  Maybe many more. 

No real argument on this.. if the Singaporeans can make it work, fine .. I have my reservations but I'm happy to be proved wrong.  

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6 hours ago, Tom Nolan said:

My Dad was a helicopter instructor pilot.  He flew fixed wing also, but loved choppers.  I spent my High School years at the world's largest primary helicopter training base during the Vietnam war.   Daily, hundreds and hundreds of choppers were flying all over the area.

This electric style chopper is the future.  Carbon Dioxide is so dynamically demonized that this type of electric technology can only go up. 

I was trained and obtained my A&P licenses for both fixed wing and helos.  I was a founding member of The Helicopter Club of America since my days in Av Tech School.  I still love helicopters and the unique missions they can accomplish.  I also agree with you, there is a future in these machines powered by batteries and I find it interesting to watch the continued evolution and developments across the aviation sector.  Technological pioneers on so many fronts.

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4 hours ago, Rob Kramer said:

But I was assuming the cage for the blades acted as a shroud/ noise deflector and the multi engine made the blade tips smaller and quieter. And if its lighter than a reg heli mabey the blades have more pitch and cross rotation i dono. I assumed there was a reason it was like that.

Great observation.  There's a lot to the subject, but overall ducted or shrouded fans outperform open or un-ducted fans.  Noise can more easily be dealt with as well.  Here's a great short article on the subject:

Duct Myths, Duct Physics

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(edited)

6 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Great observation.  There's a lot to the subject, but overall ducted or shrouded fans outperform open or un-ducted fans.  Noise can more easily be dealt with as well.  Here's a great short article on the subject:

Duct Myths, Duct Physics

Uh, did you BOTHER to read your own link?  Let me quote basic aerodynamics for you...

" While these highly loaded fans (if properly designed) will be more efficient than a free propeller of the same diameter, they typically won’t match the efficiency of a larger free propeller (of much lower disk loading), "

lower disk loading also = quieter as downwash velocity is much lower. 

Normal, non ducted Helo's do not use fixed ducted fans for the simple reason that they limit top speed to less than 60mph as you lose lift.  To get over this hump you have to tilt the duct which massively increases complexity and then you have to tilt past 30 degrees if I remember the paper correctly for why hovercraft for individuals have never surpassed this mark without resorting to wings or a lifting body which adds weight.  If in a very dense city where your top speed never approaches 60mph then a fixed ducted fan can work to slightly increase efficiency or you get identical efficiency by going to longer blades.  Why?  Lose immense amounts of efficiency for every G of acceleration and corresponding frictional loses the air must undergo compared to the airflow the craft is operating in. 

The only thing a duct actually does is slightly decrease noise for sub sonic Mach numbers, or if you are limited by RPM then an increase in efficiency is possible if you cannot slow the RPM down allowing longer blades.  Trade one complexity for another.  Trans sonic and compressibility are an entirely different kettle of fish. 

Edited by footeab@yahoo.com

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