Airplane + Helicopter + Hovercraft + Airship = ESTOLAS
What do you get if you cross an airplane with a helicopter, with a hovercraft, with an airship? The European Commission's Extremely Short Take Off and Landing on Any Surface (ESTOLAS) project.
One of the ESTOLAS aircraft's prospective missions is to rapidly deploy aid to disaster zones, where the area is not accessible using conventional aircraft. Each element of the ESTOLAS aircraft contributes toward this overall mission.
- Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) is provided by the helicopter-like central fan and further assisted by the option to use an airship-like internal bladder filled with helium.
- Fast transit time is possible using the airplane-like wings for efficient lift and dedicated rear-facing twin propellers.
- All terrain landing on land or water is catered for by directing the downward thrust of the central fan through a hovercraft-like skirt.
Combining all these features in a single aircraft will be a challenging integration project. Of primary concern will be the aerodynamic characteristics and integration - sounds like a job for Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).
- Source: Hybrid ESTOLAS aircraft combines aspects of a plane, helicopter, hovercraft and airship, gizmag
- More coverage: Helium-filled airplane could help in disaster zones, New Scientist
- ESTOLAS Project