Asia Civil

Now that’s an AIRplane! Homemade inflatable drone reaches speeds of 120mph

Chinese Engineer Present Lifes Work On Indestructable Inflatable Plane

By Jonathan O’Callaghan for MailOnline

Zhang Bingyan, 69, started working on his designs as an engineer with the Henan Normal University in Xinxiang, China in 1993.

He has now unveiled the results of more than 20 years of research in creating a ‘soft body aeroplane’ at the Tianjin International UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Exhibition.

His designs, looking a bit like an inflatable lilo, have nothing inside them but air.

The plane, called the Sf-1, has an average speed of 120 miles (120km) per hour and can fly up to 3,000 metres (10,000ft) with a maximum load of 25 kg (55lbs).

Aside from the engine that powers a rear-mounted propeller and wheels at the bottom the entire vehicle is made of a rubber composite and a high-strength fibre material. 

The flexibility of the plane also means that, even if it falls from the sky, it will likely survive an impact with the ground.

It costs between £20,000 and £30,000 ($32,400 and $48,600) to make.

One of the designs was able to reach spectacular speeds of up to 120 miles (190km) per hour, weighing 90kg (200lbs) with a six-metre (20ft) wingspan.

‘I developed a special high-strength fibre material which has a tensile strength of 10 to 15 times that of steel,’ he said.

‘No matter what happens, the aircraft will not be damaged in a collision under any circumstances and that’s the best way to protect human life.’

Zhang Bingyan graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology in the 1960s and was later assigned to the Chinese Commission of Science and Technology and Industry for National Defence to be engaged in engine research.

His latest design, which is the culmination of all of his work so far, is effectively an inflatable aircraft that because of its lightweight design, compared with a normal aircraft, has a big load capacity.

It also has good flexibility and, as with his earlier designs, high impact resistance.

He said it can be used for low speed and low altitude navigation, aerial surveys and remote sensing.

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