The US Air Force has begun exploring the use of electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing aircraft for SAR and medevac missions.
The Air Force Research Lab project, Agility Prime, has partnered with electric aviation company, Kitty Hawk, US, to construct the Heaviside VTOL aircraft in a bid to quickly reach application and commercialization of their findings.
The Heaviside will be evaluated on suitability to perform medical evacuation, personnel recovery, and logistics, in addition to remote flying capabilities.
The Heaviside, named after British engineer Oliver Heaviside, is capable of speeds up to 180mph with a potential range of 100 miles on a single charge. The Heaviside can take off and land within a space of 30’x30’ and reaches sound levels of 38dBA at 1,000 feet – significantly quieter than a helicopter.
Colonel Don Haley, Training Command Detachment 62 Commander, said: “This collaborative commercial/DoD use-vase exploration revealed common attributes that serve both urban air mobility and search and rescue operations: high reliability, responsive launch and recovery, minimal logistical footprint, accessibility for mobility-challenged, low acoustic signature, and high levels of autonomy.”