The Transition “Personal Air Vehicle” is expected to be released in late 2009 and has just shown its operational prototype.
The estimated purchase price is $148,000. Owners will drive the car from their garage to an airport where they will then be able to fly within a range of 100 to 500 miles (800 km). It will carry two people plus luggage and will operate on a single tank of premium unleaded gas. It will have a 115 mph cruising speed.
With the Transition® development program still on schedule, Terrafugia’s order book continued to grow at the show. The Transition® Proof of Concept begins its powered testing program, including drive, taxi, and flight testing, after returning to Terrafugia’s Prototype Development Facility in Woburn, MA.
The real market for these vehicles is solidly in the hundreds of units per year. So they are not replacing cars but light sport aircraft. They are toys for the wealthy. This is an airplane first, and not a replacement for anybody’s car.
There is a market for general aviation, so the question is what can we do to make it better, to make it safer. And I believe we’re doing a lot to make it safer.
They are not competing with cars yet.
They are selling a vehicle that uses super-unleaded automobile gas, and that will get about 27.5 miles per gallon flying at 115 miles per hour, which is better mileage than most cars get on the highway right now, and at nearly twice the speed. So from a fuel-economy perspective, it’s actually one of the greenest planes out there. And the Transition is such a light vehicle that the mileage should be
quite good on the road. We are expecting between 30 and 40 miles per gallon.
Potential Competitors are still flying models
They are flying big models and appear to be well funded and expect to be selling in 2010. They will be selling pricey $3 million vehicles that are more maneuverable and able to go where helicopters cannot for special jobs like building evacuations and medical evacuations. X-hawks can fit and fly in places too tight for helicopters. X-hawk has no exposed rotors that make it dangerous or impossible for helicopters to maneuver in complex urban and natural environments.
X-hawk would have
* Max speed: 155 mph (248 kph)
* Max altitude: 12,000 ft
* Endurance: 2 hrs of flight time
Urban Aeronautics’ X-Hawk is a VTOL aircraft which operates much like a tandem rotor helicopter, however it doesn’t have the exposed rotors which make helicopters dangerous for personal use. This is accomplished by containing the rotors in large ‘ducts’ which make up most of the body of the craft; the requisite decrease in rotor size also decreases fuel efficiency. The X-Hawk is being developed by Urban Aeronautics, and is being promoted for rescue and utility functions.It is expected to be available for about $3 million around 2010.
The Panda model is 1.5 meters in size.
PAL-V Europe BV: the PAL-V ONE is a hybrid of a gyrocopter with a motorcycle.
They must raise more money – a concept vehicle -they are flying models – motorcycle converts into a plane. It does not need to file a flight plan (flies below 4000 feet).
Short Takeoff and landing (STOL) 165 feet takeoff. 16 feet to land.
It has 3 wheels and a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) on land and air. It can run on petrol, biodiesel or bio-ethanol and will cost $US75000. The vehicle has a very short take of and vertical landing capability. At less than 70 decibels it is quieter than a helicopter due to the slower rotation of the main rotor. The PAL-V ONE has one seat.
Airborne, the PAL-V ONE flies under the 4,000 feet (1,500 m) floor of commercial air space. The PAL-V ONE is highly fuel-efficient and powered by an environmentally certified car engine. It would run on petrol like a conventional car and can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h both on land and in the air. It can be driven to the nearest airfield or helipad and, because it flies below 4,000 feet, can take off without filing a flight plan. 30km/liter fuel efficiency.
Gress aerospace – flying models but have interesting concept.
Dual fan VTOL can fit in DOT max 8.5 feet width for ground vehicles. It does not transform. The vehicle is just small for one person. A single seat helicopter is 20 feet wide. The Gressaero plane would have twice the speed and range of a helicopter.
A UAV that could lead top robotic human VTOL flight
The Northrop Grumman MQ-8B vertical takeoff and landing UAV will get deployed in low volume.
The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation’s $13.6 million for the procurement of long lead items, in support of the low-rate initial production of MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV). There should be nine purchased and operating in 2009.
The MQ-8B features four-blade main rotor, in contrast to the larger-diameter three-blade rotor of the RQ-8A, to reduce noise and improve lift capacity and performance. The four-blade rotor had already been evaluated on Fire Scout prototypes. They boost gross takeoff weight by 500 pounds to 3,150 pounds (by 225 kg to 1,430 kg), with payloads of up to 700 pounds (320 kg) for short-range missions.
The Transition is being designed to be a factory certified Light-Sport Airplane.
Two seats, side-by-side.
GTOW: 1320 lbs (600 kg)
Fuel: Super-unleaded autogas
Fuel Capacity: 20 gal (120 lbs / 54 kg)
Fuel Consumption (75% power): 4.5 gph
Engine: 100 hp Rotax 912 S (four-stroke)
Vs = 45 kts (51 mph, 83 km/hr)
Vr = 70 kts (80 mph, 130 km/hr)
Cruise Speed: 100 kts (115 mph, 185 km/hr)
Range: 400 nm (460 mi, 740 km)
Takeoff Distance over 50 ft obstacle: 1,700 ft (520 m)
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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