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4×4 Aviation and the VV Plane

4x4 Aviation Ltd VV Vertical Transport

Just when you think all the vertical lift innovation is happening elsewhere you find out about a British company called 4×4 Aviation.

Their concept is to utilise a ducted fan propulsion system with power provided by a hybrid engine and energy storage system to deliver 20 foot ISO containers. It is scaleable from small unmanned system with a payload of 7-10kg right up to a 30 tonne ISO container.

4x4 Aviation Ltd VV Vertical Transport
4×4 Aviation Ltd VV Vertical Transport

Test flights of scaled demonstrator are planned for later this year.

So, good luck and all that!

We will have two.

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17 Responses

  1. I can’t find a Thunderbird 2 in Janes All the Worlds Aircraft. Can you provide more information about this please. I presume it is an older military design? Which Air Force used them.

  2. Only one was built. It served with International Rescue based on Tracy Island in the 1960s. It participated in relief, search and rescue, law-enforcement and counter-terrorism missions around the world.

  3. Chris W, Thunderbirds are go(ne).

    They sold them off for scrap in 1992. :P

    That was nostalgic lol.

    Maybe I’m getting older and more cynical but I can’t help imagining a huge oven at the end of that slide.

  4. We haven’t yet proved Sandys involvement in the lack of proliferation of Hackenbacker’s clearly revolutionary designs. I’m glad you’ve dug out these old documentaries to preserve his legacy! ;)

  5. It could do with some jack up legs to allow containers to be positioned below it rather than seemingly require a powered descent to straddle the cargo.

    I imagine 16 ducted fans would create a significant down blast.

  6. It looks as though in forward motion the rear engines are breathing the efflux of the front ones.

  7. Oldreem

    Don’t hold your breath. It is staggeringly difficult to make a heavy weight vtol aircraft: –

    A fly
    B hover in a stable condition allowing for surface effects.
    C not destroy everyone for a hundred yards around with down blast.
    D be remotely economical in level flight.
    E not crash spectacularly when the slightest thing goes wrong in hover.

    It is very easy to: –

    A draw pictures
    B do some back of the envelope lift/thrust calculations
    C call for investors in your ‘world beating’ technology.

  8. Awful lot of engines on that for commercial companies to buy into. Assymetric thrust issues and mean time between failures would be interesting. Looks like a cross between a bell x-22 and a skycrane

  9. On one of the linked pages there was a ‘you might like this’ suggestion. It described a rigid airship design that filled its buoyancy tanks with nothing – reasoning that a vacuum is lighter than Hydrogen. Whether pressure vessels could be made large enough, light enough and strong enough to be lighter than air when evacuated is another matter, but it ought to be worth investigating? If my sums were right, the buoyancy at ground level of a tank at 2psi would be the same as the same tank Helium filled, and at 1psi the buoyancy should match Hydrogen. To maintain the buoyant characteristics I think the pressure has to be reduced in proportion to the outside pressure as the vessel gains altitude.

  10. An airship is just a bag that stops the gas inside mixing with the gas outside. A vacuum airship would have to be a pressure vessel that could withstand a pressure of up to one atmosphere (you might not evacuate it completely, choosing to sacrifice lift in exchange for reducing stress on the vessel). A completely evacuated airship would have to be amazingly rigid to avoid buckling inwards like a crushed beer can. (Apparently it’s the rigidity, not the strength, that’s the tricky bit.)

    There is also the worrying prospect of what happens if you have a leak. If you have a little hole in a helium balloon, you start to sink slowly as the gas leaks out. If you have a little hole in a vacuum balloon, then either it implodes violently and you die, or it fills with air amazingly fast (as in, seconds) and you lose all your buoyancy and die.

  11. The designer is looking to use lots of small electric motors to drive the lift fans driven from a central GT/diesel power source (yes diesel!) to cut down on complicated and heavy mechanical transmissions which plague multi-rotor VTOL.
    Airbus/EADS have looked into this electrical transmission a bit also.
    http://www.airbusgroup.com/int/en/news-media/media~item=f325215d-fc09-4969-b629-9fdbbafdf7ca~.html
    I think TD is secretly sponsoring this as an ISO container was pitched along with ship to shore and a future air-borne bridge layer .

  12. Yes, dealing with external pressure is structurally challenging to avoid the vessel from buckling and crushing. Current airships use membranes which are kept inflated at very low gauge pressure so the pressure differential between inside and outside is small. Any leak would be consequently slow. 1 atmosphere differential (assuming perfect vacuum) is the same as submersing something 10m down in water, so you can get an idea of how rigid it would need to be, and that problem only gets worse as the vessel gets larger.

    Then you can figure that you get maybe 0.25grammes benefit per litre of volume over helium. Granted helium is a rarer resource than hard vacuum, so there might be an economic factor that would offset the increased complication of dealing with the vacuum.

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