Unmanned Systems Technology 024 | Wingcopter 178 l 5G focus l UUVs insight l CES report l Stromkind KAT l Intelligent Energy fuel cell l Earthsense TerraSentia l Connectors focus l Advanced Engineering report

22 H ybrid UAVs that combine the VTOL capabilities of multi-copters with the speed and range of fixed-wing platforms are attractive because they provide greater all-round performance than pure VTOL vehicles but don’t need separate launch and recovery systems, making them easier to operate. Such designs are increasingly common, but those that use the same propulsion system for VTOL and wing-borne cruise flight, as well as the transitional phases between them, are relatively rare. German company Wingcopter is one of those to have taken this less travelled route. The first Wingcopter prototype was invented in 2011, and the Wingcopter 178 was designed in 2015 as the first product for the commercial market incorporating the company’s patented tiltrotor mechanism, according to co-founder and chief operating officer Ansgar Kadura. With a name that both suggests its hybrid nature and highlights its 178 cm wingspan, the Wingcopter 178 was built for a range of 100 km with a 2 kg payload, high speeds and a maximum take-off weight of less than 10 kg, as this was a regulator weight limitation at the time. A newer, heavy-lift version, the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift (HL), which is the focus of this article, increases the payload capacity to up to 6 kg. It has been designed to carry heavier, professional sensors and payloads, fitting into many commercial and industrial sectors with a maximum take-off weight of 16 kg. The 178 HL was created by modifying the original design with a more powerful propulsion system and more layers of glass fibre-reinforced plastic as well as carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) for local strengthening of the airframe, so the two versions have a high degree of commonality. Although the Wingcopter 178’s intended top speed in normal service is 150 kph, the company worked with X-Blades Racing drone pilot Luke Bannister and Vodafone to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest speed over the ground achieved by a remote-controlled tiltrotor aircraft. Bannister flew a modified Peter Donaldson describes the development of this unusual tiltrotor hybrid, which uses the same propulsion system for every phase of flight One system fits all February/March 2019 | Unmanned Systems Technology