System Components control flying - the Pilot just commands direction!
With those simple words, the management of the e-volo GmbH in Karlsruhe/Germany, circumscribe their futuristic development-target to build the "safest aircraft in the world". Unlike any other aircraft their Volocopter VC200 is steered solely by a single joystick, which makes the handling extremely easy. Levers for flaps, air-brakes, landing gear or even rudder-pedals? Not to be found in the cockpit of the VC200, as they are completely obsolete. Flying the craft with a single joystick only, the German Volocopter VC200 will be the first and only aircraft in the world, which could quite easily be flown and handled by disabled pilots. Without prior extensive and costly modifications. Compared to any other type of aircraft, handling the 18-engine Volocopter is extremely simple.
The two Founders Alexander Zosel (right) and Stephan Wolf (left) are very satisfied
Easy to fly like a home simulator
As flying a helicopter is considered to be the "pinnacle of aviation" and basic pilot-training consuming lots of expensive training-hours, the VC200 in contrary is easy to fly by anyone, more or less like a home-computer flight-simulator. With its single joystick at the center of the cockpit, the pilot only commands the direction to go to the left, to the right, forward, up or down. The complex electronic produces the flight condition, desired by the pilot, while keeping the Volocopter staple in the air.
The Volocopter is easy to fly, with one hand only and by the joystick mittels Joystick ist der Volocopter "kinderleicht" zu fliegen
By handling the VC200, worlds first manned and electrically powered 2-seater Ultralight-Helicopter, pilots do not have to worry about things like glide-angle, minimum-speed, stall-speed, pitch-control or many other subjects, each of them vital considerations in conventional aviation.
The VC200 requires only minor maintenance
Unlike traditional helicopters, the VC200 does not require complex systems to coordinate blade angles, torque correction or other elements for maneuverability and stability in flight. As the "mechanical simplicity" makes such "maintenance and service intensive components" obsolete, the VC200 can be operated with extremely low maintenance requirements, reducing the costs for service, overhaul and operations.
The crafts power-plant is a composite of 18 electrical motors
At the top of the cabin, the VC200 carries an annular frame, containing a composite of 18 electrical motors, arranged on six branches of three each. This 18 engine "power-pack" does not only provide the necessary impetus, but also steers the craft in all directions. Each engine drives a fixed-pitch propeller of its own, while the onboard computer-network controls the propeller-composite generating the required lift and targeted speed changes according to the Joystick-input by the pilot.
First test-flights were performed unmanned und remotely controlled from the ground, while the VC200 was "safely secured" by a long suspension line fixed to the ground. According to e-volo, various technical innovations have been flight-tested extensively during the November 2015th test-program. All systems are invented and developed by e-volo proofed their reliability.
Automatic-Altitude-Control and Automatic-Position-Hold, as well as the Automatic-Landing-System, all have been put into operation with high success. Proof was given, that even with "hands off the joystick", the Volocopter remains accurate at its present altitude and position "as nailed down to the sky", despite crosswind and/or turbulences. Automatic-Position-Hold and Automatic-Direction-Control is performed with a plurality of independent and mutually monitoring onboard computers, regulating each single engine separately in its speed. Once the pilot wants to land, he just has to activate a single switch at the top of the joystick. The Volocopter then hovers autonomously toward the ground, reducing its rate of descent automatically until the craft touches the ground soft and safely.
However, the central element of security is the Comprehensive-Redundancy-Concept for all electronic components, assuring safe and secure takeoff, flight and landing. Even in the unlikely event of multi-malfunction of several motors at the same time. All systems monitor proper functionality of each other, taking over duties of any malfunctioning device. A complete System-Safety-Check is activated and performed automatically, as soon as a button is pushed prior to flight. If all functions and interactions passed the check with success, the system reports its readiness to the pilot.
Thanks to the craft´s Automatic-Position-Hold, the Volocopter is stabilized during the flight at any time - automatically, directly and without any input by the pilot himself. He can rely on a system, forgiving any pilot-error. If he takes his hands of the joystick, the Volocopter automatically maintains height and position by itself.
In the unlikely event of a total loss of electricity or total failure of the onboard electronics, causing to stop all motors at the same time, the Volocopter of course can not autorotate to the ground like conventional helicopters. In such an inconvenient situation, the pilot can activate the Ballistic-Rescue-System, which brings him gently to the ground by parachute, together with the Volocopter.
The Ballistic Rescue System is activated by a handle (Safetylock must be removed before flight)
Flight-duration is merely about 20 minutes
As with currently available batteries in the market, a realistic flight duration of about 20 minutes can be achieved. But the flight duration may be extended in the near future to an hour or more by new battery-technologies. However, in order to implement flight durations of several hours already, the 2-seater Volocopter will be developed as a serial hybrid-aircraft. For this purpose, an internal combustion engine will power a generator, which in turn supplies electrical power to the battery and the 18 electric motors. Other technologies in development, such as suitable height-performance fuel cells, are also in consideration as future power-supply.
The revolutionary Safety-, Control- and Drive-System of the Volocopter is the basis for further developments and a perfect platform for vertical-takeoff manned aircraft and unmanned heavy-drones. The sophisticated design allows piloted, as well as remote-controlled or even fully automatic operations. It can be powered as needed or preferred, with purely electric or hybrid drive. According to demand, the product-family will be expanded in the near future by further manned and unmanned designs. Both, a single-seater VC100 as well as a four-seater VC400, exists already as vision in the mind of the designers.
New aviation-class for German Ultralight-Helicopters are required
Already in April 2013, the Federal Ministry of Transport (BMV) had commissioned the German Ultralight Association (DULV) and the German Aero Club (DAeC/LSG-B) both together, to test and document conditions under which Ultralight Helicopters could be certified and operated according to German regulations. The test-period had been initially set for two years. Uncertainty among manufacturers, concerns about necessary investments and the tight schedule especially, delayed the start of testing with several types of helicopters by almost a year.
Meanwhile, the test-phase is completed and the joint testing report was presented to the Federal Ministry by September 29th, 2015. As the experts have suggested some straightforward and minor technical changes, they also pointed out, that the aerodrome operators involved had given exclusively positive feedbacks. Also no complaints from aerodrome neighbors during flight operations had been received.
With MTOW of 450 kg, the Volocopter is rated in the same category as the above mentioned Ultralight-Helicopters. However, since the Ministry could be convinced about the innovative concept of the VC200 as electrical VTOL aircraft, a multi-year testing program to create a separate aviation-class for the Volocopter was decided. German Ultralight Association (DULV) and e-volo GmbH have already received a request to setup appropriate design specification, operating regulations and training guidelines for future pilot training.
Future is e-flight
The future trend in mobility development is clearly moving towards more environmental-friendly technologies like e-bikes, e-cars, e-planes and e-copters. In this sector of aviation, e-volo of Germany is the first company to develop a series production helicopter with electric drive. Its also significantly quieter than common helicopters with combustion engines or turbines, reducing the usual noise levels considerably. Zero emissions are achieved by exchangeable battery-packs, which at a later date could be supported by a serial hybrid solution. An optional pusher-drive, installed at the rear of the cabin, could eventually enable an even faster flying.
The pace of development is amazing
The revolutionary idea to design and build the Volocopter is based on the appearance of easy to fly quadrocopters at toys market, children could handle without any problems. The future founders of e-volo GmbH had been extremely fascinated. They started first considerations, if and how this technology could be adopted and further developed, to bring man into the air. Already in October 2010, the team with basic researches, as first calculations in the past month brought up positive results, that lifting the weight of a man into the air, would be possible by in-house developments and increased efficiency of existing technologies. Next step following was the planning of logistics for concrete implementation.
First Test-device in Mai 2011
Stefan Wolf programmed the first Flight-Control-Unit, Thomas Senkel developed the necessary Electric-Motors and the first Test-Carrier, while Alexander Zosel prepared the Media-Presentation about the project. Already at this early stage, safety aspects of all developmental decisions of the three Volocopter inventors were decisive.
First manned test-flight already five month later
World´s first manned flight by electric Multicopter in October 2011, marked a new milestone in aviation history. The spectacular flight of Thomas Senkel with the VC1 lasted 90 seconds. As stated by the test pilot and proofed in a YouTube video, the flight characteristics of the craft have been of good nature. As further remarked by the pilot: "Without any steering input, it would just hover there on the spot". The team of inventors had been overwhelmed by the global media attention. At the same time, they also noticed excellent signs of economic potential for Volocopters. Inquiries and additional ideas from all over the world confirmed e-volo´s intention to develop an aircraft of this specific kind. Shortly after the flight, it had been decided to set the VC1 out of operation and only use it as an exhibit.
In February 2012, the team of inventors claimed all rights for their Volocopter by Copyright-protection. Just in time for the official ceremony of the "GreenTec Award" in Berlin, the team celebrated the world premiere with its Volocopter VC200 prototype. Unluckily, competing against "Goliath" Airbus, the Volocopter of "David´s" e-volo ranked second.
Maidenflight of VC200-prototype
Already in November 2013, the VC200 performed successfully its maiden-flight inside the dm-arena in Karlsruhe/Germany. All expectations of the Volocopter-concept had been exceeded. Via the crowdfunding platform "Seedmatch", e-volo raised 1.2 million € within three days. Already € 500.000 had been subscribed over the first 2.5 hours, a new and spectacular European crowdfunding record!
Completion of electronic components
In August 2015, development and construction of new electronic components of the VC200 are completed. Testing of all components communicating with each other through the highly redundant Optical-Data-Network proceeds as estimated and test flight operation at the nearby airfield can be performed as scheduled.
November 2015: Test-flight-program successfully started
As last system-components of the VC200 had been put into operation and the craft lifted of the ground, the following technical milestones have been achieved during first flight:
- The joystick is put into operation.
Easy handling and flying of the Volocopter is demonstrated perfectly
- Optimized Height- and Position-Hold was set into operation
With hands-off the joystick in flight, the Volocopter remains at its height and position
just "as nailed down" in the sky
- To simulate occupant-weight, 120 kg ballast-bags loaded at pilot-seats for following flight-tests
The astonishing results of the German developer are amazing. From the initial spark by first radio controlled Quadrocopter toy to the first flight of a manned electrical powered Multicopter in less then five years time, a feat one must pay highest respects.
- is safe
- flies like a Helicopter
- is extremely easy to fly
- will have its own aviation-class in Germany
- is electrically powered
- draws its energy from batteries or serial hybrid-device
- create no noise
- needs lowest amount of maintenance
- causing extremely low operating-costs
- has cruising-speed up to 100 km/h
- has MTOW of 450 kg
- is a twin-seater
- serves as platform for further manned and unmanned
Source: e-volo GmbH (www.volocopter.com)