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Roton Hover Tests Continue

Mojave - September 20, 1999 -
Rotary's Roton Atmospheric Test Vehicle made the first of a series of four envelope expansion flights September 16, 1999 as part of the initial approach and landing demonstration tests.

The 65 feet tall by 22 feet diameter conical vehicle was piloted by a two person crew comprising the pilot, Dr. Marti Sarigul-Klijn, Cmdr. USN-Ret and Roton Chief Engineer, with Brian Binnie, Cmdr. USN-Ret. and Roton Flight Test Director, as copilot. Both crew members are highly qualified and experienced flight test pilots.

The flight, the second for the Roton ATV, was an impressive demonstration of the vehicles' stability and control as it hovered virtually stationary for two and a half minutes. During the test, the ATV reached a planned maximum altitude of 20 feet above the Mojave runway.

The main test objectives were to validate the performance and cockpit workload improvements implemented since the first flight on July 23, 1999. These improvements included increased thrust output of the blade mounted, tip rockets and the installation of an auto-throttle controller to maintain the rotor RPM at a preset value.

Both of these changes worked nominally and preliminary flight results show good correlation with the ATV's integral hardware-in-the-loop simulator. The scheduled nominal test duration was 5 minutes. The actual test duration was four and a half minutes. The actual test duration was governed solely by the pilot's conservative flight planning requirement to hold 1,500 lbs. of fuel in reserve.

The next flight in the series of four envelope expansion tests will be a low altitude, translational flight down Runway 30 at Mojave. This flight will examine the longitudinal stability and control behavior of the Roton ATV in forward flight.

Future ATV flight testing will verify the Roton's pilot-guided approach and landing capability over a wide range of operating conditions and demonstrate landings from altitudes of several thousand feet.

The primary function of the Roton ATV is to demonstrate the operational viability of vertically landing a returning space vehicle using a tip thruster powered rotor-blade landing system.

The Roton ATV is similar in concept to the Space Shuttle Enterprise that NASA built and flew to test the orbiter's landing characteristics before proceeding to build space-worthy version Space Shuttles.

Gary C. Hudson, President and CEO of Rotary Rocket Company said after the successful conclusion of the flight, "Everyone present at this second test was impressed by the stability and control exhibited by the Roton ATV. Very impressed."

He went on to congratulate the flight crew and other employees of Rotary Rocket Company for their superb efforts in implementing the vehicle improvements in such a short period of time.

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