Ground Testing of the ETF Unmanned Airship Technology Demonstrator 2011-01-2589
This paper deals with the ground testing of the technological demonstrator of the innovative remotely controlled ETF airship1. The testing activities are intended to validate the flight control system of the ETF, which is based on the thrust vectoring technology and represents one of the major innovations of the ETF design, together with the airship architecture.
A research team of the Aeronautical and Space Department of the Polytechnic of Turin, in collaboration with Nautilus, a small Italian private company, has been working since a few years on the ETF (Elettra Twin Flyers). This airship is remotely-piloted, with high maneuverability capabilities and good operative features also in adverse atmospheric conditions2.
The Nautilus new concept airship features architecture and appropriate command system, which should enable the vehicle to maneuver in forward, backward and sideward flight and hovering with any heading, both in normal and severe wind conditions. To achieve these capabilities the ETF demonstrator3 has been conceived with a highly non conventional architecture based on a double hull with a central plane housing structure, propellers, on board electric system and payload (Figure 1). As primary command system, the aerodynamic control surfaces are replaced by six propellers, which are moved by electrical motors and allow the airship to be controlled and maneuvered in the whole flight envelope. In this paper the results of the preliminary testing runs are analyzed and the power requirement is compared with the performance of the Fuel Cell system, purposely developed for the ETF Demonstrator4.