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80 Digest | Windracers ULTRA UAV aluminium skin complete the external shape, a construction that is shared by the wings and tail. Fuel tanks in the wings mean the entire payload bay is available for cargo. Payload bay An early aspiration for the aircraft was that the design should make loading and unloading as easy as a hatchback car. Also, the aircraft should be insensitive to payload weight distribution, thus allowing unskilled or minimally trained operators and loaders to use it. Many cargo aircraft require qualified ‘load masters’ to ensure that the distribution of cargo mass does not move the centre of mass outside safe limits. The ULTRA’s design solution was to place the payload within a wide ‘lifting body’ fuselage bay close to the centre of gravity of the empty aircraft, thus making it almost impossible to accidentally exceed its operational centre-of-gravity limits. The payload is accessed from the rear of the aircraft, which means operators have no need to be exposed to the risk of stationary but ‘live’ engines and propellers. There is also plenty of clearance between the twin booms and from the ground to the overhead horizontal stabiliser. This puts the elevator control surfaces well clear of any potential damage, and allows the use of sack-trucks, forklifts or other loading equipment. The payload bay has a volume of more than 700 litres. With a typical load of 100 kg, this provides the ideal density commensurate with normal postal packages and food aid. In other words, the platform has plenty of physical payload space for bulky loads as well as payload mass capacity. The rear portion of the fuselage is hinged, allowing quick and easy access to the payload bay and providing easy access to key aircraft systems for maintenance. Payload drop The floor of the fuselage is completely modular and interchangeable to extend the ULTRA’s versatility. This includes the ability to fit a payload release system for operations where payload needs to be delivered in areas that are distant from suitable landing strips. April/May 2022 | Unmanned Systems Technology The Southampton University team gained prior experience of designing this class of UAV by building a TLAC Scout G-OUAV The ULTRA’s bay has a payload volume of more than 700 litres. With a typical load of 100 kg, this is the ideal density for providing food aid