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13cm Long Aircraft from Korea

05 May 2003

A micro-compact aircraft, as small as the human hand, has recently been developed in Korea. The aircraft can fly for 15 minutes and transmit images in real time from the air.

Professor Yoon Gwang-joon and his research team in the Space and Aircraft Department at Kon-kuk University gave a demonstration at Seoul Olympic Park on May 2. His team showed pictures of Park from the air, photographed for 5 minutes by the specially-built camera fitted on the 13 cm long aircraft.

The aircraft has been in development for the past three years at a cost of 800 million won supported by a research grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology. The team won a prize in the International Micro Compact Aircraft Competition for their aircraft, which stayed in the air the second longest period of time.

The aircraft is 13.4cm long and weighs 60g. It can transmit images in real time from the compact camera, for about 15 minutes within a 0.8 km radius. In order to reduce the weight of the aircraft to less than 100g, the team used hybrid materials for the structure including polymer film and balsawood as well as hyper-lightweight Kevlar fiber composite material.

The aircraft can fly at high speeds based on the 15,000 rpm propeller, operated by the 10g compact motor which is powered by the 10g lithium polymer battery. This is the same battery used for cellular phones.

“Micro-compact aircraft development started in the military for the purpose of reconnaissance on squads or platoons from the 1990s. The technology is mostly for military purposes. Recently though, this type of aircraft has been developed for civilian uses such as monitoring traffic or for entertainment, etc.”