Arc Aero Systems Hybrid Linx P9 Slowed-Rotor Aircraft
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Arc Aero Systems, earlier known as Samad Aerospace, portrays a “cost-effective, low-carbon solution to intercity travel.” When it comes to beat comparably sized helicopters on range, speed and operating cost the hybrid Linx P9 is the best.

Hybrid Linx P9 design is a combination of a plane, a helicopter and a gyroplane. It weighs around 4,255 lb (1,930 kg) empty. It features a nine-seat cabin styled like an helicopter with a slim, 41.3-ft (12.6-m) main wing, with a pair of 2-m (6.6-ft) pusher props hanging off the back. Additionally it features a sizable tail wing and fins.

The large, 13-m (42.6-ft) top rotor is pitch-controllable, but it appears not to be collectively controllable. It looks like a gyroplane in these ways – but gyroplanes by definition use unpowered top rotors. In contrast to gyroplanes, which usually require some airspeed to take off and land vertically, the Linx P9 uses an electric motor to spin its top rotor up fast enough for vertical takeoff and landing.Arc Aero Systems Hybrid Linx P9 Slowed-Rotor Aircraft_1The pusher props kick in once it lifts and once the airspeed comes in the wings take over 90% of the lift capability. While the top rotor can be slowed right down, enabling it to reduce drag and eliminate the asymmetrical lift that helicopters develop due to retreating blade stall to a certain extent. This enables it to a max cruise speed of 230 mph (370 km/h). Such speeds are only pipped with the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin, a traditional heli. Sikorsky X2, a coaxial twin top rotor, is another in the same class. 

The top rotor of the Linx P9 will be electric, while the pusher props will contain 370-kW (496-hp) turbo engines. According to Arc, these can run on sustainable aviation fuel or potentially be replaced by a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain at some point in time. Although operating hydrocarbon fuels may not seem ideal for a forward-thinking aircraft, the Linx P9 is more suitable for regional trips than short hops. With up to 1,320 lb (600 kg) of fuel, it can travel up to 590 miles (950 km). By using an extended-range tank, this range can reach 808 miles (1,300 km).

The 9-seat Sikorsky S-92 flies at 174 mph (280 km/h), and gets a maximum range of 630 miles (1,014 km) – but it carries 5,130 lb (2,333 kg) of fuel to get there. Although the Sikorsky weighs four times more than the Arc machine, it has 3.9 times as much fuel for a negligible range boost.Arc Aero Systems Hybrid Linx P9 Slowed-Rotor Aircraft_2The Arc on the other hand can operate for around US$505 per flight hour, and claims about 40% reduction from the cost of comparable helicopters.

There are a lot of similarities between Arc’s design and the Rosa Aerodyne proposed by Jaunt Air Mobility – both are derivatives of the CarterCopter concept. The slowed-rotor concept offers two key advantages over most eVTOL air taxi designs, according to Arc, like Jaunt. The huge top rotors of these things can serve as parachutes in the event of total power failure, allowing them to land safely. That’s an important safety measure that eVTOLs cannot match.

Also, they are certifiable under existing regulations, and although they are uncommon, they are at least relatively well-understood by aviation authorities, whereas eVTOL certification is an entirely new process that regulators are struggling to define as they go. In that case, the path to commercial certification could be easier, and that reduces risk.Arc Aero Systems Hybrid Linx P9 Slowed-Rotor Aircraft_3Although it may eliminate risk, Jay Carter spent 25 years developing and commercializing his slowed-rotor technology before finally selling all the IP he had developed around it to Jaunt Air Mobility in 2019. In addition to the daunting task of developing, prototyping, certifying and producing the Linx P9, Arc may face patent challenges in the future.

There is no timeline provided by Arc for these processes, and that’s probably a good thing. Besides looking for investment, the company is developing an unmanned eVTOL cargo drone, which is already in prototype form, and a luxury hybrid eVTOL aircraft with nine seats.

We’re fascinated by what these slowed-rotor machines might be capable of bringing to market, and we wish Arc and Jaunt a lot of luck as they build their aircraft.

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