Merger with Microdrones Brings More R&D Possibilities for Schübeler

Schübeler EDF products provide cleaner option for RC aeromodellers to fly with less noise, more efficiency

There’s a cleaner, quieter way to fly radio-controlled, high-speed jet model aircraft without a turbine-powered engine.

Electric duct fans (EDF) operate with less noise and more efficiency while still offering RC aeromodellers the potential to experience the thrill of seeing their winged replicas soar through the air. EDF planes run with multi-bladed propellers, taking in air and spinning at high speeds.

“When all components have been carefully selected and installed, the customer can expect a model aircraft with long-lasting excellent performance and reliable propulsion,” said Christian Wileschek, sales expert for RC business with Schübeler Technologies.

“But what is also important is that is quieter than a gas turbine” and doesn’t emit fumes, Wileschek added. 

 

Founded in 1997, Schübeler Technologies has built a global business by providing advanced fan propulsion jets and lightweight composite materials. Schübeler offers a full lineup of products including turbo fans, jets, compressors and pumps, along with an RC sports hobby division that makes electric duct fans and components for high-speed jet model airplanes. 

But RC aeromodelling is more than just a business for Wileschek and Daniel Schübeler, founder of Schübeler Technologies.

Wileschek first got interested in aeromodelling as a child. He drifted away from the hobby as he grew older before meeting Schübeler in 2010 and then going to work for him.

“It didn't take long for the fascination to get back in my head. Daniel motivated me to get active again,” Wileschek said.

Combine that passion with quality work and experience in the business, and it’s no surprise that Schübeler has built a reputation of providing comprehensive service for aeromodellers looking for a smooth EDF conversion.

“We look into every detail: the aerodynamic features of the fan itself, rotor blades, stator blades, the inlet design, the outlet design,” Schübeler said. “That’s our approach to come up with a great EDF solution. We look at the whole project for the customer.”

A technical playground

Aeromodelling covers a wide array of models including gliders, propeller planes, helicopters and jets, with each aircraft offering different challenges. But while Schübeler Technologies has made successful forays into traditional aviation, aeromodelling remains an important focus of the business. 

“The development of products for aeromodellers, especially for electrically driven jets, is something that’s still very special,” Schübeler said.

Technically, it’s a demanding task, making it especially important to produce high-quality products for hobbyists that are efficient and affordable. 

“It’s technical playground for us here in the company,” Schübeler said. “I mean this very seriously - in aeromodelling, you have no limits.”

Tailwind and possibilities

Model jets propelled by turbines fueled by kerosene soar using a lot of energy. EDF planes run on batteries that have improved over the past two decades thanks to technological developments in the industry.

EDF planes that run on batteries have other advantages too. 

“The development of safer transmitters, brushless motors and the LiPo battery technology have given the model aircraft hobby a lot of tailwind and possibilities,” Wileschek said.

Some RC aeromodellers may be looking to switch to EDF because airfields may have noise restrictions that in effect ban the use of combustion engines. Some hobbyists may be tiring of the fumes that come with using kerosene. 

Or an RC aeromodeller might be convinced to make the switch just by taking an electric RC jet for a test flight. 

“The fact that it's possible to fly jets electrically with almost turbine-like sound and convincing performance, it's just great. And for jet model builders who are more electrically oriented, building a jet replica is the highest art,” Wileschek said.

Setting the standard

Schübeler Technologies takes pride in getting the details right, making the company the ideal partner for enthusiasts seeking to switch to EDF.

Schübeler can help customers figure out expected flight speeds and flying times, controller recommendations and optimized controller settings, offering service and advice.

“And then of course battery choice and size. So that sets our approach to come up with a great EDF solution,” Schübeler said. “So we look at the whole project of the customer.”

Noted Wileschek: “We have been setting standards for many years now. So, when a customer works with Schübeler, he can be sure to get a durable and safe product with excellent performance and sound, of course.”

Below, Schübeler and Wileschek offer more information through a tutorial on picking the right EDF technology for your plane.

How do you select the right size of fan for an airframe?

Wileschek: Selecting the correct fan size is based on the size of the air intake and the outlet area of the model. Each Schübeler fan has a certain fan swept area measured in square centimeters that can be found in the model number or description. For example, “51” in a model number would denote a fan swept area of 51 square centimeters. Ideally, this size matches or comes close to the size of the intake area of the plane. If the intake of a jet model airplane is too small, and you install a fan that doesn't match the intake area of the aircraft, the fan cannot generate full power. So it's important to compare size of the intakes and fan swept area of the EDF.

What about input power, motor size, and battery size? 

Wileschek: Selection of input power, motor size and battery capacity is based on the takeoff weight of the aircraft. In addition, most customers request a specific type of battery cells. They want to use, for example, 12S, or 14S, for the CARF Joker, or for a smaller EDF jet, like the Mini Avanti, it's the 6S. We recommend the right EDF setup with controller and a battery capacity to achieve a flight time of five to seven minutes. 

Schübeler: The Schübeler EDF setup is very efficient, which generates a very high thrust - so a very high performance. We can also offer a long duration setup. We have jet-like performance with the approach and we have sufficient flight time. It's maybe not super important for a smaller jet, but it's super important for a serious jet project. You don't want to lose your jet because the battery is empty. 

Are there other practical considerations for component installation?

Wileschek: Importance should always be placed on the installation of all components. The area between the air intake and fan should be as free as possible so that the air inside the fuselage comes very clean to the fan without too much turbulence. And all components such as cables should always be fixed properly because the fan sucks in everything that's not fixed well. In addition, it's necessary to attach an inlet lip to the fan so that the air can be sucked in very clean.

So when all the new gear is installed, how will flight performance compare to a turbine-powered RC plane? 

Wileschek: The customer can expect a model aircraft with long lasting and excellent performance, and reliable propulsion with a nice turbine sound. But what is also important is it will be quieter and a more pleasant experience than a gas turbine. 

Schübeler: With turbines, it's interesting. You cannot do so much wrong, but if you do things really badly wrong, your model burns. … It's a nice technology. I like turbines. But we are focused on electrically driven jets here, of course. With turbines, it's just more effort. It's maybe also a little bit more costly, because of service, maintenance and the price of a turbine. 

How fast can you go? 

Schübeler: If you install the EDF the right way, if you have a good frame, you can go insanely fast. With a sport jet, 350 kph is no problem. But with a special speed jet project that I am testing with a colleague, we’re aiming for 500 kph. We could go faster if we decide to go with a bigger EDF system. And I think the fastest turbine jet is close to 700 kph.

If you look at the practical side of aeromodelling, you want to go to your field, unpack your plane and start flying. EDF makes that possible. You install your batteries and you’re ready to go. Once your setup works - your  flying. You need a little bit of infrastructure for loading and you need to have three sets of batteries, but you can have a really nice day of jet flying with a proper EDF model. 

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