Entecho says it is in discussions with a number of defence sector firms on joint or licensed manufacture of an unmanned air vehicle based on its hybrid ducted fan vertical take-off and landing technology.

Market release of a production ready system is possible within 12 months, according to the Perth, Western Australia-based company, with development of manned and unmanned craft at an advanced stage.

Entecho is preparing to free-fly a large man-carrying "hoverpod" demonstrator within weeks using a craft that has been used in tethered flight trials over the past two months. The hoverpod has a diameter of 2.6m (8.5ft) in its flight configuration and can be readily adapted to operate as a UAV, the company says.

A smaller purpose-developed UAV demonstrator has been flying in tethered profiles since mid-2006 to prove the hybrid radially exhausting ducted fan technology. That mini-UAV design - designated Mupod - has undergone extensive optimisation work over the past year, says Entecho director and founder Kim Schlunke, with a new version to undergo extensive flight testing over the next year as part of preparing the type for market release.

Source: FlightGlobal.com