Workhorse Group unveils “reinvented” helicopter with CFRP rotors and fusleage

The SureFly personal 8-rotor helicopter features hybrid gas-electric power and lightweight composites.

Workhorse Group Inc. (Loveland, Ohio), a technology company focused on providing sustainable and cost-effective solutions to the electric transportation sector, has announced it will unveil its SureFly helicopter concept at the Paris Air Show on June 19, 2017.

"The helicopter has been around for 78 years and is finally being reinvented," said Workhorse CEO Stephen Burns. The goal of SureFly is to be safer and more stable than a typical helicopter due to its redundant design which includes four carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) propeller arms, two fixed contra-rotating propellers on each arm, a backup battery to drive the electric motors in the event of engine failure and a ballistic parachute that safely brings down the craft if needed.

The SureFly’s fuselage and propellers are made from CFRP to provide lightweight and durability. According to the company’s website, Workhorse has drawn from its expertise in developing carbon fiber drones and electric battery powered vehicles. The SureFly’s four carbon fiber arms fold down providing a small footprint, enabling storage inside a standard garage. The interior also features CFRP.

SureFly's hybrid design leverages the battery packaging, management systems and controls utilized in Workhorse’s commercialized medium-duty, range-extended battery electric vehicles. SureFly is equipped with a gas combustion engine to generate electricity and a parallel battery pack offering a redundant backup power source, which eliminates the need for long battery charging periods between flights. Designed to be easy to operate, SureFly is expected to be capable of carrying two passengers up to 70 miles.

Early models will be pilot-operated. The goal is to introduce future autonomous models able to carry payloads of up to 181 kg. Anticipated markets for the SureFly include precision agriculture, emergency responders, city commuters and the military. Workhorse plans to begin test flights this year and intends to achieve Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, Washington DC) certification in late 2019.

Editor Pick

Carbon Fiber conference agenda nears completion

The 2017 Carbon Fiber conference, Nov. 28-30 in Charleston, SC, US, includes a tour of the Boeing South Carolina plant, a panel on carbon fiber recycling and a pre-conference seminar on carbon fiber in transportation and energy applications.