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SmartFish - proof of concept aircraft
by IKE 15-Jan-2010 00:22

SmartFish is a very exotic aircraft concept that as its very descriptive name suggest looks more like an aquatic craft than an aircraft. Koni Schafroth, an engineer and inventor from Switzerland first initiated this project. SmartFish is a family of aircrafts, all sharing the basic shape and principles. It has a ellipsoid fuselage with fin like wings that blend smoothly in the root. In the empennage there are shark fin-like tail elevator and rudder and the whole plane looks is very streamlined.---

SmartFish as a company had established partnerships with very respectable companies like Extra, Ruag, Liebherr Aerospace and more and a lot of the research is conducting at the EPFL and DLR. The evolution of the concept moves by proving the technology with progressively advanced concepts. Of course there are many CFD and wind-tunnel tests for the optimization of the aerodynamic and aeroelastic efficiency of the airframe.

The SmartFish uses its fuselage as a lifting body but its general aerodynamic shape has a better Lift to drag ratio from the blunt lifting body without (or with very small) wings. It can be scaled from a small UAV to a business jet capable of carrying 20 passengers or even a space re-entry vehicle. It is very efficient at speeds near 0.87 mach, its design has a very simplified structure that needs little maintenance and it is also very impressive and beautiful, a marginal factor but with a big marketing potential.

The SmartFish family is comprised from four basic members all with fuselage from composite materials (glass fibre for the small ones and carbon fibre for the large scale prototype). First there is the initial proof of concept R/C scale model that has already flown successfully. You can watch a video of its flight here. This model validated the initial analysis from CFD and wind-tunnel tests.

There is also a derivative with a fuel cell powering an electric ducted fan that has also flown successfully. It is called HyFish and it was developed in partership with DLR.

As mentioned above there is also a derivative called SpaceFish which will serve as a space re-entry or sub-orbital exo-atmospheric vehicle. Initial test are about to be conducted with a prototype dropped from a high-altitude balloon. SpaceFish is supported also by ESA.

The final and more difficult prototype will be a manned 2-seater version, powered from a Williams FJ-33-19 Turbofan with a MTOW of 1200kg.

For more information you can visit the SmartFish website and especially the very descriptive news section here:


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