Light Aircraft Design
The main goals are the same for most aircraft projects - simplicity, lightness and reduced drag. Originally, the innovative aspect of Armada's canard light aircraft concept was to be an absence of conventional control surfaces on the main-plane, making the aircraft lighter, aerodynamically clean and simple to rig.
With encouragement from Manchester University lecturer (and canard advocate) Dr Terry Hughes, Rob experimented with canards in the mid 1980s. Together with fellow Solihull Model Engineers Club member, Adrian King, he designed his first canard model glider. The model was a two-function machine (rudder / elevator) with no control surfaces on the wing itself.
The prototype, constructed by aero-engineering student, Andrew Twort, flew very well.
Rob's second canard project, the "Horizon", was designed for aerial survey work. The canard layout has a number of advantages for this role, not least, the convenient location of the centre of gravity and an ability to accommodate a large, relatively unrestricted payload bay.
Early experience with canard models proved useful but there remained one fundamental difference between model and full-size aircraft - the crew. Careful thought was given to the problem before selecting a two-seat side-by-side arrangement for the light aircraft concept illustrated in the video below.
Small-scale model tests indicated that there were significant shortcomings with the proposed control system. Modification of the system failed to improve matters and since this was the only innovative aspect of the design, further development of the canard light aircraft concept was suspended.
In 2009 an alternative development route presented itself, when commercially available electric light aircraft - such as the "Yuneec E430" - became a reality. With electric power, canards offer a new opportunity for innovation.
In January 1991, in the Royal Aeronautical Society's monthly magazine "Aerospace", John Crampton detailed his model aircraft experiments with vectored thrust and coined the term Aeropter for a light aircraft with such a system.
A canard is an ideal platform for vectored thrust and such a machine was patented by Lockspeiser in the 1980s (see adjacent image). Vectored thrust has the potential to improve control and STOL performance. An electric version would be both reliable and relatively simple to construct.
Armada has now planned new model tests to investigate electric thrust-vectoring canards. The tests are to be in two phases. The first, using a small scale version of the Horizon canard with fixed electric motors, has now been completed, as can be seen in the short video sequence here.
The second stage involves a slightly larger model fitted with motors that can be rotated freely on command, about a given lateral axis.