GE Aviation, Jetoptera join forces on fluidic propulsion system

Jetoptera, GE Aviation collaborate on, demonstrate hover with fluidic propulsion

Jetoptera is developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and realistic flying cars to revolutionize transportation.
Engineers at Jetoptera in Edmonds, Washington, and GE Aviation in Evandale, Ohio, are collaborating on a 500 pound-force (lbf) class fluidic propulsion system leveraging a gas generator based on GE Aviation’s H-Series turboprop engine. Jetoptera’s Fluidic Propulsion System is, officials say, both revolutionary and a remarkably simple approach to producing thrust for powerful, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)-capable aircraft.

Jetoptera demonstrated hovering of an aircraft equipped with the Fluidic Propulsion System (FPS). The tethered tests of vertical takeoff and hovering were done using the 50-kilogram (110-pound) platform. The tethering system is a precautionary approach commonly employed in VTOL development.

Engineers at Jetoptera in Edmonds, Washington, and GE Aviation in Evandale, Ohio, are collaborating on a 500 pound-force (lbf) class fluidic propulsion system leveraging a gas generator based on GE Aviation’s H-Series turboprop engine. Jetoptera’s Fluidic Propulsion System is, officials say, both revolutionary and a remarkably simple approach to producing thrust for powerful, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)-capable aircraft. 
Data recorded shows excellent behavior of FPS in VTOL position with production of stable, repeatable, and reliable thrust, now with vectoring capabilities, officials say. With these tests Jetoptera has demonstrated a novel and simple swiveling joint system designed for enhancing maneuverability of the aircraft in transitions and in hovering.
 
The vectoring of the FPS demonstrated good yaw authority for the test platform, in addition to performing the main function of propulsion for both vertical and wing-borne flight. A same size FPS has been demonstrated on a flight test bed in the wing-borne configuration. In the current campaign, Jetoptera is collaborating with partners ComQuest Ventures, adapting the company’s Typhon simulator, and UAVenture, adapting its AirRails software.
 
In Jetoptera’s Fluidic Propulsion System, a gas generator produces the pressurized fluid which is distributed to specially designed thrusters, the most direct way of producing thrust. The technology augments thrust via massive entrainment of ambient air.


 
Thrusters can be shaped and distributed around an airframe in ways to maximize lift augmentation and distribute propulsion at the same time. Thrusters can also be easily swiveled, to enable VTOL operations. The result is a high speed, compact system that can naturally hover, officials describe.
 
Jetoptera and GE’s collaboration is the first step toward a customized gas generator that will lead to a Jetoptera 500 VTOL full flight demonstrator, officials say.
 
“After recently demonstrating the wing-borne fluidic propulsion capabilities on a 100-lbf class platform this summer, the next demonstration of a 500-lbf class platform will validate our roadmap to introducing unmanned and manned aircraft of quite unique capabilities,” Jetoptera CTO Andrei Evulet explains.


 
“This is a unique opportunity for GE to participate in the burgeoning development of the urban air mobility, while still infusing new technologies on our H-Series workhorse," says Michele D`Ercole, president and managing executive of GE Aviation Czech, Business and General Aviation Turboprops.

 The H-Series gas generator brings simple architecture, thermodynamic efficiency, and reliability to Jetoptera’s VTOL demonstrator. Ranging from 550 to 850 standard horsepower or 410 to 633 kilowatts (kW), H-Series turboprops incorporate GE’s 3D aerodynamic design techniques and advanced materials to create a powerful, fuel-efficient, durable engine.


 
GE Aviation is investing more than $400 million in its turboprop program in Europe, including its Turboprop headquarters in Prague, where the H-Series is manufactured, and the all-new Catalyst engine is being developed and tested.
 
“We are excited to join forces with GE Aviation to develop optimized versions of gas generators for our Fluidic Propulsion System,” Jetoptera CEO Denis Dancanet says. “They will be used to power mid-size to larger aircraft in our product lineup.”
 
Jetoptera is developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and realistic flying cars to revolutionize transportation. Jetoptera`s distributed propulsion system and novel airframe create a lighter, more efficient, less complex aircraft than previous models, officials say. The technology enables vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), high speeds, sizable payloads, and range, and maneuverability.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE:GE), is a global provider of jet and turboprop engines, components, and integrated systems for commercial, military, business, and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings.

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Courtney E. Howard is editorial director and content strategist at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group. Contact her by e-mail at courtney.howard@sae.org
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