Aircraft

Metro Hop electric STOL plane can get airborne off a 25-meter runway

Metro Hop electric STOL plane ...
Metro Hop says its electric STOL aircraft will be able to take off and land on a 25-meter roll-out rubber runway
Metro Hop says its electric STOL aircraft will be able to take off and land on a 25-meter roll-out rubber runway
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Metro Hop says its electric STOL aircraft will be able to take off and land on a 25-meter roll-out rubber runway
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Metro Hop says its electric STOL aircraft will be able to take off and land on a 25-meter roll-out rubber runway
The Metro Hop promises 250 mph top speeds
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The Metro Hop promises 250 mph top speeds
Active landing gear adds electric drive to the wheels for fast acceleration, and also has the ability to lift and tilt the plane
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Active landing gear adds electric drive to the wheels for fast acceleration, and also has the ability to lift and tilt the plane
Landing gear folds back for low-drag forward flight
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Landing gear folds back for low-drag forward flight
The company conceives robotic freight handling vehicles swapping out cargo pods
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The company conceives robotic freight handling vehicles swapping out cargo pods
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Short takeoff and landing (STOL) might prove a practical alternative to VTOL in the early days of electric aviation. VTOL aircraft use an enormous amount of energy lifting themselves off the ground, dramatically cutting the range they can squeeze out of a battery system. But an STOL plane like the one Metro Hop is designing can get aloft much more efficiently, without needing a whole lot of runway.

This thing uses an active landing gear system, meaning that it doesn't just rely on its propellers to get it up to takeoff speed. Instead, there's an electric motor on at least one of the wheels to provide snappy and efficient acceleration on the ground. Combining hard acceleration with a large wing means the Metro Hop achieves takeoff speed fast – the company says its full-size prototype will allegedly get airborne in as little as 25 meters (82 ft).

The landing gear is also levered such that it can lift the body of the plane up and down, and tilt it rearward to maximize lift and drag in STOL situations. It folds out of the way once you're airborne to reduce drag, enabling cruise speeds as high as 250 mph (400 km/h) while making efficient use of available energy to deliver a range up to 125 miles (200 km) with current battery technology.

And when it's time to land, the extendable legs can help cushion the kind of brisk landing you can get when you're trying to pull up quick.

Landing gear folds back for low-drag forward flight
Landing gear folds back for low-drag forward flight

The company sees this system as an alternative to the eVTOL air taxi, and feels that STOL runways around 60 m (200 ft) long on top of skyscrapers could enable safe skyport-style passenger operations with a much lower energy cost than eVTOL vertiports.

Sure, maybe, but that cuts your options down a tad; a quick look at Google Maps suggests there are precious few tall buildings in our local CBD with a 60-m flat stretch on the roof. Even in Manhattan, or Seoul, or Tokyo, that's a super-wide building. Maybe there's scope on top of train stations and arenas and the like, if the flight paths around them are clear, but the eVTOLs will undoubtedly have more landing options.

The company conceives robotic freight handling vehicles swapping out cargo pods
The company conceives robotic freight handling vehicles swapping out cargo pods

Another option is to use them for "middle-mile" cargo transport – a clean, fast, traffic-proof and potentially affordable way to get goods cross-town or between cities. Metro Hop has thought plenty about robotically-swapped cargo bins and battery pods which could keep these things in the air and working with the minimum possible downtime, but frankly such things are the least of the company's concerns at this point.

As a relatively conventional winged airframe, the Metro Hop design may well see an easier path to certification than its eVTOL competitors. But it's still got to get the cash together to develop and build the thing. A promising start on that front may come from the European Space Agency's Business Incubation Center, which has given Metro Hop a modest grant including office space at the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen, business mentorship and enough money to build a "portable" 25-meter rubber roll-out runway long enough to launch the prototype from once it's done.

Certainly an interesting aircraft. Check out a couple of videos below.

Metro Hop: The Urban Air Mobility Solution
Introducing Metro Hop Cargo

Source: Metro Hop

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5 comments
WONKY KLERKY
Should the learned gent's have not yet considered,
I refer them to some of the 'also's' for 'getting up there':

1: See the piece on the aircraft carrier ramps in today's NA publication.

2: See wot The RAF + The Nastis got up to with
powered, and usually railed, carrier trolley's in WWII
+
Others various got up to at times various before and after.
A 'Cody':
That said above, wouldn't recommend the rocket powered efforts for this application!
clay
Great point: Commercial catapults would not require the high-g, high-load flattop launch... something between a catapult and a conventional launch would be great.
paul314
For downtown urban areas, 60m of flat roof is unusual, but suburban office parks are crammed with buildings like that. And way more prestige factor than landing in the parking lot.
Jason Catterall
There's no way that fat slug of an airframe is getting anywhere near 250mph.
ljaques
Cool idea. Great marketing (easier to count the statements which are NOT, um, exaggerations). Let's see, for 200 million passengers, the $10B figure would indicate a $50 taxi service. That's not for the masses. I can't see that bulb making 250 knots silently, either. Oh, well. They'll work it out some day.