VTOL stands for vertical take-off and landing. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that VTOL aircraft means aircraft that can perform both of those functions in a vertical manner instead of needing runways. Most people should be most familiar with VTOL aircraft because of helicopters, which see plenty of use in both civilian and military contexts. However, it is important to note that VTOL aircraft can encompass other designs as well, including some such as the Harrier Jump Jet that have been brought into existence. Naturally, VTOL aircraft possess both advantages and disadvantages compared to their more common counterparts, which play important roles in influencing their development.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of VTOL Aircraft?
For instance, the ability to take off and land in a vertical manner means that VTOL aircraft don't need as much space as their more common counterparts. Under normal circumstances, this is useful because of increased convenience, but in emergency situations, this can be critical because this means that VTOL aircraft can land in places that other aircraft cannot. On top of this, it should be mentioned that VTOL aircraft possesses capabilities that other aircraft do not, with an excellent example being their ability to hover in place. Something that can make them particularly well-suited for particular tasks.
Unfortunately, current technologies mean that VTOL aircraft are very complicated, which has knock-on effects. For instance, they need to use a lot of fuel, which in turn, means that they are heavier because they need to carry that additional fuel. Likewise, the complexity of VTOL aircraft means that there are more potential problems that can pop up, thus raising the issue of reliability. Still, VTOL aircraft do possess real upsides compared to their more common counterparts, which is why a wide range of parties are pouring resources into coming up with newer, better VTOL designs.
What Does the Volerian Mean for VTOL Aircraft?
One example is Volerian, which has come up with a concept using a propulsion method that seems to take more inspiration from fish swimming in the sea than other aircraft. In short, the propulsion method uses flaps in ducts to oscillate back and forth in order to generate vortices that provide thrust, which functions in much the same manner that fish generate thrust by moving their tail back and forth. Besides this, there is a stator wing incorporated into the design as well, which is intended to increase the efficiency of the propulsion method.
Volerian's propulsion method has a number of upsides compared to other VTOL aircraft. For example, it promises to be even quieter than other VTOL aircraft, which would enable it to be used in a wider range of settings without creating a huge nuisance for other people in the vicinity. Furthermore, the propulsion method has neither exposed fans nor exposed propellers, which should make it safer to use around people and other things as well because that reduces the number of potential risks. Finally, Volerian is even planning to make the concept powered completely and utterly by electricity, which seems like the sort of thing that would catch the interest of wealthier environmentalists. After all, environmentalism has become big now, but considering the predictions about climate change's impact on the world as a whole, it seems probable that environmentalism will become even bigger in the time to come.
Can this actually happen?
With that said, it is important to note that while Volerian's propulsion system is certainly interesting, it isn't much more than a concept at the moment. Volerian has stated that it is planning to turn its concept into an actual product that can be purchased by interested parties in no more than five years' time, which is certainly interesting but also very ambitious to say the least. However, it is also interesting to note that Volerian is planning to create a non-VTOL aircraft that will be making use of the same technologies but need a short runway, which promises to provide increased speed as well as increased travel distances compared to its VTOL counterpart. Summed up, people who are interested in the continuous evolution of aircraft design might want to keep an eye on Volerian because if it can live up to its promises, its future promises to be a fascinating one.
Written by Garrett Parker
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