The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Aerostructures Group Ruag Backs Dufour's Aero2 UAV Project

Aviation services group Ruag is supporting fellow Swiss company Dufour Aerospace in the development of the Aero2 uncrewed air vehicle (UAV). Announcing the collaboration this week, the partners said they plan to extend the work into a long-term strategic partnership for developing, manufacturing, and maintenance of eVTOL aircraft, but Ruag would not comment on whether it might also provide Dufour with engineering services for its larger, hybrid-electric Aero3 passenger-carrying model.

Initially, Ruag will help Dufour to complete the design and testing of the Aero2 airframe, as well as work on its propulsion system and the integration of avionics and automated flight systems for the tilt-wing design. Ruag is a long-established aerospace and defense group with extensive experience in activities such as aerostructures, including the development and manufacturing of fuselage sections, wings, and control surface components.

“We believe the eVTOL market will be transformational for manned and unmanned aviation, and we’ve been looking for an OEM partner to further develop and apply our technology and expertise for this market,” said Thomas Kipfer, senior vice president of Ruag Business Area Air. With Dufour, we’ve found a company with credible technology in an advanced development stage, a strong team, and a clear plan to become a key player in this market.”

Dufour is conducting hover and full-transition flight tests with a pair of Aero2 prototypes at Dübendorf airfield in Switzerland. It is also developing software for the aircraft using its AeroMini platform, and earlier this year it announced plans to base some aspects of the program in Montreal.

The company aims to start the Aero2 production line in 2023 and says it has received interest in multiple logistics applications from prospective operators. The hybrid-electric light eVTOL will have a payload of 40 kilograms (88 pounds) and a flight duration of up to three hours.

Dufour Aerospace's Aero3 hybrid-electric eVTOL aircraft could carry eight passengers.
Dufour Aerospace's Aero3 hybrid-electric eVTOL aircraft could carry eight passengers. (Image: Dufour)

In August 2021, Dufour published a new design for the Aero3 model, increasing the number of wing-mounted propellers from four to six and adding two more propellers on a tail section that formerly had ducted fans. The company aims to have a full-scale prototype of this aircraft ready to start flying in early 2023 and recently reported provisional sales to Blueberry Aviation.

The Aero3 is expected to carry up to eight passengers or a maximum payload of 1,650 pounds with a range of almost 640 miles at speeds of 217 mph. Dufour aims to achieve type certification in 2026.