Germany-based Fraundorfer Aeronautics presented its newly developed Tensor 600X compound gyroplane to the public for the first time at the European Rotors show in Cologne this week. The two-seat aircraft—which has a payload of just over 500 pounds, an anticipated range of around 375 miles, and a cruise speed of 125 mph—is aimed at the personal transportation market.
Currently, jet-A fuel powers the aircraft, but the manufacturer intends to adapt it to run on hydrogen or electric power. The aircraft took its first flight in 2020 and the company expects to gain initial ultralight certification next year.
The Tensor 600X uses Fraundorfer’s R01 high-performance rotor system, a new generation of autorotation rotors developed with computer simulation. Calling it about twice as efficient as a comparable helicopter, Fraundorfer claimed its technology makes the vehicle easy to fly and inexpensive to operate and acquire. It said the price for the vehicle will be comparable to that of a single-engine aircraft or a helicopter. The company has assigned all its order slots for 2022 and is taking more for 2023, it said.
According to Fraundorfer, safety features of the model include that it will not experience stalls or spins. It will require only 800 meters (2,600 feet) of visibility to operate and 150 meters (492 feet) of minimum safe altitude, as opposed to 5,000 meters and 600 meters, respectively, for a typical single-engine helicopter. The company claims an operator can realistically fly the Tensor 85 percent of the time, with only the harshest weather conditions grounding it.
The company says the Tensor can get airborne after 10 minutes of ground preparation. “Until now, flying has involved long flight preparation, pre-flight checks, and ground handling,” it said in a statement. “The Tensor takes a completely new approach, which looks not only at the aircraft but at the entire chain of training, service, maintenance, and operations.
Meanwhile, according to Fraundorfer, students can obtain their ultralight or light aircraft pilot licenses (LAPL) after four weeks of training, thanks to what the company calls its modern methods, simulator training, and courses in blocks.
Fraundorfer says the vehicle can take off and land on some 400 airfields in Germany and its foldable wings allow for hangarage in tight spaces and also for transport.
The Tensor's technical characteristics make it well suited for use in areas where tight confines make runways difficult to build—for example, in urban environments. But the aircraft’s capabilities offer what Fraundorfer calls great advantages between cities and in hard-to-reach regions with weak infrastructure, making it ideal for rescue services, transport flights, or disaster control.
“When we founded Fraundorfer Aeronautics, we wanted not only to bring the beauty and efficiency of flight into everyone's daily lives but, also, and more importantly, to enable environmental and disaster relief missions that were previously infeasible,” said company founder and CEO Christoph Fraundorfer. “We have been performing unsolved, highly complex aerodynamic calculations for decades. After seven years of risks and challenges, we've made a breakthrough.”
The company plans to launch a further development of the Tensor 600X by mid-decade. Called the Tensor 800X, the larger vehicle will gain certification under EASA regulations and be capable of commercial operations such as passenger transport, use in logistics, or supply flights to difficult-to-reach regions.