Short-distance flights are losing their charm considering the transit time between residential spaces and airports. Factoring in the increasing traffic on these routes, one is instantly drawn to the promise of 'air taxis'. Enter California-based Craft Aerospace, whose radical aircraft will take off from urban locations that are within a 10-minute drive from you.
Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) systems are definitely the next big challenge in the aerospace industry. In our attempts to solve long-distance flight, we have introduced measures that act as blockades for short-duration ones and take away the joy that flying offers. Long queues at airport terminals, taxi rides to faraway airports are common features of air travel globally but VTOL could change that drastically.
Aiding that change could be a drastic change in VTOL design, such as the one Craft has come up with. At first glance, the aircraft looks like a conventional small plane with a lot of propellers on its fixed wing. However, the wing is not conventional either. After extending out from the front of the plane fuselage, it bends back inwards and connects back to the aircraft at its rear, where a tail would normally sit.
The obvious question is how is this a VTOL? Without vertical propellers or a system that tilts the propellers to generate vertical lift, the plane will need a runway.
That is where the genius and problem-solving skills of the founders and advisors at Craft, who, needless to say, are engineers that have previously handled radical projects at SpaceX, Virgin Hyperloop, Lockheed Martin, and other such companies, come in handy.
By rolling out flaps that can direct the thrust from the propellers downward, the aircraft can generate the necessary liftoff and then roll the flaps back in to move forward. While the company has not revealed much of how it plans to power the flight, it is looking at a hybrid powertrain that will free it from the limitations of only electric-powered flight.
The company claims that its radical design will not only reduce door-to-door travel times by half, it will also help in eliminating 500 million tons of carbon dioxide. It plans to use local smaller airports and helipads in urban areas to offer convenience. With a small-sized aircraft, it would even land on top of a sky rise.
For now, the company only has small-scale prototypes to showcase and build its case. It has raised modest funding of $3.5 million to develop and prove its design, New Atlas reported. Its final aircraft is expected to have a carrying capacity of 2500 pounds (1,130 kg) and a 1000-mile (1,609-km) range. With a top speed of 345 mph (556 kph), these might not offer jet speeds but still save valuable traveling time.