Switzerland’s Manta Aircraft is working on a flexible hybrid-electric canard aircraft design that will be capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) or efficient short take-off and landing (STOL) operations. A one-third scale model has been built, and the team is preparing for its first flight tests.
The ANN1 and ANN2 aircraft are single- and tandem double-seat versions of the same airframe – a carbon composite-bodied plane shape with a small V tail, a large reverse wing at the rear and a smaller canard wing at the front. Forward propulsion is provided by four ducted electric fans hanging under the front edge of the rear wing, and for VTOL operations these can tilt to face upwards.
Balancing the pitch of the aircraft in a VTOL lift or hover are four more ducted fans in the nose and tail sections, bringing the total to eight props – a decent number for redundancy. On the prototype, these are exposed; if the ANN platform makes it to production, little covers can close over these props to reduce drag in forward flight.
So it can take off and land vertically on a standard sized helipad, but if you’ve got a little more room it’ll also operate as a very short takeoff and landing aircraft as well. Manta says the large wing surfaces give it the ability to manage a conventional takeoff in as little as three times the width of a helipad. Conventional takeoff and landing allows heavier payloads, and also uses a lot less energy if you’re going for distance.