Feeds

'Personal Air Vehicle' VTOL jump-copter in key flight test

Whirly, winged wonder-craft gets automated controls

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

What's better, VTOL or road driving? DARPA wants both, of course

The CarterCopter concept for a 2+2 set PAV. Credit: Carter Aviation

The ultimate plan

Having finished its journey, the SR/C craft can make a vertical landing in the same way as an autogyro (or a normal helicopter which has suffered an engine failure): as it descends to meet the Earth, the pilot pulls in more pitch and the kinetic energy of the falling aircraft is dumped into the rotor disc allowing a gentle set-down.

Carter has built and tested jump-copter aircraft before, but they seemed to lack one major PAV attribute: that of being easy to fly. Even experienced ex-military test pilots have suffered mishaps at the controls of Carter craft in previous years. According to the company, this has been addressed in the new PAV:

Most systems have been automated with new computer controls, greatly reducing the pilot workload.

Test pilot Larry Neal adds: "This aircraft is unbelievably fun to fly."

At the moment the PAV is being tested for low-speed and vertical-takeoff and landing operations. Once this phase of trials is complete, its wings will be attached and flights at higher speeds making use of the rotor-slowing tech will be carried out.

Apart from the economic-incentive deal with Wichita Falls, Carter Aviation sold the rights to use its technology in unmanned aircraft in 2009 to successful robocraft operation AAI in 2009 for an undisclosed sum. The firm is also part of a team contending to build a flying VTOL offroad vehicle for famous Pentagon crazytechbureau DARPA under the Transformer TX project. If that effort proves successful, a turbine-engined jumpcopter with folding wings and rotors, equipped with robust wheels and transmission allowing offroad driving on the ground, would be built for the US Marines.

As for the more normal 2+2 PAV now flying in Texas, it seems to have many of the attributes of our long-desired flying car: it is potentially fairly quiet, it can take off and land vertically, and it needn't be a lot more expensive than a regular light aircraft. Now with automated controls, it might be possible for people other than highly-trained professional pilots to fly it. It is expected to make a jump liftoff with full fuel and 1,000lb of payload, and cruise at better than 200mph.

On the downside, it can't be driven on the road, a useful option for dealing with bad weather and making the journeys to and from airstrips or helipads. The PAV's wings and rotors can't fold, either, meaning that its owner needs a 45-foot-wide space to park it.

It could be that ground-drivable but non-VTOL designs like the Terrafugia Transition (now being redesigned following initial flight tests) will prove more popular – or that neither design philosophy is viable, and PAVs/flying cars remain as far off as ever. It's encouraging to see some progress being made, however. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.