Bold VTOL concept gets the model treatment

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An unorthodox vertical take-off and landing aircraft is to be tested in model form by the University of West Virginia. The "single tilt-rotor" AeroCopter Humming concept is the brainchild of telecommunications entrepreneur Rouzbeh Yassini.

The Humming has an annular rotor driven by small jet engines mounted on the outer ring. A lifting-body fuselage sits inside the non-rotating inner ring. The rotor spins in the horizontal plane for vertical take-off, then tilts around a shaft passing through the fuselage for the transition to forward flight.

In hover mode, the Humming is controlled via horizontal and vertical tailrotors mounted on the fuselage, transitioning to flaperon and rudder control in cruise mode.

AeroCopter co-founder Siamak Yassini, an aerospace engineer, says the baseline 26t 50-seat Humming would have an eight-blade annular rotor with an outer diameter of 24m (80ft) and inner diameter of 18m, rotating at 60-120RPM under the power of four 800lb-thrust (3.5kN) turbofans, and be able to take off and land vertically, cruising at 350kt (640km/h) at 37,000ft (12,100m) and covering 2,600km (1,400nm).

So far, AeroCopter, based in Andover, Massachusetts, only has computer simulations to back its bold claims for the concept, although Rouzbeh Yassini believes these "have proved its feasibility". The next step is to make a 3m-span radio-controlled scale model of the Humming to see whether it will actually fly. AeroCopter is proceeding with preliminary design of an operational vehicle, funded by Yassini's investment firm YAS Ventures.