Hanwha Aerospace is joining forces with advanced engineering company Stirling Dynamics to produce the electromechanical actuators (EMA) for Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 eVTOL aircraft. The collaboration announced this week builds on a partnership between the companies that started in 2016 and which has extended to development work on the actuators since Vertical Aerospace selected South Korea-based Hanwha as a supplier for this key component.
Stirling Dynamics is part of the technology consultancy Expleo and, like Vertical, is located in the UK. South Korea-based Hanwha has been manufacturing aircraft engines and components for more than 40 years and is a partner with major powerplant companies including GE Aviation, Rolls-Royce, and Pratt & Whitney.
“We are pleased to continue our collaboration with Hanwha Aerospace as we combine our technological expertise to drive EMA development for Vertical Aerospace,” said Stirling Dynamics v-p Bandula Pathinayake. “Our work on EMAs reflects the industry’s shift towards electrification and its sustainable vision for the future of flight.”
Vertical Aerospace’s all-electric VX4 is designed to carry four passengers plus one pilot up to around 100 miles (160 km) on a single charge. Its design features a 50-foot (15 meters) fixed wing with four tilting rotors mounted on the front and four stowable rotors in the rear. This configuration allows the aircraft to take off and land vertically like a helicopter but operate like an airplane in cruise flight, all while the EMAs precisely control the positions and movements of the rotors.
In most conventional airplanes, actuators that control the various moving parts of the aircraft use a combination of hydraulics, cables, and pushrods. Using EMAs removes the need for any hydraulic or pneumatic systems on the aircraft, helping to reduce weight, increase efficiency, and optimize overall performance.
In addition to its work with Vertical Aerospace, Hanwha is also a key backer and partner for U.S.-based eVTOL aircraft developer Overair. The company is also working together with Skyports to develop vertiports in South Korea.
Stirling Dynamics has more than 30 years' worth of experience developing various systems for a variety of aircraft and marine vessels. Aircraft programs that Stirling Dynamics has worked on in the past include the F-35 Lightning II fighter, Airbus' single-aisle and widebody families, the A350 and A400M, Bombardier's C-Series and Global 7000/8000 business jets, and Leonardo's helicopters.