…The current electric saucer, which formed part of Team MIRA at the recent MoD “Grand Challenge” ambush-sniffing tech contest, can normally stay up for just two and a half minutes. The new Fenstar 50 is expected to manage up to an hour, carrying a payload of 5kg – a quarter of its all-up weight. GFS aims to keep the total weight under 20kg, as this is the most that the CAA allows under model aircraft rules. Any more would take the company into the hugely more onerous certification regime for full-sized aircraft.
Even at 20kg, however, the Fenstar 50 will be significantly bigger and more capable than one of its main rivals, the Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) from Honeywell. The MAV uses a ducted fan rather than a GFS-style Coanda surface, but this offers similar advantages – neither vehicle has projecting helicopter-style rotors. Both of them can thus fly about happily in between buildings, and perhaps in and out of doors and windows etc. Both could be very useful as reconnaissance machines for soldiers, especially in dangerous urban combat – indeed Honeywell’s machine has already seen action in Iraq. The MAV runs on a two-stroke petrol engine like the Fenstar, and offers similar endurance, though it weighs just 7.25 kg and can barely lift a pair of cameras. – theregister