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With enough wind up your skirts, YouFly

Another antipodean take on personal flying vehicles comes from Australia’s Entecho, which is launching the sales campaign for its YouFly vehicle following successful unmanned tethered flights.

Perth-based Entecho is focusing on a manned recreational version of its vertical takeoff and landing vehicle, formerly known as Hoverpod but now dubbed YouFly. The Australian company – established in 2004 by Kim Schlunke, formerly head of Perth-based engine developer Orbital – has switched its attention to YouFly from developing its unmanned Mupod, a quarter-scale version, after securing new Norwegian investors. “We are now 100% committed to finalise the YouFly before anything else,” says Niklas Flewitt of Entecho Norway.

YouFly comprises a flexible skirt – about 2.2m when retracted and 3m when fully deployed – and a hubless, centrifugal fan (think cooker hood extractors) on a vertical axis, with the pilot sitting in the middle. The fan pulls some 60m³ of air every second from above, pushing it downward inside the skirt. Attitude control is achieved by the controlling the shape of the skirt – made of 36 composite “petals” and a control hoop – to move the centre of lift relative to the centre of gravity.

YouFly also features a fly-by-wire control system that monitors sensors around the 150kg craft; endurance will initially be approximately 45min.

Operational altitude will be restricted to 1.5-2m, while the use of onboard sensors and the navigation system will avoid obstacles. The vehicle also features a carbon fibre safety cell around the pilot, while the blades are fully shrouded and operate at low speed. The skirt, chassis and stator assembly also feature energy-absorbing structures.

Prototype H4 is currently undergoing unmanned test flights in Perth, which are due to continue through to the end of this year, with manned flights likely next year.

Entecho has started to approach potential customers. The initial YouFly S-series, which is expected to be available for delivery from the middle of 2015, will cost $135,000. A YouFly E-series (E for economy), with a shorter flying time and lower maximum take-off weight due to the use of six 20kw electric engines instead of the S-series’ 40kw engines, is planned for launch in mid-2016.

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