Disc-Rotor Compound Helicopter
The Disc-Rotor is a collaboration between DARPA and Boeing. Hoping to marry the best features of a helicopter and an airplane, the Disc-Rotor program aims to develop a new type of aircraft capable of a seamlessly transitioning from hovering like a helicopter to flying like a plane.
The design is propelled by rotor blades that extend from a central disc, letting it take off and land like a helicopter. But those blades can also retract into the disc, minimizing drag and letting the Disc-Rotor fly like a plane, powered by engines beneath each wing.
DARPA's Vulture program is developing the technology to enable an "airborne payload" to remain in the sky for more than five years at a time, performing intelligence, surveillance and communication missions. In practice, that means developing unmanned aircraft that act like satellites.
Boeing is again working on the project, researching its "SolarEagle," a solar-powered, unmanned craft with a 120-meter wing span. It is designed to operate at altitudes above 18,000 meters. Boeing hopes it will make its first demonstration flight in 2014.
The Vulture program is developing the technology to enable an "airborne payload" to remain in the sky for more than five years at a time, performing intelligence, surveillance and communication missions (artist's impression).
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