Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why rotorcraft instead of fixed-wing aircraft for UAV?
  2. Why tandem designs instead of traditional helicopter designs?

Why rotorcraft instead of fixed-wing aircraft for UAV?

Vertical take-off/land (VTOL) aircraft include traditional helicopters, tandem helicopters, and multirotor aircraft. Rotorcraft are mechanically more complicated than fixed-wing aircraft, but they have some significant advantages:

  • VTOL: No runway required, no recovery equipment required.
  • Fly at low altitudes to provide the ideal range for unloading each type of payload. For example, dropping water on a wildfire, precision spraying for an invasive species in a wheat field, or a precision drop of emergency medical equipment onto a fishing boat in rough seas.
  • No stall speed.

Small tactical rotorcraft UAV have additional advantages over fixed-wing UAV. Small tactical rotorcraft can:

  • Move to and from remote teams without dedicated ground equipment.
  • Launch and recover with 8-inch accuracy CEP, from the decks of heaving, pitching, rolling ships moving at up to 15 kts. (Requires Airbus Defense & Space DeckFinder*.)
  • Optimize sensor and designator look angles for precision photography or video.
  • Launch (engine ignition), recover (land and engine shut-down), and re-launch remotely, without human interaction.
  • Track a moving target through complex terrain, such as jungle, forest, rugged mountain, or urban environments.
  • Fly the nap of the earth (NoE) in complex terrain.
  • Perch and stare for extended persistence, such as to monitor migratory wildlife or remote livestock herds.
  • Self-deploy to support small group operations, such as search-and-rescue, wildfire fighting, disaster response ops, and other mobile operations.

Why tandem designs instead of traditional helicopter designs?

Tandem and multi-rotor helicopters have some important advantages over traditional helicopter designs:

  • All power is devoted to lift. Tandem designs generate approximately 24% more power for lift than a traditional helicopter with a tail-rotor.
  • No tail rotor to damage during landing/take-off from unprepared terrain or from FOD.
  • Less FOD kicked up during take-off and landing.

These features improve efficiency and reduce maintenance, making the tandem design a cost-effective helicopter.