As a result of its blended wing design, the VX-1 KittyHawk has only six basic airframe parts – atop skin, bottom skin and four ribs.Once the initial cure is complete,the parts are assembled using the bottom skin tool as the assembly fixture and Hysol® EA 9359.3™ adhesive. The entire airframe is then post-cured for approximately 16 hours.
Earlier this year, VX Aerospace assembled the second subscale VX-1 KittyHawk, which will undergo flight testing at NC State this spring. Afterward, the company will make any necessary design changes and prepare to produce either subscale models for the unmanned aircraft market (possibly for collecting agricultural science data) or full-scale aircraft for the manned market.
Perhaps what excites Skillen the most is that the added space inside the aircraft opens up the door to use compressed natural gas (CNG) as aviation fuel. “[CNG] is 40 percent cleaner and one-third the cost of aviation fuel,” says Skillen. “We’re hopeful that in the future we’ll be able to develop an aircraft that elegantly incorporates compressed natural gas.”