Powered lift is a Remote Pilot Licence (RePL) category incorporating aircraft that take off and land vertically, like a multirotor, which then transition to flight like a fixed wing. A Remote Pilot can operate aircraft within the aircraft and weight category in which they have received Remote Pilot Licence training.
There are a few distinctive design types. The main two are the fixed wing/multirotor combination which sees multirotor components attached to a traditional fixed wing aircraft. This design typically sees a pull or push motor used for forward flight and multirotor motors used for vertical flight.
The other favoured design is the tilt wing, where the entire wing transitions from vertical to the horizontal. In this design motors are typically installed at the leading edge of the wing and operate as a multirotor whilst in the hover and used for thrust during forward flight.
There are multiple challenges for designers of powered lift aircraft. Producing an aircraft design that is stable and manoeuvrable, both as a multirotor and as a traditional fixed wing. The second hurdle designers have had to overcome is the transition from the hover to forward flight without losing significant height. The powered lift designs have featured in a number of piloted aircraft with the most notable being the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor.
Why powered lift?
When broad areas need to be surveyed or inspected, traditional fixed wing Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) are usually used as they cover large areas faster and more efficiently than their Multirotor counter parts. For instance, mine surveyors and agronomists would benefit from fixed wing RPA.
The downside to the traditional fixed wing design is that they need clear areas to take off and land from. In areas which do not feature such an area, the powered lift or VTOL design can be the perfect solution. All that is required is a large enough area to take off and land on, similar in size to what you would use for a multirotor. This can allow setup close to an area of interest, making it easier to maintain visual line of sight.
Most powered lift aircraft are not a replacement for a multirotor aircraft, any application requiring the aircraft to hover for any significant time are usually best suited to multirotor aircraft. The key benefits for powered lift are efficient flight with the ability to take off and land in confined areas. Like anything, the best tool for the job depends on the task at hand.
CASA Remote Pilot Licence training
For existing RePL holders, upgrading your licence to incorporate Powered Lift involves one day of Remote Pilot Licence training. During this time, you will learn the types of powered lift aircraft, how they fly and the intricacies of transition. Practical flying includes operating the powered lift aircraft in automated and assisted modes. The aircraft is flown both in “hover mode” (multirotor) and “cruise mode” (fixed wing)
If you don’t have a Remote Pilot Licence, Aviassist’s 5-day Remote Pilot Licence training course provides everything you need to perform work for commercial gain under a Remote Operator Certificate. This includes all the theory required to operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft commercially with practical flying to Civil Aviation Safety Authority standards.
Aviassist utilises the WingtraOne professional survey aircraft as the powered lift training platform. All Aviassist instructors come from a professional piloted aircraft background and have substantial experience in RPAS operations.