Phenix Solutions is flight-testing a single-motor coaxial, remotely piloted aircraft under the U.S. Air Force Agility Prime program, with FAA certification planned for 2023. Agility Prime is an Air Force Research Laboratory effort to study the potential application of VTOL aircraft for transport, search and rescue, reconnaissance, and other missions.
Derived from two prototypes—a single-rotor design, as well as a quadrotor—the Phenix Ultra 2XL’s coaxial design, eliminates the need for a tail rotor and is “highly stable,” said Phenix president Brian Riese. “The Phenix prototype flight-testing validated our core flight control avionics, which allowed us to advance a modular-off-the-shelf coaxial design.”
Under Agility Prime, the Air Force is hosting a series of fly-offs through 2025, with the aim of procuring a low-maintenance, fuel-efficient aircraft that cost less than a few million dollars. Air Force officials would like to field about 30 electric aircraft capable of carrying cargo, and potentially passengers, by 2023.
With the Ultra 2XL, Phenix is working to optimize propulsion and rotor design, which Riese estimates should cut out 60 percent of traditional maintenance costs and increase availability rates.
“The Ultra 2XL is aimed at giving ground commanders an aerial logistic asset that can deliver combat supplies to units in an advanced expeditionary basing operations concept. [It] will serve commanders that will now be able to direct when and where much-needed supplies are delivered to keep pace with operational demands,” he noted.
Built to fit within a standard 20-foot shipping container, the Phenix Ultra 2XL can be launched by ground troops in less than 15 minutes. It is capable of beyond visual-line-of-sight operation, has a 2,000-pound payload capacity, and an operational range of 200 miles. With FAA certification, Phenix plans to market the aircraft for both civil and defense applications.