Latest UAV Replaces Flaps With Jets

A novel UAV has successfully demonstrated 'flapless flight' in the UK.

From Dailymail: "A British unmanned plane that uses jets of air to fly instead of conventional ‘flaps’ has made aviation history.

The experimental unmanned air vehicle (UAV), called DEMON, uses blown jets of air to control the plane’s movement in flight rather than conventional mechanical elevators and ailerons.

Experts say this will make it much easier to maintain as there are far fewer moving parts and gives the aircraft a more stealthy profile.

DEMON made its historic flight at Walney Island in Cumbria on Friday 17th September and was developed by Cranfield University with BAE Systems and nine other UK universities.

DEMON’s trial flights were the first ‘flapless flights’ ever to be authorised by the UK Civil Aviation Authority."



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  • It is simply false that fewer parts means better reliable.
    If I add two aprons on both wings, that is twice the moving parts, but twice the reliability; same with engines.
  • Mathew,

    I'm very interested in new technology and this aircraft is high tech but my point was they're trading one set of problems for another. This system has a pump (the compressor, and compressor bleed air is hot, not cool), pneumatic lines, control valves, and pistons just like a conventional hydraulic control system. The difference is they're using air instead of hydraulic fluid (less weight and that's good) and there are no external moving control surfaces (so possibly less drag). A similar ducted air system is used in tail rotorless helicopters. But if that system fails for whatever reason what's the backup for controlling this aircraft? I'm not anti-technology, just pro-reliability.
  • T3
    I am not sure what is the fail probablility of hydraulics etc vs a set of pro grade electric servos in the wings. I GUESS that servos MIGHT be much more durable especially in real use when the plane might be poorly serviced (or not serviced at all).
  • Krysztof, yes - this initial test was only partially autonomous (probably just for stabilization). I don't believe they published the details on exactly which systems were controlled remotely, but its safe to say that they were required to maintain a good deal of manual control in order to get CAA approval to fly this contraption.
  • I can't believe you guys. lol

    I would think a site like this would have more open minded people who wouldn't be so scared of new tech.

    no one is saying this system can't fail but its less likely to fail because there are fewer places to fail. yes it has valves and low pressure (low temp because its taking the air from the compressor not the burner) hoses that can fail but that's it, while Hydraulic systems have pump, high presser hoses, valves, pistons, hinges that if anyone of them fail the plane has problems.

    so yes it can and will fail at some point in there life but its less likely (because it has fewer pleases to fail in the first place.) and is easier to fix then normal systems.

    on top of this it a fraction of its counter parts weight and causes less drag and you can see everyone is working on this.
  • next thing you now there will be a b-2 flying around with a big air compresser in it
  • T3
    I think it is more likely to have a failure in flaps/actuators inside high temperature engine than outside of it (so less reliable than similarly priced conventionally controlled aircraft) but the result is more likely to have full stealth capability.
    BTW I believe the plane was flown manually in RC mode using gyros as stabilization - correct me if I am wrong.
  • this is cool.It looks like an UFO
  • You still have moving parts but now they're internal (valve block) instead of external like ailerons/rudder/elevator. Still a chance of mechanical/electrical/hydraulic failure and if the whole "valve block" fails you're really out of luck unless the "fluidic thrust vectoring nozzle" can provide enough control of the aircraft. You can still control most conventional airplanes with ailerons/rudder/elevator if only one control surface fails (and flaps/slats are optional in most light aircraft if the runway is long enough).
  • plasma and zero net flow actuators as well (think piezoelectric speacker powering a mini vortex/air gun)
    thank you for posting this I've been waiting for a video of this for a year when I first hear of this thing, I love the cuting edge stuff like this. I've been thinking about playing around with the plasma and ZNF actuators because they're so simple to make.

    wouldn't get anywhere as far as these people no doubt by it would be fun no matter what.
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