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20 A s routes into engineering go, Jean-Claude Tourn has taken the road less travelled. In 2004, late in a business career in fashion and haute couture, he was in Indonesia when the tsunami hit Aceh on Sumatra. He saw how difficult it was to get relief supplies to where they were needed because of the damage to the ground infrastructure It was an experience that provided the inspiration for what he saw as the obvious response – an unmanned flying crane. The idea has led to the creation of his jet- driven E Yo Copter. “It started as a purely intellectual quest, then became a hobby and is now a challenge,” he says. It did not come entirely out of the blue though, as Tourn had learned to fly light aircraft under a French government scheme to promote sports aviation that began in the late 1950s, winning at 17 a scholarship that funded ten hours of training at an aero club. Lack of funds after those ten hours though delayed his progress as a pilot, and although he never qualified he retained his passion for aircraft. Canard tilt-rotor His involvement with aircraft development came through a friendship with engineer Jean Soulez Lariviere, who after a long career in helicopter development at what is now Airbus Helicopters had set up a company to develop an innovative canard tilt-rotor aircraft with the rotors positioned between the main wing and a canard foreplane. “He developed the concept quite substantially, and produced scaled- down prototypes that we tested in wind tunnels,” Tourn says. While travelling for the Guy Laroche fashion brand, Tourn was also looking for funding for Lariviere’s project and met with several large manufacturing companies, all of whom turned him down. E Yo Copter’s president talks to Peter Donaldson about the inspiration behind his innovative helicopter Fashioned from passion February/March 2018 | Unmanned Systems Technology Jean-Claude Tourn with the E Yo Copter E Yo 550, the latest iteration of this novel jet-powered flying crane (Images courtesy of E Yo Copter)