MIAMI – Jetoptera claims that the moment has come for its proprietary Fluidic Propulsion System (FPS), an alternative to current electric and hybrid propulsion systems.
According to FutureFlight, the firm believes that FPS will see its use on multi-rotor and/or propeller-driven aircraft to modern eVTOL or eSTOL vehicles. Since working on technologies since 2015, the US-based start-up has been able to power aircraft up to 10,000 pounds of maximum take-off weight and potentially more.
Jetoptera designed the FPS using a turbine that operates a turbo-compressor, with thrusters augmenting the propulsion output. The firm has incorporated these thrusters into an eye-catching box-wing aircraft configuration paired with a canard. Moreover, it has evaluated the prototype in a wind tunnel and has also used FPS for powered flight on a glider.
Apart from increasing accessible thrust, the firm is also offering an industry first. The FPS can make at least 25 to 30 decibels less disturbance than the existing quietest rotors and/or propellers, according to co-founder and chief technical officer Andrei Evulet.
Jetoptera recently placed what it believes is an extraordinary noise fingerprint to the test, consulting aero acoustics specialist Robert Dougherty to provide an impartial evaluation using his Practical Beamforming for Aeroacoustic Source Distributions solution and an acoustic camera.
Jetoptera’s Founder Comments
“We found that the system had no tones at all, unlike [rotors, propellers, turbofan or turboprop] blades running at low and high frequency, and there were no peaks audible to humans,” Evulet told FutureFlight. “A tone has the characteristic of pitch, similar to musical notes. That tonal blade chopping the air up can be heard in the sea of broadband wind noise because the human ear excels at picking up tones.
“FPS, however, resembles noise similar to the broadband nature of wind noise, at multiple different frequencies but lacking the character of [the] pitch. In places like New York, Los Angeles, and London, our aircraft wouldn’t be heard until it was about 200 feet away.”
Evulet, a former GE Aviation engineer worked on great turbofan programs such as the GE9X designed for Boeing’s 777-9 long-haul airliner. He founded Jetoptera in his garage in 2015 with then-CEO Denis Dancanet and CFO Simina Farcasiu. Todd Newton, a former Collins Aerospace director, has also assisted him as vice president of corporate growth.
The Jetoptera team has received money from US military research and development agreements from organizations such as the Army Aerial Delivery Directorate while working to draw funding to advance its own proposals for an aircraft. It has operated as a subcontractor for Paragrine Systems, LLC, on propelled parafoils for autonomous cargo transport missions.
FPS from Past to Beyond
The FPS technology is based on the Coandă effect, which was discovered by Romanian engineer Henri Coandă around 1910. Jetoptera has also tested its unique prototype airframe with subscale pusher propeller versions. In addition, it also applied FPS with electric ducted fans, and turbojets. Besides the firm used the FPS technology to power a glider in flight.
“Lift augmentation results from the blown-wing architecture, Evulet explained. “A lot of the performance comes from the improved low-pressure suction from the front of the FPS placed on top of the wing, the boundary layer ingestion, and the increased stall margin.”
By 2024 or 2025, Jetoptera, who already has 18 patents, will have a prototype of 4,000-pound aircraft ready for flight. Also, a drone version of 350-pound will fly by 2022. In addition, Jetoptera is open up to proposals to convert some existing aircraft. As an example, it plans to power the single-piston Cessna 182, where the fuel consumption is lower and speeds of the FPS are more powerful.
Newton says existing batteries are not enough to supply eVTOL aircraft’s short flights and the system will not be durable until the battery energy densities increase significantly. In his opinion, Jetoptera can now have more control, more performance, and safety in its dispersed propulsion approach and is adaptable to vast aircraft configurations. Besides, the corporation argues that it is much quieter, much cleaner, and more publicly acceptable than any alternative.
Featured image: Jetoptera