Is it a bird? Is it a Plane? Is it a Helicopter? Nope - I'm building one of those new drone thingy's!

Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum

Help Support Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum:

SpamIsHam

Active Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
31
Location
Sydney
Hi All!

I am taking on a somewhat controversial project and whist I intended to keep it under wraps for the most part to “fly below the radar” so to speak, I figure I am going to need some advice and assistance along the way that can only be found at a place like this, where everyone else is just as crazy as me ;)

Fair warning, I enjoy writing and my posts will usually be fairly long – so if you’re not a big reader or short of time, you might want to check out my YouTube project channel (which I will create as soon as I have enough content and forward momentum to feed it weekly updates), where I will do my best to try and document the process along the way on video.

THE PROJECT

So a few months ago I came across the promo videos that have been drip fed to us of the “Jetson One” personal drone.



Looks like a hell of a cool toy, basically a jet ski for the sky – which concerns me because if any of you have ever seen an inexperienced person with the keys to a jet ski, you will know how dangerous they can be due to pure ignorance. In the right hands though, a lot of fun!

So the price tag for one of these Jetson One machines is USD$95,000 – which is about USD$94,000 more than I have any chance of talking my missus into parting with.

In any case, there is a 2-3 year waiting list on delivery as of now, they are apparently completely sold out with pre-orders for the next 24months..

Problem with that is, I want one much sooner than that and I also don’t have USD$95,000 burning a hole in my pocket.

So having nearly 10 years of experience flying and building quad drones, a PPL with an aerobatics endorsement and a tendancy to jump into crazy ideas that most people think are just that, crazy ideas, I started doing some real homework on what’s involved here… and it turns out, not all that much.

Whilst Jetson seem to be reluctant to provide detailed technical specs, or too much detail in general about things like propeller specs etc on theonline Jetson One, if you dig through enough content it is possible to gather it all together and come up with a bit of a “parts list” which will get you 90% of the way to completing the physical build to the same specs. I suspect that a big part of the reason why they are reluctant to answer questions about these details is for exactly this reason – there really isn’t a lot too these and it’s probably only a matter of time before their business model falls victim to the fact that anyone could make one of these with the same off the shelf components they are using and a bit of motivation. That said, don't get me wrong - hats off to them for what they have done. They have really led the way for so much of these early stages in manned drones. I acknowledge the fact that Second mover advantage is a whole lot easier a path to take.

Anyway, here is the basic details and the plan forward:

THE AIRCRAFT:

Construction of the main chassis/frame is from Aluminium 7020 tube, 50mm and 25mm that is CNC rolled into shape and then specially welded and heat treated for strength and the rest is Carbon Fiber/Carbon Kevlar panels and seat pod.

Because of the way the 50mm outter sections of the frame bend, they need to be CNC rolled and that means it needs to be done by a fairly specialist shop from what I can gather.

I’ve found a local place here in Sydney that can do this, so basically hand them the CAD files and the lengths of 50mm 7020 tube and they will hand it back ready for the welding process which is again, a fairly specialist process due to the properties of 7020 aluminium.

Long story short, the main chassis/frame will be essentially built for me due to the required machinery and welding and metalergy knowledge/experience.

Once completed, it will be powder coated black and the build will really start taking shape!

I spent the last 6 months playing around down in my garage teaching myself how to make things in carbon fiber/composite materials… I barely saw my wife in that time due to the addictive nature of carbon fiber…. Once you start making stuff from carbon fiber you suddenly want to make everything in carbon fiber lol

Now my car has a carbon fiber dash, carbon fiber mirrors, a carbon fiber bonnet and my daughter has a carbon fiber name tag on her school bag, I have a carbon fiber office chair and if it wasn’t secured in place before, my reluctance to let expensive leftover resin go to waste has seen everything and anything around the house reinforced with leftover resin.

So I am creating the “Tub” seat and outer panels myself from composites and these have been drawn out as templates with CAD and Fusion 360 to be cut to size.

THE MOTORS

The motor arms are reinforced Carbon Fiber tube

The Motors are T-Motor units either U15XXLKV29, or U15KV80 which are off the shelf availability for about $900 each from T-MOTOR Store-Official Store for T-motor drone motor,ESC,Propeller and have a maximum thrust of 102KG and 150KG respectively.

They are also fully water resistant and can operate in heavy rain.

The ESC for these motors come from T-Motor

Propellers are also supplied by T-Motor to match the application with the motors 64*24” carbon fiber blades.

The Ballistic Recovery Chute is available from a couple of manufacturers, but BRS seems to be the best option

LED Lighting (Nav lights, cockpit lighting, underside landing lights) available pretty much anywhere.

Harness is Sparco

Aside from the minor things such as rear view mirrors, LED lights, the wiring, the flight control computer and control inputs such as a collective/stick setup.

Once I’m at this stage, I’ll start programming the flight controller unit with the details to make this thing fly.

First few flights will be with a 90kg ballast in the seat, me on a remote controller safely on the ground some distance away.

Then I will progress to a couple of manned test flights using the remote control and then the onboard control inputs – all conducted at no more than a meter or two off the ground for safety until I work out reliable redundancy solutions.

I’m hoping that by the time I get to this point, there will be another step up in motor technology and battery technology – solid state batteries with double the flying time for no extra weight penalty and more powerful motors would be excellent modifications.

The other additional aids that I may look at adding as things progress will be LIDAR for collision avoidance and ground mapping and maybe even a transponder and radio setup if it ever got to a point where I was comfortable flying this over a few meters in height...

Australia is contemplating the possible change of rules whereby ultralights may be able to operate in Class C and D controlled airspace and if this can qualify as an ultralight, then its going to be awesome to do a harbour scenic in a drone ahaha!

The total empty weight of the aircraft is 190lb btw... anyway enough typing, will pick this up again later!
 

Attachments

  • j11.jpg
    j11.jpg
    59.3 KB · Views: 2
  • j12.jpg
    j12.jpg
    68.1 KB · Views: 2
  • j13.jpg
    j13.jpg
    36.5 KB · Views: 1
  • j14.jpg
    j14.jpg
    39.5 KB · Views: 1
  • j15.jpg
    j15.jpg
    69.6 KB · Views: 1
  • j16.jpg
    j16.jpg
    70.1 KB · Views: 1
  • j17.jpg
    j17.jpg
    64 KB · Views: 1
Last edited:

Bille Floyd

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2019
Messages
750
... place like this, where everyone else is just as crazy as me ;)
...

First few flights will be with a 90kg ballast in the seat, me on a remote controller safely on the ground some distance away.

Then I will progress to a couple of manned test flights using the remote control and then the onboard control inputs – all conducted at no more than a meter or two off the ground for safety until I work out reliable redundancy solutions.
...

Perhaps your Not as crazzzzy as you think ; I really like
your plan, to test fly the devise !!!!

Bille
 

BJC

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2013
Messages
15,421
Location
97FL, Florida, USA
In any case, there is a 2-3 year waiting list on delivery as of now, they are apparently completely sold out with pre-orders for the next 24months..

Opener has significant financial resources for development. At Oshkosh 2018, one of their principles told me that they were very close to beginning deliveries of their BlackFly to customers. I seriously doubt that Jetson will be delivering Ones to customers any time soon.

It might be instructive to investigate why they aren’t delivering; it is not for a lack of money.


BJC
 

SpamIsHam

Active Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
31
Location
Sydney
The question mark I must admit
Opener has significant financial resources for development. At Oshkosh 2018, one of their principles told me that they were very close to beginning deliveries of their BlackFly to customers. I seriously doubt that Jetson will be delivering Ones to customers any time soon.

It might be instructive to investigate why they aren’t delivering; it is not for a lack of money.


BJC

I agree. I firmly believe the reasons why are as follows:

They target an audience and market that has no real concept or actual appreciation for the importance of of airmanship, flight safety, controlled airspace or drilling emergency proceedures over and over and over again. These same principals apply to any activity in which humans operate in a hostile medium or environment, because that is what saves lives and that is the only reason why we don't have as many fatalities in Scuba Diving, Space Flight, Firefighting, Confined Space/Cave Diving, and Flying as we easily could.

How do you stop old mate down the road who picked up a Jetson for under the price of a new car, has more money than sense and knows it all because he did a half day training course online on how to fly it from treating it like the new jet ski he has been doing doughnuts with on the local lake, in between spraying his friends and family who swim just a few meters away thinking its funny to throw 200hp jet of water at their kids face?

How do you stop that same guy from handing it over to his mates when he brings it to that same day out by the lake, after giving them a 5min instructional on how to steer "it's easy bro.. just go like this for sideways and like this to go up and down!"

How do you instill in every single person who ever fly's one of these (and lets face it, they openly say they are targeting EVERYONE) the absolute, no compromises importance of checking your planned flight area and flight path for hazards such as powerlines, towers, cables and turbulent air sources such as cliff faces etc. Particularly noteworthy is the number of times the official Jetson One videos come extremely close to wires and powerlines, trees and buildings during their demo flights - one clip of those props on the corner of a building or a powerline and its "goodbye, thanks for coming!" yet they almost seem to promote it in their videos. And this leads me onto my next reason...

Ever noticed in their videos that a) they are never more than a few meters of the ground and b) when they are above a few meters (but never seem to be above ~10m or (and this is a key point) just above tree top height their flight path is almost ALWAYS over trees and dense bushes or water? Like, they seem to deliberately be steering over the top of trees and bushes...

I bet you that is on purpose and the reason for that is, they are wanting to show some height above ground on their videos, but they also know that any failure above 3-5m is likely going to be serious as far as impacting the ground is concerned for the occupant and they are hedging their bets even in their own demo video's by using the trees and bushes and water underneath them as a potential impact mitigation should they have a failure.

...and on that note, **** whoever lands in the water with one of these things eh... i'm sure they will have no problem unstrapping themselves and egressing the chassis in their panicked and disorientated state while they sink to the bottom... :/

They also know that their Jetson One is most likely going to be flown by their crash course target market who will usually operate it recreationally and at heights that are above best chance of survival on impact and below fair chance of any ballistic parachute system deploying in time to be of any use.

Minimum height for a ballistic chute is ~100m (320ft) and that is a significant height that most recreational flyers will not be operating at due to wanting to see things closer to the ground and show off to friends and family and its also getting towards where GA airplanes might operate in airspace that is not over built up areas, particularly if said GA airplane was not paying attention or went below the 500ft min for whatever reason.

This minimum height is calculated on an perfect world scenario... eg. Aircraft is within envelope/attitude for a deployment, deployment happens at or above the 100m altitude at a slight forward motion and the chute gets at least one swing and a few seconds to slow the fall to survivable speeds, with an landing on favorable terrain.

But most people, even most pilots, have never been PROPERLY trained in upset recovery, have never experienced unusual attitudes in flight and don't have an appreciation for the shock of an unexpected deviation from straight and level controlled flight. It can be quite violent and disorientating and for someone who isn't regularly drilling it and making it second nature, I suspect 9/10 times they will freeze up like a stunned mullet and impact the ground before they even comprehend what's happened, let alone take actions to remedy it. And that's from 2000ft. Imagine how "My Mate Steve-o from up the road" will do on his first time flying it when a catastrophic failure occurs whilst hovering at 100m of height right in the middle of him waving to you all from up there?

Any failure below this altitude and above 10m is likely going to be fatal.

These are but some of the reasons why these may not actually make it to market and if they do, will likely either be banned, grounded or regulated into much higher safety requirements and training/license to fly requirements.

In short - Its a massive liability problem I believe.

Another reason why I dont want to wait 3 years to get one of these, because there is a good chance that by the time that happens, they will be so regulated it wont be possible anyway ;)
 
Last edited:

wanttobuild

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2015
Messages
828
Location
kuttawa, ky
I wish you all the best!!
"Once you start building stuff with Carbon Fiber you want to build EVERYTHING with Carbon Fiber"
So Very True!!
 

nickec

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 22, 2010
Messages
282
Location
Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX
HeroX can provide many kinds of guidance and experience applicable to your project.


They have put teams into contact with experts in several disciplines that multi-copter designers use to develop workable planforms.

They also have video lectures and video conference calls on YouTube related to personal air mobility.

You may already know this. Either way, best wishes.

P.S.: Because these vehicles have very different behavior near the ground versus at higher altitudes, much of testing and development becomes a longer slog. Beware. Prepare. Respect Gravity.
 

D Hillberg

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 23, 2010
Messages
1,753
Location
very low low low earth orbit
The question mark I must admit


I agree. I firmly believe the reasons why are as follows:

They target an audience and market that has no real concept or actual appreciation for the importance of of airmanship, flight safety, controlled airspace or drilling emergency proceedures over and over and over again. These same principals apply to any activity in which humans operate in a hostile medium or environment, because that is what saves lives and that is the only reason why we don't have as many fatalities in Scuba Diving, Space Flight, Firefighting, Confined Space/Cave Diving, and Flying as we easily could.

How do you stop old mate down the road who picked up a Jetson for under the price of a new car, has more money than sense and knows it all because he did a half day training course online on how to fly it from treating it like the new jet ski he has been doing doughnuts with on the local lake, in between spraying his friends and family who swim just a few meters away thinking its funny to throw 200hp jet of water at their kids face?

How do you stop that same guy from handing it over to his mates when he brings it to that same day out by the lake, after giving them a 5min instructional on how to steer "it's easy bro.. just go like this for sideways and like this to go up and down!"

How do you instill in every single person who ever fly's one of these (and lets face it, they openly say they are targeting EVERYONE) the absolute, no compromises importance of checking your planned flight area and flight path for hazards such as powerlines, towers, cables and turbulent air sources such as cliff faces etc. Particularly noteworthy is the number of times the official Jetson One videos come extremely close to wires and powerlines, trees and buildings during their demo flights - one clip of those props on the corner of a building or a powerline and its "goodbye, thanks for coming!" yet they almost seem to promote it in their videos. And this leads me onto my next reason...

Ever noticed in their videos that a) they are never more than a few meters of the ground and b) when they are above a few meters (but never seem to be above ~10m or (and this is a key point) just above tree top height their flight path is almost ALWAYS over trees and dense bushes or water? Like, they seem to deliberately be steering over the top of trees and bushes...

I bet you that is on purpose and the reason for that is, they are wanting to show some height above ground on their videos, but they also know that any failure above 3-5m is likely going to be serious as far as impacting the ground is concerned for the occupant and they are hedging their bets even in their own demo video's by using the trees and bushes and water underneath them as a potential impact mitigation should they have a failure.

...and on that note, **** whoever lands in the water with one of these things eh... i'm sure they will have no problem unstrapping themselves and egressing the chassis in their panicked and disorientated state while they sink to the bottom... :/

They also know that their Jetson One is most likely going to be flown by their crash course target market who will usually operate it recreationally and at heights that are above best chance of survival on impact and below fair chance of any ballistic parachute system deploying in time to be of any use.

Minimum height for a ballistic chute is ~100m (320ft) and that is a significant height that most recreational flyers will not be operating at due to wanting to see things closer to the ground and show off to friends and family and its also getting towards where GA airplanes might operate in airspace that is not over built up areas, particularly if said GA airplane was not paying attention or went below the 500ft min for whatever reason.

This minimum height is calculated on an perfect world scenario... eg. Aircraft is within envelope/attitude for a deployment, deployment happens at or above the 100m altitude at a slight forward motion and the chute gets at least one swing and a few seconds to slow the fall to survivable speeds, with an landing on favorable terrain.

But most people, even most pilots, have never been PROPERLY trained in upset recovery, have never experienced unusual attitudes in flight and don't have an appreciation for the shock of an unexpected deviation from straight and level controlled flight. It can be quite violent and disorientating and for someone who isn't regularly drilling it and making it second nature, I suspect 9/10 times they will freeze up like a stunned mullet and impact the ground before they even comprehend what's happened, let alone take actions to remedy it. And that's from 2000ft. Imagine how "My Mate Steve-o from up the road" will do on his first time flying it when a catastrophic failure occurs whilst hovering at 100m of height right in the middle of him waving to you all from up there?

Any failure below this altitude and above 10m is likely going to be fatal.

These are but some of the reasons why these may not actually make it to market and if they do, will likely either be banned, grounded or regulated into much higher safety requirements and training/license to fly requirements.

In short - Its a massive liability problem I believe.

Another reason why I dont want to wait 3 years to get one of these, because there is a good chance that by the time that happens, they will be so regulated it wont be possible anyway ;)
A Stanley rocket extraction system might add to the envelope - [excluding an overpass or out of business]
 

SpamIsHam

Active Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
31
Location
Sydney
HeroX can provide many kinds of guidance and experience applicable to your project.


They have put teams into contact with experts in several disciplines that multi-copter designers use to develop workable planforms.

They also have video lectures and video conference calls on YouTube related to personal air mobility.

You may already know this. Either way, best wishes.

P.S.: Because these vehicles have very different behavior near the ground versus at higher altitudes, much of testing and development becomes a longer slog. Beware. Prepare. Respect Gravity.
Thanks, I will definitely check the lectures and calls out :)

It's not the speed falling that kills you, its the sudden stop when you get to the ground ;)

Ideally some kind of automated deployment system that could instantly act independently from a surprised, disoriented human if the aircraft registered a mechanical failure or departure from safe flight attitudes would be good - but the R+D in programming and testing something like that + the extra added weight of any systems required to make it work make it a no go for my project at least... another challenge I'll shamelessly let someone else pioneer and take second mover advantage of ;)

I am aware that ground effect would have a fair influence on the performance of these things, but assuming JetsonOne arent lying through their teeth and that the prop/motor combination I am looking at will be efficient enough to run with the limited battery, then 8 x 150KG max thrust motors -4 x 30% for loss of efficiency in the over under config still should give ample power to lift 200KG of man and machine well out of ground effect territory and still have enough power to fly normally... unless I have something wrong there??
 

jedi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
3,250
Location
Sahuarita Arizona, Renton Washington, USA

SpamIsHam - Please indulge me with a little mental experiment.

Assume you have built this and it is 90% successful towards your intended goal and you have two years of operational experience.

What would you do with it or how would you use it for today's planned activities or expected daily activities. Please give as much detail as possible with regard to takeoff and landing areas and limitations, trip length and number of operations, etc. and where you may park or leave it while you attend to your business. Is weather an issue today? Would night operations be useful and if so what is the relative comfort level for night operations?
 

SpamIsHam

Active Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
31
Location
Sydney

SpamIsHam - Please indulge me with a little mental experiment.

Assume you have built this and it is 90% successful towards your intended goal and you have two years of operational experience.

What would you do with it or how would you use it for today's planned activities or expected daily activities. Please give as much detail as possible with regard to takeoff and landing areas and limitations, trip length and number of operations, etc. and where you may park or leave it while you attend to your business. Is weather an issue today? Would night operations be useful and if so what is the relative comfort level for night operations?
Sure, fair enough question and when you're talking to a guy who got his head around the fact that spam is actually just like ham but in a can, a thought experiment is no problem at all ;)

What would you do with it or how would you use it for today's planned activities or expected daily activities...

CASA (Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority) are right at this very moment taking submissions and considerations for a change to our current airspace rules, whereby ultralight and light sport aircraft will be able to use Class C and D airspace.

Needless to say, this opens up a few interesting possibilities for me.

As a PPL holder, with a controlled airspace endorsement and a radio endorsement, I am familiar with and would likely (as a pilot) be permitted to take advantage of a change to these rules.

I am assuming that this will require an operational radio and transponder to be on board any ultralight or light sport aircraft and the pilot hold the appropriate endorsements to operate them.

As it is not a GA registered aircraft and comes in under the weight limitations of a ultralight/LSA aircraft, it is therefore governed by a much easier to deal with self governing body RAAus (Recreational Aviation Australia) which I see a realistic chance that this could meet the requirements to fit into this category should it be required in order to use the airspace.

Please give as much detail as possible with regard to takeoff and landing areas..

Takeoff areas:

Home base
I live not far from an suburb where properties have significant sized blocks of cleared flat land (5-10acres) which as far as I am aware, they are permitted to operate private helicopters from. So the intention would be to negotiate the use of their land for a home base, which may involve either trailering it down the road to their place when I intend to use it, or possibly donating a small shed to be built on the property with their permission and at my expense in which is can be hangered.

Remote landing sites
There are a number of helipads in the Sydney CBD area which are seldom used, but are nonetheless there. They are located on private property's such as building tops and other "secure" areas where provided there was prior negotiation and permission from ATC, you could land this and leave it recharging for a few hours then return for the short flight home (which would be 10-15 mins in the air in one of these at the most). Flying west of here you leave controlled airspace pretty quickly and there is ample areas and properties to land on (with permission) as well as a number of helipads with permanent or regular rotary operations that I am currently aware of.

Limitations
Well obviously flight time will be a limitation for the distance that can be travelled safely for now. I am hoping that by 2 years from now, we will have had a decent leap forward in the battery and motor technology that will give this at least 40mins flight time and more powerful motors to increase some weight additions such as the radio/transponder and possibly some glass avionics panels that could aid in providing further flight data.

Landing and takeoff areas are obviously a limitation one way or another... can't just land in front of the Sydney Opera House, jump out, go see a show and come back after to jump in and fly home. But that's a given I'm sure we're all well aware of.

If there is no allowance for use in controlled airspace, then everything above is moot.

Trip length

Currently with the available battery technology, limited to 20mins of flight +7mins emergency reserve. That would get you to most areas of the greater metropolitan Sydney basin area, you just need to have the ability to recharge it for the return flight home. Long story short, I see the 20min flight time as something I can work with, however I dont think anyone would argue that 40mins would be a whole lot better for a whole lot of reasons.

Number of operations
Depends on the permitted flying areas, but assuming this was permitted and that I was confident that it was reliable and safe, I would likely use it at least one or two days a week. I run my own business and it does involve a lot of driving around Sydney most days. It also involves driving into dense bushland areas that are in the surrounding local area so this could come in handy for that provided there were clearings in which to land. Again, battery is the limitation for remote landing sites.

Where you may park or leave it while you attend to your business.
Discussed above

Is weather an issue today?

Today it is. It would have been IFR most of this week around Sydney and even then, the winds have been so gusty at times that you wouldn't want to be in anything smaller than a 737 and the rain has been relentless. Basically though, the same weather limitations would apply to flight operations in this as would apply to an Ultralight or LSA.

Would night operations be useful?

Hell yes they would, that would be amazing to be able to operate at night time, however in Australia you need to have a NVFR endorsement to operate at night and without knowing the rules on ultralight and light sport operations at night, I am going to assume for the purposes of answering this thought experiment that they are not permitted and therefore as cool as that would be, its not possible.

..and if so what is the relative comfort level for night operations?

Nights are fairly warm here in Sydney, even during winter its nothing a good thick jacket, some gloves and a helmet wouldnt deal with - which is going to be pretty standard attire for all operations anyway, especially if you are operating a radio that is built into the helmet like a motorbike hands free...

Obviously, use of controlled airspace when you live in Sydney is going to be key to practical use.

... if not...

Like 90% of the s#*t in my house, this 90% successful aircraft would probably sit in my garage unappreciated 90% of the time.
 

Dusan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2014
Messages
204
Location
Canada
I assisted to one of the Jetsons presentation, as far as I remember they are saying in Europe is certified as a hovercraft, software limited to altitudes under 6m
 

SpamIsHam

Active Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
31
Location
Sydney
I assisted to one of the Jetsons presentation, as far as I remember they are saying in Europe is certified as a hovercraft, software limited to altitudes under 6m

Not aware of this - everything I have read and watched says 1500ft+

Whats the point of a ballistic chute (which they have built in) at 6m?
 

Dusan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2014
Messages
204
Location
Canada
Idk, maybe they are still experimenting, or for other markets.
 

BBerson

Light Plane Philosopher
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2007
Messages
15,923
Location
Port Townsend WA
I think BRS was or is experimenting with low level deployment systems. As far as I know in the USA, no one has yet used any of these for human transport with a purpose.
 

Fiberglassworker

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 28, 2021
Messages
106
Before you powder coat your aluminum frame, check the temperature at which they will be baking it. Some of the powder coating systems come close to the heat treat tempering systems for aluminum.
 

jedi

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2009
Messages
3,250
Location
Sahuarita Arizona, Renton Washington, USA
Sure, fair enough question and when you're talking to a guy who got his head around the fact that spam is actually just like ham but in a can, a thought experiment is no problem at all ;)

What would you do with it or how would you use it for today's planned activities or expected daily activities...

CASA (Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority) are right at this very moment taking submissions and considerations for a change to our current airspace rules, whereby ultralight and light sport aircraft will be able to use Class C and D airspace.

Needless to say, this opens up a few interesting possibilities for me.

As a PPL holder, with a controlled airspace endorsement and a radio endorsement, I am familiar with and would likely (as a pilot) be permitted to take advantage of a change to these rules.

I am assuming that this will require an operational radio and transponder to be on board any ultralight or light sport aircraft and the pilot hold the appropriate endorsements to operate them.

As it is not a GA registered aircraft and comes in under the weight limitations of a ultralight/LSA aircraft, it is therefore governed by a much easier to deal with self governing body RAAus (Recreational Aviation Australia) which I see a realistic chance that this could meet the requirements to fit into this category should it be required in order to use the airspace.

Please give as much detail as possible with regard to takeoff and landing areas..

Takeoff areas:

Home base
I live not far from an suburb where properties have significant sized blocks of cleared flat land (5-10acres) which as far as I am aware, they are permitted to operate private helicopters from. So the intention would be to negotiate the use of their land for a home base, which may involve either trailering it down the road to their place when I intend to use it, or possibly donating a small shed to be built on the property with their permission and at my expense in which is can be hangered.

Remote landing sites
There are a number of helipads in the Sydney CBD area which are seldom used, but are nonetheless there. They are located on private property's such as building tops and other "secure" areas where provided there was prior negotiation and permission from ATC, you could land this and leave it recharging for a few hours then return for the short flight home (which would be 10-15 mins in the air in one of these at the most). Flying west of here you leave controlled airspace pretty quickly and there is ample areas and properties to land on (with permission) as well as a number of helipads with permanent or regular rotary operations that I am currently aware of.

Limitations
Well obviously flight time will be a limitation for the distance that can be travelled safely for now. I am hoping that by 2 years from now, we will have had a decent leap forward in the battery and motor technology that will give this at least 40mins flight time and more powerful motors to increase some weight additions such as the radio/transponder and possibly some glass avionics panels that could aid in providing further flight data.

Landing and takeoff areas are obviously a limitation one way or another... can't just land in front of the Sydney Opera House, jump out, go see a show and come back after to jump in and fly home. But that's a given I'm sure we're all well aware of.

If there is no allowance for use in controlled airspace, then everything above is moot.

Trip length
Currently with the available battery technology, limited to 20mins of flight +7mins emergency reserve. That would get you to most areas of the greater metropolitan Sydney basin area, you just need to have the ability to recharge it for the return flight home. Long story short, I see the 20min flight time as something I can work with, however I dont think anyone would argue that 40mins would be a whole lot better for a whole lot of reasons.

Number of operations
Depends on the permitted flying areas, but assuming this was permitted and that I was confident that it was reliable and safe, I would likely use it at least one or two days a week. I run my own business and it does involve a lot of driving around Sydney most days. It also involves driving into dense bushland areas that are in the surrounding local area so this could come in handy for that provided there were clearings in which to land. Again, battery is the limitation for remote landing sites.

Where you may park or leave it while you attend to your business.
Discussed above

Is weather an issue today?
Today it is. It would have been IFR most of this week around Sydney and even then, the winds have been so gusty at times that you wouldn't want to be in anything smaller than a 737 and the rain has been relentless. Basically though, the same weather limitations would apply to flight operations in this as would apply to an Ultralight or LSA.

Would night operations be useful?
Hell yes they would, that would be amazing to be able to operate at night time, however in Australia you need to have a NVFR endorsement to operate at night and without knowing the rules on ultralight and light sport operations at night, I am going to assume for the purposes of answering this thought experiment that they are not permitted and therefore as cool as that would be, its not possible.

..and if so what is the relative comfort level for night operations?
Nights are fairly warm here in Sydney, even during winter its nothing a good thick jacket, some gloves and a helmet wouldnt deal with - which is going to be pretty standard attire for all operations anyway, especially if you are operating a radio that is built into the helmet like a motorbike hands free...

Obviously, use of controlled airspace when you live in Sydney is going to be key to practical use.

... if not...

Like 90% of the s#*t in my house, this 90% successful aircraft would probably sit in my garage unappreciated 90% of the time.
Thank you for the very thoughtful reply.

My comments:

The night comments and limitations are as expected.

The weather comments are more limiting than expected. I am frequently impressed with the ability to operate in weather that many would think is not possible.
Prop ice would be my biggest concern weather wise.
I would think it should do rather well in high winds.

Operating areas -

The trailer to operate property down the street is what I find most significant. All the E-VTOLs I see are too wide for road operations and unable to land or take off from the desired storage location or destination. Would you incorporate a folding mechanism to make it Roadable? The helipad and private property destinations will require considerable work/cooperation IMHO.

You have no mention of picking up packages or cargo. Is this an oversight or not a requirement?

Thanks again, battery is dying on my phone. Gotta land NOW!
 
Last edited:

Tiger Tim

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Messages
4,724
Location
Thunder Bay
Once I’m at this stage, I’ll start programming the flight controller unit with the details to make this thing fly.
I have no real knowledge of what’s out there but is there a commercially available controller with any sort of built-in redundancy? That seems to me like it would be a deal breaker for anything with a person on board.

For example, I fly a fly-by-wire jet for work and in order to get commands from the stick to the control surfaces that information is fed through three computers to determine the correct output. If one gives a wrong answer, the other two vote it out. Is there anything like that currently in the drone world?
 

SpamIsHam

Active Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
31
Location
Sydney
Thanks for the responses all, in the middle of a workday here at the moment but will respond later this evening to everyone’s input :)
 

SpamIsHam

Active Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2022
Messages
31
Location
Sydney
Jedi - “The weather comments are more limiting than expected. I am frequently impressed with the ability to operate in weather that many would think is not possible.”


I shall let someone else be the one to frequently impress you with this ability ;)

I’m not interested in flying into a SIGMET or flying in any kind of marginal conditions intentionally. This **** is dangerous enough without adding that to the equation. The best way to avoid prop ice is to not fly into icing conditions :) It’s not like you couldn’t land this thing pretty much *anywhere* you needed to if conditions dramatically and unexpectedly changed, so there should be zero excuse for flying in adverse weather conditions.
I have no real knowledge of what’s out there but is there a commercially available controller with any sort of built-in redundancy? That seems to me like it would be a deal breaker for anything with a person on board.

For example, I fly a fly-by-wire jet for work and in order to get commands from the stick to the control surfaces that information is fed through three computers to determine the correct output. If one gives a wrong answer, the other two vote it out. Is there anything like that currently in the drone world?

I am sure there is (software) but it would be propriety software that is closed source and either available for use at a price that you could probably have someone write your own for or its specific to a particular vehicle eg. Ehang or Jetson or whatever..

My initial thoughts would be that its fairly complex because of the number of algorithm's you would need to have that consider all possible scenario's and in doing that, also have the capability and hardware to bypass any given one of those failure points...

IThe way I see it, you need to build in redundancy where you can and within reason - but at some point, you just have to fkn' send it.

Jetson make a big deal out of the claim that the Jetson One will still fly safely to a landing should it loose an engine.

It is faaaaaaaar more likely that any engine out scenario is going to involve more than one motor.... because there are very few reasons why a single engine would fail. Either its a physical fault or a wiring fault.

I'm honestly yet to see a brushless electric motor on any drone fail due to a flaw in itself.

I've seen motors that failed or didn't work due to external issues such as loose wiring or faulty ESC/flight controller/physical damage... but never just a "**** you I'm not working" motor... and that's because they are very very simple in their design. There isn't a whole lot that can go wrong on them.

So chances are, if you're going to lose one engine, its going to be because of a fault that originates from another source and that in turn means that its likely going to affect more than one motor.... in which case, you can forget safely flying yourself down to a nice smooth relaxed safe landing on 7 motors as is the claim.

I'm not saying it won't fly safely to a landing on 7 motors. I'm just saying there is no real world scenario where I see you loosing just one motor that is anywhere near as likely to occur as the many scenarios I can think of that will result in loosing multiple motors.

SO then you need to consider the reality that if 9/10 times you have an engine failure scenario, it is going to be due to a fault that affects multiple motors, how and where do you build in redundancy to mitigate that and if that isn't a genuinely realistic option, then how can you mitigate that or plan for the failure?

Again, as far as I'm concerned:
Major fault or failure above 5m and below 100m = curtains
Major fault or failure above 100m = better hope you're quick at pulling the ballistic chute and that it works as advertised.
Simple as that.
 

jandetlefsen

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2020
Messages
137
Pretty cool project regardless of the outcome. Regarding the redundancy you could probably have a look how the German dudes have managed to get their electric multi copper fully certified by EASA, the name just escapes me.

How much do you recon the whole thing will cost you?
 
Last edited:
Top