The ALV-0 is an ultra-low cost scale model intended to prove the low-speed aircraft-mode aerodynamics of the ALV-1, especially the wing opening (and closing) sequence. The ALV-0 will take off and land horizontally like an aircraft, and will not be equipped with a rocket motor. To keep costs to an absolute minimum, the ALV-0 is being built using Radio Control (RC) model aricraft materials, components and construction methods.
The ALV-0 is completed and first flew on 23 December 2015. The detail design, construction and testing of the ALV-0 is performed by Australian Droid and Robot in Brisbane. The expertise that Australian Droid and Robot brings in terms of the design, manufacture and commercial operation of small UAVs is invaluable to the ALV project.
Although the ALV-0 is geometrically almost identical to the ALV-1, the construction method differs significantly between the two vehicles.
The ALV-1 is being manufactered almost exclusively from aluminium alloy in order to withstand the thrust from the rocket motor and the stress of transonic flight. But since the ALV-0 only operates in aircraft mode without a rocket motor, wood has been selected as the most cost effective material. The following figure shows the basic layout of the ALV-0 nose structure:
All parts for the ALV-0 are CNC routed by Australian Droid and Robot. A batch of fuselage frames are shown below.
The engine, fuel system, landing gear and other sub-systems are all sourced from model aircraft catalogues, again to keep costs to the absolute minimum.
Flight Test Program
A full flight test program will follow the successful first flight. The aerodynamic and control characteristics of the ALV-1 will first be determined, followed by test flights where the wing is gradually stowed up to about 60 degrees.
The final ALV-1 flight test objective is to fully close and open the wing in flight. This will be performed at high altitude and probably in a shallow dive. As part of this we will verify our ability to control the vehicle with the v-tail only (when the wing is stowed).
There is a parachute installed in the rear of the vehicle for emergency conditions, which also acts as ballast to model the presence of the rocket motor in the real (ALV-1 and ALV-2) vehicles.