Samad Aerospace’s Starling programme has celebrated a milestone with the first successful take off and landing of its half scale fully electric aircraft.
The successful test flight will pave the path to commercialisation for the e-VTOL hybrid aircraft. Samad CEO, Dr Seyed Mohammad Mohseni, praised his team’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, attributing this latest success to their “striking and unparalleled dedication during unprecedented times.”
Samad Chief Technical Officer, Norman Wijker added: “CTOL trials are an essential step towards VTOL aircraft development. Ticking off the CTOL flight capability is a crucial step towards the validation of all flight modes. With CTOL trials complete, we will begin hovering trials and the flight trials will be concluded by transition between hovering flight and aerodynamic flight in both directions.”
The aircraft took off at a length of 250 metres during the CTOL flight test, demonstrating a great potential for short take-off and landing (STOL). Take-off and landing were smooth and the vehicle maintained a comfortable cruise at a speed of (90 mph) airborne for more than five minutes. A statement by Samad reported that witnesses were surprised at how quiet the aircraft was compared to a helicopter.
The flight tests included evaluations on aircraft flight dynamics, performance and handling qualities. The e-Starling adopts a semi blended wing body (BWB) design and it requires a low angle for take-off; it is important to understand when the aircraft is capable of taking-off and at which speed.
Apart from slow and fast taxiing on the runway as well as take-off and landing; the half scale demonstrator also performed banking manoeuvres in addition to tests on yaw, pitch and roll. The results show very stable in terms of handling quality.
CTOL tests are key for VTOL safety
The ability to take off and land conventionally is an important part of the safety justification for VTOL aircraft, a key safety contingency. Samad’s Aircraft Design Adviser, Professor John Fielding explained: “Safety is key. We have investigated various safety challenges via CFD analysis and now through the flight tests using this 50 per cent scaled CTOL prototype.”
Samad Aerospace is now listed in the top five eVTOL start-ups worldwide. The company has been developing its unique manned and unmanned aircraft with two scaled prototypes (10 per cent and 20 per cent) successfully built, flown, and showcased in international air shows including Singapore, Geneva and Farnborough.
Preparations for the eVTOL flight tests are already well underway with 2021 set to see completion of the 50 per cent e-VTOL version of the e-Starling.