Concepts Are Downsized Versions Of Existing, Unproven
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.
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
(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.