Merger with Microdrones Brings More R&D Possibilities for Schübeler

In light of many of our favorite air shows and jet modelling events getting cancelled or postponed, we thought we’d try to bring the show to you! So, please join us for the first International Virtual Extreme Jet Aeromodelling Expo, brought to you by Schübeler Technologies.

The virtual expo will take place on Tuesday, July 28 with 2 shows to choose from.  Enjoy the show in English at 9am Eastern Standard time or in German at 9am Central European Time.  CLICK HERE to register.

During this Expo we will be joined by Christian Wileschek a Schübeler Jets Sales specialist and Aeromodelling enthusiast to take a closer look at his latest Aeromodelling project and some of the highly efficient and robust drive systems from Schübeler Jets.

Watch a flight, learn about Schübelers EDF product-line and capabilities and get some tips on getting started in this fun and exciting hobby! 

We’re also looking for other aeromodellers who would like to show off their projects, connect with other enthusiasts and share their flight experiences.  Let us know if you’d like to feature one of your projects in an upcoming Expo?

Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you at the first International Virtual Extreme Jet Aeromodelling Expo, brought to you by Schübeler Technologies.

Register Now

Aeromodelling enthusiasts across the globe enjoy the sport, speed, and excitement of piloting their model aircraft and roaring through the sky.  It’s a passion that comes from designing, tinkering, and refining your aircraft until it’s ready for its maiden flight. Then, if you ask any Aeromodeller, once you experience the joy of flight, you’re usually hooked for life. 

That’s the case with Manfred Greve, a technical trainee at Lufthansa and electro technical engineer, who began his journey with aeromodelling when he was just a toddler and now has over 50 years’ experience.  In this episode of the Software and Technology Podcast, Manfred shares his knowledge from years of flying, aeromodelling, and why he chose to convert his model aircraft to electric ducted fan (EDF) technology. Listen to the podcast in the player or read the summary below.

 

Like father, like son

To understand Manfred Greve’s enthusiasm for electric ducted fan (EDF) technology, you have to know a little bit about his childhood.

Greve’s father began aeromodelling in the 1950s and his love for flying model airplanes naturally transferred to young Manfred. His fascination started as a toddler, when little Manfred received a small wooden glider for Christmas and was soon flying it all around his home. He was a model airplane pilot at heart, and that love for building and flying only grew with age.

After school, Greve would race down to his cellar where his father’s planes waited. He would spend hours on a never-ending quest to improve his father’s planes. Faster. A smoother flight. A longer flight. Nicer looking. Sometimes the results were not to his dad’s liking.

“When my dad came home from work in those days, he would sometimes go crazy because I did something I shouldn't have done, but it was always interesting to face technical issues and adjust the plane into a better shape,” Greve said. “I tried a lot of different things with model airplanes, some of them unique. It’s trial and error, and trial and error, and then you suddenly get the improvement you wanted to have… it brings your heartbeat up.”

Little has changed for the aeromodel pilot of over 50 years. Greve has spent a lifetime tinkering with the designs of model airplanes, chasing that feeling he gets when that certain adjustment results in better performance. This passion has served him during decades of model plane-flying competitions, first as a 6-year-old with a glider and gradually progressing to regional and international events as an adult.

A Dragon Spitting Fire

So, when Manfred was in a flying field with two other pilots around 10 years ago and saw firsthand how a plane fitted with EDF technology compared to a plane with a gas engine, he knew then and there EDF technology was the way to go.

Right away, he noticed that the gas engine took up to three seconds to respond to the pilot’s controls, while the plane fitted with EDF technology responded with virtually no lag time. He uses the analogy of driving a car to explain the difference between the two.

“Let's say you're driving eighty miles an hour. In three seconds, you cover a lot of space. It is very important for you as a driver in a car that the brakes or the accelerator react when you want them to,” Greve said. “And this is the biggest difference with gas engines and EDF. For an aeromodel pilot flying competitions, it's very important to have the feeling on the stick. You do something on your control stick, then you really like to have the accurate reaction on the plane.”

Since that experience, Greve has made a focus of converting gas-engine planes into planes fitted with EDF. He partnered early on with Schübeler Technologies to build EDF planes during a time when smooth-running EDF planes weren’t widely available on the market.

The journey with Schübeler has not been unlike those childhood days in the basement, building bigger and bigger EDF planes that will compete with gas engine planes, but with lower noise and more consistency. Through a constant process of improvement, Schübeler Technologies, Greve said, has been able to duplicate the desired sound from a gas-engine plane, but without the off-putting volume. Schübeler EDF-converted planes sound like jet planes – like a dragon spitting fire – as Greve puts it, only at lower decibels.

“Only the Schübeler EDF gives you this sound because of its blade system.”

The Schübeler Difference

Greve points to his work with Schübeler on two planes in particular – the L-39 and the Avanti XS.

The L-39, a large, 25-kilogram model, was the first big Schübeler plane converted to an EDF system. Greve and Schübeler tried a lot of different versions to see how EDF would work with such a big plane. They started with a smaller amount of thrust – 16 kilograms – and gradually built up, building different motors and other components inside the EDF system until they had 25 kilos of thrust.

Greve and Schübeler run through an entire measurement system when converting a plane to EDF. They look at RPMs, voltage, air speed, temperature and other factors. The result, in the case of the EDF-converted L-39, is a plane that flies as well as the original, and sounds like the original, too, only not as loud.

With the successful conversion of the L-39, Greve and Schübeler turned their attention to another plane, one that perhaps would pose an even bigger challenge to convert to EDF technology. The Avanti XS is designed for aerobatics, which means the EDF system constructed would have to produce a large amount of thrust.

However, by making small changes to its EDF system, like cutting out some existing rips and building a better intake, they were able to create the thrust necessary for the EDF-converted Avanti XS to perform the aerobatics for which it’s known.

“In the aerobatic plane, you need more thrust because you want to go straight up and in every situation you want to have this good feeling on the sticks. You need thrust, thrust, thrust. That's it,” Greve said. “Our RPM window is much lower. It is up to 20,000 or something. So it is not necessary to bring these high RPMs up and down. And this gives you the short reacting time on the stick.”

While sound is critical to Schübeler’s customers, consistency and efficiency are two other factors that separate Schübeler EDF conversions from their gas-engine counterparts, Greve said. With Schübeler EDF-converted planes, enthusiasts don’t have to worry about government regulations regarding noise or oil disposal.

“Electric flying is much nicer for a pilot because a gas engine or a gas turbine is always a little bit like a racehorse,” he said. “It has a good day or maybe it has a bad day.”

Schübeler makes the jump to EDF technology easy, Greve said. Whether you are looking for a plane that flies like a rocket, or one that simply flies smoothly, Schübeler can design a system that fits you. And if its advice you seek, the Schübeler team is comprised of enthusiasts just like you who love to share their vast experience, either in person or through the company’s website.

“Every single question that comes up, we are able to answer,” Greve said. “We are able to help by building something special for the customer. We are always able to help. You will always get a proper answer, what you need and where to get it, and then you put it in your plane and you should be happy with it.”

Electric ducted fan-equipped airframe breaks speed record, establishing new flight path for commercial UAV innovation.

by Vicki Speed, Technology Reporter, Inside Unmanned Systems

Innovation in the aeromodelling space may not seem like the forum for advancement in commercial and military UAV operations—or is it?

In 2019, one of the world’s most successful high-speed aeromodelling pilots, Bruno Stükerjürgen, wanted to compete in one of the field’s biggest speed challenge events in Osnabrück, Germany. Stükerjürgen’s goal was to build a custom airframe, instead of using the conventional slim design, that could exceed the seemingly unreachable 400 kph record for model airplane flight speed.

To achieve his goal, he sought the expertise of fellow aeromodeller Daniel Schübeler, founder of Schübeler Technologies GmbH, a premier German manufacturer of advanced fan propulsion systems and lightweight composite parts which is part of commercial UAV developer, Microdrones.

Schübeler recommended an electric-powered ducted fan, or EDF-enabled propulsion system, similar to the systems used in airships and aircraft, to deliver higher air speeds. The result far exceeded Stükerjürgen’s expectations and opened the door for the development of a new generation of unmanned commercial and military systems where safety and speed counts.

Optimized for Speed

Stükerjürgen’s airframe was designed by a student from the RWTH Aachen University, a research university located in that North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, city.

Stükerjürgen provided airframe flight parameters such as drag coefficients to Schübeler Technologies to design the ducted fan. Whether robust turbo fans, compressors or electric motors, Schübeler products are designed to withstand extreme conditions and demanding field use, and to provide thrust power and lightweight durability to high-tech applications including UAVs, professional motorsports and heavy-duty outdoor equipment.

A ducted fan is a shrouded low-diameter axial fan, ideal for generating higher pressure, lower-volume flow and high-exhaust speed. Unlike an exposed propeller, ducted fans, also known as axial fans, feature blades that are mounted inside a cowling. This design is critical to making the blades efficient (i.e., high thrust, low power). Even the smallest error in an aerodynamic system can cause a loss of 30 to 40 percent efficiency.

Schübeler believed the electric ducted fan solution would be easier to build than conventional electric propulsion or multi-engine solutions and deliver higher maneuverability.

For Stükerjürgen’s airframe, Schübeler worked with dynamic performance curves—available for every Schübeler ducted fan—to predict power consumption at different speeds. The team also designed the inlet and outlet geometries, crucial characteristics for any optimized system. The blade design was also critical for delivering a safe and reliable system that yields high thrust with low power input and longer flight times. Early estimates showed the DS-51-AXI HDS (90 mm) with a standard motor would achieve at least 430 kph while consuming less than 6kW.

Stükerjürgen and Schübeler put the concept to the test a few months later at the Osnabrück aeromodelling competition.

Stükerjürgen’s airframe, launched from a catapult, achieved a top speed of 460 kph and a steady state speed of 430 kph in the track—all while using around 500W less input than other systems.

Schübeler said, “The system is fast, powerful and highly efficient. We achieved an efficiency of around 65 percent, which is comparable to fast-spinning propellers for higher speeds.” He is especially proud that the reality closely matched the theoretical numbers, adding, “Our real-world results aligned with our predictions about power and speed in the first approach.

We didn’t need multiple design loops—that’s very satisfying.”

Bruno Stükerjürgen’s custom airframe with a Schübeler EDF-enabled propulsion system.

EDF in the Extreme

While the Stükerjürgen project was a fun and highly successful experiment to demonstrate that an electric ducted fan could power a high-speed hobby airframe, it has proven to be much more significant in the UAV space.

“Fundamentally, we were able to prove that fan propulsion systems are an efficient alternative to propellers, if integrated well,” Schübeler explained. “An electric ducted fan propulsion system offers more affordable power options for unmanned aircraft as compared to small jet engine-enabled systems.”

Conventional thought is that to increase the thrust of an electric ducted fan, thus delivering more power and speed, requires additional weight. However, the Schübeler development team is able to match duct fan systems—including optimal pitch, blade count, diameter, weight and balance—to any UAV airframe and desired flight parameters, which is exactly what they did for Stükerjürgen’s airframe. Schübeler also develops the HST EDF, often requested by universities for wind tunnel research. For instance, the DS-51HST fan/motor combo is available in a 1100kV version and 950kV version.

The Schübeler team is able to predict the performance of its fan propulsion systems in very precise flight conditions, even extreme applications. In fact, one Schübeler product is used in the stratosphere at 55,000 feet altitude.

“The future electric ducted fan propulsion systems will go in the direction of a good mix of low-speed handling, vertical climbs and jet-like speed combined with longer flying times,” Schübeler predicted.

A close up view of the DS-51-AXI HDS (90 mm) impeller.

Propelling Ahead

Schübeler and his team are also focused on a deeper dive into professional propulsion systems for commercial UAVs. “With these tough applications, we run into thermal and mechanical challenges; there is always opportunity for continuous improvement in motor design and production,” he said.

The long-term mission, Schübeler said, is to make battery-powered electric flying platforms good enough to fulfill serious enterprise missions. He pointed to the potential use of electric ducted fans as control and propulsion systems for flying machines in applications where size is limited and high static thrusts are required, for example in aerial vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), hovercrafts or even actuated wingsuit flight.

Bruno Stükerjürgen and Schübeler Technologies GmbH will continue to explore electric ducted fans for high-speed aeromodelling airframes in 2020. Schübeler concluded: “Next we will develop a propulsion system that can reach 500 kph, which will take a tremendous amount of power increase for the additional 40 kph. That kind of jump won’t come from just efficiency, but we’re excited to make it happen.”

If you need efficient and reliable electric ducted fan propulsion technology, please reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article originally appeared in Inside Unmanned Systems

Daniel Schübeler, CEO Schübeler Technologies, recently participated in a software and Technology Podcast discussing vertical take-off and landing technology, or VTOL, VTOL tech. In this podcast, Daniel examines the issue of fan propulsion for vertical take-off and landing platforms, how they impact VTOL applications, and what a complex and compromising fan propulsion solution looks like in practice. You can listen to the podcast in the player below or read the summary provided.

Schübeler Technologies & VTOL Technology

Schübeler Technologies, founded in 1997, provides advanced fan propulsion jets and light-weight composite materials fabrication. They offer a full product lineup of robust turbo fans, jets, compressors, pumps, electric motors, carbon fiber and aluminum composites, Schübeler products are designed to withstand extreme conditions and demanding field use. These components provide thrust power and lightweight durability to high tech applications including UAVs, professional motorsports and heavy-duty outdoor equipment.

Schübeler Technologies see Vertical Take-Off and Landing as a promising direction in the near future. Daniel Schübeler, CEO Schübeler Technologies, notes that the company is a VTOL trailblazer when it comes to drone technology. “We are pioneers in this field,” he said. “We did the first VTOL drone in 2010. It was a tilt wing co-operative initiative between Schübeler, Microdrones and RWTH Aachen University, which saw the development of a successful experimental VTOL airframe.”

Smart Technology Sets the Stage for the Future of VTOL

However, VTOL has been around long before Schübeler Technologies. The history of vertical takeoff and landing dates back to early days of modern aviation. A primitive helicopter was flown in 1907, but it wouldn’t become a pillar of flight until after WWII. The crux of VTOL is all about physics, as two opposing demands play out—the need to hover and enable forward flight.

This push and pull had long mired VTOL in the land of something possible, but not practical. It has been a space mainly for military applications, but smart technology is removing some of its prior limitations with electric propulsion fans, which have been the focus of Schuebeler Technologies

But what about the future of the field and new applications?

“VTOL is a very famous word in these days with all the start-ups in transportation and the air taxi market,” said Daniel Schübeler, CEO of Schübeler Technologies. “When thinking about feasibility, transporting goods is more realistic than people.”

While it certainly makes sense in densely populated metro areas to consider the air taxi industry, moving people and goods are quite different. There are more regulations and safety concerns, as well as the need for larger vehicles. It’s an expensive and complex idea to bring to market, but many start-ups are hoping to do just that.

VTOL Aircraft Explained

A VTOL aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. The segment includes both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. While VTOL technology is understood to be valuable, it’s been challenging to be successful. One of the best examples of a VTOL aircraft is the Osprey, an aircraft helicopter hybrid.   

The key challenge with VTOL technology goes back to hover and forward flight. Hovering requires a considerable amount of air and high thrust at low power. Forward flight involves a smaller amount of air and acceleration to high speed.

These are two vastly different activities that work against each other, leaving performance to be uncertain. Because of this, scalability has not been a viable option to date.  

“Besides Schübeler, I can only name one, maybe two companies who work with a really serious background in electric fan propulsion systems,” says Schübeler. “These one or two companies are working on their own tailored solutions for their own kind of air transportation project. So, I think it's fair to say that Schübeler is the only one in the market who offers a wide product range at a very high technology level. Our product range currently goes from a few hundred Watts to 17 to 18 kilowatts per fan at the moment.”

Smart Technology and Innovation Move VTOL into Realm of Possibility

However, Schuebeler Technologies has been on a mission to develop electric compulsion fans to meet VTOL aircraft needs, allowing performance and flexibility remain intact.

“In VTOL, you have to accept the best compromise between the two needs,” Daniel said. 

The company has been working on electric propulsion to meet VTOL needs, learning over the years from previous roadblocks like overheating motors and batteries that lacked sufficient range.

By innovating, they developed a new motor with appropriate cooling concepts. The company took a systematic approach to solving the challenges, understanding the big picture of how to enable hovering and forward flight. Their years of perfecting these fans have brought the industry an expansive array to fit various aircraft. 

Schübeler Technologies has continued to focus on increasing motor efficiency and mechanical robustness, which could make VTOL more accessible in the future as more applications become viable.

For more information please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For our team in Bad Lippspringe (Paderborn), we are looking for a motivated development engineer who supports our development team as soon as possible. Within this new position, you dive deeper into the mechanical design, rotor dynamics, flow simulation and simulation of electrically driven turbomachinery. You should bring with you the knowledge to optimize the machines in terms of efficiency, robustness and lightweight construction.

In return, we offer you state-of-the-art materials for your tasks, a dynamic team and an exciting challenge. You take care of the design and testing phases of our projects and should already have experience in getting in touch with international customers. Ideally, you have several years of experience in Aerodesign and Mechdesign, lightweight and solid structures are a matter of course for you.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM US:

 

Since 2018 Schübeler Technologies is a part of Microdrones Group.

At Schübeler Technologies, we know that it is the people who make our company a success. We encourage personal and professional growth and success among our globally diverse workforce by offering:

  • Career and personal development opportunities
  • An innovative, growing, international company with many exciting tasks
  • Flexible working hours and decentralized work
  • A great team and an exciting product
YOUR TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
  • You support our development team and develop solutions for our new products
  • You design, construct and detail complete components and assemblies with regard to specified criteria
  • You are responsible for performing calculations, drafts and drawing derivations you build the prototypes you design, test them and document your progress and the results of your tests
  • You work closely with your teammates and production
YOUR PROFILE AND SKILLS:
  • You have successfully completed a degree in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or similar
  • You have extensive work experience within designing
  • The safe and ready-to-use handling of a relevant CAD program is required
  • You have an independent, creative way of working and are interested in developing new ideas
  • You are skilled in craftsmanship and enjoy building and testing the prototypes you have designed
  • You speak English and German fluently
  • Your results-oriented and structured way of working as well as your teamwork complete your profile
  • Initial experience with numerical simulation is an advantage

 

Apply here https://www.microdrones.com/en/team/career/

Microdrones stands for diversity and equal rights. None of the above expressions should be discriminatory in terms of age, sex, ancestry, religion, belief or experience. We confirm that we are pleased to accept all applications from candidates of any age, gender, ancestry, religion, belief or experience.

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