The Concept

The Mercuri is a radical aircraft concept that uses a distributed layout to power 40 micro propellers embedded in its wings. It is capable of vertical take-off (VTOL) and could cover ten times the range of similar aircraft with its recuperated Brayton cycle ceramic turbine and ground effect capabilities.

The Background

I recently met with Jean-Sébastien Plante and Mathieu Picard at the University of Sherbrooke’ Interdisciplinary Institute for Technological Innovation (3IT) to brainstorm on future vehicles concepts and we came up with the Mercuri personal aircraft idea by integrating some of the past and current theoretical work from the high power density engine department.

How It Works

The Mercuri uses a hybrid powerpack composed of two components. The first one is a 300hp gas turbine that uses a recuperated Brayton cycle engine. The second would be an ion lithium battery that would handle peak power demands during take-off (500hp+). The turbine’s blades would be made of ceramic (alumina) held within a composite rim to withstand internal temperatures of 1850° Kelvin and thus achieve high efficiency.

Power from the turbine and batteries is distributed to 40 electric propellers embedded between the wing and the flaps. These 10 Kw microprops pull the air over the wings and permit the Mercuri to fly like an aircraft. The rear flaps can tilt upward and allow the Mercuri to vertically take-off.

The final number of props will change based on various factors. Please note that the props’ size on the renderings was increased to facilitate comprehension, which is why you count 10 of them instead of 20 on each side.

By using a distributive and hybrid power approach, it would be possible to increase the range of the Mercury by 10 times compared to similar models. If you take into account that the Mercuri was also build with ground effect in mind, you could increase its payload or further increase the range without consuming more fuel than a similar-sized turbine aircraft with VTOL capabilities.

The cockpit is roomy enough for one large person and his luggage. Most of the flight would be automated to reduce the risk of incidents, but it would be possible to take over at some point to simply have fun and fly the Mercuri.

The riders position initially was horizontal, lying head to the front and facing down, which is why we created a full cockpit window that extends to the floor. However, depending on the attitude of the Mercury in flight, it might be easier to seat the pilot in a conventional position, slightly leaned back. It depends on what the owner wants to do with it.

What It’s Used For

The Mercuri could be used to commute to work—if you have enough capital to purchase and operate one, that is. It could also be used as an entry-level business jet. With its VTOL capacity, you would be able to land it directly at the factory, and it would fly much faster than an helicopter. By scaling the design up, one could imagine a 100-seat regional ground effect vehicle capable of travelling near the coastline. This would increase local seaboard trading and reinforce the ties between coastal cities.

The Designer

I would like to thank Martin Rico, who created the images of the Mercuri concept. Martin lives near Buenos Aires, Argentina. He studied Design at the University of Buenos Aires and now works as a Freelance Industrial Designer. Martin also created the images of the Sandofi cart for the homeless and the Ecotranzit shipping robot concepts.