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Singapore Airshow 2024: China develops VTOL electric cargo UAV

The Aerospace Times Feipeng Company Limited's FP-981C vertical take-off landing unmanned aerial vehicle. (Janes)

China is developing a new vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for short-range cargo transport tasks.

A representative of the Aerospace Times Feipeng Company Limited said the UAV, called the FP-981C, is being developed to transport cargo and supplies in “complex environments”.

“The developmental programme of the FP-981C started in 2022, and the UAV is currently involved in flight-testing,” the company representative told Janes at the Singapore Airshow 2024, where an engine-less, one-to-one scale model of the UAV was displayed. The Singapore Airshow is being held from 20 to 25 February.

The UAV features a twin-boom design with a unified tail aileron, plus port and starboard underwing fairings on its fixed-wing cantilever wing with engine. Each fairing is fitted with fore and aft electric lift engines driving two-bladed propellers. A two-bladed pusher propeller is also fitted in the rear fuselage to improve forward speed, Janes assesses.

The company representative declined to provide specifics on the electric powerplants being used in the UAV. However, Janes was told that these engines were domestically built in China.

According to information provided by the company, the FP-981C has a cruise speed of 120 km/h, a maximum range of 100 km, and a maximum flight time of 30 minutes. The UAV can be operated by a two-person team, the company added.

Other critical functions of the UAV are a distributed propulsion system, a power redundancy backup, a multimode communications system, intelligent path planning, obstacle avoidance, and the capability to handle multiple tasks. The primary use locations are mountainous or plateau areas, according to Janes .

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