F-Helix, the innovative helicopter "lands" at USI
20 March 2020
The aviation world is under pressure, especially in "coronavirus times", yet there are those who look ahead and, indeed, see innovative solutions that could have a major impact on the whole sector - or at least on the vertical flight sector (VTOL - Vertical Take-Off and Landing). This is the case of the F-Helix project, an innovative electric self-propelled helicopter designed by the Italian entrepreneur and visionary Felice Vinati, who, with his company Ierom SA, has recently established itself at the USI CP Start-Up and, even more recently, "landed" at ll Litorale, finding an ideal context for interaction with the players in the regional and cross-regional innovation ecosystem.
The novelty of the F-Helix project lies not so much in the concept of a self-rotating or electrically propelled aircraft - similar projects already exist - but in the increased autorotation capacity, which is not possible for aircraft equipped with multiple propellers and, above all, in the source of electric power. Vinati, in fact, will adopt the revolutionary technology of hydrogen batteries on its aircraft, much lighter than lithium batteries and, as one can easily realise, very environmentally friendly, both for production (less grey energy) and consumption (zero emissions). "With hydrogen batteries weighing a total of around 280 kg and generating 230 kW, with only 10 kg of liquid hydrogen F-Helix will be able to stay in the air for more than 4 hours and travel more than 650 km with four people on board," says Vinati.
But the aircraft comes with another equally innovative element: F-Helix will in fact be equipped with its own automatic piloting system that uses 3D technologies and algorithmic methods, allowing - among other things - to fly in the dark or in dense fog, which is notoriously one of the biggest problems of vertical flight. "F-Helix is, by definition, an optionally-piloted eVTOL with a propeller-driven rotor," explains Vinati. "In fact, not only can it be piloted manually, but it can also fly in full automation even in poor or even zero visibility conditions, thanks to the patented iTOWER system and the WITP system under development. Above all, the latter system will allow rescue even when it is not feasible today," Vinati points out.
Felice Vinati has been involved in the VTOL segment for some time, having acquired in 1990 the Italian company Silvercraft, known for its light aircraft SH-4 and from which Vinati took inspiration to design F-Helix, with a concept developed in collaboration with the Vertical Lift Research Centre of Excellence at the Pennsylvania State University in the United States. The next step will be to build the first working prototype, with the aim to see soon the F-Helix flying also on the roofs of the new East Campus USI-SUPSI... For information: http://www.ierom.com/