When a natural disaster strikes, the main objectives are to get victims out of the area that was hit and getting aid into the area. The condition of the transport infrastructure in places struck by calamities is rarely good, and this makes it difficult to access them to achieve the mentioned objectives. But a new hybrid aircraft called the Extremely Short Take Off and Landing on Any Surface (ESTOLAS), provides a solution to help deliver valuable aid and save lives.
The aircraft features two horizontal propellers at the end of it’s short, squat body with a disc-shaped center that houses a rotor to provide lift (like a helicopter). With composite materials used to construct the body, the weight is kept to a minimum and can be further reduced by filling the hull of the craft with helium. The air-cushioned skirt and wheel skis allow the ESTOLAS to take off and land on almost any surface.
These features mean that the ESTOLAS requires a very short take-off and landing distance, even on unconventional runways. The load ratios of the new hybrid would be 1.5 to 2 times more than any conventional aircraft. The light weight means that fuel consumption is greatly reduced, allowing the ESTOLAS to make trips to any part of the world without having to refuel. The low fuel consumption also means that the ESTOLAS can compete with the modern railroad system not only in terms of cost of transport, but also makes it one of the most ecological aircraft.
The 24 month project will end in April 2014, before which the team expects to perform radio-controlled flight tests. The project team expects to create four versions of the ESTOLAS, each differing in size and load carrying capabilities. The smallest will be able to carry a load of about 3 tonnes while the largest will be able to carry around 400 tonnes. The take-off and landing distances required by the aircraft increase with size, meaning the smallest version requires the least distance.
The team designing the ESTOLAS has envisioned more applications for this amazing aircraft, including cheap air travel and even connecting remote areas and small towns without any airport. The aircraft can be used for tourism, defense and business purposes while also helping to develop remote areas. The possibilities are endless for this hybrid which utilizes the capabilities of almost every mode of transport. Lets hope this amazing idea makes it to reality soon.