13 January 2009

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?

It's a concept that has been tried more than once...
a car that flies, or an airplane that can be driven on the road after landing.
Those concepts failed because airplanes make lousy cars and what we accept as a minimally satisfactory automobile has proven much too heavy to fly.
But there has been a huge change in materials used to manufacture cars over the last 20 years... construction is lighter, and therefore more like aircraft.
Have we finally reached the point where a flying car is feasible?
Take a look and see... whatd'ya think?

That video is embedded in an article with more information here, and if you're still interested, there's more on the subject in an article here.
Problems I can see from the outset:

-Engine mounts, wing roots, empennage and other airframe bits will have to be inspected annually or as FAA certification requires, normally on a flight-hour or calendar basis. Driving this car/aircraft will expose it to vibration and stresses a normal aircraft won't experience. The certification and inspection process will have to take that into account.

-It will have to be insured as a car AND as an airplane. Insuring it as a car may be no big deal, but insuring any new aircraft is iffy, and insuring one this revolutionary may be problematic.

But if this thing works... if the problems can be worked out... I'll be in line to buy one after a couple of them have accrued 5,000 hours or so flight time!
(Watching closely and keeping my fingers crossed.)


jinksto said...

I can't see it ever working the way they want.
First is the vibration aspect that you mention.

Second is the fact that every bump will require a new inspection. Bump the guy in front of you even if there's no visible damage? Get it inspected. Crush a fender in the Walmart parking lot? Get it inspected... and probably repaired at an exceptionally high price for the carbon fiber. Some kid hates your kid and dumps sugar in the gas tank?... good lord. It all just seems too fragile to me.

Third, cost is going to be a killer. You're essentially paying for an SR22 and getting a piper with wheels... nice from a novelty standpoint but anyone doing real cost analysis is going to go for the 150 KTAS cruise.

I really really really wish we could get more focus on building affordable/maintainable aircraft in the $50k or less range. I think that would have a greater impact on the growth of aviation than anything. I know I'd own an airplane if I could afford it. Most of us rental rangers would.

Anonymous said...

What about the air bags, cup holders and 5 mph bumpers? Oh and door dings?