Aurora Flight Sciences' LightningStrike VTOL aircraft completes flight test program

MANASSAS, Va. Engineers at Aurora Flight Sciences completed its planned flight test program of the company's XV-24A LightningStrike Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) X-Plane subscale vehicle demonstrator (SVD) aircraft. The project, which is funded through Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), demonstrated technical features of the XV-24A including outbound and inbound transition flight.

The SVD aircraft is a 325-pound, Lithium battery powered scale model of the 12,000 pound, 61 foot wingspan XV-24A. It will remain in flight status to supplement the full-scale XV-24A flight test program, currently scheduled to begin in late 2018.

DARPA and U.S. Air Force officials designated Aurora’s LightningStrike VTOL X-Plane as the XV-24A. It is a tilt-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) powered by an Electric Distributed Propulsion (EDP) system. Twentyfour variable-pitch ducted fans driven by electric motors provide thrust for both hover and cruise. A single Rolls-Royce AE 1107C turboshaft engine drives three Honeywell generators which provide power to the wing and canard electric motors.

The XV-24A is being developed with the goal of achieving a top sustained flight speed of 300 – 400 knots, with 15 percent increase in hover efficiency and a two-fold increase in speed over helicopters. Officials say, it will be the first aircraft in aviation history to demonstrate distributed hybrid-electric propulsion using a synchronous electric-drive system.

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