Start-up company Detroit Flying Cars unveiled at the Airventure fly-in a new concept for that ever-popular but elusive market niche.
The concept features a unique configuration, with telescoping and offset wings combined with a telescoping canard and powered by a pusher propeller driven by an aviation engine in flight and battery-powered electric motors on the ground.
The unfinished prototype on display at Airventure reveals a clear automotive bias, with the wheel-base and stance of a sports car, gull-wing doors and steering wheel controls.
That appearance is no accident. Detroit Flying Cars was founded by engineer Sanjay Dhall, who runs a company supplying components to automotive manufacturers.
“People should not feel, ‘I don’t think I want to drive this’,” Dhall says. “It has to feel like a car. The inside shouldn’t feel like an airplane and has all these complex instruments in it.”
The most unusual feature of the design was driven by a preference for simplicity, Dhall says. The spar and skin of right and left wings collapse into the car. When extended for flight mode, the inboard section on each telescopes into position, followed by the outboard section. To pack both wings into the same 6ft-wide fuselage, Dhall placed the left wing about 1ft higher than the right wing, allowing both to collapse into the car for storage.
“Our computer test shows it works just fine,” Dhall says.
The first Detroit Flying Car prototype should be ready for flight testing in 2018, he says, but much works is yet to be done. Dhall is hoping to receive a donated aviation engine – preferably, a 100hp Rotax 912 piston.
Dhall has not yet decided how to bring the product to market. He initially planned to certificate the aircraft, but feedback at Airventure has made him consider the option of first selling a kit.