In the realm of space re­search, In­dia is among the top coun­tries in the world. How­ever, when it comes to aero­space sec­tor, In­dia is lag­ging way be­hind, not hav­ing pro­duced one com­mer­cial air­craft to date. It is not that In­dia does not have the tal­ent and

SP's Airbuz - - Table Of Contents - BY R. CHANDRAKANTH

THE PRESENT GOV­ERN­MENT IS earnest in its mo­tives of de­vel­op­ing the na­tion, lev­er­ag­ing the vast tal­ent pool it has. The ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive is go­ing to be a ma­jor driv­ing force for both in­dige­nous de­vel­op­ment and col­lab­o­rated ef­forts. With re­gard to aero­nau­ti­cal ‘ Make in In­dia’, the Min­istry of Civil Avi­a­tion is the nodal agency for de­vel­op­ing com­mer­cial aero-re­lated man­u­fac­tur­ing and its ecosys­tem in In­dia. The re­cently an­nounced Na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Pol­icy is go­ing to cat­a­pult the avi­a­tion sec­tor from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives, in­clud­ing air­craft de­vel­op­ment. And with in­creased for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in de­fence and avi­a­tion, the pos­si­bil­i­ties of get­ting fund­ing for ‘trans­lat­able’ ideas has be­come eas­ier.

It is in this back­ground we see the ef­forts of Ramees Muhammed from Kan­nur in Ker­ala and now work­ing Qatar. In­dia woe­fully lags be­hind in con­cept de­sign. But here we see an In­dian avi­a­tion en­thu­si­ast de­velop a fu­tur­is­tic de­sign of an air­craft with ver­ti­cal lift-off ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The con­cept de­sign called St­ingR12 is a cross­over con­cept be­tween re­al­ity and fic­tion which is de­signed to per­form like a jet plane but to take-off and land like a he­li­cop-

ter. There are air­craft with ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing (VTOL) abil­ity, but mostly are lim­ited to sin­gle-seat mil­i­tary plat­forms. The con­cept prop­a­gated by Ramees is of an air­craft de­signed to per­form like a jet plane but to take-off and land like a he­li­copter. He has said that two main en­gines sit­u­ated at the rear end of the ma­chine pro­vide the thrust and also con­trol­la­bil­ity by thrust vec­tor­ing. Ad­di­tion­ally an­gle ad­justable ro­tors on each of the two wings en­able ver­ti­cal take-off, land­ing and hover in midair. The thrust vec­tor­ing and ro­tors are com­ple­mented by the winglets which bend down and turn in­wards.

The con­cept air­craft uses car­bon fi­bre com­pos­ites in or­der to re­duce weight thereby re­duc­ing fuel con­sump­tion. The de­fin­i­tive shape helps the jet to per­form midair ma­noeu­vres and quickly de­scend and climb. The con­cept air­craft mea­sures around 23.8 m in length, 6.3 m height and has a wing­span of 4.38 m.

The air­craft, he said, is ideal for res­cue op­er­a­tions in hilly re­gions, for­est ar­eas as well as for med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion in ur­ban ar­eas. It can also be used for mil­i­tary and com­mer­cial pur­poses. He said the plane can carry eight pas­sen­gers. An en­hanced canopy gives the pi­lot and pas­sen­ger a bet­ter view of out­side. The fuel tanks are sit­u­ated at the lower side of the belly as un­like the tra­di­tional air­craft, its wings are pro­vided with ro­tors.

In an in­ter­view with SP’s AirBuz, Ramees elab­o­rates on the de­tails of the con­cept. SP’s AirBuz (SP’s): Could you give us an up­date on your con­cept de­sign? As we see, the first ar­ti­cles sur­faced two years ago. Ramees Muhammed (Ramees): I have been sketch­ing to re­fine the shape from a fic­tional model to a more re­al­ity-based one. The over­all shape has been changed grad­u­ally with more curvy rather than steep struc­ture. I am con­stantly try­ing to re­fine the shape which has to con­form to the laws of aero­dy­nam­ics. An ar­range- ment is be­ing made to 3D print the struc­ture, so we can test it as a scale model. SP’s: You were sup­posed to meet up with Oman Po­lice to present the con­cept. Has that hap­pened? Ramees: The demon­stra­tion to any­one can be car­ried out only when we have a live work­ing model and not just vi­su­als and sketches. We will do it once we have a work­ing model to show. SP’s: Such fu­tur­is­tic con­cepts in­volve a lot of trial and er­ror be­fore they are ready to fly. What ac­cord­ing to you could be the time line for it to reach the stage of man­u­fac­ture? Ramees: We will work on the fi­nalised struc­ture and cre­ate a scale model for the wind tun­nel test and in­te­grate with work­ing en­gines to test it. The cur­rent model has only gone through the vir­tual wind tun­nel soft­ware. For a big­ger model, we need ex­pert ad­vice and in­puts in re­spect of fuel and power out­put. For a com­plex project like this, there could be and in fact there will be a lot of failed tests and tri­als as the con­cept is quite dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tional air­craft. This may take a year or two for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion un­der dif­fer­ent con­di­tions. Maybe there will be dras­tic changes on the shape, struc­ture and the hy­draulics as some of them may not con­form to the laid down stan­dards. SP’s: In view of the com­plex­ity of the con­cept, it will re­quire huge in­vest­ments. What is the ball­park fig­ure es­ti­mated by you? Ramees: To be hon­est, I haven’t been much con­scious about the cost yet as this idea needs to be im­ple­mented to get a work­ing model. For an air­craft like this, the ini­tial pro­duc­tion cost could be over $180 mil­lion; but again we can­not es­ti­mate it at the mo­ment. It all de­pends upon what ma­te­ri­als to use, com­po­nents and var­i­ous tests and mod­i­fi­ca­tions. SP’s: In these two years, have there been any changes that you have made to the con­cept? Ramees: The con­cept model has gone through many re­vi­sions over this past two years. The shape and place­ment of hy­draulics all over the air­frame has been mod­i­fied. The pre­vi­ous de­sign had the air in­take mounted sep­a­rately which has later been in­te­grated with the bot­tom of the wings. The free ro­tors have been re­placed with ducted fans and main en­gines are now equipped with con­trol sys­tems for thrust vec­tor­ing.


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