June 2000

A new type of personal plane

Teaming up with Frank Heisig for our diploma project, we took on the topic of sports aviation. Based on the findings in our research, we narrowed in our goal and aimed to create a plane that would be as intuitive to fly as a hang glider, yet offer the safety of a sailplane at the same time.

A flexible wing

Searching for technologies that would allow for a more intuitive and direct way of flying and steering a plane, we happened upon the “pneumatic muscle” – a fast and lightweight component that lends itself well for the purpose of articulating the flaps and rudders of an airplane’s wing. We devised a new type of wing based on an inflatable inner structure, which – in combination with the pneumatic muscle – provides our sports plane with wings that can be distorted much like the ones of a bird, enabling the pilot to intuitively control lift, drag and roll.

Alternative energy sources

Based on extreme lightweight construction principles, our sports plane is powered by a combination of human and electric power. Arrays of photovoltaic film on top of the flexible wings support the foldable propeller, located in “pusher configuration” at the rear of the plane.

Like a bird

The plane’s “flying wing” architecture combined with the novel way of steering the vehicle and an open cockpit offer a unique flying experience, as well as providing the airplane with an iconic appearance, one that was awarded the Braun Prize in 2001.