Landing deck with rotation system being readied for manufacturing

Dec 2021

In the Interreg NWE project MegaAWE, Ampyx Power partners with Parkburn- an engineering company, specializing in the design, manufacture, and installation of product handling systems. The two companies are working together to build a 23-meter landing deck for the AP-3 demonstrator aircraft.

By using a circular steel rail with moving carriages, the compact deck automatically aligns with the changing direction of the wind, allowing for a minimum crosswind during the catapult launch and horizontal landing of the 12-meter wingspan autonomous aircraft.

The Ampyx Power AWES aircraft generally will be flying on a tether to generate energy, but once in a while it needs to land, e.g. when the wind drops or when there is a thunderstorm. In order to land, the tethered aircraft flies upwind to approach the platform. The winch retrieves the tether at the same time, keeping it taut. Just before it flies over the platform edge at an altitude of 0.5m and 4m, the winch is slowed down to a standstill, creating slack in the tether between the winch itself and the aircraft. As the aircraft flies on, the tether gets taut again. It pulls a pulley that can slide over a rail but only as it compresses a damper system. In this way, the kinetic energy of the aircraft is dissipated and the aircraft, if it has not already touched down, drops dead vertically onto the platform. The landing gear absorbs the impact. The tether is then slowly reeled in, funneling the drone into launch position for the next launch.

Should the aircraft need to land without the tether, it will be caught in a single-cable “net" erected over the platform, dubbed the ‘wire trap’. Following such an emergency landing, inspection and manual reattachment of the tether is required.

For verification of the technology, first tests are performed with a round deck that is flush with the ground. For the commercial system, the landing deck is going to be smaller, in a rectangular shape, and will be elevated about 4-5 meters above the ground. This design allows the Ampyx Power Airborne Wind Energy System (AWES) to be installed in any location, on a rugged hilltop as well as on a floating platform offshore.