Be the first millionaire on your block to go Tiltrotor
Civilian Osprey for sale - as ordered by Greg Norman
Farnborough Everyone knows about the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor - the remarkable plane/copter combo craft around which the US Marines have based so many of their future plans, and which is at last in operational service after long a painful teething troubles. Relatively few, however, have been following the development of the Osprey's civilian counterpart, the Bell 609. The 609 has yet to be fully certified, but it's flying now - The Reg has seen it in action here at the Farnborough airshow - and the makers would love to hear from prospective buyers.
Darling, ordinary helicopters are so twentieth century.
Bell has partnered with the Italian helicopter industry to build the 609, and says it already has more than 80 orders from people and organisations in the States and Europe. Bell/Agusta marketing exec Don Barbour told The Reg today that "private individuals" including golfer Greg Norman and former US political wild card Ross Perot Jr have ordered 609s as their personal flying cars. Others have been sold to government organisations - Bell/Agusta are especially proud of the machine's abilities in search and rescue, and it is offered with a recovery winch.
As to vital statistics, the 609 can cruise at up to 275 knots - easily beating current helicopters. By making a very short takeoff roll, so saving fuel over a vertical liftoff, the machine can range up to 700 miles. It can hover out of ground effect at 5,000 feet above sea level, and cruise in aeroplane mode at 25,000. In effect, the 609 is a pocket Osprey.
It isn't quite a flying car - you'd never fit one in a normal garage, and while Barbour says it has easily passed city airport and helipad noise checks it wouldn't do on the street. It is pretty easy to fly, apparently. Barbour is rated on both fixed wing and helicopters, and says the 609 with its fly-by-wire controls is easier to fly than either. We've been promised a chance to try our rusty private-pilot skills on the 609 simulator later on - we'll let you know how that goes.
So it isn't a flying car - not quite, anyway - but there aren't many aircraft which can operate from both Battersea heliport and London City, fly to the Continent and drop in vertically in the neighbourhood of Frankfurt, Zurich or Milan. The density of major business hubs in Europe should make it the 609's primary market, as opposed to the US where the big cities are in two widely separated strips. This may give a clue as to Bell's decision to team up with Agusta and to put much of the manufacturing in Europe.
So - bottom line, what does it cost to buy a 609, and be the first in your billionaire's heliport with a tiltrotor? Barbour was reluctant to be pinned on price, as the 609 isn't yet certified. He also admitted that a tiltrotor would naturally cost more to maintain and run than an ordinary helicopter or business jet - but not as much as having both. All he would say was that Bell/Agusta "aim to be competitive - over the life of the aircraft - with business jets and helicopters now selling in the $18-23m range". ®
Power both props from one engine.
That is not so much the problem; though helps asymmetric thrust 'issues' a lot.
"If one of the props failed, well you are still better off than if you were in a helicopter with a failed rotor and probably no worse than in a twin engine plane with a failed engine"
Not quite true; a twin engine medium turbo-prop with an engine out can cope with some asymmetrical thrust with enough rudder & trim, and perform a reduced power landing safely. A helicopter can (with enough height) go and autorotate with a rough landing.
As far as I know, tilt-rotors can't land with engines horizontal; (another point of failure - they can't rotate the nacelles then horizontal landing is going to be a nightmare with the massive rotors) so they have to rotate & land on 50% power, which cannot be so easy. I guess with the right height, they could rotate to vertical mode (with ground effect?) and land vertically ; I presume with the remaining engine at emergency power for a rough put-down. Maybe they can collapse the rotors for power-off horizontal landing though...
Still very sensitive to interconnected shafts; long, light-weight shaft's, handling thousands of horse-power coming on fast; one snaps with a power outage and the craft is going to flip very quickly with chances of survival being... not so good..
icon: one sick bird
Having done some market research on a similar idea to this a few years back (i was an engineering student not marketing i swear!) this will succeed if its marketed to the right industries.
Its faster then a helicopter so you get where your going faster, using less fuel along the way and then have the convenience of landing without a runway or if your doing something like search and rescue or geological survey hovering which you cannot do in a fixed wing. Yes maintenance costs are higher but a fixed wing cant hover and most of the fuel used by a helicopter is in getting to the destination you want to be operating at so by getting there faster you've just made the job cheaper.
Looks like a winner to me. Will never replace the standard helo or fixed wing but there's defintiely a niche there for it.
RE If an engine fails
More specifically, I meant what happens if an engine/rotor fails during a vertical take off or landing. When in the horizontal flight mode, yes, I'm sure it would handle like a normal plane. But VTOL?