During the annual reporting event, the EcoFest 2018, a new development was presented to the public: a prototype of an unmanned aerial vehicle based on the KA-26 helicopter. The novelty, called “Combo“, caused not only great interest among the guests of the EcoFest, but also a lot of questions on the technical part and aspects of its practical application. In this publication, the information service of the SkyWay group of companies will try to give the exhaustive answers to the questions.
“For example, based on the Ka-26 helicopter, we have designed and manufactured the largest drone in the world which can transport 1.5 tons of cargo at a height of several kilometers at 170 km/h speed for a distance of up to 500 kilometers. This is not a toy: we need it for building string tracks in challenging natural and climatic conditions, such as mountains, the intersection of rivers, lakes and marshes, jungles and tundra. It is successfully undergoing performance tests now.
The drone is a real helicopter for sale, it has an autopilot designed by us and an intelligent control system with technical vision. But we are improving the helicopter itself. After the tests of our automatics, the performing mechanisms, the drone will become completely different. It will have the other, more efficient, more reliable engine; the other, developed by us, more aerodynamic body, and even the propeller blades will be different – ours, and more efficient.
Such a drone will cost not less than $ 5 million in the aviation market, the need for such aircraft is thousands of items, and it is already arousing great interest in many countries around the world.”, said Anatoliy Yunitskiy in his speech in front of the EcoFest-2018 guests.
“Combo” is a collaboration product of two companies, one of which is the SkyWay project organization. SkyWay engineers implement their own know-how in the field of creating intelligent vehicle control systems which are already used in the SkyWay rolling stock. This solution, among other things, is dictated by the need to create and improve the technological equipment and accessories, which are included in the budget of the 15 stages of the string technologies creation. Drone is that technological equipment to increase the speed of construction and installation works, which in the near future will allow to optimize the implementation of SkyWay targeted projects in difficult climatic conditions and save significant funds.
The development of the UAV prototype (unmanned aerial vehicle) “Combo” is being carried out on the basis of the helicopter Ka-26, designed by the design bureau named after Nikolai Kamov. This aerial vehicle has proved to be extremely reliable, maneuverable and unpretentious in operation. In terms of its technical characteristics and price-quality ratio, Ka-26 is one of the best rotorcraft created in the USSR. It owns 5 world records, including a record altitude for helicopters with take-off weight in the class of 1750-3000 kg (5330 m) and the record of climbing speed (reaching an altitude of 3000 m in 8 minutes in 51.2 seconds).
The advantages of Ka-26 are due to the use of the coaxial-rotor arrangement in its design. Thanks to this solution, the helicopter has a higher efficiency (+ 15%) at flight speeds of up to 100 km/h and higher thrust (+ 30%) compared to classical aircraft with equal engine power. This increases the service ceiling by 1000 m and doubles the speed of vertical climb. Consequently, the helicopter with a coaxial scheme considerably exceeds competitors with a single-screw scheme, especially in mountainous conditions at high air temperatures. Due to the compactness, aerodynamic symmetry and the absence of cross-connections in control channels, piloting is greatly simplified, which is especially important for flights at low altitude and near obstacles.
In addition, aerial vehicles with a coaxial arrangement of the rotors have a significantly larger range of slip angles, angular velocities, and accelerations over the entire range of flight speeds.
Ka-26 blades, which for the first time in the practice of helicopter construction are made of fiberglass, based on fiberglass and epoxy-phenolic binder, have an almost unlimited resource.
The Ka-26 design uses a “flying chassis” scheme, in which the helicopter consists of a “carrier” of unchanging configuration and a set of easily removable attachments, which allows 2-3 people to adapt the vehicle for specific tasks in the shortest possible time. The modular layout allows to create a multipurpose aircraft with high operational efficiency.
The UAV “Combo” is a symbiosis of a well-proven, time-tested platform and the latest intelligent control systems. This combination makes it a unique development with extensive opportunities in the field of commercial use.
Since 2010, the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles has begun to change from the military to the civilian sector; by now it has become a commonplace in many sectors of the economy. According to the calculations of the consulting company Pricewaterhouse Coopers, published in 2016, by the end of the current decade, the growth trend of this industry will have been able to overcome the 6000% threshold: from $ 2 billion to $ 127 billion by 2020, opening new prospects in agriculture, transport, construction, security, entertainment, etc.