OK – so I am now going to eat my words that flying cars ‘will not happen in my lifetime’ (ABC 774 radio, Monday 2.7.18).
So what’s happened to make me say that? Just watch this:
That video shows the all-electric BlackFly VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) ultralight aircraft in full flight, with actual human pilots. (Unlike many other promotional videos for ‘flying cars’ that show them operating as uncrewed drones).
The BlackFly is built by OPENER Inc. in the US, and recent press releases from them announce that it has just qualified as an ultralight aircraft for use in the US.
Designed as a ‘single-seat Personal Aerial Vehicle (PAV)’, OPENER Inc. state that the BlackFly “… is simple to master and requires no formal licensing (in USA) or special skills to operate safely.”
At 1.55m long and 1.6m wide and a take-off run of 1m, it can take off from almost anywhere.
As well as being able to fly, the “car” also has full freshwater amphibious capabilities. But it is principally designed to operate from small grassy areas and travel distances of up to 40km at speeds up to 100km/h on an 8kWh battery.
With the optional 12kWh battery, these figures increase to a 64km range at up to 130kmh. Recharge time for a 20-80 per cent charge of the 12kWh battery (using their fast-charge system) is just 25 minutes. Surprisingly, the energy consumption per km is quoted as being equivalent to a road-going EV.
While the announcement is a surprise, OPENER Inc has been developing their aircraft very quietly over the last nine years. The BlackFly has in fact done over 1,400 flights, covering more than 19,000km.
With eight propellers and multiple-failure redundancy systems (including a ‘ballistic parachute’ option), it seems that personal flying transport may be a realisable dream in the not-too-distant future after all!
For further information on OPENER Inc and the BlackFly – see https://www.opener.aero/
Bryce Gaton is the National Newsletter Editor for the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA) and is a qualified secondary science educator as well as a Registered Electrical Contractor and electrical trade teacher. He has been working in the EV sector for 10 years, and currently works part-time for the Melbourne School of Engineering as their EV safe work practice trainer/supervisor. He regularly writes on EV topics for and on behalf of both the AEVA and ATA. Bryce also owns and drives two EVs – a Nissan Leaf for commuting and a converted Citroen van for work.