One of the greatest wishes of everyday man is to fly, and not commercially if we can help it. We’ve seen jetpacks, one-man mini-copters and flying cars being tested and the technology, although still a ways off, is gaining ground. The latest comes from a Belgian startup called Sagita. Their personal helicopter showcased at the Paris Air Show this year, called Sherpa, could be the next step in personal aviation. This mini helicopter-for-home is powered by hot air and fumes, to put it in a nutshell, and is yet to be shown in a full scale production unit. The company does believe this revolutionary new technology for helicopters could be applied to larger models and also developed for UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
While the functioning of the Shepra’s operation is far more intricate, essentially the propulsion system of the helicopter uses hot air and fumes converted to energy to lift it off the ground and it also makes it about 85% efficient with no need for a tail rotor. This is all thanks to a compressor located in the tail that’s equipped with an air intake system. This compressor pushes the air to the engine for combustion and the remainder gets heat from the cooling system. The air is compressed with engine exhaust fumes and heated up to about 100º C (212º F). This heated air powers the two turbines which in turn will drive the copters two contra-rotating rotors.
Although some might have issues with the way the system is set up with regards to the compression of air and how it tends to heat up to quite an extent, the company claims that the cooling measures that will be instilled will be sufficient. Since there are also fewer moving parts compared to regular choppers, the Sherpa’s overall maintenance is also reduced.
The company claims that this two-seater copter that could weigh about 573 pounds could lift another 377 ponds of load and manage cruise speeds of around 85 knots with a maximum flight time of approximately 3 hours. Its ceiling is around 2,000 m (6,600 ft). Don’t expect it anytime soon as it’s destined to be out in 3 years with an expected price tag of $ 200,000 (€150,000). It is however scheduled to take flight (working prototype) in 2 years. Check out the scaled down model (with an electric motor) flying in the video below.
[Via – Gizmag]