The demonstrator has been built under a project to explore technologies destined for use on future unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Known as Demon, the aircraft is the outcome of a project called FLAVIIR (Flapless Air Vehicle Integrated Industrial Research). This is a five-year, Â£6.5 million programme jointly funded by BAE Systems and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
FLAVIIR brings together 10 universities, led by Cranfield University and BAE Systems. Its major focus is to develop the technologies needed to build a low-cost, low maintenance UAS with no conventional control surfaces, such as wing flaps and without losing any performance compared to conventional aircraft.
Matt Pearson, Demon Delivery Manager, said the aircraft is an 80kg, jet-powered UAS with a wing span of 2.7 metres. It was designed at Cranfield University, with the support of the other partner institutions, and manufacture and assembly has been carried out jointly by Cranfieldâ€™s Composite Manufacturing Centre and BAE Systems apprentices.
Matt described the apprentices working on Demon as the â€œengineers of the future, working on the technology of the futureâ€. He said they had taken the air frame, fitted it out, and added all the wiring and electrical systems needed to create a working, functioning aircraft. Now in the final stages of assembly, Demon will make its first test flights later this year. The project has developed a number of ways of doing away with flaps and the flight tests will evaluate which of these is best.
Richard Williams, Programme Director Future Capability, is delighted with the Demonâ€™s progress: â€œProjects such as Demon have several advantages for BAE Systems. â€œThey help to ensure we get the greatest benefit from our invested research money and offer continued benefit from the increase in the capability and competencies of the universities involved.â€