Short Take-off and Landing (STOL) vehicles
Short take-off and landing (STOL) is a category of fixed wing aircraft that are able to take off and land utilising a shorter runway than conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft, with an average minimum of 100 m (328ft).
They have been around since the early 1900s, providing mobility connectivity across various underdeveloped regions, where road transport infrastructure was not adequate, or simply did not exist.
An overview of STOL design
STOLs produce propulsive power from either a piston engine or a turboprop. They incorporate high lift device features, (flaps, slats and slots) and a high aspect ratio wing. This allows them to achieve a low flight speed for take-off and landing.
Given their large power-to-weight ratio, they achieve a high rate of climb. Therefore, they can clear obstacles and take-off with a shorter ground roll, as opposed to their CTOL counterparts.
Use Cases Of STOLs
Bush planes, a variance of STOL aircraft, were designed to serve these routes and provide flight service and passenger transports, either scheduled and unscheduled. A few locations that saw the application of these bush planes were the Amazon Rainforest, Canadian North, African Bush among others.
The aircraft is able to land in various terrains; such as tarmac, grassland, ice and snow, with added design features of skies, tundra tires and floats. STOLs are also widely used for military combat operations given their design characteristics and short runway requirement.
The US Navy had test flown the first modern STOL in 1954, the PZL -104W Wilga, which has since been employed by the US and UK military. Cessnas and Pipers are used widely for flight training purposes, for pilots to attain their private pilots licence (PPL) or commercial pilots licence (ATPL).
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