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UK flying car outfit Avcen (beware: Flashtastic site) - the hopeful future manufacturer of the Jetpod city-hopping airborne taxi - has been in touch to keep El Reg up to speed on the project's progress.

To recap, we reported back in November that Avcen was hoping to fill the skies above Blighty with its $1m Jetpod by 2010, funding permitting.

We noted that the said vehicle comes in a range of flavours: the T-100 "low-cost world-class city airtaxi"; P-200 "easy and safe to fly personal twinjet aircraft"; M-300 "battlefield Transpeeder"; E-400 "civil air ambulance variant"; and the U-500 "civil or military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)".

That Jetpod range in full

The basic principle is the same for all models: two overwing jet engines for VQSTOL (Very Quiet Short Take-Off and Landing) operation. Part of the engine's thrust is directed downwards through the wings to provide the additional vertical thrust required for the quick get-away.

Well, things are moving on. According to a Flight International report dated 25 January:

Technology for a proposed short take-off and landing (STOL) air taxi has passed computational fluid dynamics tests conducted over the past 12 months at City University's centre for aeronautics in London, UK.

The vertical thrust augmentation, horizontal stabiliser and wing designs for the aircraft, known as Jetpod by its UK developer Avcen, were studied in the computer simulations. The study of the new STOL vehicle also required the development of new computation mechanics software.

"The results obtained up to now indicate that the wing cross-section appears to be ideal for low- and high-speed flight, and that Jetpod's augmentation vertical thrust, as generated by deflecting a portion of the horizontal outlet jet downwards, does indeed lead to a reduction of the required take-off distance to under 125m [410ft]," says Dr Joe Iannelli, director of City University's centre for aeronautics.

As well as design assessment studies the company is discussing engine options with small gas turbine engine manufacturer Williams International.

The Avcen website adds:

Avcen will now bring the Jetpod off the drawing board, through a proof of concept flight-testing phase, into a structured aircraft certification program and eventually into the marketplace. Applications will in due course be made to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in Cologne. Certification of the civil passenger version can take some 4-5 years from first application. The military and UAV variants could be ready in 3-4 years. Our strategy is to continue with what funding we have but our doors are open to new investment.

Good show. We wish Avcen well in its pursuit of fresh funds for the Jetpod, and feel it only fair at this point to allow supremo Mike Dacre to request that we "please note that the aircraft is not at all a car but a 350 mph cruise capable aircraft that can take-off and land in 125 metres."

With all due respect to Mr Dacre, when your project looks like a Citroën Berlingo with wings, well, enough said...

And while the world awaits with mounting excitement the first flight of the Jetpod, we offer flying-car-hungry punters the following list of mouth-watering specs. Put El Reg down for one in metallic blue with sunroof and alloys:

  • Super noise attenuated quiet (Q) thrust;
  • A reduction of up to two chapters (or stages) of jet noise;
  • 125 metres take-off and landing distance;
  • Unique horizontal and vertical thrust management;
  • 300 kts high-speed cruise;
  • Built for multiple daily sectors;
  • Very rugged tricycle undercarriage with dual wheeled bogeys;
  • Wide rear clamshell doors with walk/run-in foot-ramp;
  • All round safety redundancy;
  • Non-pressurized;
  • Single pilot IFR capable but designed primarily with VFR in mind;
  • Wide-bodied fuselage with high cabin ceiling and recessed foot-well;
  • Standard synthetic terrain-mapping display;
  • Warm-surface anti-icing;
  • Full reverse thrust;
  • Twin-engined, high-thrust safety;
  • Lightweight instrument T-Pack - all EFIS display;
  • Side-stick flight controls;
  • Extra-large passenger windows for viewing and increased ambient light;
  • Spacious 6-seat layout, including pilot;
  • Standard external overhead camera to monitor traffic and view engines;
  • Bird impact tested;
  • Engine intake bird impact and debris protectors;
  • Excellent front, overhead and through floor viewing for pilot(s).

So, where's our bloody flying car?

Brits roll out jam-busting airtaxi
Briton invades France in amphibious car
Flying car less likely than flying pig
Flying car more economical than SUV
Swiss set to unleash flying car
Reader flak brings down flying car
Wright Brothers' centenary provokes aviation speculationfest
Indian flying car shot down - Israeli rival soars
India to levitate flying car
Flights of fantasy
Skycar crashes and burns?
So, where is my flying car?
Where's my flying car?

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