At this year’s Paris Air show, Austrian technolgy company, IAT21, showed their D-Dalus propulsion system. It is unlike another other current airborne production technology in that is does not use propellers, helicopter blades or wings for lift. It may well be the first true disruptive propulsion technology since the invention of the jet engine.
Here’s what the company’s website has to say about their system:
The propulsion consists of 4 sets of contra-rotating disks, each set driven at the same rpm by a conventional aero-engine. The disks are surrounded by blades whose angle of attack can be altered by off-setting the axis of the rotating disks. As each blade can be given a different angle of attack, the resulting main thrust can be in any required direction in 360° around any axis. This allows the craft to launch vertically, remain in a fixed position in the air, travel in any direction, rotate in any direction, and thrust upwards thereby ‘gluing down’ on landing.
The appearance of this technology makes me wonder aloud, “Is the era of tires and wheels finally seeing the beginning of the end?” I sure hope so!
Let’s think about how technology progresses.
- First the basic invention and validation process is completed. This appears to be well in hand.
- Next comes the initial sales and acceptances of the technology by narrow vertical markets, such as military or related ventures. This helps generate considerable financial stability for the venture.
- Further refinements and efficiencies are developed reducing costs and expanding capabilities.
- The doors open for either licensing or direct development for consumer applications.
- Even more development, refinement and expansion of capabilities, etc.
How many ubiquitous technologies can you think of that we consider part of our normal daily lives that followed this rough sequence? Here’s two hints:
- The Internet
Since I was a kid (quite a few decades ago) I pined for the days when we’d see the vision of the Jetson’s cars as practical. Sitting in modern freeway gridlock all too often has brought back these hopes.
Everyone who has written about the D-Dalus technology since the Paris Airshow has touched on the aircraft applications. Hopefully I am not the only one who sees more future in it…