The Concept

The ArcAngel is an aircraft concept that will provide surveillance and relay communication during the early stages of a disaster. It will stay aloft using thermal lift, ridge lift and wave lift.

Origin of the Idea

While we were working on a short, illustrated story depicting a future disaster response scenario involving multiple types of aircraft, my colleague Yuri Fattah at the ICAO had the idea for the ArcAngel concept based on gliders. ‘ARC’ stands for Airborne Reconnaissance and Communication.

How It Works

The ArcAngel will be towed to its operational area by a transport plane. Once deployed, it will use thermal lift, ridge lift and wave lift to stay aloft. In disasters near mountains, it can use waves lift to get up to 35 000 feet by storing potential energy, then gliding down to the disaster area using its large propeller to convert the potential energy to electrical energy for onboard systems.

More advanced versions of the ArcAngel would be able to use very high altitude winds. They could fly in the upper boundary of the jet stream at 40,000 ft or at 65000 ft in tropical zones—and even beyond 100,000 ft., although this would require significant developments in new materials and energy storage technology.

The ArcAngel has a large propeller that can function in two modes: as a positive drive engine and as a negative drive charger. On the ground, it can use its propeller to convert wind into electrical energy to recharge its batteries.

Its fuselage has a transparent skin, which will allow for optical equipment to be used inside.  The vertical stabilizer is pointed down so that it can also house a surveillance antenna.  The large wing span contains two pods that can house sensors to provide 3D images in several wavelengths.

The Market

The use is primarily disaster response, although it could also be used by scientists studying remote mountainous areas.


The ArcAngel concept was imagined by Yuri Fattah. The renderings were produced by Ashish Thulkar, a freelance vehicle designer from Mumbai, India, with a master’s degree in design from the Indian Institute of Science. He also created the Whisper and Hawker concepts amongst others.