Today, Dufour Aerospace, the innovative Swiss eVTOL company, released the final design and design specifications for its Aero2 drone. The Aero2 is an uncrewed, aerial vehicle with a hybrid-electric propulsion system and an aerodynamically-efficient tilt-wing design. The Aero2 is the precursor to the Aero3, a larger tilt-wing aircraft which could support options for uncrewed or crewed operations.
Simon Bendrey, Head of Design at Dufour Aerospace said: “Aero2 is an uncrewed aerial vehicle without equal. Aero2 is able to transport 40 kg (88 lbs) over a distance of 400 km (215 NM). The structure and systems have to be safe and aerodynamically efficient and delivering this is not an easy task. I’m especially proud of the hard work of our teams to lock in a design that will meet or exceed our customers’ stringent requirements.”
Design Evolution Since Original Prototype
From the original prototype, the design evolved from a conventional tail to an H-tail with a larger fuselage and wingspan and a wing profile optimized for its likely missions, such as critical goods transport, aerial surveying beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and public safety applications. Concurrently, advancements were made in both the hardware and software control systems architecture. All flight critical systems of Aero2 are fully redundant, which will enable operations in uncontrolled airspace over sparsely populated areas, as per EASA’s Specific Assurance and Integrity Level IV (SAIL IV). Once EASA has defined requirements and means of compliance for SAIL VI certification, Dufour plans to apply to this standard which will enable operations over populated areas. Dufour is well-advanced with testing, both in simulation and in real-world conditions at its facilities in Dübendorf/Zurich and Visp, Switzerland.
Selection of Hybrid-Electric Propulsion System
Dufour is partnering with Suter Industries to create its hybrid-electric propulsion system. That system is being tested now, and will be integrated into X2.3, the final pre-production prototype. All crucial systems will be integrated into this version, including automated flight functionalities.
Recent Commercial Developments
The release of final production specifications follows successive recent announcements from Dufour Aerospace. In May, the company announced it had been selected for a grant of CHF2.5M (USD$2.8M) from Innosuisse, the innovation agency of the Swiss Confederation. In January, the company closed a Series B financing round led by Vista Global. In late 2022, Dufour announced the largest civilian drone purchase in U.S. history, made with Spright, the drone division of Air Methods. Spright will purchase 40 Aero2 with options for an additional 100 units.
Joseph Resnik, President and CEO of Spright said: “Dufour Aerospace is working hard to develop the Aero2, and we have full confidence in their ability to deliver their innovative product. We’ve worked closely with the team at Dufour for more than one year now and are pleased with the progress being made. In close contact with our existing and prospect customers, we see a huge potential for this aircraft, for numerous applications. We can’t wait for serial production to start.”
Next Steps Towards Entry-Into-Service
Dufour Aerospace is now ordering materials required to build X2.3, the last Aero2 prototype before the entry-into-service aircraft. X2.3 will be able to demonstrate the full flight envelope and the performance of the hybrid system. Flight testing of X2.3 is expected to start early in 2024. The start of series production of Aero2 is planned for 2025.
Factsheet: Aero2 – the Swiss Army Knife of Drones
About Dufour Aerospace
Dufour Aerospace develops efficient and ecological aircraft for patient and passenger transport, logistics and public safety. Dufour Aerospace’s designs currently under development rely on the tilt-wing principle. They take-off and land vertically in the smallest space like a helicopter, but fly as fast and economically as an airplane. While the propellers are electrically-driven, hybrid elements (conventional combustion engines or fuel cells) ensure a sufficiently long range. The first product Dufour Aerospace will launch is the Aero2, an uncrewed aerial vehicle specifically designed for the transportation of critical cargo such as medical supplies of up to 40 kilograms/88 pounds in medium to long range distances. The manned Aero3, featuring a spacious cabin with eight seats and large doors, is the next aircraft in development by Dufour Aerospace.