Swiss eVTOL Company Reveals Details About the Drone That Conquered America

The final prototype of the Aero2 boasts a 400-km range 7 photos
Photo: Dufour Aerospace
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Uncrewed aircraft with various propulsion systems, dimensions, and capabilities have emerged worldwide. In Switzerland, Aero2 is prepared to become a leader thanks to what claims to be a highly-efficient design.
In a few years, get ready to see a made-in-Switzerland drone operate in the US. At the end of last year, the agreement between the Swiss aviation company Dufour Aerospace and Spright, the drone division of Air Methods, officially became the biggest drone purchase for the civilian sector in American history. Spright agreed to buy 40 of Dufour's hybrid-electric drone units, with the possibility of adding 100 more.

Why did this European uncrewed aircraft become the object of such a significant purchase? In a nutshell, it's all about the Aero2's unique design that boosts performance and safety. In 2021, Dufour revealed the initial version of the Aero2, uniquely described as the "Swiss Army Knife" of small uncrewed aircraft.

The atypical tilt-wing design was said to be responsible for Aero2's versatility. It combines the qualities of conventional rotorcraft with the advantages of airplanes. This translates to a compact aircraft that can take off and land even in challenging environments with space limitations. At the same time, it boasts airliners' high performance and lower operating costs.

The original version was fitted with four motors and a nose cone that could be quickly changed for fast reconfigurations, depending on the next mission.

An upgraded version, recently unveiled by the Swiss manufacturer, reveals some changes. The fuselage is now larger, as well as the wingspan, while an H-tail replaced the conventional tail. This new version is equipped with hybrid-electric propulsion for increased range, and its essential flight systems are fully redundant (backed up). Thanks to this, the Aero2 complies with the requirements for operating safely in challenging airspace over remote areas with minimal population.

In terms of specifications, the unmanned drone promises a range of more than 215 nautical miles (400 km) while carrying a maximum payload of 88 pounds (40 kg). Dufour is currently carrying out the final tests for the hybrid-electric system developed by Suter Industries while also selecting all the aircraft materials.

By the end of the year, Dufour wants to build the X2.3, which will be the final prototype before the commercial Aero2 aircraft. Next year, the manufacturer plans to kick off a flight campaign with this final prototype and start production a year later.

In addition to this tilt-wing drone, Dufour is also working on a hybrid-electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) with greater capacity. The Aero3 will be able to carry up to 1,650 pounds (750 kg) of cargo over more than 630 miles (1,020 km). In the future, this tilt-wing VTOL will combine the benefits of hybrid-electric propulsion with green hydrogen for the added advantage of zero emissions.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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