D-Dalus is a new aerial platform that can approach as gently and silently as a hot air balloon, can stay in the air like a humming-bird, can rotate in any direction like a football, can ‘glue down’ on the deck of a ship like a ‘tossed pancake’, can see in all directions like a crystal ball, can fly as fast as a jet, is as invisible as a 155mm shell and can be repaired by a local car mechanic. It can lift heavy loads, and becomes even more efficient in doing so as it scales upwards in size, it is also envisaged as a platform for loading and unloading ships when cranes are not available.
At the heart of D-DALUS is a revolutionary propulsion system containing a number of patented inventions, including a friction free bearing at the points of high G force, and a system that keeps propulsion in dynamic equilibrium, thereby allowing the guidance system to quickly restore stability in flight.
The propulsion consists of 4 sets of contra-rotating disks, each set driven at the same rpm by a conventional aero-engine. The disks are surrounded by blades whose angle of attack can be altered by off-setting the axis of the rotating disks. As each blade can be given a different angle of attack, the resulting main thrust can be in any required direction in 360° around any axis. This allows the craft to launch vertically, remain in a fixed position in the air, travel in any direction, rotate in any direction, and thrust upwards thereby ‘gluing down’ on landing.
D-DALUS is currently in prototype stage. Over recent weeks IAT21 have conducted extensive constrained flight tests in a specially prepared laboratory near Salzburg, including the transition from vertical to forward flight, and are now ready to move to an open test range for free flight tests. In trials to date D-DALUS has met the performance criteria placed upon it and appears to be scalable, becoming more efficient and less complex as it increases in size. It will therefore be ideally suited for applications that range from maritime search and rescue, through the carriage of freight, to operating alongside and within buildings during fires or, for example, nuclear accidents.
Currently, tests are being conducted using a 120 bhp KTM engine and turbines around five feet long – and the capability of lifting a payload of 70 kg. More tests are planned over the coming weeks. IAT21 is now also working with Cranfield University in the U.K. on a larger, more powerful motor, a new hull shape for the craft, and advanced guidance and control systems.
The forces on the blade pivots are understandably huge, and in initial testing it was found that all available bearings failed, so inventor Meinhard Schwaiger, who already has more than 150 patents to his name, knuckled down and invented (and patented) his own, near-frictionless swivel-bearing to cope with the stresses.
The D-Dalus is constructed of carbon fiber, and appears to be scalable for a range of potential applications including maritime search and rescue, freight transport, operating alongside and within buildings during fires – the long term hopes for the platform include a passenger version for public transit.