The propulsion consists of 4 sets of contra-rotating disks, each set driven at the same rpm by a conventional aero-engine. The disks are surrounded by blades whose angle of attack can be altered by off-setting the axis of the rotating disks. As each blade can be given a different angle of attack, the resulting main thrust can be in any required direction in 360° around any axis. This allows the craft to launch vertically, remain in a fixed position in the air, travel in any direction, rotate in any direction, and thrust upwards thereby ‘gluing down’ on landing.
Currently, tests are being conducted using a 120 bhp KTM engine and turbines around five feet long - and the capability of lifting a payload of 70 kg. More tests are planned over the coming weeks. IAT21 is now also working with Cranfield University in the U.K. on a larger, more powerful motor, a new hull shape for the craft, and advanced guidance and control systems.
The forces on the blade pivots are understandably huge, and in initial testing it was found that all available bearings failed, so inventor Meinhard Schwaiger, who already has more than 150 patents to his name, knuckled down and invented (and patented) his own, near-frictionless swivel-bearing to cope with the stresses.
The D-Dalus is constructed of carbon fiber, and appears to be scalable for a range of potential applications including maritime search and rescue, freight transport, operating alongside and within buildings during fires - the long term hopes for the platform include a passenger version for public transit.