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This Flapper’s No Wing Loong

Credit: The “Orthopaedist’s Ornithopter” is undergoing flight trials.

A Chinese company’s newest aircraft project harkens back to one of aviation history’s oldest ideas: the ornithopter. 

Centuries after Leonardo di Vinci conceived his own designs, the Beijing-based Implant Aircraft Co. Ltd., has started testing a series of ornithopter unmanned aircraft systems (UASes) designed by a Chinese orthopaedist. 

The “Orthopaedist’s Ornithopter,” as it’s branded on company business cards, is being developed on private funding to support the Chinese military, with the goal of delivering a quiet, tactical UAS with 2-hr. endurance within two years, say company officials. 

The Chinese government or military has not yet ordered the aircraft, and Implant Aircraft representatives came to the Dubai Airshow in hopes of attracting interest and, more importantly, financing for the project. 

The aircraft on display at the Airshow shows a prototype with two sets of flapping wings, a forward canard wing and a V-tail. The wings include outboard panels that rotate to control pitch and roll. 

A small battery also powers an electric motor used to actuate the wing flapping mechanism. The current battery is limited to a flight endurance of about 5 min., but the company plans to install more powerful, lightweight batteries to increase flight time to 2 hr. 

 

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC. Born in a U.S. Air Force family, he grew up on military bases around the world and came to Washington DC in 1997 to work for Army Times Publishing Co. as a journalist. Steve helped launch the Military.com portal in 2000, then joined the editorial team for Aviation Week’s web site in 2001. He reported on the Pentagon for Aerospace Daily in 2002 and 2003.


 

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As a subscriber to one of Aviation Week Network’s market briefings, your searches only provide you with access to articles from within that product.

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As a subscriber to one of Aviation Week Network’s market briefings, your searches only provide you with access to articles from within that product.

To find out about obtaining additional data – including the most comprehensive details on organizations, fleets, personnel and programs – click here or call +1.561.279.4661.