As full-scale aircraft or as models / UAVs / drones? Is anyone working on making these real or are they fundamentally flawed designs, or needing new materials to be invented?


3 Answers 3


I presume you're talking about the fictional Aerospatiale SA-2 Samson. From that page:

Ducted fan VTOL aircraft have been flown since at least the 1960s. A notable example was the Bell X-22, a quad-ducted fan experimental aircraft built for the US military. It has no relation to the later V-22 Osprey tiltrotor. Though successful, no military aircraft since have used that technology.

The Bell X-22 looked like this:

enter image description here

which has similar overall characteristics to the SA-2 depictions.


They are feasible in as much as the atmosphere on "Pandora" is thicker and the force of gravity is lighter. C.f. Avatar Wiki

This allows for both large winged reptiles (?) and smaller tiltrotors than are possible on our current earth.1

1 There is evidence that our atmosphere was more oxygen-rich in the geologic past and may have been thicker, allowing for similarly large reptiles.

  • $\begingroup$ They're feasible anyway - in fact, I've seen scale models of them fly here on Earth. As long as you have enough power, they're certainly controllable. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Jan 14, 2015 at 10:33
  • $\begingroup$ You do know that when you scale down, that because air molecules don't scale down with you, that your model is operating as if it's in a thicker atmosphere. $\endgroup$
    – RoboKaren
    Jan 15, 2015 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ Oh my mistake, the V-22 Osprey doesn't work on Earth.... I didn't dispute that a thicker atmosphere would potentially allow a smaller rotor, I disputed the fact that it's ONLY feasible with a thicker atmosphere. Scale physics aren't the important point here, thrust-to-weight is, and that's achievable at model or "full size" scale here on earth $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Jan 15, 2015 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ The osprey is considerably chunkier and less manouverable than the rotorcraft shown. $\endgroup$
    – RoboKaren
    Jan 15, 2015 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but it's working to a different paradigm and presumably different engine technology. The question wasn't "Can we make a SA-2 from Avatar right now" it was "Is an SA-2 FEASIBLE or FATALLY FLAWED" - it IS feasible and IS NOT fatally flawed. You could, with a big enough research budget and a few years, develop one here on Earth now. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Jan 15, 2015 at 0:35

Yes, they are certainly feasible. In fact, one basically exists already: the V-22 Osprey.

The main difference being that the V-22 has ailerons for roll control and wings for lift in forward flight.

Power isn't a problem, it's just a multirotor helicopter... think Chinook, on a different axis. And control, for the most part, isn't a major issue.

  1. Differential power to the two motors provides Roll control, similar to a quadcopter

  2. Rotating the rotors slightly forward/back and/or something similar to a cyclic on a conventional helicopter allows (similar to the Osprey tiltrotor):

    • Forward/reverse flight (if tilted together)
    • Yaw control (if tilted in opposing directions... think tank tracks
  3. If attached in away that they can be angled up/down, pivoting on the attachment to the fuselage, the vehicle can "strafe" (ie lateral sideways movement)

  4. Pitch when in forward/reverse flight is provided by the tail stabilisers. In the hover it could presumably be controlled to some extent by means similar to a conventional helicopter's cyclic, shifting weight, or by an additional small rotor near the tail, if you didn't want to be 100% true to the movie model

Here's a working model, for example. I don't believe there are any full size models, but the Osprey is "close enough" to prove the concept.


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