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Austrian research firm IAT21 has unveiled a radically new type of aircraft that could render the helicopter obsolete.

can 'approach as gently and silently as a hot air balloon', say its developers, hover, rotate in any direction and fly as fast as a jet.

Unlike VTOL aircraft or helicopters, it can easily cope with poor weather or the lurching deck of a ship.

The propulsion system consists essentially of four sets of contra-rotating disks, each driven at 2,200 rpm by a conventional aero-engine. The disks are surrounded by blades whose angle of attack can be altered using servos, allowing thrust in any direction.

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Category: Science