Jetoptera has completed a fourth Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract awarded by the US Air Force that realized the first experimental evaluation of Jetoptera’s revolutionary concept of “3-in-1” propulsion, which enables aircraft to take off and land vertically (VTOL), yet accelerate to jet speeds in forward flight configuration- a High-Speed VTOL (HSVTOL). The technology presents several fundamental advantages over VTOL legacy systems, emitting lower, atonal noise and benign exhaust temperatures while eliminating rotors or propellers. It employs very reliable and low-maintenance turbocompressors which are easy to adapt from current highly reliable turbines. Jetoptera designed, built and tested an Upper Surface Blown Wing (USB) equipped powered-high-lift test article integrating Jetoptera’s Fluidic Propulsive System™ (FPS™). The experimental data produced informs the concepts critical to the delivery of a HSVTOL aircraft conceptual design. A subscale model of this conceptual aircraft is currently being studied and tested in a wind tunnel.
Jetoptera teamed with Scaled Composites, a Northrop Grumman company, for the design of the high lift system and test article, as well as the conceptual design of the HSVTOL aircraft. The high-efficiency electric booster compressor used in the testing was procured. Static testing was performed with Scaled Composites.
The recently completed contract allowed sizing, and optimization of the FPS™ and USB configuration using static and wind tunnel data, building on data obtained in previous SBIR and STTR contracts. The team achieved a number of firsts, including testing with an electric air compressor feeding the FPS™ thruster-ejectors, which may be used to distribute primary air across the aircraft for hybrid or fully electric systems; optimization of a high-lift flap system working with FPS™ for maximum lift production; demonstration of lift coefficients exceeding 8.0 – up to 40% better than propeller blown wings results obtained under other programs and with lower noise emission and vibrations; and delivery of a first of a kind HSVTOL aircraft concept that embeds the data-validated principles honed under this SBIR. The conceptual aircraft is predicted to perform at Mach numbers of 0.8. A separate, ongoing STTR Phase II program will validate its design in the first half of 2023. The maximum speeds predicted for the concept are over twice as fast as a tiltrotor.
AFRL and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research process in an attempt to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants, and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Beginning in SBIR 18.2, and now in SBIR 21.1, the Air Force has begun offering ‘The Open Topic’ SBIR/STTR program that is faster, leaner and open to a broader range of innovations.
The period of performance for this Direct to Phase II Contract was fifteen months.