in Defence / Features

The Wolf packs a punch in the bush

Posted 2 May 2017 · Add Comment

Wolfgang Vormbaum realized a boyhood dream when his C-Wolf aerial utility vehicle (AUV) was displayed at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition (AAD) in Pretoria. Sam Basch reports.

The rugged bush plane being developed by South African company, Vliegmasjien (Afrikaans for flying machine), bears testimony to Wolfgang Vormbaum’s boyhood dream of creating a ‘people carrier’ equally at home in the bush and on water.
Built for African conditions, the C-Wolf boasts high levels of safety, including an anti-stall wing design, a safety cell, and an optional triple parachute ballistic aircraft rescue system.
“It was designed for low stall speed, with the ‘canard stall first’, an integrated split rudder, low-speed stabiliser and double Fowler flaps,” explained managing director Jolien Labuschagne.
The spacious aircraft is perfectly suited for anti-poaching operations, or as an air ambulance. In fact, the M-Wolf Induna is a military variant ideal for maritime surveillance, peacekeeping or intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.
With a range in excess of 3,500km and the ability to fit long-range day/night equipment, it is suited to military operations. “This is a low-noise-generating aircraft designed for low stall speed, which enhances low-speed loitering and endurance – easily up to 16 hours,” stated Labuschagne.
Vliegmasjien envisages the military variant M-Wolf Induna carrying rockets and missiles on hard-points in the high-wing. The spacious interior can accommodate up to seven people and equipment, including optional weather radar.
A composite high-thrust, slow-rotating five-bladed pusher propeller, specially developed by MT Propeller in Germany, enables short take-off and landing. Vliegmasjien opted for a South African-developed Adept 320T 3.2 litre V-6 turbocharged engine. The combination of engine and powerplant makes the Wolf compliant with the most stringent European noise control regulations.
“In addition, we opted for a catalytic converter to remove any remaining CO2 from the engine,” Labuschagne added. “The Adept 320T already has the lowest lead, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide emission levels in the general aviation industry.”
Vormbaum considered numerous design iterations before opting for the high wing, T-tail pusher propeller layout with canards and pontoons.
The fuselage bottom derived from a speedboat hull design, whereas the pontoons were based on jet ski technology. As the pontoons are designed to be load-bearing structures, they could carry external cargo or be fitted with cannons/machineguns for the military role, Vliegmasjien said.
Having outsourced initial composite work, Vliegmasjien’s aim is to maximise local content in the design and build of the C-Wolf. Most of the manufacturing is done in-house, with relatively few imported items, notably instrumentation, which includes a colour-display glass cockpit.
The company involved several entities in the C-Wolf’s development, including South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and expert individuals, to meet airworthiness standards.
According to Labuschagne, the aircraft is largely constructed of glass-fibre, carbon and Kevlar composites. The Kevlar fuselage components improve damage tolerance, which is further enhanced with the use of a sacrificial strip under the fuselage to minimise damage in a wheels-up landing.
Designed as a rugged bush plane with the potential for military applications, the C-Wolf/M-Wolf is suited to rough landing strips. Besides the wide tricycle undercarriage sporting large tyres, its electrical system ensures the landing gear extends and retracts in five seconds. Steel disc brakes, reverse thrust and air brake enable a quick stop.
According to Labuschagne, the aircraft’s maximum take-off weight is a conservative 1,700kg, with empty weight around 900kg. The seats can be removed for the transport role, offering an interior volume of 5,900 litres.
Luggage is innovatively stored in the tail boom and pontoons. The aircraft boasts pavilion seating, a sunroof, wraparound windows and a huge interior, all of which contribute to a pleasurable flight experience.
Vliegmasjien has received keen interest for the C-Wolf pleasure craft from civilian users from the Caribbean to the Gulf states. And enquiries have, likewise, been received from military and security customers, who view the M-Wolf Induna as a viable option.
 

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