First Look: Whisper Aero’s New Electric Surveillance Drone

Whisper Aero has finished validation testing of its new ultra-quiet, high efficiency electric aircraft propulsion technology for the Pentagon.

whisper drone in flight

Whisper Aero has released the first imagery of its Whisper Drone, designed for ultra-quiet surveillance. [Courtesy: Whisper Aero]

Whisper Aero has finished validation testing of its new ultra-quiet, high efficiency, electric aircraft propulsion technology for the Pentagon. 

The Tennessee-based company made the announcement Wednesday, also releasing the first imagery of its intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) drone, dubbed Whisper Drone. 

“We are actively flying it,” Whisper Aero CEO Mark Moore told FLYING Thursday via text from the 2022 Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo in Dallas. 

Whisper Drone’s outboard horizontal wing configuration is similar to that of Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne. [Courtesy: Whisper Aero]

If the demonstrator’s design looks a little familiar, that may be due to its outboard horizontal wing configuration, which was flight tested on Scaled Composite’s SpaceShipOne rocket-powered aircraft. 

“Being ultra-quiet and efficient is the key to achieving longer range and everyday scaled operations,” Moore said. “Our tech has fantastic applications at low speed for smaller surveillance drones and at high-speed for military and commercial transports.”

The Whisper Drone will serve as a testbed to help engineers establish handling characteristics for larger platforms, including Whisper Aero’s Whisper Jet, a regional electric airplane currently under development. 

Based on validation testing, the U.S. Air Force has awarded Whisper Aero two contracts totaling $1.5 million to support further development of its electric quiet propulsor for small, unmanned aircraft and a low-noise propulsion design software framework. The funding comes through the AFWERX technology accelerator program. 

Whisper is also looking at integrating its low-noise propulsors into high-speed vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (HSVTOL) for potential use by the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).

Moore, a former NASA engineer, is a pioneer in electric aviation technology and development. He served as director of engineering at Uber Elevate prior to its sale to Joby Aviation, and founded Whisper Aero in 2020. 

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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