A UAV is a remotely piloted aircraft or autonomous aircraft that flies without a human flight crew on board the aircraft. These aircraft range in size from very small with a wingspan of 15 feet weighing less than 25 pounds; to large with wing spans of more than 200 feet and weight exceeding several thousand pounds. A UAV is not limited by human pilot constraints and can be quite versatile with cameras, sensors, detecting devices and other defense payloads.
Most UAVs are developed for variety of civil applications including communications, high value chemical, power generation and other industrial site security. Port security, police, border patrol, pipeline survey, forest fire assessment, geophysical surveying, agricultural monitoring, and wildlife tracking are among the additional civil UAV uses. However, most UAVs are currently defense oriented, mission specific and not well suited to civil use. We are working to help develop emerging civil markets to take advantage of solar-electric UAV benefits. These markets include states with large areas of low population, such as Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Texas, New Mexico. Countries like Canada, Brazil and Australia with large geographic regions may have a greater demand for UAVs. Some very long endurance UAVs could even be used to cover areas such as Africa, Artic and Antarctic regions, and oceans.
- Mission equivalent savings: Typical fixed wing manned aircraft
contrasted to a mission equivalent:
- Unit cost. UAV is much less expensive than an equivalent, manned aircraft.
- Fuel cost/consumption. A typical fixed wing manned aircraft consumes much more fuel than a UAV. The contrast is even greater with hybrid UAV benefits.
- Maintenance cost. Support and maintenance is much simpler and less expensive on a UAV over a manned aircraft.
- A modern, well-equipped solar-electric UAV is highly capable, long endurance and avoids the necessity of a pilot, along with potential fatigue and human error.
- UAV control automation allows flight to be conducted outside normal operational parameters of manned missions: for example, very low or very high altitude operations.
- UAVs are able to operate in high-risk environments without putting a pilot in jeopardy.
In addition to other engineering services through Bye Aerospace, the company is supporting three advanced solar-electric UAV programs.
MARS SOLESA ("Solar-Electric Survey Aircraft")
In collaboration with Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASTI), Bye Aerospace is developing a unique aircraft to fill the gap between mapping and surveillance of Mars from orbital satellites and ground-based rovers. The aircraft, known as the "Mars SOLESA" ("solar electric survey aircraft")," is a unique approach taken by Bye Aerospace that would allow for closer investigation of the Martian surface with greater resolution and flexibility than the orbital satellites currently operating above the surface, but with far greater range and perspective than rovers. In conjunction with solar power provided by Ascent Solar, the Mars SOLESA concept will enable the vehicle to fly through the Martian atmosphere, gathering pertinent data along the way. The Ascent Solar PV enables day-time recharging of the SOLESA batteries. The fresh charge allows multiple series of flights. Special rugged landing gear, combined with cutting edge ground sensing technology enable landing autonomous landing site selection and short takeoff and landing distances. By flying at altitudes of a few hundred up to a few thousand feet above the Martian surface, the vehicle can cover more area in less time than the family of rovers currently employed on the surface, while maintaining greater resolution and perspective.
Silent Falcon Solar Electric UAV
Bye Aerospace provides design, research and engineering support for the Silent Falcon UAV being developed by Silent Falcon UAS Technologies. The Silent Falcon is a small solar electric UAV utilizing stored electric power, thin film solar photovoltaic (PV), high efficiency 6 blade propulsion system and other technologies to enhance its very long endurance, quiet operations and zero emissions.
An efficient electric motor provides the Silent Falcon with appropriate climb rates and efficient cruise which facilitates access to areas requiring surveillance.
The easily transportable Silent
Falcon system is very quiet with low thermal signature to reduce
detection. The Silent Falcon carries a proprietary sensor gimbal,
"Falcon Vision," with electro-optical and infrared camera on a
lightweight mechanically and digitally stabilized gimbaled payload
allowing the operator to keep eyes on target. With very long
endurance the Silent Falcon provides multi-fold the value and
capability of competitive systems.
Silent Falcon has completed developmental flight test, and validated initial performance estimates. The combination of remarkable persistence, payload and reduced acquisition and operating cost over similar-sized systems gives the Silent Falcon a significant advantage over competitors. Low rate initial production has commenced and customer deliveries are underway.
Li-Ion batteries, thin film photo-voltaics, advanced efficient propulsion system
GPS, electric autopilot and servo-control
Proprietary ISR sensor gimbal with daylight and low light video optics
Gross weight in the 25lbs weight class with loiter at 20 knots, with cruise to 45 knots
- Very long flight endurance
Potential applications include homeland security, and military visual and thermal tactical reconnaissance. Potential civil applications include high security facility surveillance, pipeline and power line inspection, aerial law enforcement, forest fire detection, weather monitoring and aerial photography (see www.SilentFalconUAS.com or for system purchase inquires info@silentfalconUAS.com).
Starlight Lighter than air Solar Electric UAV
U.S. Navy awarded a research contract to Global Near Space Services ("GNSS") to develop a two stage lighter than air ("LTA") unmanned air vehicle ("UAV"). The GNSS program developed a clean, cost-effective satellite-type capability utilizing a high altitude upper-stage shaped LTA coupled with an unpiloted detachable, flying, lower stage UAV containing sensor systems. GNSS subcontracted to Bye Aerospace to design the solar-electric flyable lower stage, 'stratospheric recovery vehicle' or SRV detachable UAV.
The unique GNSS "StarLight" LTA system is predicted to persist on station against prevailing winds at very high altitudes for 4 months for a fraction of the cost of a satellite. Solar electric energy provides the necessary power for all systems including both motors for station keeping and customer surveillance payloads.
The lower stage solar electric UAV features deployable thin film photo voltaic arrays that articulate up to +/- 50 degrees to optimize solar energy collection. The electric motor propeller system also articulates up to +/-30 degrees to provide enhanced steering for the LTA against altering wind conditions at altitude. The lower stage detaches on command and returns under powered flight to landing and for refurbishment and re-launch as required.
Bye Aerospace helped design and construct a 40% demonstration scale SRV (pictured) for GNSS and the U.S. Navy. The scaled SRV demonstrator vehicle is designed with advanced all-composite structure, has a length is 27.8 feet with a wing span of 25.6 feet, and gross weight of 854 lbs. It is designed to 5g strength and a 1.4 safety factor. The SRV test vehicle utilizes a partial array of thin film photo voltaics to provide solar energy collection. Light-weight Li-Ion batteries provide energy storage. The SRV demonstrator is designed to fly with a limited redundancy autopilot, initially to altitudes under 15,000 feet, and eventually to near operational altitudes of up to 65,000 feet. Test payload for the demonstrator up to 50 lb and 100 Watts of power.
Potential government applications include homeland security and related air sovereignty support. Potential civil roles include surveillance, communications and air traffic management. For more information go to www.GlobalNearSpace.com
Bye Aerospace has launched a subsidiary (www.sunflyer.com) to develop a solar-electric 2-seat flight trainer. The "Sun Flyer" will greatly reduce flight training operations cost, while elimanating combustion emissions and reducing noise.
Tens of thousands of legacy cessna, piper and other flight trainers are averaging 40 years old and many need to be replaced. At the same time, flight training operations are expected to increase dramatically in the near term. The Sun Flyer is the compelling sollution for the next generation flight trainer requirement.