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DP-2 Dupont Aerospace

Mr. Anthony A. duPont, founder and President of duPont Aerospace Company, El Cajon, CA, holds an undergraduate degree from Yale and an MS in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology. He flew as a navigator and copilot for Pan Am World Airways; worked as an engineer at the Douglas Aircraft Company on projects including design of the Saturn Rocket upper stage; and as Chief, Aerospace Advanced Design, for Douglas' aerospace plane development program. He also worked for the Garrett Corporation as Director of Product Planning (turbofan engines), and managed the company's NASA Hypersonic Research Engine program. duPont Aerospace was founded in 1969.

Air Transport World magazine's Commuter/Regional World Daily of 30 November 1982 reported that "A 1/10th scale model of DuPont Aerospace's VTOL twin-fanjet DP-2 has been tested at NASA's Ames Research Center, and the wind tunnel investigations are said to have confirmed designer Anthony A. duPont's predictions. The operating fan and the vectored thrust control system were both tested successfully. The DP-2 is said to represent a unique concept of achieving a combination of efficient short-field and long distance performance with near-turboprop economy. DuPont believes it has its greatest potential as a commuter/corporate/military utility transport configured for 30 passengers. The design incorporates a supercritical wing of a type developed by NASA and flight-tested on a modified F-8 military jet. The objective is to achieve a drag break Mach number of 0.95. The DP-2's two fanjet engines are buried in the fuselage below the flight deck. A thrust vectoring system is deployed for landing. The aircraft would have a fuselage length of 61 ft. 2 in., a wingspan of 53 ft. 4 In. and a height of 18 ft. 9 in. It would seat 30-44 passengers."

The DP-2 is a jet aircraft comprising a jet engine mounted in a forward portion of the aircraft; a thrust deflection assembly provided rearward of the jet engine, the thrust deflection assembly including a cascade and control box for deflecting thrust during vertical flight of the aircraft, wherein the cascade is movable between a retracted position and deployed positions and whereby manipulation of the cascade and control box controls roll, yaw and pitch of the aircraft during vertical flight ailerons for controlling roll of the aircraft during forward flight; a rudder for controlling yaw of the aircraft during forward flight; elevators for controlling pitch of the aircraft during forward flight; a pilot control input apparatus, which receives pilot input regarding desired roll, yaw and pitch of the aircraft; and a control mixer, operatively associated with the pilot control input apparatus, for controlling the control box, ailerons, rudder and elevators in accordance with the desired roll, yaw and pitch of the aircraft, wherein the pilot uses the same control input apparatus for vertical and forward flight.

According to DuPont, the DP-2 has the ability to take off and land like a helicopter, while carrying 48 fully equipped troops, even a Humvee. It is this carrying capacity that separates the DP-2 from the Harrier, an operational vertical takeoff attack aircraft, and the turboprop powered V-22, which is currently the fastest vertical takeoff transport. The DP-2 is also fast. For example, the DP-2 can fly personnel and support from Fort Bragg, North Carolina to Kosovo, nonstop, in 7 hours and 53 minutes. It also flies other strategic or diplomatic missions in record time. With the exception of the Concorde, the DP-2 is claimed to be faster than any airliner. What is more, the DP-2 can maintain this speed while flying intercontinental distances. It arrives at its destination 13 percent sooner than the 747 and in less than half the time required of the V-22. The DP-2's exceptional claimed 5,000 nautical mile range also eliminates the need for mid-flight refueling on most missions. Another unique feature of the DP-2 is its claimed ability to land on any ship with a landing platform, and it has the capacity to reach that ship anywhere on the world's oceans. The first of two key elements that contribute to the DP-2's affordability is its non-corroding carbon composite structure, which is cured at low temperature, and is rugged, lightweight, and inexpensive to fabricate. The second is its use of highly efficient airline engines with their proven reliability and low maintenance.

The DP-2 project was initiated in the Office of Naval Research in Fiscal Year 1997, with the goal of demonstrating the vertical takeoff system proposed by the duPont Aerospace Corporation. The development plan was first to perform unmanned ground tests with half-scale composite model to understand the thrust vectoring characteristics of the DP-2 aircraft. These tests measure the vertical and horizontal thrust for different settings of the louvered engine exhaust flow deflection system. In addition, they establish the reliability of the composite construction technology for the thrust vectoring system. By 2001 results to date indicated that the thrust vectoring system appears to work as proposed for single engine tests.

In May 2001 the Office of Naval Research testified that "As the plan and tests have progressed, it has become clear that the risks of manned flight of the half-scale DP-2 are great and the cost of testing to mitigate the risks are going to be greater than the available budget. This led us to use smaller free flight models to reduce risk, minimize cost, and gain understanding of the system performance. ... This program should be viewed as a proof of principle and not an aircraft development program."

The duPont Aerospace DP-1 is a 53-percent scale model of the duPont Aerospace DP-2. The duPont Aerospace DP-2 aircraft, now under early development, is a VTOL turbojet designed to carry a payload of 10,500 pounds transcontinental distances. In appearance (see pictures of scale-model on back page) it closely resembles a conventional commercial jet aircraft, but relies on two turbojet engines mounted in the forward section of the fuselage for both lift and forward thrust, and will cruise at speeds identical to those achieved by conventional fixed-wing turbojet transports (i.e., Mach 0.8 and higher). The fifty-three percent scale model, called the DP-1, was slated in 2001 to begin its first series of hover tests and is being developed under the auspices of the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

In 1999 NASA helped the Naval Air Systems Command do a Safety Assessment of a ground test that's being done in San Diego. They were planning a test on the DP-2 demonstrator model built by duPont Aerospace Co. in La Jolla, California. They had done a good job of clearing the area where they were going to do the engine run up. This would prevent fod or foreign object damage (small things that might be sucked into the intake). In NASA's experience most cases of damage were related to loose parts from the model or parts that were not strong enough and came loose during the test.

FY 2001 Congressional Plus-Ups include $4,343,000 (Funded in PE 0603217N Power Projection Advanced Technology) for Aircraft Affordability Project DP-2. This included continued development of the half scale DP2 vertical takeoff aircraft. The program successfully ground tested the existing half scale aircraft to insure integrity of the composite thrust vectoring system, completed development and improvement of the computer flight control system. Work was being performed by DuPont Aerospace in San Diego and Mississippi State Univ.

On 17 September 2004 the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced plans to negotiate with duPont Aerospace Company, Inc., 1725 N. Marshall Ave. El Cajon, California 92020 on a sole source basis to continue development and test of the DP-1 high performance vertical takeoff and land (VTOL) aircraft. This effort is a follow-on and continuation to the development effort that is currently being performed by the duPont Aerospace Company under Contract No. N00014-04-C-0185 with the Office of Naval Research. This follow-on effort will continue to require the use of the duPont DP-1 aircraft, a flight simulator, and test facilities to conduct flight control analysis and simulation, flight test planning, Airworthiness Review Board meetings, and flight test to achieve stabilized hover in and out of ground effect.

Defense Contracts
$ Dollar Amount
The DP-2 program, funded exclusively through congressional earmarks, has received by one estimate more than $63 million since 1988, and evidently about $33 million from 2000 through 2006. Yet, multiple technical reviews of the DP-2 concept have repeatedly rejected it on its technical merits since 1986 and serious concerns continue to arise about the ability of duPont Aerospace to effectively and safely manage the program. Three DP-2 prototype aircraft have been developed and the DP-2 has suffered from four mishaps from 2003 to 2007.

The House Committee on Science & Technology Subcommittee on Space & Aeronautics held a hearing on this project in May 2001. During his testimony to the House Committee on Science in May 2001, duPont said the commercial airline industry including Boeing, Lockheed and Grumman did not invest in his concept of the DP-2 aircraft because they were skeptical of his ability to actually achieve success. Six years later, it appears the DP-2 program has accomplished very little. Yet, duPont continues to receive a steady stream of congressional funding.

The House Committee on Science & Technology Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight met on Tuesday, June 12, 2007, to examine the history, technical viability, critical assessments, testing mishaps and management of the DP-2 Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft being developed by the duPont Aerospace Company.

The purpose of this hearing was to review the technical virtues of the DP-2, concerns about the safety of the aircraft, duPont Aerospace's management of the program and the company's adherence to safety protocols and procedures. This is particularly important given the fact that Tony duPont, President of the duPont Aerospace Company, envisions the development of a commercial version of the DP-2 aircraft. Finally, the Subcommittee examined what sort of return on investment the U.S. government has received for its two decades of support and more than $63 million investment in this program to date.



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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:29:26 ZULU