AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

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Jensy
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AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

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Introduction:

Bravely following in the footsteps of so many UK aviation startups - that usually fizzle away to nothing - Aeralis was originally founded as DartJet in 2015.

The CEO and founder Tristan Crawford, who was previously with Airbus and BAE, has been seeking investors to back the company for about two years. With an original target of £1m to build a prototype, a quick check on Companies House suggests they were about a third of the way there when they filed their last accounts in July 2018.

With a team drawn from ex-RAF personnel, the engineering sector and government policy experts AERALIS appear to be a more serious proposition than some of those that have gone before. They have also signed a number of MoUs with different firms to partner for design and manufacture (some listed below).

Support from Bombardier and Thales has been suggested, though to what extent is to be seen. The latest Aerospace Manufacturing article (link below) also mentions: ARA, Stirling Dynamics, Frazer-Nash Consultancy, TFD Europe and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions.

Concept:

The AERALIS concept is based around designing a modular air-frame which can swap out engines, cockpit configuration and even the wings to fit different requirements and applications.

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The suggestion is that by sharing common components and features, the aircraft will be able to meet different training requirements, whilst benefiting from commonality of the fuselage and avionics. They tout a figure of being about 30% less expensive than 'conventional' training aircraft.

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“Manufacturing of significant parts of the aircraft will be distributed, but the final assembly we hope will be at MoD (formerly RAF) St Athan in South Wales,” states Matt Powlson, chief systems engineer at AERALIS. “The design concept behind the aircraft is modular in broadly four key structural areas – the common core fuselage, wings, empennage and then the nacelle for the engine(s).
This commonality is expected to also shorten the time it takes to train a combat pilot, as they progress from one familiar training platform to another.

AERALIS seeks to use a combination of a common metal fuselage with composites utilised for the modular wings, tail assembly and engine nacelle(s).

The proposed power-plant for AERALIS are Honeywell/ITEC F-124 engines, though it has been suggested that they could vary based upon the customer and industrial agreements.

Proposed Variants:

The company is currently showcasing three different variants built upon a shared airframe. When they were DartJet, there was talk of a 'light attack' aircraft (the classic pie-in-the-sky aviation start-up product) but that has been dropped from their marketing material. The three proposed variants are:

AERALIS-A: Advanced Trainer

Swept wing, advanced performance

AERALIS-B: Basic Trainer

Single-engine, straight wing, benign handling

AERALIS-x: Aerobatic Display Aircraft

Single or Twin-engine, optimised role designs

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The 'A' variant is upfront, with the B to the left and the X on the right, in the above image:

More Info:

Aeralis: https://aeralis.com/
Aerospace Testing International: https://www.aerospacetestinginternation ... craft.html
Air Recognition: https://www.airrecognition.com/index.ph ... h-kbr.html
FlightGlobal: https://www.flightglobal.com/fixed-wing ... 51.article
Aerospace Manufacturing (Latest article): https://www.aero-mag.com/aeralis-modular-design-170420/

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Great news (and article)! Chasing the trend that the Swedish AF was first to adopt: a single trainer, all the way to conversion training, that to be actually done within squadrons - so that they would have something to do, rather than keeping a large OCU over-busy.
- I presume the -30% in costs is per hour, rather than over the life?
- hence, how much would the engine choice contribute to that? (Saab 105 turbofans were so 'economical' that it could afford to have two of them... if one cut out, the take-off and return could still be performed)
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Jensy »

ArmChairCivvy wrote:Great news (and article)! Chasing the trend that the Swedish AF was first to adopt: a single trainer, all the way to conversion training, that to be actually done within squadrons - so that they would have something to do, rather than keeping a large OCU over-busy.
- I presume the -30% in costs is per hour, rather than over the life?
- hence, how much would the engine choice contribute to that? (Saab 105 turbofans were so 'economical' that it could afford to have two of them... if one cut out, the take-off and return could still be performed)
According to their website the 30% saving is over the entire lifecycle of operation and MRO, in comparison to a conventional system. Though they don't specify which system they're comparing to, I'd imagine they have Texan/Tucano and Hawk in mind.

With regards powerplant, they seem pretty flexible about customer choice but I expect it's going to be something smaller than an Adour or equivalent. Maybe some of the more efficient very light private jet engines like the Williams FJ3, from the doomed ATG Javelin.

On a professional level, I've got to say their PR/investor relations are on point. This is the latest material they've put out, an interview with their BizDev director, who is an ex-Hawk instructor:
https://aeralis.com/modular-air-systems-and-the-future/

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by RetroSicotte »

Always good to see concepts still trying.

Really gotta see about swapping that engine out for a Rolls though...

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Scimitar54 »

There was me thinking that they were mirroring the A, B and C(X) designations of the F35! I would have thought that a Carrier variant C (X) would have been more appropriate than a Aerobatic Display variant. It would certainly be of more use and more likely to generate sales. :mrgreen:

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

As for Retro's comment I have a vague recollection that there is a connection between RR & Williams?
"very light private jet engines like the Williams FJ3"
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Jensy »

ArmChairCivvy wrote:As for Retro's comment I have a vague recollection that there is a connection between RR & Williams?
"very light private jet engines like the Williams FJ3"
According to wiki.... RR was brought in to "to design, develop and manufacture an air-cooled high-pressure (HP) turbine for the" big brother of the FJ33, the FJ44.

So about as British as RR's ex-BMW range of turbofans.

Curiously this takes us back to your economical Saab 105 reference, as the Swedish Air Force's fleet were re-engined with the FJ44 in the 90s.
Scimitar54 wrote:I would have thought that a Carrier variant C (X) would have been more appropriate
Now we're talking! A jet engined Short Seamew for the modern age.... Could probably fit 100+ on the Queen Liz. Landing might be a challenge though.

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

China is planning a carrier-landing capable trainer
... so there is a ready market :) there
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Ron5 »

So how's Scorpion doing?

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Tempest414 »

Ron5 wrote:So how's Scorpion doing?
Good point what is it about Scorpion that no one will take it up is this a case of its not backed up by the US Airforce or it is to good to be true so it can't be it has been pushed hard for some time now

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

At least it is backed by a steady-operator, so not exactly a start-up
... and still no results
Ever-lasting truths: Multi-year budgets/ planning by necessity have to address the painful questions; more often than not the Either-Or prevails over Both-And.
If everyone is thinking the same, then someone is not thinking (attributed to Patton)

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Jensy »

Tempest414 wrote:
Ron5 wrote:So how's Scorpion doing?
Good point what is it about Scorpion that no one will take it up is this a case of its not backed up by the US Airforce or it is to good to be true so it can't be it has been pushed hard for some time now
A US purchase would likely help, but always felt the Scorpion's suggested price point is a problem.

If you're looking for a jet trainer $20m could buy you an M-346 or two L-159s. Both of which are probably more attractive to most air forces.

Looking for a cheap combat aircraft? There's a lot of second-hand F-16s, Mirages, Kfirs and even Hornets (if you're Canadian) knocking about. Bigger air forces might go for a Tucano, Pilatus or a UCAV.

The market for a specialised, low-cost ISTAR platform is tiny and again there are growing numbers of unmanned options to choose from.

With the MoD scrapping the ASDOT programme, even that faint hope of a high-profile sale has gone. Though the FAA and 100 squadron Hawks are going to need to be replaced somehow. Was hoping the SDSR might address that.

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Tempest414 »

100 Sqn Hawks will in part be replaced by 9 Sqn's Typhoon T1's in the aggressor role and the FAA will likely go back to using Hunters from Hunter aviation for missile threat training

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Post by J. Tattersall »

https://www.baesystems.com/en/product/hawk-ajt

The Hawk trainer still seems to be available. I wonder what the cost of topping up with more of them would be compared to introducing a new aircraft type?

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by Jensy »

Aeralis gets £200k from the RAF Rapid Capabilities Office

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The RAF has backed a British company to develop an aircraft that can be converted from a trainer to a faster, more aggressive jet by swapping out its engines and wings.

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Aeralis, based in Suffolk, has been given £200,000 by the force to develop its “revolutionary” modular plane, which it says would be the first fully developed in Britain since the Hawk was launched in 1974.
Times Article (£):
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/conv ... -v3tn6r728

Press Release:
http://aeralis.com/2021/02/17/aeralis-a ... es-office/

P.s: Their strategic director, Tim Bates has said that a first flight was planned for 2023, pre Covid.

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by topman »

I can't see how messing about with changing the wings, intakes etc are worth it for fairly small changes in performance.
I'm not sure there's any real demand for this sort of thing.

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Post by SW1 »

I can what there trying to do and the reasons why but I think when the details are sorted it will probably end up with less radial changes between variants.

The aero profiles for the wings may well change to manage stall onset and be more forgiving in the basic versions.

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

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topman wrote:I can't see how messing about with changing the wings, intakes etc are worth it for fairly small changes in performance.
I'm not sure there's any real demand for this sort of thing.
It's even more drastic than that. Each has a different powerplant/engine configuration: singe, twin and large single
SW1 wrote:The aero profiles for the wings may well change to manage stall onset and be more forgiving in the basic versions.
There's definitely some logic to a hi/lo split. The attraction of having comparable aircraft to the Leonardo M345 and M346, but with extensive commonality is appealing for medium+ air forces. History has shown that putting novice pilots in high performance jet trainers can lead to disaster.

However it's the unloved third variant that seems excessive to me. First it was an aerobatic trainer, obviously aimed at replacing the Red Arrows' Hawks. Now, seemingly going after the 'stalled' ASDOT programme with an aggressor. Were it a simple hybrid between the other two I'd get the idea (even with a modular rear cockpit cover/tank), but it seems to have a different engine nacelle/configuration to the other two.

The Aeralis website has been extensively redesigned. Actually very impressive, hopefully the entire £200k didn't get blown on it!
http://aeralis.com/

In total there are five different configurations derived from:

- 2 x Wing options
- 3 - Engine configurations
- Twin or single seat cockpit (with a fuel tank)

P.S: They've finally given in and proposed a 'light combat' aircraft.... After the Hawk 200's lukewarm sales, I'm not sure that's needed in a crowded marketplace...

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by topman »

Reminds me of the scorpion (?) that similarly promised to cover all manner of different roles?


I don't think they sold a single aircraft did they?

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by ArmChairCivvy »

Is that
" After the Hawk 200's lukewarm sales"
the same design as India's Battlehawk,
or is the latter rewarming the concept?

Have not heard of any sales at all for the Battlehawk.
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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by SW1 »

Yeah scorpion didn’t sell. It was really after the us market. And when they weren’t interested no one wanted a orphan. Twin engines on scorpion was never gonna fly as a trainer

I think where this looks like it’s going is the cockpit and getting a consistency from beginning to end of the training cycle. There has also been a lot of concern both civil and military about loss of basic airmanship skills with simulator and ever more automated jets where I think in France they started
putting alpha jets with Rafael units. I think way back hunters were put with lightning units in the U.K.


The speed gain from basic to aggressor as quoted would need different inlets cant see how you get around that. Potential options around a reasonably common wing that may not be as radical as a completely new one possible but certainly never seen it done this way.

Looking longer if your really wanting to take a joined up approach with tempest nows the time to look and see if there a way to shorten the green student to front line pilot route and make sure your trainer is teaching what your future front line jet needs

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by topman »

Yeah I get some of it is let's try something new and see what works and doesn't, as you never what you might learn.

However I don't see changing things like wings about to be easy or cheap.
Stations still have different functions so there wouldn't be much mix and match inside one particular flying unit to say swap around the wings.

I guess how well it's designed to make this simple. Perhaps it's something that would be more suitable to change when in for depth maintenance, to try and get the most out of the fleet.

I think, cheap spares that can be purchased from a number of companies, easily maintained, lots off the shelf would perhaps be a better bet.

That was one good thing from the scorpion, lots of parts from the business jet world. Lots of choice to drive down costs.

I guess we'll see what comes from it, I think it'll be a concept aircraft that feeds into the hawk replacement with a few small companies involved as partners at the design stage.

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Post by SW1 »

I would agree. I may have mis understood the concept but I thought this was more aimed at the factory selected configuration. I wasn’t under the impression that this was something that could be switched at unit level.

The idea was aimed a fleet commonality and certification simplification be that maybe just my misinterpretation.

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by topman »

Tbh, it doesn't make it clear either way at the moment. I guess we'll see in time what they are actually aiming to do.

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Re: AERALIS - Modular Jet Trainer

Post by SW1 »

https://www.joint-forces.com/uk-news/41 ... r-aircraft

AERALIS, the British military jet developer, has entered into a Teaming Agreement with Thales in the UK to develop innovative philosophies, processes, devices & systems to operate the transformational AERALIS platforms. The development from Thales will take place alongside AERALIS’ contract with the RAF’s Rapid Capabilities Office to deliver research & development of an Advanced Modular Aircraft system.

AERALIS is redefining the possibilities for light military jet aircraft across various roles in the defence market including training, aggressor and light combat, focusing on a UK-based development and production programme of an agile, modular, and commercially driven aircraft system aimed at increasing capability whilst significantly reducing through-life costs for customers. As they move to develop and certify a broad range of future aircraft systems to support the Royal Air Force’s ambition to rationalise its future fleet, they will be working in parallel with Thales in the UK to ensure that the training systems required to teach pilots to fly AERALIS will be ready in conjunction with the modular aircraft system.

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