Runway-Independent Aircraft (tilt-wing, tilt-rotor, VSTOL, airships, wing-in-ground-effect) are steadily becoming more prominent in aviation. Examples of these concepts include Disc-Rotor technologies that marry the best features of a helicopter and an airplane. The Disc-Rotor program aims to develop a new type of aircraft capable of a seamlessly transitioning from hovering like a helicopter to flying like a plane. The design is propelled by rotor blades that extend from a central disc, letting it take off and land like a helicopter. However, those can also retract into the disc, minimizing drag and letting the Disc-Rotor fly like a plane, powered by engines beneath each wing.
Much of the current literature on runway-independent aircraft is devoted to concerns on noise pollution, due to increased jet blast hazards for vertical propulsion. Terminal traffic flows for this category of aircraft must also be closely coordinated with conventional traffic. Currently, vertical-takeoff technology is being analyzed by DARPA for use in unmanned aerial vehicles, which can require up to 4,000 feet of runway to take off under normal circumstances. The commercial sector, including companies such as Lilium, Airbus, and Uber, have put forth designs of their own meant for smaller-scale use, seating 5 people at maximum. Airbus’s design involves eight separate rotors, which can be tilted after takeoff to allow for horizontal flight, and a detachable passenger pod.
- Near misses during novel airport operations
- Failure to yield aircraft rights of way
- Airship loss of control during ground operations in wind
- Jet blast hazards in ground effect
Corroborating sources and comments
Virginia Stouffer, Jesse Johnson, Jing Hees, Jeremy Eckhause, Dou Long
12/1/2003LMI Report #: NS259T1
Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics: Foundation for the Future, Steering Committee for the Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics, Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, National Research Council
The Disc-Rotor is a collaboration between DARPA and Boeing. Hoping to marry the best features of a helicopter and an airplane, the Disc-Rotor program aims to develop a new type of aircraft capable of a seamlessly transitioning from hovering like a helicopter to flying like a plane.
The design is propelled by rotor blades that extend from a central disc, letting it take off and land like a helicopter. But those blades can also retract into the disc, minimizing drag and letting the Disc-Rotor fly like a plane, powered by engines beneath each wing.
https://www.army.mil/article/167570/Army_seeking_runway_independent_UAS__other_aviation_modernization (Use of runway-independent systems on unmanned vehicles, i.e. drones?)
https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdf/10.2514/6.2005-909 (2005 report on trajectory optimization for minimal interference into existing traffic)
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/fury-ramps-up-flight-tests-ahead-of-lrip-436608/ (Another mention of runway-independent UAVs. See also AoC_009.)
https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/pdfplus/10.2514/1.15692 (Updated version of the second source on this list; date 2006).
http://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Parallel_Runway_Operation (Skybrary article on the implementation of parallel runway systems; good starting point!)
https://lilium.com/ (Styles itself as “the first electrical vertical take-off and landing jet”; only holds 5 people, but could provide insights into the commercialization of the field. Could also fall into AoC_011)
http://www.popularmechanics.com/flight/a23497/airbus-vertical-takeoff-plane-2020/ (Showcases Airbus’s VOTL design, and mentions Uber as another competitor.)
http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2016/03/05/lightningstrike-vertical-takeoff-aircraft-orig-vstop-dlewis.cnn (U.S. military supported design for a UAV.)
https://www.verticalmag.com/news/surefly-personal-vtol-unveiled-paris-air-show/ (Commercially available VTOL craft unveiled at the Paris Air Show, the SureFly. It controls with a simple joystick interface, with an automated system controlling for altitude. The developers, Workhorse, are mostly known for their work on electric pickup trucks, although they’ve been working on carbon-fiber delivery drones.)
https://www.wired.com/story/neva-airquadone-flying-cars-paris-air-show/ (Another flying car design from Paris Air Show, this time by Neva Aerospace. The AirQuadOne uses four electric turbofans and has a 25-mile range.)