Aeralis Modular Trainer Concept

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
2,830
A British start-up company, Aeralis, is trying to secure £1 mil via crowdfunding to design a concept fuselage demonstrator for a “modular” family of military jet trainers in time for September’s DSEI defence show. They are billing this as the first all-British military aircraft since the Hawk.

If they can raise another £30 mil they want to fly a prototype by 2021 and hope to start production by the mid-2020s with a factory at the former RAF St Athan and Bombardier’s Belfast plant supplying the wings and engine pod and Thales UK the avionics. Formula 1 design house Williams Engineering would be contracted to manufacture the composite fuselage.

The Aeralis concept is a modular design allowing one airframe to serve the basic and advanced trainer roles. The main changes for the advanced role would be an upgraded cockpit, swept outer wings and the single turbofan (possibly the Williams International FJ44) would be replaced by two FJ44s via a common 'pod' mounting.
Bombardier and Thales have offered support but no funding.

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/aeralis-launches-funding-effort-for-modular-milita-452629/
 

Mike Pryce

BAe P.1216 book: harrier.org.uk/P1216.htm
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2006
Messages
1,087
Reaction score
264
It's the new name for Dart Jet:

https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,24881.msg252394.html

Mods to merge threads?

Their website is https://aeralis.com/

Some pics of current versions/demo fuselage attached.

Still not sure if there is a real need for this. Seems to mean you have a plane that is heavy in all roles due to the stressed joints (like naval wing fold in terms of weight penalty?), although making it the undercarriage attachment may reduce this (at cost of drag for the u/c pods).

They seem to have looked at the reduced capital outlay of leasing a common pool of aircraft as outweighing (no pun!) any possible weight/operating cost penalty, but they will need a lot of money up front for this.

The layout also looks just like a high drag M346/Alpha Jet hybrid. Surely a changeable single piece wing (like Harrier or Hawk) would give similar potential benefits without all the weight of the joints?
 

Attachments

  • aeralis-a-1.jpg
    aeralis-a-1.jpg
    42.5 KB · Views: 425
  • Aeralis.jpg
    Aeralis.jpg
    69.5 KB · Views: 421
  • Demo.png
    Demo.png
    286.8 KB · Views: 443

Moose

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2010
Messages
1,535
Reaction score
643
Crowdfunding a jet trainer is a new one, wonder what the implications would be for future projects/concepts/dreams if they end up successful with it.
 

TomS

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,875
Reaction score
2,380
Moose said:
Crowdfunding a jet trainer is a new one, wonder what the implications would be for future projects/concepts/dreams if they end up successful with it.

Gotta wonder what the Kickstarter backer rewards look like? How much do I have to contribute to get an RC model version?
 

NUSNA_Moebius

I really should change my personal text
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
191
Reaction score
63
According to Flightglobal, they rejected the use of the F124 engine. While overpowered for the basic training variant, it would be more conducive to the high performance version compared to the twin-pac FJ44. I would've used a derated F124 for the basic option and an afterburning equipped F124 for the high performance one.

It's all an interesting idea, but I do not see the high performance version being supersonic, nor offering any reasonable combat capability that will make the plane marketable beyond just a theoretical high performance trainer. It's too small, and hampered by it's own short, squat design. Landing gear pods on the wings take away room for weapons and create significant drag on their own.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,492
Reaction score
3,901
I don't understand the canted frwd apex that leans downward. That might be the weirdest thing on this weird project.
The intentions of being modular are good obviously but is it the right config? Or the right time when 19M$ T-X and M-345 are out on the market? For example having to relocate the landing gear in pods just to have an engine pack when wing mounted and centrally located gear have proved their worth hundred of light years ago... Being different in-lieu of being innovative: is that now the question?
 

NUSNA_Moebius

I really should change my personal text
Joined
May 26, 2012
Messages
191
Reaction score
63
TomcatViP said:
I don't understand the canted frwd apex that leans downward. That might be the weirdest thing on this weird project.
The intentions of being modular are good obviously but is it the right config? Or the right time when 19M$ T-X and M-345 are out on the market? For example having to relocate the landing gear in pods just to have an engine pack when wing mounted and centrally located gear have proved their worth hundred of light years ago... Being different in-lieu of being innovative: is that now the question?

It's like they expect the plane to fly at a pretty high angle of attack all the time. The nose has quite a bit of downwards point too, though no where near as bad as earlier concept art depicts. If they'd lengthen the plane a bit, they could probably fit the gear into the inner wing + LERX structure while still having enough room for carry through spars. I really don't understand why they are trying to make it so tiny. It's not going to save them any money when making it modular is probably already costing them precious engineering dollars. The shorter length probably makes it more conducive to the differing wing designs, but it's probably hurting them more than helping.
 

red admiral

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2006
Messages
701
Reaction score
215
Very little about this makes sense to me. The market seems flooded with existing products. This seems to offer little over the existing options like the M-345 or LG-39. There's no/little improvement in training to be had and i just can't see it being that much cheaper when you need to start from scratch.

The business model is interesting, but you could do this by buying a fleet of say LG-39s, Hawks and T-Xs and lease these as needed to customers. Doesn't need a new aeroplane.
 

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
2,830
Harrier said:
It's the new name for Dart Jet:

https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,24881.msg252394.html

Thanks, I wasn't aware of that. I'd totally forgotten about this from a couple of years ago!

I think its probably right to be sceptical about this. If you can't even afford to build a mock-up for a defence show then really your not going anywhere. Its an interesting effort but likely success in gaining any sales is likely to be zero. As Red Admiral points out the market is full with products from reputable companies and these kinds of novel 'cheap' trainer designs since the 1960s (think Miles Student, RFB Fantrainer for just two examples) have never been a success commercially. Its an interesting project but one that will probably remain a project.

Also interesting to see the common theme of Shorts' old Belfast factory trying to get a slice of the action!
 

Mike Pryce

BAe P.1216 book: harrier.org.uk/P1216.htm
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2006
Messages
1,087
Reaction score
264
red admiral said:
Very little about this makes sense to me. The market seems flooded with existing products. This seems to offer little over the existing options like the M-345 or LG-39. There's no/little improvement in training to be had and i just can't see it being that much cheaper when you need to start from scratch.

The business model is interesting, but you could do this by buying a fleet of say LG-39s, Hawks and T-Xs and lease these as needed to customers. Doesn't need a new aeroplane.

It is easy to make a million dollars in aerospace. Just start with a billion dollars...
 

Jackonicko

ACCESS: Confidential
Joined
Feb 4, 2009
Messages
74
Reaction score
61
The keys to this are:

1) the savings that they think light weight will confer
2) the savings that a modular design will leverage, with 80-90% commonality between basic training and advanced training versions, and the ability to use a common training infrastructure with common sims and a common syllabus
3) the perceived lack of a credible affordable trainer for the 2020s -
a) they think that T-50/Boeing T-X are too heavy and therefore too expensive, and require the acquisition of a basic trainer that won't use a common sim, syllabus, etc.
b) they think that Hawk will soon be obsolete, despite Advanced Hawk, etc.
c) they think that PC-21 isn't capable of adequately preparing pilots for the F-35 and 6th Gen combat aircraft.

I get where they're coming from, but don't see people ditching their existing basic trainers when all they really need are new advanced trainers (or vice versa). Nor can I really see a return to all-through jet training, or an appetite to put ab initio pilots straight into a jet. M211/311/345 hasn't exactly had people beating a path to Leonardo's door.....

Nor do I see a huge market - there are some outstanding requirements (Canada, France, Sweden) but there's been a lot of investment in PC-21s, T-6s, PC-9s, Hawks, M-346s, T-50s, et al, and a lot of air forces won't be looking for replacements for 20 or 30 years. Or more.

Not that it means anything, nowadays, but for me, the aircraft fails the "if it looks right it will fly right" test, too.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,492
Reaction score
3,901
They took basically the 1930's idea of switchable wing that was offered as a way to teach trainee high wing loading airplane.

History has proved that mass produced top notch quality designs with comfortable throughout speed range safety was simpler, leaner and a safer way to put things on, especially with the hundreds of trainee for which each early flights are test flights (test as in the X-planes). So quality of construction, affordability and redundancy of systems offered by a larger/heavier design where far better variables to fight mortality (and cost as improving operational credence) than the adaptable wings and other bizarre designs.

A cottage industry with honorable but outdated design philosophy won't change today any iota to the supremacy of the modern variation of the genre that are the combo Texan T-6 /T-X in term of fresh graduates quality (replace Texan with PC-7, 9, or Tucanos and T-X with 346,345,K-X etc...).

But at the end, let's remember that years ago, during the 30's we already had this fervent exuberance in aviation design all across the countries... that coincidentally faced near extinction at the turn of 1940...
 

TsrJoe

ACCESS: Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2006
Messages
459
Reaction score
375
 

Attachments

  • AMApril20Features-Aeralis1-1024x1024.jpg
    AMApril20Features-Aeralis1-1024x1024.jpg
    99.4 KB · Views: 103

coanda

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
287
Reaction score
270
One thing joints don't like is being taken apart and put back together again. This is a fatally flawed concept.
 

TomS

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,875
Reaction score
2,380
One thing joints don't like is being taken apart and put back together again. This is a fatally flawed concept.

I didn't think that the plan was to be able to swap wings, etc. during the plane's service life, just to build multiple versions with different wings, engines, etc around a common fuselage.

I agree it's flawed, probably fatally, just from the fact that there are plenty of other options for all these roles already.
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
1,568
Reaction score
1,051
The logic is probably similar to the F-35 logic: build one set of systems (hydraulic, pneumatic, fuel, flight controls, etc.) that can be bolted into three or four distinct airframes.

If they build this so small that it is only useful as a trainer, (e.g. no significant warload) then it will deprive Third World air forces of light strike airplanes.
 

coanda

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
287
Reaction score
270
One thing joints don't like is being taken apart and put back together again. This is a fatally flawed concept.

I didn't think that the plan was to be able to swap wings, etc. during the plane's service life, just to build multiple versions with different wings, engines, etc around a common fuselage.

I agree it's flawed, probably fatally, just from the fact that there are plenty of other options for all these roles already.

No, the idea was to re-role them - they were pushing reconfigurable fleets. At least for a while. This drives a different set of structural and design issues throughout.
 

TomS

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,875
Reaction score
2,380
One thing joints don't like is being taken apart and put back together again. This is a fatally flawed concept.

I didn't think that the plan was to be able to swap wings, etc. during the plane's service life, just to build multiple versions with different wings, engines, etc around a common fuselage.

I agree it's flawed, probably fatally, just from the fact that there are plenty of other options for all these roles already.

No, the idea was to re-role them - they were pushing reconfigurable fleets. At least for a while. This drives a different set of structural and design issues throughout.

Oh, jeeze. Yeah, I see that now. Disastrous idea, though they do seem to at least accept that the swaps would be a depot-level effort, not something done by operators.

service-diagram1-2.png
 

riggerrob

I really should change my personal text
Senior Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2012
Messages
1,568
Reaction score
1,051
This modular concept looks more like a leased fleet management concept. Aeralis probably wants to lease fleets of trainers to air forces. Bolt on components can be easily replaced when they time-out. After a lease expires, Aeralis trainers can be over-hauled at the factory and re-rolled to other customers.
Fewer and fewer air forces own their own trainers, preferring to lease them for shorter periods.
This avoids hassles like the Royal Canadian Air Force struggling to keep a few dozen Canadair Tutors flying purely for the Snowbirds display team. All the rest of RCAF training is flown in leased Grobs, Texan II, King Airs and leased Hawks. Often instructors and simulators are also leased through corporations like Allied Wings.
 
Last edited:

robunos

You're Mad, You Are.....
Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
2,039
Reaction score
562
It's from the Daily Mail, so a pinch of salt could be in order . . .

"Real life Transformers! RAF backs British firm to develop an aircraft that can be converted from a basic trainer to a faster, more aggressive jet by swapping out its engines and wings"



cheers,
Robin.
 

Grey Havoc

ACCESS: USAP
Senior Member
Joined
Oct 9, 2009
Messages
16,659
Reaction score
6,222
Could be instead that the RCO sees an opportunity to outmanoeuvre the increasingly discredited Defence Equipment and Support agency.
 

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
2,830
£200,000 seems a fairly low grant, probably this is what it says on the tin - a research study to see how modular airframes could be applied, probably with a view to incorporating such technology on UAVs?

I'm not sure that the concept is particularly sound as a training aircraft. I can't see many airforces wanting to keep swapping wings and engines on a regular basis between the basic and advanced flying training syllabus. Also, that must play havoc with the aerodynamics and centre of gravity swapping from straight-wing/1-engine to swept-wing/2-engines?

The Aero L-39NG has a single FJ44-4M and is still quite a 'hot' aircraft for a basic trainer, it outperforms a PC-21 for example. The Aeralis would probably be lighter than the L-39 so would in theory be quite a nippy aircraft even in its straight-wing/1-engine configuration. I'm not sure you would want students hopping from a 450shp Grob into a jet capable of almost 500mph and over 4,500ft/min climb.

There is little likelyhood that the RAF is going to fund this as a trainer. When the Ascent contract for UKMFTS comes up in a decade's time, it will be business tenders that will decide what will replace the Hawk.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,492
Reaction score
3,901
I am not sure that a startup has the background of experience to deal with the novelty of adaptative design. You'd need ppl with experience in aerostructure, wire routing, special tooling, adaptable fasteners, experienced fitters, CaD engineers with a solid knowledge in parametric design, propulsion specialists, aerodynamics engineers... Aside of a bunch of school fresh "designer" and certified engineers.
This is a major industrial work. Not a schoolboy tennis game.
 
Last edited:

TomS

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,875
Reaction score
2,380
£200,000 seems a fairly low grant,

Absolutely. That is enough to fund maybe three person-years worth of labor.* So that's not a full-time design team developing an actual aircraft, it's some pretty high-level concept work.

* At least in the US, the usual ratio is about 1:1 direct pay : overhead and benefits. If that holds in the UK, they'll be able to put about £100,000 toward actual salaries, which is basically two mid-grade aerospace engineers full time and some fraction of their supervisor's time.
 
Last edited:

Hood

ACCESS: Top Secret
Staff member
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Messages
2,523
Reaction score
2,830
£200,000 seems a fairly low grant,

Absolutely. That is enough to fund maybe three person-years worth of labor.* So that's not a full-time design team developing an actual aircraft, it's some pretty high-level concept work.

* At least in the US, the usual ratio is about 1:1 direct pay : overhead and benefits. If that holds in the UK, they'll be able to put about £100,000 toward actual salaries, which is basically two mid-grade aerospace engineers full time and some fraction of their supervisor's time.

Its peanuts, for example currently in Britain the Arts and Humanities Research Council is offering £50,000 - £250,000 for early career research grants or engagement funding, the Medical Research Council is offering £200,000 grants for small stand-alone or feasibility studies.

Its fairly safe to assume this is concept work or an analysis of their system so far and its applicability to other aviation uses.
The RCO is probably interested to see if they have any good ideas (aviation is littered with "seemed a good idea at the time") and a bit of funding enables the MoD and government to get lines in the press like the quoted Daily Mail article so it looks like they are supporting the UK aviation industry so its win-win for everyone.
 

coanda

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
Messages
287
Reaction score
270
'moves closer to test flight' another way of saying starts any kind of detailed design and analysis?

Atkins will look after their budget for them....
 

Foo Fighter

I came, I saw, I drank some tea (and had a bun).
Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2016
Messages
2,293
Reaction score
1,228

robunos

You're Mad, You Are.....
Senior Member
Joined
May 1, 2007
Messages
2,039
Reaction score
562
Latest paper talk . . .

"Red Arrows: UK firm to win deal to replace ageing jets
UK FIRM Aeralis is almost certain to win a contract to replace the Red Arrows' ageing jets, sources said last night. The RAF's elite aerobatic display team have been using the Hawk T1 for more than 40 years to fly the British flag in almost 5,000 public displays at home and abroad."


cheers,
Robin. Aeralis Red Arrow.jpg
 

TomS

ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Apr 16, 2008
Messages
4,875
Reaction score
2,380
Latest paper talk . . .

"Red Arrows: UK firm to win deal to replace ageing jets
UK FIRM Aeralis is almost certain to win a contract to replace the Red Arrows' ageing jets, sources said last night. The RAF's elite aerobatic display team have been using the Hawk T1 for more than 40 years to fly the British flag in almost 5,000 public displays at home and abroad."


cheers,
Robin.View attachment 664133

So remind me, which of Boris Johnson's pals has a stake in Aeralis?

No, seriously, awarding a high profile contract like this on a short timeline to a company with literally no track record of building actual flying hardware of any sort is courting absolute disaster.
 

UpForce

ACCESS: Secret
Joined
Feb 5, 2011
Messages
210
Reaction score
121
I'm trying to put into words just how highly unlikely all this seems, but apparently keep getting slapped in the back of my head by the events of the past few years so can't quite utter anything presentable. Anyhow, the gals and guys of ye olde Red Arrows must be absolutely chuffed at the prospect of this reporting being true and getting to step in front of the media to say so themselves. Right up their taxiway, I'd say, as it's part of their job to make a big show and blow smoke while they're at it.
 

red admiral

ACCESS: Top Secret
Joined
Sep 16, 2006
Messages
701
Reaction score
215
So remind me, which of Boris Johnson's pals has a stake in Aeralis?

No, seriously, awarding a high profile contract like this on a short timeline to a company with literally no track record of building actual flying hardware of any sort is courting absolute disaster.
The single source contract case will make interesting reading. I imagine its just Aeralis trying to drum up investment again with DSEI on.
 

TomcatViP

Hellcat
Joined
Feb 12, 2017
Messages
4,492
Reaction score
3,901
Wouldn't that be unique in History that an aerobatic team selected an Aircraft that hasn't flown or be tested, yet not even been completed?
Usually safety and reliability considerations dictate that the aircraft considered must have a well documented service history.
 

Similar threads

Top