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This Bladeless Air Taxi Has a Wild Propulsion System

  • A new “bladeless” VTOL vehicle could save up to 50 percent on fuel.
  • The design is like a Dyson fan, leveraging air into huge amounts of thrust.
  • This vehicle is an air taxi concept, carrying people up to 200 miles at 200 mph.

    Jetoptera, a Seattle-based propulsion system, drone, and aerial mobility startup, is working on an innovative vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft concept modeled on Dyson’s “bladeless fan” design. Could the design lead to quieter, more efficient VTOL vehicles for future carbon-free travel?

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    As New Atlas points out, almost every VTOL design looks like some kind of scaled-up drone, with huge fans that blast downward to help create upward thrust. Jetoptera’s J-2000, however, is an entirely different beast. The aircraft looks like an Indycar or Formula One auto body mounted with rectangular thruster modules, with each thruster containing a “bladeless fan” system that Jetoptera has named the fluidic propulsion system (FPS).

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    The FPS works by leveraging small amounts of moving compressed air to push through a much larger amount of outside air and generate thrust. It’s a bit like a bike gear, in that a very small initial airflow turns into something up to 15 times more powerful because of the clever design.


    New Atlas describes the system:

    “The air is forced back over a wing-shaped surface all around the ring, where it develops the same kind of negative pressure that gives aircraft their lift. Add to that the weirdness of fluid entrainment—the vortices that develop where the cylinder of accelerated air leaving the ring interacts with the stationary ambient air around it.”

    Jetoptera/Handout

    For takeoff, the J-2000 concept has four active FPS modules: two in front and two in back. Once the aircraft is in the air, the two front modules can fold away into the body to save drag. This leaves the two powerful rear thrusters to push J-2000 at up to 200 miles per hour (mph). Other Jetoptera concepts are planned to reach up to 400 mph.

    Jetoptera says the J-2000 can be up to 30 percent lighter than comparable VTOL designs with traditional bladed fans. In the race to reduce aircraft emissions, this is a huge amount of weight savings that corresponds to a fuel savings of up to 50 percent.

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    For the time being, J-2000 concepts have gas-fueled air compressors, but Jetoptera wants to electrify them when it becomes feasible based on battery power density. This will require an increase of nearly 600 percent over current state-of-the-art batteries, according to New Atlas.

    The target market for the J-2000 aircraft concept is air taxi services, where VTOL vehicles offer an unobtrusive way to pick passengers up from the ground. The J-2000 will seat two people with a maximum takeoff weight of 2,000 pounds—hence the name—and a range of up to 200 miles.

    As with electric airplanes and other forward-looking air travel concepts, short trips are a good place to introduce innovation because they offer more leeway on factors like speed and fuel economy.


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