Moller International Schedules Test Flight Of The M400 Skycar


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Moller International Schedules Test Flight Of The M400 Skycar

By Mike Mitchell

April 19, 2011 - Moller International announce that they have scheduled a demonstration flight of its ethanol-fueled M400 Skycar Volantor. This invitation-only media event is scheduled to take place on October 11, 2011 in Vacaville, CA. Over 250 members of the domestic and international press have already indicated an interest in attending this flight.

Moller International has developed the first and only feasible, personally affordable, personal vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle. You've always known it was just a matter of time before the world demanded some kind of flying machine which would replace the automobile. Of course, this machine would have to be capable of VTOL, be easy to maintain, cost effective and reliable.

The Moller Skycar is a prototype personal VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft a "flying car" alled a "Volantor" by its inventor Paul Moller, who has been attempting to develop such vehicles for forty years. The design calls for four ducted fans encasing the propellers, which prevents bystanders from being exposed to moving blades as well as improving aerodynamic efficiency at low speeds. 

The craft said to be currently under development, the M400, is purported to ultimately transport four people; single-seat up to six-seat variations are also planned. It is described as a car since it is aimed at being a popular means of transport for anyone who can drive, incorporating automated flight controls. It is proposed that in a model for the general public, the driver may only input direction and speed. Piloting knowledge would be unnecessary, however, training will be required. 

Further, developers claim that by using eight inexpensive Wankel rotary engines - compared to jet engines, the vehicle's price may eventually fall close to that of a luxury car ($100,000). The fuel consumption is claimed to be 20 miles per gallon similar to that of a big car but this has been calculated as unrealistic.[6][7] According to the developers, operation of a Skycar will produce as much noise as traffic on a nearby freeway when taking off, and this will only last for a few seconds, because it climbs so quickly. 

The Skycar demonstrated limited tethered flight capability in 2003 by hovering only. Scheduled tethered flight tests, which were to occur in mid-2006, were apparently canceled. Moller upgraded the Skycar's engines in 2007, and the improved prototype is now called the "M400X". According to a 2008 article in the media, a prototype is supposed to be flying in 2012, with certified versions "a few years later".


Moller International's website claims that only $100 Million has been spent in R & D at Moller International, the company is also developing a more advanced model called M600, with an intended capacity for 6 passengers or a payload of about 2000 lbs (900 kg). 

A Skycar is not piloted like a traditional fixed wing airplane, and has only two hand-operated controls, which the pilot uses to inform the computer control system of his desired flight maneuvers. The Skycar's ducted fans deflect air vertically for takeoff and horizontally for forward flight. 

The engines to be used are being developed by a separate Moller company called Freedom Motors. They are Wankel engines they call "Rotapower" which have a direct drive to a propulsion fan. Each fan is contained in Kevlar-lined housings with intake screens to provide protection to bystanders. The Skycar has four engine nacelles, each with two computer-controlled Rotapower engines. All eight engines operate independently and, allegedly, will allow for a vertical controlled landing should any one fail.

The Rotapower Wankel engine would have the ability to operate on any fuel. Earlier Rotapower models used gasoline. The M400 Skycar can cruise comfortably at 275 MPH (maximum speed of 375 MPH) and achieve up to 20 miles per gallon on clean burning, ethanol fuel.
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