We are passionate about sharing what we do. Advancing the state-of-the-art is an absorbing process of interrogating nature, testing new ideas, and learning through observation. We know we are not the only ones hooked on the beauty of foils, wings, and elegant design. Here is our journey of developing our signature airframes.
As early as 2010, customers aware of our work in high-performance sailboats approached us to apply our knowledge and processes to airframes, and our initial forays in developing RPAS taught us interesting lessons about the parallels between sailboats and airplanes.
We always design from a set of requirements: identifying the customer’s needs (both technical and budgetary), and then creating the solutions to suit.
Whether working on boats or airframes, the process is always one of evaluating key factors and then finding the right point in the design space.
Though both boat and aircraft design have their own characteristic complexities and challenges, racing sailboats tend to require extraordinary versatility. Their foils (wings in the water) and sails (vertical wings) must work over a wide range of varying conditions and hence characteristic flow regimes. Since the power source is variable, the loads and speeds involved change dramatically. The ideal shapes and structural solutions for sailing in light breeze and flat water (underpowered) are very different from what’s needed in strong winds and big waves (overpowered). Yet the designer must tread a middle ground accommodating both extremes and correctly identifying the solutions that are most advantageous overall.
The brief for an aircraft is more determined than racing sailboats, by comparison. We would start designing an airframe to a brief that would specify a minimum flying speed, range requirement, and some inferred key speeds related to achieving the desired mission objectives efficiently. Overall weight will be within known bounds, changing predictably with fuel consumption and payload configuration, and power is usually known quite precisely, and can be controlled at will.
Our experience with racing sailboats, and the resulting methods and evaluation tools we have amassed, allow us to confidently tackle complex aircraft briefs. Our recent pioneering work with vertical take-off UAV airframes is a great example. The resulting aircraft types can deal efficiently with an extraordinary performance envelope that goes from zero airspeed (even flying backwards at times) to very slow loiter, to fast cruise. All with varying fuel loads and payloads.
Early aerospace design.