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For all the hype swirling around electric aviation, the current state of battery technology and electric powertrains remains a limiting factor for all the drones, air taxis, cargo haulers, and flying cars hoping to take off. Unhappy with that cap on the range, power, and speed of these aircraft, one Florida startup is taking a different tack. Rather than relying on batteries and rotors, UAV Turbines is developing a tiny jet engine.

Just this August, the Florida-based startup flew its first microturbine-based propulsion system, called Monarch 5, in a compact fixed-wing drone weighing about 500 pounds, with a 22-foot wingspan. This quietjet engine can power propellers, generate electricity for electric motors, or even produce its own thrust. And while pocket-sized jet engines have been boosting radio-controlled model airplanes for decades, the company calls the Monarch 5 the first commercial-grade microturbine.

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Category: Science