The Swiss Army Knife of Drones Is Taking Shape in Europe

Dufour is selecting Swiss partners for manufacturing four prototype units 8 photos
Photo: Dufour Aerospace
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If you haven't heard about the Aero2, you'll know when it enters service. This atypical aircraft with all the qualities of a Swiss-made product has already conquered the US market. Right now, top players in Switzerland's aviation industry are joining forces to supply Aero2's manufacturer with the best components.
A few years ago, Dufour Aerospace introduced Aero2 as "the Swiss army knife of drones," a catchy phrase referring to the aircraft's high versatility. This cargo drone is basically an eVTOL, meaning it can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. At the same time, thanks to the unusual tilt-wing design, it also comes with the benefits of a fixed-wing airplane, primarily increased speed and energy efficiency.

Although only 13.4-foot-long (4.1 meters), with a 20-foot (6.1 meters) wingspan, Aero2 is surprisingly powerful. In standard configuration, it's ready to carry almost 90 pounds (40 kg) over more than 200 nautical miles (400 km). This range (the equivalent of a three-hour flight time), coupled with an efficient cruising speed of 81 knots (151 kph), is possible thanks to hybrid propulsion.

The Aero2 was designed with versatility in mind. In terms of propulsion, it can be equipped with a hybrid system comprised of four electric main motors, one electric tail motor, and a two-cylinder boxer engine that can recharge the batteries in flight.

Plus, this Swiss-made drone offers the advantage of payload-range flexibility. This means it can swap payload capacity for range. In other words, the maximum payload will equal a minimal range. At the other end of the spectrum, its range can increase to 750 nautical miles (1,390 km) or a flight time of more than ten hours if the payload drops to 22 pounds (10 kg).

When it comes to safety, Aero2 (which was designed for uncrewed operations) features a redundant design, allowing it to continue to fly even in the case of a motor or propeller failure, plus redundant motors for controlled landing (if a motor or controller fails in hover mode).

Since the beginning of this year, Dufour Aerospace has been selecting Swiss partners that will help bring the Aero2 to life. Aerolite AG is the latest. Known as an expert in lightweight aircraft components, it will produce the structural parts of the Aero2's nacelle and tail. Initially, this will be limited to just four prototype aircraft. Still, the collaboration could be extended for serial production in the near future.

The 100% Swiss drone with a tilt-wing design will make its public debut all the way in America. Spright, a US-based operator, is officially the launch customer for this cargo drone. Its main operational field will be related to middle-mile deliveries of medical goods. Dufour hopes to have the production version ready for delivery to the US by 2025.
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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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