South Africa: Foot in Drone Industry Door with Dragonfly V

Cape Town-based FlyH2 first came to promi­nence in 2015 after win­ning first prize at South Africa’s Avi Awards for a pro­to­type unmanned aer­i­al vehi­cle (UAV). Pow­ered by a hybrid pow­er sys­tem com­bin­ing hydro­gen with elec­tric­i­ty, this has devel­oped to con­struct­ing the Drag­on­fly V, a com­mer­cial drone designed for a range of appli­ca­tions requir­ing long endurance or pay­load flex­i­bil­i­ty, reports a press release.

The flight tests took place last week in Cit­rus­dal, approx­i­mate­ly two hours out­side of Cape Town.

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This hybrid sys­tem is a sen­si­ble step giv­en the wors­en­ing ener­gy cri­sis in the coun­try. At present, South Africa’s state-owned pow­er util­i­ty, Eskom, is imple­ment­ing rolling elec­tric­i­ty pow­er cuts across the nation, affect­ing cities like Johan­nes­burg and its town­ship. Busi­ness­es and the pub­lic are expe­ri­enc­ing up to 10 hours a day of pow­er cuts, crip­pling the country’s econ­o­my which is lead­ing to a grow­ing eco­nom­ic cri­sis.

The release states, “While there is still a way to go until the Drag­on­fly V is ful­ly ready for pro­duc­tion, the air­craft has already demon­strat­ed remark­able han­dling and effi­cien­cy dur­ing its first flights. Drag­on­fly V is a fixed-wing STOL (Short Take-Off and Land­ing) drone that is tar­get­ed for use in mul­ti-mis­sion appli­ca­tions. Capa­ble of car­ry­ing heavy and high-vol­ume car­go, Drag­on­fly V is also ide­al for long-range human­i­tar­i­an air­drops.”

Mark van Wyk, co-Founder and CEO of FlyH2, com­ment­ed, “The Drag­on­fly V is a unique, high­ly capa­ble, and ver­sa­tile drone that is priced for com­mer­cial oper­a­tions, but with attrac­tive qual­i­ties not typ­i­cal­ly found in its class.”

Present­ly, FlyH2 is rais­ing cap­i­tal to take its prod­uct to mar­ket. The com­pa­ny has a grow­ing list of orders and is also accept­ing pre-orders, secured with a deposit. Once Drag­on­fly V is pro­duc­tion-ready, the craft will achieve up to 24 hours of hydro­gen-fuelled flight, depend­ing on pay­load, mak­ing it an ide­al plat­form for extend­ed mis­sions.

Mark van Wyk

Also, the drone’s air­frame is unusu­al in that it is mod­u­lar, equip­ping oper­a­tors with the means to cus­tomise and switch pay­loads in order to meet spe­cif­ic mis­sion require­ments. It can car­ry up to five pay­load pods beneath the wings mak­ing it a mul­ti-mis­sion plat­form.

A grow­ing num­ber in both the drone and eVTOL indus­tries believe it is only through hybrid sys­tems that UAV and ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing air­craft can attain long flight dura­tion as fuel cells sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase endurance.

Onno Huyser, co-Founder of FlyH2, remarked, “Our focus on using STOL instead of VTOL great­ly reduces cost, increas­es endurance and sim­pli­fies main­te­nance. The air­craft offers a promis­ing future for the com­mer­cial drone indus­try.”

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