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Safe way to transport human by utilizing engineering principals


In military a catapult is a ballistic device for launching a projectile over a long distance with no

aid of explosive gadgets. The need for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) catapult launch was

initiated due to the following reasons. UAV catapult launch eliminates the need of a take-off

path. In addition, for a UAV to take off from runway it requires additional fuel. This fuel will

increase the total weight of aircraft. There are some systems designed for launching devices

(LDs). During the design of these LDs it was found that they should be of lightweight, have small

storage space and require minimal personnel to operate. The categories of LDs are:

o Pneumatic

o Hydraulic

o Bungee cord

o Kinetic energy

o Electromagnetic

o Rocket assisted take-off (RATO).

UAV launching device selection

The task of a LD is to hand over to unmanned aerial vehicle the accumulated energy so that as

the UAV is leaving the catapult it has speed more than 15% for a given UAV. The Pneumatic

LDs (hydraulic) are the best because they have large catapult power and also they can launch

multiple UAV types.

They have uniform acceleration in their launch rails. However, they are complex in construction

thus making them unreliable. RATO device is has almost zero length launch and has higher

acceleration. It is the most reliable drive for launching UAV in adverse environmental


Figure1. MDS hercules pneumatic launcher with aerial target banshee

- Max UAV launch mass is 250 kg

- Max UAV launch speed is 55 m/s

Figure 2: Aries ALPPUL LP-02 pneumatic launcher with UAV SIVA

- Max UAV launch mass is 360 kg

- Max UAV launch speed is 34 m/s

Bungee catapult employs stored energy in a powered, highly elastic bungees to launch a UAVs.

LD with elastic cord employs simplest design structure compared to other design of LDs. Due to

their simple design, they have low purchase price and low cost of maintenance. However, they

have less launch take-off power with take-off weight of 50-55kg. Bungee catapult is

disadvantageous in that there is initial jerk which can affect payload of a UAV.
Take-off of UAV catapult system

For take-off, the plane is moved by flight crew into position at the rear of

catapult and the tow bar is attached on the planes front wheels to the slot

in the shuttle. At the same time, the flight crew raises jet blast deflector

(JBD) behind the plane. When the holdback, catapult and JBD are position, and

the necessary checks have been made, the shooter (catapult officer) makes the

catapult ready.

When the vehicle is ready, the shooter opens valves to fill the cylinders of

catapult with stem of high pressure. The steam is responsible for force of

propelling the pistons at high speed, slinging the forward part of the plane

to create sufficient lift for take-off. The catapult officer will monitor the

pressure build up and when it is up to the necessary level the will operator

of the plane (pilot) will blast the engine. The holdback will keep the plane

on the shuttle as the engine is generating considerable thrust. The catapult

officer will release the pistons; force will cause the holdbacks to release as

the steam pressure slams plane and shuttle forward. Finally, the tow bar pops

out of shuttle to release the plane. The system can drive an aerial vehicle of

20, 000kg from 0 to 165 miles in two seconds.

Figure 3: An F/A-18 Hornet launching from the USS George Washington

Landing of UAV catapult system

Landing of aerial vehicle using catapult system is a difficult task for pilots. The flight deck

runway space is around 150 meters for landing planes and it is not sufficient for high speed

heavy jets. To land on the deck, the plane is built with a tail hook. The pilot will have to snag the

tail hook on an arresting wire, which are made of high-tensile steel wire. The wires are

stretched across the flight deck and are attached to the ends of the hydraulic cylinders

stationed below the deck. When the tail hook snags the arresting wire, it pulls the wire out and

the hydraulic system absorbs the kinetic energy to bring the plane to a stop. The wires can stop

24, 500 kg aircraft travelling at 241 km/h.

Figure 4: An F/A-18C Hornet catches an arresting wire on the USS Nimitz.


From this research it was found unmanned aerial vehicles use the principle of catapult system

in their operations. The catapult system like the Bungee cord can be used in adverse

environmental conditions thus they can be in rescue operations. Also this catapult system can

be used in public transportation whereby an aircraft of total mass of 24, 500 kg can travel 241

km/h. Also from this research, it was found that the catapult system employed to design

aircrafts for use in parks for the purpose of fun and amusement.


1. Scientific Technical Review, 2016,Vol.66,No.4,pp.22-28

2. Zoran Novakovi Integration of actical - Medium Range UAV and Catapult
Launch System