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VTOL Aircraft | Vertical Take-off and Landing

by generalAviation
VTOL Aircraft

The VTOL aircraft market was worth $2,009.6 million in 2017, according to BIS Research analysis. It is also expected to grow by 21.7% from 2018 to 2028.

Why is that, you may wonder? A VTOL, or vertical takeoff and landing, aircraft has been a trend in the industry because it is developed to depart, hover, or land vertically, making it stand out from any conventional plane.

History

Who would have thought that the concept of vertical flight was first seen in da Vinci’s sketchbook hundreds of centuries ago? 

Nobody would believe that. But historians said that in da Vinci’s sketchbook, there was an image that looked similar to a helicopter today. 

But the first helicopter prototype was only produced in the 20th century. Then, it was perfected after World War II. 

From 1920 to 1930, other VTOL aircraft were developed. Between 1922 and 1925, Henry Berliner, now considered a helicopter pioneer, studied a horizontal fixed-wing aircraft. In the late 1930s, L.E Baynes, an aeronautical engineer, received a patent for her Heliplane. 

In the 1960s, experts attempted to design a commercial VTOL aircraft. Unfortunately, it was not a success because the prototypes needed high financial resources to operate. 

Despite that, other manufacturers tried to develop VTOL aircraft. Canadair, for example, built CL-84 – a single-winged airplane. However, the Canadian government did not grant production contracts because mechanical failures were discovered during testing. 

Aside from Canada, Germany is another country that tried to produce VTOL aircraft from the 1960s to 1970s. It didn’t also continue because of the high operating costs. 

How Do VTOL Aircrafts Work? 

Powered-lift and rotorcraft are the two kinds of VTOL technology. A powered-lift aircraft takes off or lands vertically with a fixed-wing design. Popular examples are tailsitter, convertiplane, and tiltrotor. 

Convertiplane, for example, heavily depends on a rotor when it takes off. Then, it automatically switches to a fixed-wing lift during flight. 

A rotorcraft, on the other hand, employs a lift that rotor blades create every time it spins around a central mast. Good examples are cyclogyro, helicopter, and gyrodyne. 

How does a rotorcraft, or cyclogyro, in particular, work? Like a conventional wing, the rotary wing’s surfaces and axis of cyclogyro remain sideways across the airflow. 

Why VTOL Aircraft is Popular

More Flexible

Since VTOL has combined the advantages of multirotor and a fixed-wing aircraft, its flexibility and adaptability are on a different level. 

It is no wonder its market is continually thriving for years now. Who would want to invest in an aircraft that is not flexible? Everyone would not like that. Therefore, you can never go wrong with a VTOL aircraft. 

Less Costly than Manned Aircraft Operations 

Early attempts to commercial VTOL aircraft were typically discontinued because of the high operation cost. 

Today, it still requires manufacturers to spend millions or even billions of dollars on aircraft production. 

But compared to manned aircraft operations, it is less costly. 

Designed to Tilt to a Specific Level that Withstands the Wind 

During bad weather conditions, most aircraft are more likely to lose their stability or safety when taking off or landing. 

But that will not be the problem with VTOL aircraft, as it is built to tilt to a level that withstands the wind.

As a result, it stays stable without compromising every passenger’s security and convenience. 

More Energy Efficient 

According to Statista, the fuel consumption of commercial airlines on a global scale skyrocketed since 2009 and increased up to 95 billion gallons in 2019 alone. 

But electric motors and batteries have been integrated into VTOL aircraft. Studies revealed the costs of fuel and maintenance are reduced with a battery or electric-powered VTOL plane. 

Land Almost Anywhere 

You cannot land any aircraft in different places. But a VTOL aircraft is not the same thing because you can land it almost anywhere. 

This is ideal for rescue operations, combat, and other situations that require emergency and quick response time. 

Suitable for Areas that Lack Sufficient Space

Conventional aircraft need a long and large landing area. A VTOL aircraft, on the contrary, can be a lifesaver.

Even if there is no enough space, one can launch and land VTOL aircraft with safety and minimal risks. 

It can be tricky for beginners, though. But everything is possible with patience and constant practice. 

Drawbacks 

Like the manned aircraft, VTOL also has some downsides. Take a close look at the following: 

An operator with a license in driving Powered Lift platforms is a requirement. Years of experience in using Powered Lift aircraft are also needed. 

The coverage is not only less but also slower than manned aircraft. 

Still, the pros of VTOL aircraft outweigh its downsides. Plus, engineers, manufacturers, and other experts are working hand in hand to improve and transform VTOL technology into something more high-end or state-of-the-art. So, let’s hope for the best. 

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