TU Delft students win second round of GoFly competition
Silverwing, a team of students from TU Delft, is one of the five winners of the second round of the GoFly competition sponsored by Boeing. The participants had to design a single-seat aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing and that also meets various safety and noise requirements. The students can now go on to actually build the design and fly it in a fly-off with the other competitors.
The students built various mock-ups for the second round of the competition so they could gain experience with the construction of their own aircraft design. One of these is a half-scale prototype of the aircraft which can take off vertically and fly autonomously.
They wrote up the results of their work in a technical report for the second round. ‘Testing the design as early and as often as possible was the key to our success in the GoFly competition,’ says James Murdza, team manager of Silverwing. The technical report earned Silverwing a place among the five winners of the second round and $50,000 in prize money.
The prototype can take off and land vertically, but the aircraft will also need to be able to fly horizontally. The students’ design is fully electric and they expect it to be able to fly autonomously. The aircraft is powered by a high density battery.
The students believe the large wing will provide the aircraft with sufficient lift during horizontal flight, while the smaller front wing will provide control and stability. The team’s design is expected to produce 87 dB of noise, equivalent to a motorway at 15 metres’ distance.
The team plans to optimize efficiency and reduce noise using two large propellers that will be tested in wind tunnels. They aim to achieve a maximum speed of more than 140 km/h in horizontal flight, with sufficient thrust for controlled vertical take-off and landing.
Safety is one of the team’s chief concerns. The design has a strengthened cabin and a low-power backup system, and the aircraft will be able to perform a belly landing in case of an emergency. ‘We are automating the flight procedures and manoeuvres where possible to make the aircraft more reliable,’ explains Ralph Krook, the team’s head of flight control.
A small group of TU Delft students participated in the first round of the competition in June 2018. Silverwing was selected as one of the ten winners out of more than 600 participants. The team quickly grew to 34 students representing various university disciplines. They will now develop the aircraft further before travelling to the US in 2020 for the fly-off.
The GoFly competition was established to encourage innovation in the aviation sector. The competition is divided into three phases: a conceptual design phase, a detailed design phase and a final fly-off, which will take place in early 2020.
Anybody can participate by designing and producing an aircraft for the competition. Silverwing is currently hard at work to produce a full-scale working aircraft that can participate in the fly-off. The aircraft will need to be able to take off vertically, fly an 11-kilometre course and then perform a vertical landing. Points will also be awarded for low noise levels, size (the smaller the better) and speed. The team that wins the fly-off gets $1 million.
For more information about the Silverwing team and the project, please contact Ruben Forkink (firstname.lastname@example.org; +31 0)6 26976095). You can also visit the Silverwing website here: https://www.flysilverwing.com
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