A drone powered by the micro-turbine engine successfully completed its inaugural flight. The fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is equipped with the Monarch 5 jet engine built by UAV Turbines and has successfully taken off from Griffith International Airport in Rome, New York.
The Monarch 5 engine is essentially a tiny version of the engines you see on planes. The company says this was the very first time when a small-to-medium-sized drone has been powered by a turbine engine. The technology can serve both military and commercial customers with a reliable, efficient, safe, heavy-fuel propulsion system.
More specific technical details about the Monarch 5 micro-turbine are still under the wrap, though the images show that it has been used to turn a pusher prop. The new engine is not only less complex and easier to maintain than reciprocating engines currently used but also features a remote start, quiet operation and can also operate for a much longer time than the comparable powerplants.
UAV Turbines’ team has completely engineered the Monarch 5 micro-turbine engine and custom-built to deliver maximum performance and new capabilities in multiple applications. Also, as the Monarch 5 is a turbine engine, it doesn’t need a large amount of cooling airflow, this enabled the UAV turbines to design a sleek cowling that actually reduces the drag of the aircraft.
The UAV market is about to grow much more in the coming years, and drones have many potential applications in the fields like medicine drops, cargo delivery, search-and-rescue, and more.
“However, current engines do not offer the reliability and safety profile required to perform these tasks. Now, for the first time, UAV Turbines’ Monarch family of turboprop engines offers a propulsion system that will meet the safety, flight duration and reliability requirements for commercial use,” reads the press release.
It is also believed that the Monarch 5 and its other turbine engines could make unmanned vehicles as common as planes, trucks, and ships.