Home Engineering Small Unmanned Fixed-Wing Aircraft Design. A Practical Approach
The rest of this book aims to set our experiences in designing, building, and flying a range of small fixed-wing aircraft, following the philosophy set out in this chapter. While it is perhaps inevitable that single-engine aircraft are where we started, they inherently prevent any form of single-point-of-failure tolerance. So, although we consider both single- and twin-engine designs, we firmly believe that only the latter designs offer the degree of resilience that regulators will inevitably demand for commercial activities. With regard to empennage, we have concluded that canard-based designs offer no significant advantages in the roles being considered, but beyond that, a range of tail types can be effective - we have successfully tried several. In all cases, we make use of rapid prototyping (generally SLS) along with carbon-fiber tubing to build the bulk of our fuselage and empennage structural components. Lifting surfaces have been made from carbon tube reinforced foam, covered in either Mylar film or glass/car- bon fiber to increase strength and provide chemical and handling resistance. Our design work has been aided by a growing suite of computational tools that span from spreadsheets to full Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes fluid dynamics solvers. These have been augmented by the large amount of experimental data we have accumulated from wind tunnel tests, structures labs, and in-flight data recording.
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