Advanced Aircraft Company (AAC) to Develop Free-Swinging Tilt-Wing UAV for NASA

As recently reported by, “NASA has contracted Virginia's Advanced Air Company to design and build a prototype of a new type of transition-capable eVTOL drone – a tilt-wing concept that uses aerodynamic forces instead of actuators to tilt the wings and propulsion systems. AAC Founder and CEO Bill Fredericks has spent time working at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia – and indeed, he worked on the early concept of these ‘aerodynamically actuated thrust vectoring devices’ while he was there. Thus, while Fredericks is one of three named inventors on a patent back in 2016, NASA owns the intellectual property and Fredericks will work on designing and building the prototype under license.”

The New Atlas article continues: “Thrust vectoring systems for drone-style VTOL aircraft are a dime a dozen at the moment. But all the designs I've seen share one thing in common; computers decide which way their propulsion systems are pointing, and some kind of actuator makes it happen. Fredericks believes transitioning flight doesn't need to be that complex. An aero-driven tilt-wing aircraft would have freely-tilting wings with propellers attached, weight-biased to have the wings and propellers point vertically upward at zero airspeed. They'd take off and hover like a regular drone, and then as they began to move forward through the air, control surfaces like flaps on a plane wing would adjust lift, using both ambient air and air moving through the propellers to pivot the wings fully forward into cruise mode for efficient flight.‘  SUAS News further reported: “The aircraft fuselage and wing bodies will incorporate 3D printed materials and aluminum alloys for low weight, high strength and durability while also enabling rapid prototyping and limited-scale manufacturing.” The drawing shows the tiltwing concept discussed in the New Atlas article.

Advanced Aircraft Company (AAC) develops long-endurance tilt-wing uncrewed aircraft systems for military and defense applications. Utilizing Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP) systems and aerodynamic airframes, the aircraft are designed for long-endurance operations and can carry multiple sensor and cargo payloads. Designed to meet the rapidly evolving requirements of our warfighters, AAC VTOL UAS offer high speed, long range, and can operate in the most austere land and maritime conditions with no operational infrastructure required. AAC is a veteran-owned and operated company founded in 2017 and headquartered in Hampton, Virginia. Visit and Advanced Aircraft Company for more information.

Our thanks to Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for her assistance with this report.