The freedom to know no boundaries
2019 Winner of AVI Awards
Sentian Aerospace is the honoured to receive the prestigious Avi Afrique Awards for innovation for 2019. The company won first and second place as the most innovative aerospace start-up for this year. The awards are a celebration of the work done by the team in developing and building the Sentian UAV platform.
“Our awards winners truly impressed us with their innovative and unique aviation concepts which speaks volumes of the sheer talent we have and also bodes well for future innovation and development,” says Thomas Kgokolo, interim CEO of ATNS.
As part of the 8th annual AVI AFRIQUE Innovation Summit, the AVI Awards seek to recognise those individuals who contribute to innovation and elevate the aviation industry through intelligent design of products and processes that enhance the capabilities of the aviation industry.
The AVI Awards creates a platform that collates great ideas and assists innovators in turning their innovations into commercially-viable products and services. We want to create a pipeline of relevant aviation-related innovation ideas, products and services that seek to address the challenges faced by the industry and also look at improving on existing aviation technologies, services and products.
The programme is run by Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) which provides air traffic control, radar and navigation services to the South African aviation industry.
Elegance presented by its simplicity and beauty
Sentian is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle that is both beautiful and highly capable in its performance. It embodies the aesthetic design feel of modern aerospace design philosophy and the high performance capability above that of most vehicles in its class.
Max. Take-off weight 90kg
Payload (Excl. fuel) 15kg
The design architecture
In the very inception of the design process, the team knew their work was cut out for them. We knew we had to follow a new design philosophy that would combine sheer beauty and robust flight capabilities. The thrust system, for instance, features a highly efficient ducted fan that is housed inside the fuselage. This protects the thrust system from external damage while offering greater performance than conventional propeller designs.
In the effort to give the aircraft higher stability performance, ventral strakes were added to the rear underside. Continuing with the design flow, the final outline was a beautiful synergy of design and function.
Super efficient winglets were designed and highly optimised to reduce drag and improve both flight stability and endurance due to the lower consumption of fuel in cruise
Cruise speed 120km/hr
Max speed 280km/hr
Min. speed 0km/hr (hover)
Endurance 16 hours (Engine: Payload as fuel)
Endurance 2 hours (Full electric)
Radio data link 200km LOS
Satellite link (Optional) 1400km
The synergy of different system is also extended to the propulsion system of the aircraft. The aircraft is a functional hybrid system that encompasses a battery pack for electrical energy storage and a small on-board generator. The parallel hybrid system was designed with redundancy in mind. The aircraft takes off using both the battery and the engine as this stage require high amounts of power. Then at a safe height switches over to forward cruise flight using the generator only. This allows for the long endurance as the engine consumes little fuel during cruise in the fixed wing mode. In the event of engine failure, the aircraft has up to 2 hours of cruise time using the battery, which is enough to return home or land at another location, even at the extreme range of 250km. This kind of redundancy reduces chances of vehicle loss and facilitates in the application for certification.
The aircraft was design with the ability to take-off, hover and land like a helicopter using 4 powerful motors. This eliminates the need for runways and heavy, complex launch equipment. Furthermore, the hovering ability allows for stationary surveillance of infrastructure such as stock piles, power lines and pipelines. After take-off, the aircraft switches to cruise mode in the fixed wing mode to save on energy consumption, allowing for long distance/endurance missions while carrying payloads.
Potential use cases
Geo mapping & data collection
Cloud seeding & environmental protection
Security & Oil rig inspection
In the effort to maintain high levels of precision and accuracy in the development of the UAV, the team opted to utilize 3D printers to produce the moulds used to produce the final structures from composites. This increases output potential and efficiency while reducing chances of errors, time wasting and costs. This modern technique of production has proven it worth several times over!