Safran Helicopter Engines and Urban Aeronautics have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to study propulsion options for the latter’s Cormorant unmanned air vehicle.
Work will focus on power systems for internal rotor aircraft like the Cormorant, and will look for alternatives to the Turbomeca Arriel 1D that powers the UAV demonstrator. The engine manufacturer notes that it will offer its technical and industrial experience to the Cormorant program, and more powerful engines for the UAV will be explored.
The cargo-carrying Cormorant – previously known as the AirMule – was first test flown in 2010, and has since moved on to untethered flight and the introduction of advanced flight controls and sensors.
The MoU with Safran is likely to bolster the credibility of the Cormorant development, and help transition the program into a commercialized product.
According to Rafi Yoeli, founder and chief executive of Urban Aeronautics:
“Partnering with a major aerospace company like Safran will bring valuable expertise and help Urban Aeronautics move from the prototype to the production phase.”
While Maxime Faribault, executive vice-president of OEM sales said that:
“We value the trust that Urban Aeronautics has placed in us. Together we will study new directions for the vertical-lift market, and investigate the benefits and the feasibility of new aircraft concepts, particularly those using distributed propulsion.”