Dr.-Ing. Csaba Singer
“LTA-UAV’s change the way we work because they make it possible to remain permanently in the third dimension.“
– Dr.-Ing. Csaba Singer
Learn more on: www.hybrid-airplane.com
Dr.-Ing. Csaba Singer – CEO of Hybrid-Airplane Technologies GmbH
Tell us something about your current position and your professional background.
Dr.-Ing. Csaba Singer (40) is the CEO, CTO and majority shareholder of the Hybrid-Airplane Technologies GmbH. He is an alumni of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering and Geodesy at the University of Stuttgart and graduated with a Ph.D. from the Institute for Solar Research of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). He is specialized in ultra-lightweight construction, computer technology, and renewable energies and demonstrates fundamental knowledge and experience in project and human resource management.
Your “lighter-than air” platform type is very different compared to the more common hardware solutions like copters or fixed-wind platforms. What is different or special of this design?
Unlike the common flight concepts (multicopters, airplanes, and mixed concepts), which involve purely dynamical uplift, our h-aero® additionally makes use of the static uplift generated from an elliptic helium cell. Therefore h-aero® is as energy efficient as a Zeppelin or a balloon while remaining as agile as multicopters or airplanes. The VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) capability eliminates the need for a runway infrastructure. The flight system is able to achieve higher cruising speeds than helicopters. By using solar energy as a regenerative energy source, the autonomous 24h non-stop flight will already be accessible in 2019.
On the opposing sides of the rotationally symmetric, lenticular hull two wings with fully symmetrical profiles are attached. The wings are built in a way that the frontal, as well as the rear part of the wings, can be folded around a specific angle. Using these wings, the hybrid aircraft is able to take on a rotationally symmetric (helicopter) as well as mirror symmetric (airplane) configuration. The hull is filled with helium and ensures an additional uplift. At the same time, the hull provides enough surface area for solar cells and has a similar aerodynamic behavior as a Frisbee. A short-term goal is to supply the market for UAVs with a payload of up to 10 kg.
For the first time in civil aviation history, a completely new flight concept is being scaled up commercially from small dimensions. The resulting technical knowledge should minimize future development costs and investment risks. In the medium, to long-term, we will realize larger-scaled versions for manned missions and autonomously flying airborne communications platforms.
What does your design mean for the overall market situation – what is your USP (Unique selling point)?
Compared to conventional “drones”, h-aero® is far superior in terms of flight endurance, safety, payload, and capabilities. This proves especially in the field of agriculture and forestry. Surveillance flights which were previously only possible with manned systems (because of flight endurance or safety reasons), can now be executed with the h-aero® as the first unmanned system (UAV). For the client, this means a cost saving of around 20 times and a low-emission and friendlier option due to noise protection and no CO2 emissions.
The h-aero® flight systems are designed for professional use and can perform multiple tasks in parallel. For example, several different cameras (night vision, infrared and thermal imaging cameras) can be transported and evaluated at the same time.
What are your current target applications and who are your typical customers/clients?
Our real case dataset is the current integration of h-aero® as an observation device for industrial inspections (Inspection and Observation with h-aero®). A good example is the tunnel repair progress inspection by Baden-Baden with customers called Deutsche Bahn, Hochtief and Züblin. The service took place in January 2018. For this use case, we currently implement our solution as a forestry inspection and observation device in Poland, as well as in Germany for the Ministerium für Umwelt, Energie, Ernährung und Forsten Rheinland-Pfalz. Another real case implementation for the mentioned use case, whereas the modification work started in December 2017, is the implementation of h-aero® as an observation device in a pumped storage hydropower station (top station, indoor) to help saving up helicopter flights for inspection needs. Last but not least currently the implementation as an airport observation device in the night takes place with the company Jeppesen GmbH. Regulatory hurdles are given by the current regulations for UAVs in Germany: applied starting mass, no camera system allowed over inhabited areas, out of line-of-sight prohibitions. Working together with the UAV Dach e.V., we just received a positive safety certificate with the statement “harmless” even over gatherings, as our carrier glides in each situation, even each malfunction, to ground like a parachute. Our starting mass is lower than the limit, where actions of the operator are required. Over inhabited areas, we don’t intend to use cameras for our missions, but sensors to measure e.g. pollution concentrations and heat spots.
What is the biggest challenge for your business and what do you wish for the future?
Due to its long-term operational capabilities, the hybrid airplane is able to solve an immense amount of problems related to the age of digitalization. Moreover, unlike helicopters, balloons, and airplanes, it can be developed in the private market, progressing from small to big, without endangering test pilots.
We have already received numerous inquiries within the first year since the foundation of our company, ensuring us the possibility to test a large spectrum of applications at locations all over the world. As a young start-up, we cannot be dissuaded from our goal to achieve a solid market launch. For strategic reasons, we therefore concentrate on „low hanging fruits“.
Our revenues will be expanded by sophisticated corporate structures and processes in such a way that we can act as independently from financial markets as possible. This will be ensured by employing a conservative financing strategy executing the R&D projects related to the dimensional scaling using self-generated financial means.
The third dimension, our orbit and beyond, holds our greatest, still unused potential. As bold pioneers, we are aiming to tap into this potential, at the same time ensuring low risks being backed by two decades of academic groundwork, by useful insights from the past and by federal and European funding of the future.