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SOURCE: IDRW.ORG TEAM

In a joint effort, Prasenjit Das, an Assistant Professor at the Department of Physical Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Mohali, and Prof. Prodyut Das, a former Professor of Mechanical Engineering at IIT Kanpur, have achieved success with the design of the D9 Hawkmoth. This electric aerobatic aircraft secured the top spot in the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aircraft Design Contest 2023.

The D9 Hawkmoth is a two-seat, side-by-side, all-metal aerobatic electric sesquiplane that meets the stringent requirements of the Royal Aero Soc. 23 competition. The aircraft boasts a solid design with carefully considered aerodynamics, structure, and construction, earning praise for its excellent handling characteristics.

Constructed with a metal box design, the aircraft minimizes presswork requirements and draws inspiration from aircraft types like Bolkow Junior or Bede 4. The construction features 1mm thick aluminum sheet sides up to the cockpit rear bulkhead, transitioning to 0.8mm thickness from the rear bulkhead to the rudder post. Transverse bulkheads, longerons, and sheet web ribs contribute to a robust yet lightweight structure.

The aircraft’s aerodynamics are optimized with a constant chord NACA 2412 aerofoil, modified for improved aerobatic performance. The all-metal light alloy construction includes sheet metal 2mm web spars with an aluminum bulb section at the top and bottom, ensuring structural integrity.

One of the notable challenges addressed in the design is the weight distribution, particularly related to the battery pack. The back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates that approximately 536 kgs could be allocated to the battery pack, leaving room for the rest of the aircraft and accommodating the pilot, trainee, and their baggage. The calculated weight represents about 134 kWh of energy, equivalent to about 44 liters of AvGas in conventional terms.

While the D9 Hawkmoth showcases the advancements in electric propulsion for aerobatic aircraft, considerations for safety, serviceability, and crash scenarios remain critical factors in the design process.

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