GE Aviation announced it is cooperating with Jetoptera — a developer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or “drones”) — to demonstrate a 500-pound-force (lbf) class Fluidic Propulsion System, incorporating a gas generator based on GE’s H-Series turboprop engine. It will be step toward a fully customized gas generator, which GE noted will lead to a full-flight demonstration of the Jetoptera 500 vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) concept aircraft.
“After recently demonstrating the wing-borne fluidic propulsion capabilities on a 100-lbf class platform this summer, the next demonstration of a 500-lbf class platform will validate our roadmap to introducing unmanned and manned aircraft of quite unique capabilities,” stated Jetoptera CTO Andrei Evulet.
Jetoptera is among several developers working to commercialize UAV and VTOL systems as “flying cars” or taxis, or for cargo service. Along with a novel propulsion system, it has proposed a lightweight airframe that, together, would be capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), high speed flight, range, maneuverability, and heavy payloads.
The schedule for the demonstrator project and GE’s financial stake in it were not announced.
GE noted that the Fluidic Propulsion System Jetoptera proposes “is a remarkably simple approach to producing thrust for powerful, VTOL-capable aircraft.” The system relies on a gas generator to pressurize fluid that is distributed to specially designed air thrusters. Thrust is enhanced because the technology entrains ambient air. The thrusters can be shaped and positioned around the airframe in order to maximize lift and distribute propulsion simultaneously, resulting in a compact system capable of high speed and hoverability.
The H-Series turboprop engine is a simple design that will provide 550-850 standard horsepower and thermodynamic efficiency to Jetoptera’s VTOL demonstrator.
“This is a unique opportunity for GE to participate in the burgeoning development of the urban air mobility, while still infusing new technologies on our H-Series workhorse," stated Michele D`Ercole, president and managing executive of GE Aviation Czech, Business and General Aviation Turboprops.