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XPONENTIAL Innovation Preview -- www.allthingsunmanned.com

Mon, Feb 06, 2012

Moller International Claims To Have Developed Two New Light-Sport Skycars

Concepts Are Downsized Versions Of Existing, Unproven Designs

Moller International, which has for years been working on the development of a roadable VTOL aircraft, said in a news release Monday that it has completed the initial design phase for two new Skycars which may qualify under the FAA's LSA category.

Moller is the developer of the Skycar aircraft, the Rotapower line of rotary engines and the Aerobot line of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The company says it is moving forward with joint venture plans in China and logistics planning for the an inaugural flight of its M400X Skycar.

The new concepts are scaled-down versions of roadable aircraft which have been in development in one form or another for for nearly 50 years. Moller flew a prototype in tethered hover mode only in 2003 (see picture), and, as ANN reported in 2008, the company was also sued that year by the Securities and Exchange Commission, for civil fraud in connection with the sale of unregistered stock, and for making unsubstantiated -- and rather grandiose -- claims about the Skycar's performance. Subsequent tests have been repeatedly postponed, and the company has gone out seeking investors in its concept more than once.

Now, the company says it thinks that the FAA's introduction of the LSA category has opened up a remarkable opportunity to advance aviation in America. Producing aircraft in this category may be less costly and ultimately allow the Company to produce an aircraft that is less expensive and have lower operational costs. Furthermore, operators of aircraft in the LSA category are required to have a Sport Pilot certificate rather than the more difficult to obtain pilot's license.

Artist's Concept

Moller says this development will definitely lower the cost of its Skycars and the cost of their operation. Using the criteria set forth under the LSA category the Company embarked on a new design program that combined the previously demonstrated vertical take off and landing (VTOL) ability of its 4-passenger Skycar with the requirements of this new category. "We are very excited about the immediate marketability of our two-passenger Skycar 200 LS, two-passenger Neuera and single-passenger Skycar 100 LS models once they are approved to operate under the LSA classification," said Dr. Paul Moller, President of Moller International.

"While it is not practical for the Skycar to hover for the length of time that a helicopter can in any one flight, it can easily perform other missions where the requirement for hover time is limited and where dash and cruise speed are critical. Our simple and effective method to achieve high-speed VTOL in a small, light weight aircraft has the potential to have very low initial operating and maintenance costs," says Bruce Calkins, Moller International's General Manager. "Our Skycar 400 has huge potential in the personal transportation market, and we hope to bring the smaller, more affordable LS series on line quicker and easier. The characteristics of the LSA category certainly make this an attractive option."

(Editors Note) While we're all for innovation in the aviation world, and its true that even the Wright Brothers were told their flying machine would never ... well ... fly, Moller's announcements should probably be taken with a grain or two of salt. The concepts, however, do look very interesting, and if the company can actually fly one, a lot of people will likely sit up and take notice.

FMI: www.moller.com

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